Divisive responses to international NGO actions
Fragmentation of the NGO community by consultative status
The major formal link between the main IGOs and INGOs is through the consultative status relationship. This is specific to each IGO, which encourages the formation of standing conferences and associated committees for those INGOs linked to it in this way, and discourages links between 'its' group of INGOs and the groups linked to other IGOs despite the fact that: (a) many INGOs are linked to more than one IGO; and (b) the matters discussed by one such INGO group and its committees may also be discussed by another (reflecting the overlap in IGO programme areas). The INGO community is thus fragmented by the divisive posture of IGOs with a consultative relationship, even though the majority of such bodies are Specialized Agencies of the UN system.
A special feature of this problem is that is continued existence is ensured by (a) the status tokens accorded by the IGOs to the individuals with formal positions in such INGO groups; (b) the services supplied to the INGO grouping, which effectively prevent excessive criticism of the IGO from such groupings; and (c) the efforts by IGO secretariat personnel to maintain the fiction of some 25 years standing that supportive resolutions by the INGO grouping will accomplish more than any critical action. The irony of the situation is that the IGOs do not even formally recognize the existence of such INGO groupings and only relate to them through their office-holders. Clearly, formal recognition of such INGO groupings would imply the existence of a well-formed international group which would pose questions of principle which it is more convenient for IGOs to avoid (whilst at the same time implying that INGOs are ineffective because they do not form viable inter-INGO confederations).