Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are portrayed in the media and by leftist politicians as neutral non-profit organizations whose volunteers organize charitable operations with the help of high-minded philanthropists.
The reality, of course, is somewhat different. The following report from Hungary discusses the justifications for classifying foreign-funded NGOs as lobbying organizations, and their employees as agents of foreign powers. Regarding the latter characteristic, I would suggest the recognition of a new class of potentially subversive lobbyists: those who act not in the interests of any one national power, but as agents for global governance, trans-national corporations, and international financial interests.
This is how the Soros-type “civilian” organizations do it
By Balázs Bácskai
March 21, 2017
The Századvég (Century-End) Foundation [Significant conservative think tank in Hungary — translator] compiled a monograph about the influence-seeking techniques of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the qualms about that. These NGOs finance their activities using foreign financial sources and are inaccurately called “civilian organizations”, because the nature of their operations are emphatically different from the tens of thousands of domestically-funded NGOs.
The NGOs are active ideologically committed political actors
The NGOs have serious power to influence public opinion, and furthermore some NGOs have more international influence than some states or political organizations. They owe their influence and recognition to the fact that they have an advantage against openly political organizations to position themselves as civilians and independent. The important question is: How do the NGOs use the above-mentioned influence? According to the findings of Századvég, some organizations engage in distribution of a well-defined political ideology. Ideologically, these organizations are therefore are not at all independent.
In their activities they typically use human rights issues for political gain. But their political independence is made questionable by the fact that the NGOs actively intervene in the internal politics of a nation-state. In domestic political issues such as the migration crisis, same-sex marriage, and drug liberalization, they typically take the side of the foreign supporter’s opinion. In fact, they sometimes provide such powerful policy tools in the hands of the opposition, they can successfully cause the fall of the ruling government.
The organizations that use foreign resources struggle with a democratic deficit
In a representative democracies, the application of political ideologies and the shaping of domestic policy is the right of political parties who are given a mandate in public elections. However, the mandate of NGOs themselves is not measured by traditional elections, so the grounds for their activities are questionable. In addition, NGOs also raise some accountability questions. Political parties operate with the knowledge that the voters will give their opinions about their activities every four years, and when appropriate, this may lead to their political destruction. This cannot be said about NGOs, which do not participate in political competitions in a traditional sense. Their activities are completely independent of the electorate’s will, so they can continue to operate and develop their social reputation on political issues, even though they have absolutely no public support.
They create their legitimacy by networking
NGOs often emphasize their expertise when trying to substantiate the basis for their existence. NGOs try to authenticate their professionalism by referring to their high number of international and domestic citations, saying that if so many people cite them, then obviously they are professionally competent. But their high level of citations is due not to their high technical excellence, but rather to their networking. In practical terms, this means that are they enmeshed all around the world, operating branch organizations in almost every country, in addition co-operating with NGOs with similar profile. So their highly-quoted status (and hence also their professional credibility) is generated by themselves among themselves.
Foreign-funded organizations often represent the business and political interests of their supporters
The NGOs often emphasize that they are independent “from everything.” As noted above, ideological, political independence in their case is not possible. The Századvég study also points out that the NGOs are financially dependent on their supporting donors. As a consequence, the NGOs subordinate the professional aspects to the private economic interests of their donors. The post-Soviet countries provide a great example of the NGOs’ economic lobbying activities after the change of regime. In these countries, NGOs have seeped into the national legislatures, insisting on economic liberalization, privatization and free market legalization, when actually they are lobbying for the economic interests of their capital-rich western donor corporations. Part of the professional literature therefore considers a group of NGOs as quasi-lobbyists. But in public perception as well they appear more and more to be lobbyists. According to a 2013 European-wide study, 51% of respondents think that NGOs are lobbyists. In Estonia this number is 100%, in Finland 93%, in Latvia 80%, in the Netherlands 78% identify NGOs as lobbyists.
NGOs should be treated as lobbying firms
The study shows that although NGOs actually work as lobbyists, and showcase foreign interests, only civil law applies to them. Since 2013, however, Austria, for example, has enforced mandatory registration as a lobbyists on a certain category of NGOs. A fine is imposed on those who fail to do so. Thus, in Austria Amnesty International, Greenpeace and WWF are registered as lobbyists. Similar legislation exists in the United States, Germany and Israel. In these countries, NGOs — like parties and lobbying firms — are required to report their countries of origin and identity their donors. This is important because some NGOs are operating with barely verifiable financial sources.
Some domestic institutions are actually operate from foreign sources
According to the Századvég, while the operation of the NGOs is legitimate, regulations and laws should be more compatible with their relevant status as lobbyists, and it must be clarified before the voters who these players are, what interests they serve, and what financial sources they use. The means for this would be the registration of organizations and stricter regulation requiring public disclosure of their financial resources.
In the final summary of the Századvég’s study, the Institute examined a list of [Hungarian] organizations that work with foreign sources and engage in political or lobbying activities in Hungary. It is important to point out that the political activities are not problematic in themselves, but the exact inventory of financial resources. Among the organizations surveyed by Századvég:
- The Eötvös Károly Intézet ?(Károly Eötvös Institute)
- The K-monitor
- The Ökotárs Alapítvány (Environmental Partnership Foundation)
- Amnesty International Magyarország
- The Társaság a Szabadságjogokért (Association for Human Rights)
[These organizations — and many others -, are full blown Soros-founded NGOs, all spewing the liberal agenda: no borders, unlimited migration, more Brussels influence and no national borders. — translator]
The report raised the justification for indicating the foreign origin of funds and their use in the organizations’ work more clearly and more often than is presently done. Nevertheless, as in other countries, it may be considered that their asset management operations should be subject to more stringent administrative conditions (registration).