The Legitimacy of Human Rights NGOs

Katrine Sofie Bruun, Tobias Juhler Maureschat, Anna Rasmussen & Line Troelsen Thisted

Student thesis: Termpaper


The Legitimacy of Human Rights NGOs This project examines the democratic legitimacy of Human Rights Non- Governmental Organisations (HRNGOs) through a focus on the three concepts of democracy, accountability and transparency. Independent standards of legit- imacy are developed with the purpose of investigating challenges related to the legitimacy of HRNGOs, and whether these can be considered as legitimate ac- tors in global governance. An analysis of Amnesty International, as an example of an HRNGOs, is conducted in order to produce more tangible results. The conclusion of this study is that the main challenge in relation to the legitimacy of HRNGOs is difficulties of ensuring accountability towards their stakehold- ers, as it is debatable to whom they should be accountable, and who should be responsible for holding them accountable. A democratisation of HRNGOs would likely make them less effective, as they would have to follow extensive bureaucratic procedures. An important notion is that the main strengths of the HRNGOs is their ability to affect social change and act immediately, and there- fore it is necessary to consider whether a democratization of HRNGOs would actually harm their purpose. However, the role of the HRNGOs has evolved and when they affect decision-making in global governance some level of rep- resentatively should be required. Amnesty International makes an effort in en- suring accountability, but there is still a need for them to improve their repre- sentatively and inclusion of stakeholders.

EducationsInternational Studies, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Undergraduate or graduate
Publication date16 Jun 2014
SupervisorsJacob Rasmussen


  • NGO
  • Legitimacy