Skip to Main Content

International Governmental Organizations : General info

A note on spelling

Many international governmental organizations may use British spellings of words in their names.


  • "European Defence Agency"
  • "United Nations Environment Programme"

Try both American and British English-language spellings if you're not getting many results. Common words affected by this:

American spelling British spelling
center centre
defense defence
organization organisation
program programme

International governmental organizations (IGOs) defined

International governmental organizations (IGOs) are organizations made up of more than one national government. The governments are the members.

Examples: United Nations, Organization of American States, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, World Health Organization.

Northwestern University Library's List of IGOs

Overview database

Yearbook of International Organizations

  • Available to anyone on-campus. Available off campus for UW Madison students, faculty and staff only.
  • Database of detailed profiles of more than 60,000 international organizations in all disciplines
  • Includes active, inactive, and dormant organizations
  • Includes non-governmental (NGO) and intergovernmental (IGO) organization
  • Each record details the structure, staff, languages, finances, aims, activities, events, publications, statistical information, and analyses of the organization
  • Records can be formatted into Excel, CSV, and Word
  • Updates every 6-8 weeks

IGO custom search engine

The IGO Custom Search Engine searches across hundreds of IGO websites, enabling users to research topics such as active IGOs working on HIV/AIDS in Uganda, or treaties on human trafficking.



This Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) of the American Library Association (ALA). For more background on this project, including a growing list of IGOs included in the search, please see the IDTF wiki.

Non governmental organizations (NGOs) defined

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are made up of groups or individuals from more than one country, but national governments are not members of these organizations.

Examples: Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International.

Duke University Libraries Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Guide

NGO custom search engine

The NGO Custom Search Engine searches across hundreds of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) websites.

Sites were chosen based on their consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and also collated from University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, Duke University Libraries' NGO Research Guide, and the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO).

Custom Search


More background on the IGO/NGO search projects can be found at the IDTF wiki, including a growing spreadsheet of NGOs included in this search.

Hints for locating info on web sites

These hints won't apply to every IGO web site, but will apply to many.

Make use of a web site's Search This Site feature!

About sections usually have information on

  • Current membership
  • Structure of organization
  • History
  • Governing and founding documents

News sections often have links to transcripts of speeches by the IGO's leaders

Publications and documents: IGOs use many different words for types of publications: documents, journals, papers (working or policy), publications, reports, research. In general (but not always)

  • Materials called publications tend to be
    • Issued for the general public, rather than for internal or official use
    • Major reports, studies, yearbooks, conference proceedings, and bibliographies

  • Materials called documents tend to be
    • Records of the day-to-day workings of an IGO
    • Intended mainly for the people representing the members
    • Agendas, transcripts of meetings, letters to/from countries, statements by countries, IGOs, or NGOs and preliminary drafts of documents

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Beth Harper
Memorial Library
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Government Information Specialist