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NGOs reaffirm role at the UN, but worry about access restrictions especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic

New York, 30 November 2020 (CoNGO InfoNews) – More than a hundred NGOs related to the United Nations have joined CoNGO—the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations—in a statement reaffirming the importance of NGO access to and at the United Nations. More NGOs are expected to endorse the statement according to Liberato Bautista, CoNGO President, who welcomed the big number of endorsements in the first thirty-six hours since the call to sign on was sent to NGO leaders. (List of endorsements is found at the end of this story).

CoNGO issued the statement on the eve of two important meetings at the United Nations this week, the UN General Assembly Special Session in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on 3 to 4 December 2020 and a panel discussion on 4 December dealing with strengthening participation, protection and participation of civic space.

The statement asserted that “NGO access to and at the UN is a major channel through which NGOs assert their voice and exercise their agency throughout the UN System, contributing their expertise, commitment, energy,  and substantive input to policy-making processes. CoNGO has constantly striven to ensure and defend the free exchange of ideas among all parties at the United Nations, including in relation to UN Summits and Conventions.”

A November 18 consultation convened by CoNGO provided the latest assessment by nongovernmental organizations of the state of access experienced by their representatives, especially in UN Centres like New York, Geneva and Vienna. Many participants agreed that the “current coronavirus disease pandemic restrictions are a serious, though unavoidable, handicap to regular NGO contacts with UN officials and government delegates.”

An earlier dialogue, also convened by CoNGO, held 5 March 2020, between NGOs and the acting chief of the civil society branch of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Marc-André Dorel, and the chair of the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs, Mr. Mohamed Sallam provided the opportunities for NGOs to illustrate their determination to reinforce their “long-term engagement in promoting and enhancing NGO access to and participation in the United Nations System”.

The full statement may be viewed here.

NGOs related to the UN may endorse the Statement here.

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Organizational Endorsements as of 09 January 2020, 12:00 PM EST New York

  1. The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO)

and the following NGOs in consultative status with the UN, plus others in associated and observer relations (*) and other arrangements (**), have joined together to endorse the Statement on NGO Access to and at the United Nations in  the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic:

  1. AFEW International
  2. African Action on Aids (AAA)
  3. Africa Network of People Who Use Drugs (AfricanPUD)**
  4. Agora of the Inhabitants of the Earth**
  5. Alcohol and Drug Foundation
  6. Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice*
  7. American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)*
  8. American Psychological Association
  9. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS)
  10. Appui Solidaire pour le Renforcement de l’Aide au Developpement
  11. Arab Society for Academic Freedoms (ASAF)
  12. Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)**
  13. Asociación Latinoamericana de Derechos Humanos (ALDHU)**
  14. Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE)
  15. Association for Farmers Rights Defense (AFRD)
  16. Association for Promotion of Sustainable Development
  17. Association Montessori Internationale*
  18. Basel Peace Office**
  19. Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
  20. CGFNS International, Inc.
  21. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  22. CREDO-ACTION
  23. Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI)
  24. Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
  25. Centre for Social Research (CSR), India
  26. Childhood Education International (CEI)*
  27. Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI)
  28. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
  29. Observatory of Crops and Cultivators Declared Illicit (OCCDI Global)**
  30. Congregation of the Mission
  31. DRCNet Foundation, Inc
  32. Dianova International
  33. Dominican Leadership Conference
  34. Drug Policy Australia
  35. Election Network in the Arab Region (ENAR)
  36. End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT-USA)
  37. Environment Liaison Centre International (ELCI)
  38. European Union of Women (EUW)
  39. Families of the Missing
  40. Fédération Internationale des Associations de Personnes Âgées (FIAPA)
  41. Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas (FAWCO)
  42. Feminist Task Force**
  43. Fondazione PROCLADE Internazionale-Onlus*
  44. Fondazione Villa Maraini**
  45. Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)**
  46. Fundacion Latinoamerica Reforma (LAR)
  47. Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer
  48. Fundamental Human Rights & Rural Development Association (FHRRDA)
  49. Global Distribution Advocates, Inc.
  50. Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD)
  51. Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime*
  52. Grupo de Mujeres de la Argentina – Foro de VIH Mujeres Familia
  53. Guild of Service, The
  54. Haiti Cholera Research Funding Foundation, Inc. USA
  55. Initiative for Peace and Innovation (IPI)**
  56. Institute for Research and Development “Utrip” (UTRIP)**
  57. Inter Press Service (IPS)
  58. Intercambios Asociación Civil
  59. International Alliance of Women (IAW)
  60. International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP)
  61. International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG)
  62. International Association of Judges (IAJ-UIM)
  63. International Centre for Environmental Education and Community Development (ICENECDEV)
  64. International Council of Nurses (ICN)
  65. International Council of Women (ICW-CIF)
  66. International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
  67. International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)
  68. International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers
  69. International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)
  70. International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (IFWLC)
  71. International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)
  72. International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
  73. International Inner Wheel
  74. International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
  75. International Peace Research Association (IPRA)
  76. International Public Relations Association (IPRA)
  77. International Presentation Association (IPA)
  78. International Real Estate Federation, The (FIABCI)
  79. International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA)
  80. International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD)
  81. International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS)
  82. International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN)
  83. Koalisi Rakyat untuk Hak atas Air (KRuHA) (People’s Coalition for the Right to Water)*
  84. Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)
  85. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
  86. Make Mothers Matter (MMM)
  87. Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, Inc.
  88. Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA)
  89. Middle East & North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA)**
  90. Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI)*
  91. Moms Stop the Harm**
  92. NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, Inc.
  93. Narconon Nigeria Initiative
  94. National Campaign for Sustainable Development, Nepal**
  95. New Future Foundation, Inc.
  96. New Humanity
  97. Nonviolence International
  98. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF)
  99. Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA)
  100. Passionists International
  101. Peace, Education, Art, Communication (PEAC) Institute
  102. Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
  103. Planetary Association for Clean Energy, The
  104. Red Dot Foundation
  105. Salesian Missions Inc.
  106. Save Cambodia
  107. Servas International
  108. Seventh Day Adventist Church
  109. Sisters of Charity Federation
  110. Soka Gakkai International (SGI)
  111. Socialist International Women (SIW)
  112. Soroptimist International (SI)
  113. Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (OSMTH)
  114. Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council (SSMWPC)
  115. TalentPlus Resources International (TRI)**
  116. Tanzania Peace, Legal Aid and Justice Center (PLAJC)**
  117. The Brazzaville Foundation for Peace and Conservation
  118. Tinker Institute on International Law and Organizations
  119. To Love Children Educational Foundation International
  120. Tribal Link Foundation, Inc.
  121. Tripla Difesa Onlus
  122. Trust for Youth Child Leadership (TYCL)
  123. UNANIMA International
  124. UNIDOS – Rede Nacional Sobre Droga & HIV**
  125. Union of International Associations (UIA)
  126. Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)*
  127. United Methodist Church—General Board of Church and Society (UMC-GBCS)
  128. United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA)
  129. Universal Esperanto-Association (UEA)
  130. Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
  131. VIVAT International
  132. Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (DBA Women First International Fund)
  133. WUZDA Ghana
  134. West Africa Drug Policy Network*
  135. Women for Peace and Gender Equality Initiative*
  136. World Development Foundation (WDF)
  137. World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP)
  138. World Student Christian Federation (WSCF)
  139. Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa
  140. Yayasan Wadah Titian Harapan (Wadah Foundation)
  141. Young Global Leadership Foundation, Inc. (YGLF)
  142. Youth Foundation of Bangladesh
  143. Zenab for Women Development
  144. Zonta International

Photo courtesy of Globalt Fokus.

________________

The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) is an international NGO founded in 1948. It has general consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. For more information about this story, the Statement, and CoNGO, contact Liberato C. Bautista, CoNGO President at president@ngocongo.org.

NGO Participation Arrangements within the UN and in Other Agencies Within the UN System

How to Get NGO Voice Heard, Presence Registered, and Expertise Shared at the UN

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may get accredited by the UN Economic and Social Council through its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. If approved, an NGO may receive either a general, special or roster consultative status. The most definitive guide to NGO accreditation is ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31. With accreditation, NGOs are allowed to name their representatives at offices of the UN System worldwide. Following established procedures at each office, NGO designated representatives may then be issued a pass (badge) which gives them physical access at UN premises, and when warranted, participation at UN meetings.

NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status may speak and submit statements based on the provisions of Res. 1996/31. Paragraphs 36 and 37 of the Resolution govern the submission of written statements. Paragraph 38 pertains to oral presentations at UN meetings. Paragraph 39 refers to special studies and investigations that ECOSOC may ask NGO(s) that have competence on a specific field to undertake.

In general, only NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status may submit written statements or make oral presentations. When signing a group statement, the name of each  NGO signing must be clearly indicated. Statements developed by NGO Committees or Working Groups are valid for submission as long as they are submitted by NGO members that have ECOSOC consultative status.

Other bodies within the UN System have their own specific requirements for NGOs to be accredited, either for associated or observer status. For example, NGOs may apply for associated status with the UN Department of Global Communications. They may also address UN meetings based on their accreditation status with such UN bodies or through invitations issued for a particular meeting being convened by any entity within the UN System. For links to accreditation information with other UN entities, look here.

Here is the full text of Paragraphs 36, 37, 38, and 39 of ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31.

Written statements

36.- Written statements relevant to the work of the commissions or other subsidiary organs may be submitted by organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status on subjects for which these organizations have a special competence.  Such statements shall be circulated by the Secretary-General to members of the commission or other subsidiary organs, except those statements that have become obsolete, for example, those dealing with matters already disposed of and those that have already been circulated in some other form to members of the commission or other subsidiary organs. 

37.- The following conditions shall be observed regarding the submission and circulation of such written statements: 

(a) The written statement shall be submitted in one of the official languages; 

(b) It shall be submitted in sufficient time for appropriate consultation to take place between the Secretary-General and the organization before circulation; 

(c) The organization shall give due consideration to any comments that the Secretary-General may make in the course of such consultation before transmitting the statement in final form; 

(d) A written statement submitted by an organization in general consultative status will be circulated in full if it does not exceed 2,000 words.  Where a statement is in excess of 2,000 words, the organization shall submit a summary, which will be circulated, or shall supply sufficient copies of the full text in the working languages for distribution.  A statement will also be circulated in full, however, upon the specific request of the commission or other subsidiary organs; 

(e) A written statement submitted by an organization in special consultative status will be circulated in full if it does not exceed 1,500 words.  Where a statement is in excess of 1,500 words, the organization shall submit a summary, which will be circulated, or shall supply sufficient copies of the full text in the working languages for distribution.  A statement will also be circulated in full, however, upon the specific request of the commission or other subsidiary organs; 

(f) The Secretary-General, in consultation with the chairman of the relevant commission or other subsidiary organ, or the commission or other subsidiary organ itself, may invite organizations on the Roster to submit written statements.  The provisions in subparagraphs (a), (b), (c) and (e) above shall apply to such statements;

 (g) A written statement or summary, as the case may be, will be circulated by the Secretary-General in the working languages and, upon the request of a member of the commission or other subsidiary organ, in any of the official languages. 

Oral presentations during meetings 

38.- (a) The commission or other subsidiary organs may consult with organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status either directly or through a committee or committees established for the purpose.  In all cases, such consultations may be arranged upon the request of the organization; 

(b) On the recommendation of the Secretary-General and at the request of the commission or other subsidiary organs, organizations on the Roster may also be heard by the commission or other subsidiary organs. 

Special studies 

39.- Subject to the relevant rules of procedure on financial implications, a commission or other subsidiary organ may recommend that an organization that has special competence in a particular field should undertake specific studies or investigations or prepare specific papers for the commission.  The limitations of paragraphs 37 (d) and (e) above shall not apply in this case.