While many organizations perform primarily hands-on work, political action NGOs use persuasion and public pressure to help bring about change in the world. In doing so, these organizations not only serve as a vital complement to the work of other NGOs, but also address important issues such as proper governance and prisoners’ rights that can only be dealt with through legal and political channels.
The largest political action NGOs tend to focus on general advocacy of human rights. Groups such as Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists and Human Rights First work to increase global awareness of human rights abuses. In doing so, these organizations help exert public pressure on the perpetrators of humanitarian crimes and also mobilize support for not only political action but also on-the-ground efforts through other NGOs. Transparency International and similar organizations work to combat human rights abuses committed by governments. These groups empower citizens to press their governments for fair and transparent practices. Reprieve and TRIAL assist some of the world’s most vulnerable individuals by providing both political and legal support to prisoners, as well as victims of torture and forced disappearances.
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Political action NGOs provide an avenue for individuals who might not be inclined to engage in hands-on humanitarian relief work to fight for a just cause. Many attorneys in private practice commit a portion of their time or their careers to non-profit groups. Due to the fact that governments continue to commit humanitarian crimes, there are plenty of opportunities for individuals to volunteer or work for political action NGOs.