Review of Human Rights Advocacy of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs)

The purpose of the review was to assess the relevance and effectiveness of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) in supporting the objectives of Finland’s international human rights and development policies. Special emphasis was placed on how INGOs tackle barriers to realization of human rights through advocacy, and in particular, to systemic challenges.


The review studied nine organizations with very diverse mandates, capacity and organizational structures. The common denominator is the organizations’ foundation in human rights work and their adherence to a human rights-based approach. Combined, the nine organizations cover a broad range of human rights topics and vulnerable groups - in particular, the themes prioritized in Finland's international human rights policy.

The evaluation shows that all the organisations support the policy goals of Finland and address duty-bearers and rights-holders in the short, medium and long-term. Using the amended DAC definition, which refers to ‘significant higher-level effects’ as distinct from outputs, the review found that some of the most impressive higher-level effects have come about after many years of engagement, coupled with windows of opportunity arising from societal or political developments. This shows that consistent, long-term engagement often provides the basis for the most lasting effects.


The results achieved show that many of the INGOs have had a significant role in building the capacity of rights-holders or human rights defenders. Evidence suggests that the organizations master their advocacy at different levels and that they are operating in a professional and credible manner. Some of the organisations are capable of conducting important research to complement their advocacy work, some can rely on their grassroots relations, whilst others are highly effective at using different UN mechanisms to their advantage. Some organizations have very convincing formats for reporting and documenting results, while others could strengthen their documentation regarding the results of advocacy interventions. 


The evaluation presents ten recommendations for consideration.


Review:  Human Rights Advocacy of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) (pdf, 1,42 MB, 126 pages)