A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level. There is some concern about the capacity and legitimacy of NGOs to act as pseudo-democratic representatives of groups such as children or the poor. Governments may form partnerships with NGOs that do not necessarily involve a migration of political authority away from existing power holders towards citizens. For example, in cooperating with governments to investigate child sex tourism, NGOs may participate with authoritarian regimes in "police-like" activities. This could compromise their capacity to advocate for civil rights or democratic reforms.
The Australian Federal Police National Coordinator of Child Protection identifies the risk of NGOs working outside formal arrangements with the government as counterproductive, cautioning: "Some NGOs claimto investigate but more often than not, only endanger children by acting as agent provocateurs and collecting 'evidence' which would not be accepted even in a Cambodian court."
- Curley, Melissa (06/2014). "Combating Child Sex Tourism in South-east Asia: Law Enforcement Cooperation and Civil Society Partnerships". Journal of law and society 41 (2): 283-314.