Most INGOs claim to be non-political organizations, in the sense that there is a basic distinction between the organization of a political party and an organization representing the particular interests of its members - vocational, religious, etc. The reality of the situation is that governmental delegates assess the potential value of an INGO primarily in terms of the political power of the constituency it represents. INGOs controlled by particular national or cultural interests may be rejected for this reason. Furthermore, most expertise, however technical, is now held to have cultural overtones. Even INGOs concerned with palaeontology or Sanskrit literature, for example, are expected to align themselves with majority views of the IGO community on the current major issues of peace, human rights, etc. There is an apparent negligible political impact by INGOs on the wording of intergovernmental resolutions or new programmes undertaken within intergovernmental agencies. (One study showed that only 3% of intergovernmental resolutions resulted in new action).
An international non-governmental organization (INGOs) can only be politically effective by relating politically to political institutions such as intergovernmental organizations (such as the United Nations) and national governments. Failures which INGOs experience arise, at least in part, from a failure to think and act politically and to acknowledge that the purpose of such relationships is to exchange influence. This problem is aggravated by INGO indifference to any governmental assessment of an INGO in terms of the importance of the political constituency it represents.
To the extent that many NGOs are working in areas not yet recognized as significant by IGOs or governments, they may be preparing the way for political impact which will be legitimized (possibly years later) by their work (such as the UN discovery of the environment issue in 1972).