What is an NGO? What does Civil Society mean? NGO stands for Non-government organisation. CSO is used almost synonymously. Both mean people who work in organisations which are not official government organisations. At the United Nations (UN) NGOs can contribute to the work and projects to further the cause of world peace. I have been actively involved in NGO activity at the UN until today. I decided now that I am no longer able to participate in the NGO activities at the UN in Vienna.