Teaching English

IGOs versus NGOs

List of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs).

Are NGOs and IGOs identical institutions? The answer to that question is NO. Understanding what these two accronyms stand for will actually bring the main difference between an NGO and an IGO to light, so let’s start this post with the basics. The list of NGOs and the list of IGOs show some examples of institutions with relevant impact.


NGO versus IGO

NGO | Definition

singular noun: NGO; plural nounNGOs;

  1. abbreviation for non-governmental organization;

  2. a private organization that tries to achieve social or political aims but is not controlled by a government.

IGO | Definition

singular noun: IGO; plural noun: IGOs;

  1. abbreviation for intergovernmental organization;

  2. associations of States established by
    a treaty to pursue the common aims of
    their member states.

NGOs | List

Amnesty International (AI)

AI is an INGO (international NGO) with headquarters in the UK. In 1961 British lawyer Peter Benenson was shocked when two Portuguese students from Coimbra were sent to prison for raising a toast to freedom. He decided to write about the violations of rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that’s how AI started.

Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC)

BRAC is an international development organization based in Bangladesh. It dedicates itself to alleviating poverty, primarily by creating opportunities for the poor.

Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE)

Founded in 1945, CARE is a humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, delivering emergency relief and long-term international development projects. CARE is nonsectarian, impartial, and non-governmental.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF)

MSF (from the French Médecins Sans Frontières) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. It is best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.

Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)

FEE is a non-profit NGO promoting sustainable development through environmental education. FEE is active through five programs: Blue Flag, Eco-Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment, Learning about Forests, and Green Key International. It has members in 77 countries worldwide.


Greenpeace was founded in Canada in 1971 by Irving and Dorothy Stowe, immigrant environmental activists from the USA. Greenpeace campaigns against climate change, deforestation, overfishing, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian US NGO, and nonprofit organization founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. Its headquarters are in Georgia, USA, but it operates in more than 70 countries.

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

HRW is an INGO (international NGO), headquartered in New York City. It was founded in 1978 and it conducts research and advocacy on human rights.

Oxfam International

Oxfam International was formed in 1995 by a group of independent non-governmental organizations. They joined together as a confederation to maximize efficiency and achieve greater impact to reduce global poverty and injustice.

Partners In Health (PIH)

PIH is a Boston-based nonprofit health care organization founded in 1987 by Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, Thomas J. White, Todd McCormack, and Jim Yong Kim. Partners in Health provides healthcare in the poorest areas of developing countries.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Formed in 1985, RSF (from the French Reporters sans frontières) is an international non-profit and NGO with the stated aim of safeguarding the right to freedom of information.

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia Foundation was established in 2003 and it is a nonprofit organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. It is best known for supporting Wikipedia and making knowledge available to people all over the world for free.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

WWF is an INGO, i.e. an international non-governmental organization, founded in 1961. It works in the field of wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment.

IGOs | List

African Union (AU)

AU is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent. It was officially launched in 2002.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

ASEAN was established in 1967 by 5 founding countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Since then 5 more countries have joined the union: Brunei, Viet Nam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.

Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth was originally created in 1926 and it is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal sovereign states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. Although the Commonwealth’s roots go back to the British Empire, today any country can join the modern Commonwealth. 

Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP)

CPLP (from the Portuguese Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa) was founded in 1996 and it is an international organization and political association of Lusophone nations across four continents, where Portuguese is an official language. It consists of 9 member states: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe.

European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

EFTA is an intergovernmental organization set up for the promotion of free trade and economic integration for the benefit of its Member States. It consists of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

European Union (EU)

The EU is a supranational political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have common economic, social, and security policies. The EU represents one in a series of efforts to integrate Europe since World War II. 

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

IMO is the UN specialized agency devoted exclusively to maritime matters. It is responsible for regulating shipping. Although it was formed in 1948, it only entered into force ten years later, in 1958.

International Energy Agency (IEA)

The IEA is a Paris-based autonomous IGO, created in 1974, that provides policy recommendations, analysis and data on the entire global energy sector, with a recent focus on curbing carbon emissions and reaching global climate targets, including the Paris Agreement. It has 31 member countries and 11 association countries.

International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)

INTERPOL is an IGO formed in 1923. It has 195 member countries, and it focuses on helping the police in all member states to work together to make the world a safer place.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 member states (28 are European and 2 are North American). It was established in the aftermath of World War II. Its independent member states agree to defend each other against attacks by third parties.

Organization of American States (OAS)

The OAS came into being in 1948 and it was established to achieve peace and justice among its member states, promote solidarity, strengthen collaboration, and defend their sovereignty and their independence.

United Nations (UN)

The UN is an IGO whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO is a global international organization that started operating in 1995. It deals with the rules of trade between nations by regulating and facilitating international trade. Governments use the organization to establish, revise, and enforce the rules that govern international trade.

Resources for the classroom

International Organizations - NGOs and IGOs

📑 Worksheet 💻 Presentation

Included resources:

  • Worksheet (Word + PDF)
  • Answer key (Word + PDF)
  • PowerPoint Presentation with animated answer key (PowerPoint compatible with Google Slides)

Your turn

Which NGO and which IGO would you like to collaborate with?

Your turn!

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