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This page provides information on the rationale for and methodology of the Project on the Evolution of International Non-Governmental Organizations.


'Globalization' has become a totem of the post-Cold War era. At the core of this apparent process are international non-governmental organizations (INGOs).

INGOs are commonly defined as organizations that are: (i) non-governmental in that they were not set up by governments and/or do not contain governments as members; and (ii) international in the sense that they have objectives that transcend national boundaries and/or have a membership that is located in more than one or two countries. For a more in-depth discussion of the nature of international non-governmental organizations, please consult this article by Peter Willetts (click here for the article).

An expanding body of literature has been produced claiming the apparent significance of INGOs in contemporary world politics, such as in the delivery of humanitarian aid, campaigning for international conventions such as the Ottawa landmines ban, and even in contributing towards the end of the Cold War. For a survey of literature on INGOs in contemporary world politics, please consult this article by Richard Price (click here for the article).

Less substantial in volume is the literature on the historical evolution of international non-governmental organizations, although there are some notable exceptions, including the works in the 'Further Reading' section of this website. This project is intended to further our understanding of the evolution of international non-governmental organizations by providing information on two understudied issues: (i) why INGOs were created in the first place; and (ii) how participation/membership in them has evolved.


This database is the outcome of a small research project funded by a City University Pump Priming Grant. The organizer of that project is Dr Thomas Richard Davies, Lecturer in International Politics at City University London. The project benefited considerably from the thoughtful assistance of Ms. Holly Eva Ryan, who worked as Research Assistant on the project in summer 2009.

The main objective of this database is to indicate the possibilities for further research into the evolution of international non-governmental organizations, rather than to be a fully comprehensive resource in its present state. The database currently contains a selection of one hundred international non-governmental organizations deemed to be historically significant, but it has not been possible to include thousands of other historically important organizations owing to the limitations of a small project. For further information on organizations omitted, please see the information on each category of organization in the 'Categories' section of this website. The database will be expanded and improved as resources permit.

The project organizer welcomes all constructive feedback, and if any errors and/or ommissions are spotted in the materials on this website, he would be very grateful if you could point them out to him (please click here for contact information). Every possible effort will be made to correct genuine errors identified on this website.

This database is not intended to be a substitute for the other databases that currently exist on INGOs, such as the Yearbook of International Organizations produced by the Union of International Asssociations, which is far more comprehensive in terms of the number of INGOs included. Instead, the database is intended to fill a gap by providing information specifically on the evolution of INGOs, rather than on their contemporary characteristics for which the Yearbook of International Organizations is a far superior resource.

The information provided on the founding rationales of INGOs on this website has been drawn from a range of sources. Where possible, the text of the proceedings of and/or statutes adopted at the founding conference/congress of the INGO has been used. This source of material is more readily available for organizations established in the nineteenth century than for many organizations of later origin. Commonly, a limited volume of material has been provided for the time being while more comprehensive information is being sought. Direct quotations of selected key components of documents concerning the foundation of each INGO have been provided where possible and the source cited in order that the researcher can form his or her own opinion of the material and has a starting point for further investigation of the rationale for each INGO's establishment.

As for the information on the evolution in the membership of or participation in each INGO, wherever possible the combined individual membership of all branches of the organization has been the measure used. In other cases, the number of member organizations or the number of countries in which the organization has members are amongst the measures used. On occasion, for instance in the case of the World Social Forum, individual participation in meetings is the measure used. It should be noted that the methods by which membership and/or participation are measured may vary considerably between and within organizations as well as over time. The sources are identified beneath each chart. Where the 'Annuaire de la Vie Internationale' (AVI) is cited, this generally refers to one or more edition from 1905, 1906, 1907 or 1910-11; where the 'Handbook of International Organizations' (HIO) is cited, this generally refers to one or more volume from 1925, 1929 or 1938; where the 'Yearbook of International Organizations' (YIO) is cited, this generally refers to one or more edition from 1951-52, 1966-67, 1981, 1998-9 or 2007-8; where 'Encyclopedia of Associations: International Organizations' (EAIO) is cited, this generally refers to one or more edition from 1986, 1992, 1999, 2004 or 2008. Some of the data from these and other sources may have been out-of-date and/or inaccurate at the time of going to press. Several charts are highly incomplete, and others contain large gaps between datapoints. These issues will be addressed as resources permit. The project organizer welcomes contributions of further and more up-to-date data, and will adjust the charts with reliable and relevant data received as resources permit (please click here for contact information).

Charts of membership/participation were generated using the 'scatter with smooth lines' function of Microsoft Excel, with a few exceptions where that function generated unexpected results in which cases the 'scatter with straight lines' function has been used. Anyone wishing to consult the original data from which the charts were produced may apply in writing to the project organizer (please click here for contact information).

Translations have been assisted by the use of a range of dictionaries and 'Google Translate'.

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