Letter from the CoNGO President

Photo shows the commemorative panel at the City Hall of Vienna on December 10 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 30th anniversary of the pivotal UN World Conference on Human Rights. The event was organized by Austrian Federal and City of Vienna authorities, together with civil society groups, including CoNGO. (Photo by Liberato Bautista/CoNGO)

May the new year bring peace and good health to you, yours, your communities, and the planet.

The year 2023 that just passed was CoNGO’s 75th anniversary. It has been unlike any other year in our organizational life. We reached nearly 4,000 of you who participated in our four global commemorative celebrations in Vienna, Bangkok, New York, and Geneva, and the six global thematic webinars that explored various themes and topics. We ended our 75th anniversary commemoration in Geneva this past December by celebrating other 75th anniversaries—that of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, WHO, the ILO Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and CoNGO members World Council of Churches and the World Federation for Mental Health. We brought these events in four languages—English, French, Spanish and Arabic—a CoNGO commitment to linguistic diversity and language justice.

I’ll let you know more about the above events in future stories. For now, I invite your attention to the upcoming UN Civil Society Conference, which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 9 and 10, 2024. CoNGO is one of four NGO groups the UN, through the Department of Global Communications, is coordinating with to plan the conference. I hope you have read the UN’s earlier announcement about this toward the end of last year.

For now, please consider nominating yourself or someone you know who fits the requirements for the conference co-chairs and conference planning sub-committee chairs. The deadline for the nomination is Jan. 10.

I look forward to working with you and your organization this year.

Best regards,
Liberato Bautista
CoNGO President

January 4, 2024
New York City

CoNGO, WCC, and civil society groups, reiterate shared commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

During a webinar presented by the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) and hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC), civil society and faith-based groups explored their shared commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Speaking at the podium at the Main Hall of the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva is CoNGO President Liberato Bautista, delivering his presidential remarks at the 75th anniversary commemoration of CoNGO on December 15. The event was held in a hybrid format–in person in Geneva, online webinar, and live streamed via the CoNGO YouTube channel–with a little over 200 participants hearing the presentations in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. Photo: Gregoire de Fombelle/WCC

Geneva, Switzerland | 18 December 2023 — CoNGO, the Conference of Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations, is celebrating its 75th anniversary, as is the World Council of Churches (WCC)—and the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights itself. 

Among keynote speakers at the commemorative event held on December 15 at the main hall of the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva was Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, WCC programme director of Public Witness and Diakonia. He thanked CoNGO president Liberato Bautista for his leadership at a time when civil society space is closing up and getting restricted. 

We must indeed celebrate some considerable progress made in the advancement and reinforcement of the human rights protection mechanisms over the last years,” said Mtata. The establishment of the Human Rights Council and of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism could be listed among the efforts to strengthen the United Nations human rights machinery in a more democratic and transparent way.”

However, Mtata said, most human rights mechanisms do not yet adequately take into account the human rights violations amplified by perpetrators of climate crimes. Many governments encroach on the freedom of worship and numerous places of worship are attacked by non-state actors,” he noted. It is evident that there is still a huge gap between words and deeds, promises and action.”

Adopting and ratifying intergovernmental human rights instruments, although very important, simply does not suffice, Mtata continued. Governments must defend the rights of the people that are under their jurisdiction and must show their political will to seriously tackle the grave human rights violations that occur in various parts of the world,” he said. First, we must reiterate our shared commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the principles enshrined within it, and advocate for its full adaptation to the human rights violations caused by climate destruction.”

UN officials pay tribute to CoNGO and civil society; no civil society without faith-based actors

Sophie Torelli-Chironi, head of the NGO liaison unit, speaking on behalf of Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, highlighted the partnership between the United Nations and CoNGO. “It is a longstanding and solid relationship which dates back to 1948 when the NGO was created. CoNGO has since played a major role in strengthening the relations between NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC and various UN bodies. This is particularly true for us here at the United Nations Office at Geneva. We have collaborated with CoNGO for many years to reinforce the participation of civil
society in multilateral processes in Geneva in our areas of work – sustainable development, peace and disarmament, and human rights.”

Ibrahim Salama, chief, Human Rights Treaties Branch at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, was among several keynote speakers who underscored the importance of faith-based voices for human rights. There is no human rights without civil society,” he said. There is no civil society without faith-based actors.”

Lina Nykanen-Rettaroli, senior technical lead for human rights, World Health Organization, spoke about the human rights of women in low-income countries. A woman in a low-income country is about 30 times more likely to die from pregnancy or child-birth related causes than a woman living in a high-income country,” she said. They so often have the worst health outcomes.”

Ruth Marlyn Grace Sidabutar, project officer, World Summit on the Information Society at the International Telecommunication Union, the UN Agency for Digital Technologies, reflected on the challenges to human rights posed by artificial intelligence and other technology.

The opportunities for advancing human rights are enormous—but so are the challenges,” Sidabutar said. There are now more mobile phones than people in the planet.”

Barbara Reynolds, chair, United Nations Working Group of Experts of People on African Descent, also mentioned the importance of civic and faith-based groups in drawing the world together. The pursuit of human rights can be seen as a saving of our people today,” she said. 

Alejandro Bonilla, NGO Committee on Ageing Geneva, spoke of how ageism intersects with every other form of discrimination. In a world where many circumstances are beyond our control, we are eventually presented with a choice: how will we relate to our people, and how will we relate to others?” he asked. The divide between older and younger generations—age is one of the first things we notice about the others.”

In his presidential remarks, Liberato Bautista pointed to CoNGO’s organizational motto: “defining the present, shaping the future,” and the addition of a third phrase for the anniversary year, “making the change now,” The motto, he said, “indicates how crucial the role of civil society is in addressing the existential threats to people and the planet—including climate change that is compromising planetary sustainability and human rights violations that are threatening human dignity.”

“For all the lofty words we manufacture—whether at the UN or in our NGO circles—we must be willing to be the change we want and get ready to work on those changes now,” Bautista said.

CoNGOs 75th anniversary year was marked by four commemorative celebrations at UN centers in Vienna (April), Bangkok (May), New York (October), and Geneva (December) and six global thematic webinars which attracted a little over 3,500 participants worldwide. (Marianne Ejdersten/WCC and CoNGO InfoNews)


For more information about the event, including concept note, speakers and schedule, please visit this link.

Conference explores stronger relationships between non-governmental organizations and United Nations

The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), celebrated its 75th anniversary, held a webinar in New York City on 27 October entitled UN-NGO Relations: Enhancing Multilateralism, Protecting NGO Access, Civic Space, and Democratic Discourse.”

Members of the board of CoNGO during the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Conference on 27 October in New York City.                     Photo: Marcelo Schneider



CoNGO president Levi Bautista, in his opening remarks, commemorated the 75th anniversary of CoNGO, taking stock of accomplishments and envisioning future work.

The United Nations was only three years old when CoNGO was born,” he said, and one could even say the two organizations grew up together in the same neighborhood. Neighborhoods bring us back to a more general understanding of our global challenges.”

The Sustainable Development Goals are genuinely about people and the planet, he added. Weve borrowed our present from our future—and our future is our children,” he said. Today CoNGO is a solid and a visible presence at the United Nations, thanks to the power of doing and acting as co-NGOs,” he added, stressing the importance of NGOs acting collectively.

CoNGO 75th anniversary year is marked by four commemorative celebrations at UN centers in Vienna (April), Bangkok (May), New York (October), and Geneva (December). 

As the conference in New York opened, greetings and statements by high-level United Nations officials expressed appreciation to non-governmental organizations for, among other initiatives, helping many communities across the world strive for the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Peter Prove, director of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, looked ahead at multilateralism amid the worlds extreme challenges. 

He opened by congratulating the CoNGO on its 75th anniversary—an anniversary that is shared with the WCC—recalling the days when the WCC worked very directly in the drafting of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, among many other roles.

Prove then summarized how the WCC has called for a global ceasefire, and for greater investment by governments and other actors for promoting peace and preventing conflict. 

We encouraged renewed efforts to reform and improve the effectiveness of the United Nations and other instruments for promoting peace and security,” he said. 

CoNGO vice president Cyril Ritchie offered a history of UN-NGO relations, and emphasized the many issues NGOs bring before the UN. They are the frontline soldiers with both advocacy and cooperation with the UN system,” he said. It is well-established that close cooperation in the field is vital to several UN agencies in carrying out their missions.”

Leaders of NGO committees also shared their inspirations and challenges. 

Ivy Koek, co-chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, reflected that she often hears about how civil society space is shrinking at the UN. But, she added, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about the necessity and the opportunity to expand that space. We moved virtually and in that virtual space we were then opening it up to our global audience, and though this is a New York-based committee, it became a global conversation,” she said. We—the people—also lead the UN and lead countries, so lets start with ourselves.”

Margo LaZaro, president of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development, described how the committee engages with the UN. Its just always looking into working in partnership with everyone,” she said. One of the things we are dedicated to is making sure we are inclusive with everyone.” 

Sylvie Jaqueline Ndongmo, president of the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom, shared how signifiant voices from civil society are missing because they cannot obtain visas to travel to New York. The visa issue is a very, very big challenge especially for women from the Global South,” she said. The shrinking of civic space—it is a problem.”

She recommended making sure womens voices are heard. We should also make sure that we care about one another—that is very important as we do this work,” she said. We should always remind ourselves that the change we want to see, starts with us.”  {WCC News}

As founding member of CoNGO, WCC cites urgent need for multilateralism (WCC news release 29 October 2023)

CoNGO’s Pivotal Role Connecting NGOs to the UN System Highlighted at 75th Anniversary Event in Vienna

{Photo from left to right: Cyril Ritchie (CoNGO First Vice President), Regina Wialla-Zimm (International Relations Officer, Chief Executive Office for International Relations, City of Vienna), Shams Asadi (Human Rights Commissioner, City of Vienna), Nikhil Seth (Executive Director, UNITAR), Liberato Bautista (CoNGO President), Martina Gredler (CoNGO Second Vice President), Omar Al-Rawi (Member of Vienna City Council and Provincial Parliament), Manfred Nowak (Secretary General, Global Campus of Human Rights, Venice), and  Helga Konrad (Former Austrian Federal Minister of Women’s Affairs}


Vienna, Austria I 8 May 2023  (CoNGO InfoNews) — The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations CoNGO celebrated its 75th anniversary with a global commemorative event at the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) on April 28, 2023. Founded in 1948, just three years after the establishment of the United Nations itself, CoNGO has played a pivotal role in connecting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with the UN system to address a wide array of global challenges.

CoNGO stands out among NGO networks for its unique relationship with the entire UN System, encompassing approximately 50 entities, commissions, agencies, institutes, and other bodies dealing with various aspects of human life and endeavor. These include human rights, maritime safety, meteorology, refugee protection, telecommunications, democracy promotion, disaster prevention and relief, the rule of law, and more.

The organization’s core mission is to facilitate and encourage member governments of the UN to engage openly and inclusively with NGOs in the planning and decision-making processes of intergovernmental debates. NGOs bring their professional expertise, grassroots experiences, detailed knowledge of community needs, and innovative thinking to the UN. Throughout its history, CoNGO has tirelessly worked to emphasize the shared values between the UN and the NGO world, advocating for integrating competent NGO inputs into the UN System.

In its 75th anniversary year, CoNGO organized commemorative events across various UN centers and hosted six global thematic webinars. The first celebration began in Vienna in collaboration with the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) and the City of Vienna. The event featured formal statements, presentations, musical performances, and a reception courtesy of the City of Vienna. Distinguished guests included high-ranking UN and Austrian government officials, representatives from the City and the federal province of Vienna, and NGO leaders from around the world. Please take a look at the concept note for the entire program and the list of guests. 

Ambassador Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry of Austria, sent a video greeting, extending his warm regards to CoNGO on this significant occasion. In his message, he expressed, “Your strong commitment and active engagement are invaluable in addressing the pressing issues of our times, such as implementing the Agenda 2030 and the SGDs. In its 75 years of existence, CoNGO has established itself as an essential partner for multilateralism. We would like to congratulate you on this outstanding achievement.”

Th Director General of UNOV and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,  Mrs. Ghada Fathi Waly, welcomed the participants, with a core message that “NGOs are an essential voice for the most vulnerable and a valuable partner of [UNODC] work.” CoNGO is “optimally equipped to lead the way and build bridges between various global stakeholders,” she said. Greetings and best wishes were also extended by the Ambassador of Israel to Austria and International Organizations in Vienna, Mr. Mordechai Rodgold.

During his reflections on the occasion, Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), emphasized the crucial role CoNGO plays in fostering a new era of multilateralism, stating, “Civil society, academia, and business are leading the charge toward a new multilateralism where young people, enlightened business, and academia cooperate across borders like never before. New coalitions for change are transcending the purely intergovernmental nature of multilateralism. CoNGO must lead the way in empowering these coalitions.” He insisted, “Your special status positions you to do just that. You are close to the grassroots and pivotal to the interface with global and regional processes.” Read Full Speech

Helga Konrad, Former Austrian Federal Minister of Women’s Affairs and Executive Director of the Anti-Trafficking Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, stressed the significance of NGOs in confronting the world’s most critical problems: “CoNGO’s motto, ‘Defining the Present, Shaping the Future, Making the Change Now,’ underscores our collective responsibility for the world’s present and future. NGOs play a vital role in addressing social, economic, environmental, and gender issues.” Read Full Speech

Manfred Nowak, Secretary-General of the Global Campus of Human Rights in Venice and Professor of International Human Rights at Vienna University, acknowledged CoNGO’s pivotal contribution in opening doors for NGOs to access UN bodies: “As the umbrella organization of hundreds of NGOs, the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), founded in the year of the adoption of the Universal Declaration, played a pivotal role in coordinating civil society and providing NGOs with physical and political access to the Commission and other UN bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women.” Read Full Speech

Nowak recalled how, in collaboration with CoNGO, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights in Vienna and the International Service of Human Rights, he organized an NGO Forum with more than 3,000 NGO participants and a program of more than 400 parallel workshops and seminars, with Nowak serving as the main NGO spokesperson.

CoNGO President Bautista’s address further highlighted the imperative for ongoing improvements in access while expressing gratitude for global leaders actively working to facilitate such access: “Access to the premises and promises of the UN must be a fundamental element of Multilateralism 2.0. This entails not a mere reboot of the existing multilateral framework but a comprehensive reimagining and rewiring, integrating the NGO network within the architecture rather than leaving it external. 

“It is with deep honor and pleasure that I convey CoNGO’s profound gratitude, on behalf of its leadership and global membership, to those individuals within multilateral institutions, particularly those here in Vienna, who have consistently provided platforms for our members and the broader civil society to voice their perspectives and exert their influence within the UNOV’s premises and the promises it represents.” Read Full Speech

As CoNGO enters its 75th year, it continues strengthening its commitment to fostering collaboration between NGOs and the United Nations, advocating for a more inclusive and cooperative approach to addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.

Information on all the Anniversary Commemorative events and the six Anniversary Global Thematic Webinars is available on CoNGO’s website.



CoNGO celebrates 75 years since its founding in 1948, lines up commemorative events worldwide

Vienna, Austria | 20 April 2023 (CoNGO InfoNews) – The first global commemorative event to celebrate the 75 years of CoNGO (the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations) will be held at the Vienna International Center in the City of Vienna in Austria on Friday, April 28, from 14:00 to 16:45.

The event may be attended in person or online by registering in one of these three categories:  In-person with a UNOV pass, in-person without a UNOV pass, or online through live streamed broadcast. If you are registering without a UNOV pass, the deadline is Friday, April 21, 18:00 EDT | 23:00 CET.

Attendees will listen to speeches from the Director General of the United Nations Office in Vienna, Mrs. Ghada Fathi Waly and the Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry of Austria, Ambassador Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal. Permanent representatives from missions of UN member states stationed in Vienna and officials from the City of Vienna will also speak. The President of CoNGO, Liberato Bautista, will deliver an Anniversary Presidential Address. Nikhil Seth, Helga Konrad and Manfred Nowak will deliver keynote lectures on timely themes.

Three musical pieces in flute will be performed, and the City of Vienna will tender a vin d’honneur immediately after the program. Please open this link for more information on other speakers and the program and schedule.

To be announced shortly are other global commemorative events in Bangkok, New York and Geneva, including five more global thematic webinars.

Addressing atrocity crimes is urgent, CoNGO President Bautista said at ECOSOC meeting; he also announced two new NGO committees in formation

New York City | January 26, 2023 (CoNGO InfoNews)—At the core of atrocity crimes is the “ignominious assault on intrinsic human dignity and fundamental human rights.”

This was the gist of the message that President Liberato Bautista of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) issued at the special meeting convened on January 24 by the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Ms. Lachezara Stoeva. The special meeting focused on the “social and economic measures to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”.

Denying people food and freedom, jobs and justice, land and liberation provides fertile ground for atrocity crimes, Bautista emphasized, noting the meeting’s emphasis on prevention and the responsibility to protect populations from such crimes.

Bautista took the occasion to announce the creation of two NGO committees under the auspices of CoNGO whose agenda will include the concerns addressed at the special meeting.

One committee to be organized will be called the NGO Committee on Racism, Colonialism, Slavery, Xenophobia and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance and another committee to be called NGO Committee of Youth and Future Generations.

Bautista’s statement, read on his behalf by Ms. Dorothy Davis,  ended with the plea that governments and the United Nations consider investing in young people as wise investment in the prevention of atrocity crimes. Ms. Davis is an NGO representative to the UN of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute which is a member of the CoNGO Board.

Read here President Bautista’s full statement.

CoNGO member organizations are invited to join as founding organizations for the two new NGO Committees mentioned above. If interested, please email the CoNGO President at

CoNGO Pays Tribute to Edith Ballantyne on Her 100th Birthday

Former CoNGO President, Edith Ballantyne (right), in a photo with current CoNGO President, Liberato Bautista (left) and former President, Cyril Ritchie (middle), taken at her house in Geneva, Switzerland on March 19, 2019.

New York City and Geneva, Switzerland | 10 December 2022 (CoNGO InfoNews)—CoNGO, the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations, proclaims, celebrates, and enthuses over the 100 th birthday today, December 10, of one of its outstanding Presidents, Edith Ballantyne, a Canadian citizen who was Secretary General (and later President) of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
(WILPF), headquartered in Geneva.

Edith was born in 1922, on December 10—the date which 26 years later became International Human Rights Day. Nothing could be more fitting, for Edith’s life was wholly devoted to the promotion and protection of all human rights, to the defence of the underprivileged, to the freedom of colonial populations, to countering racism and discrimination, and of course to every aspect of peace and freedom for women.

Edith’s Presidency of CoNGO (1976-1982) took place while the Cold War was still a daily fact of life, and when non-governmental organizations often identified—vocally and sometimes aggressively—with one or another protagonist. As CoNGO President, Edith exercised great diplomatic skill in urging focus on issues that brought NGOs together, and in protecting and enhancing CoNGO’s standing and influence with the United Nations System.

CoNGO salutes Edith Ballantyne for the values she had represented life-long, and wishes her continued health in communion with her family and friends.

In 2021, CoNGO conducted a lengthy interview with Edith, and broadcast it during the 27th CoNGO General Assembly at year-end. Her grasp of issues, her lucidity, and her adherence to principles impressed everyone. The interview gave insights into the illustrious and exceptional life and work of Edith Ballantyne. WILPF also produced an interview of Edith and can be watched here.

Liberato Bautista
President of CoNGO
2007-2011 and 2018-2025

Cyril Ritchie
President of CoNGO

CoNGO President: Use People’s Charter for an Eco-Social World as advocacy tool; organize a robust and protected transborder and transnational civil society

New York City | UPDATED 8 August 2022 (CoNGO InfoNews) — The Global People’s Summit “Co-building a New Eco-social World: Leaving No One Behind” concluded its online meetings on July 2. The Summit run for 24 hours for four days between June 29 and July 2.

The Summit produced The People’s Charter for an Eco-Social World. The Summit’s website hailed the Charter, “which comprises voices from throughout the world, highlights the importance of participatory democracy in effecting transformational change.”

Liberato Bautista, the President of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), delivered a keynote speech and joined 25 global partners in drafting the Summit’s People’s Charter.

Bautista called on CoNGO members to study the People’s Charter and use it as an advocacy tool and inspiration in pursuing CoNGO’s strategic organizational mantra: “defining the present, shaping the future, making the change, now”.

Delivering one of the Summit’s keynote speeches, Bautista challenged the Summit participants to “co-build an eco-social world that depends largely on the empowerment of the voice and agency of peoples as they identify their concerns and craft their futures.”

Addressing more directly some of the elements of the People’s Charter, Bautista implored everyone to join in the task of increasing hope and decreasing fear. “Decreasing fear and replacing it with increased hope augurs well into assuring people of their dignity and human rights and of the planet’s sustainability,” Bautista added.

“To increase hope, we must build a common future for all the inhabitants of the earth and their natural ecology by promoting and safeguarding the common public goods and services indispensable to life. We must increase hope through arrangements that truly put peoples and the planet at the center of both the local and global public imagination of policy and legislation.”

Bautista stressed the need today for “a cadre of leaders from grassroots, local, national, regional and international arenas to provide leadership for the much needed catalytic strategies and action for transformative change in social and ecological relations” such as those identified in the “Pathway Forward” section of the People’s Charter.

Organizing the Summit and drafting the People’s Charter were done under the joint facilitation by Rory Truell, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and Paul Ladd, the Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

As you use the People’s Charter in your own contexts, the CoNGO President would like to know your experience. This will enhance our understanding of the elements of the Charter and enrich them. Email him at Read more about the Global People’s Summit and CoNGO’s collaboration here.

CoNGO joins the People’s Global Summit “Co-building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind”

Photo: Co-Building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind

Geneva, Switzerland | 29 June 2022 (CoNGO InfoNews) — The People’s Global Summit, ‘Co-building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind’ starts today, June 29, Wednesday. The Summit will run 24 hours for four days, June 29 – July 2, online. Join here.

Liberato Bautista, the President of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) will be one of the keynote speakers, scheduled to talk on June 30, Thursday (at 17:30 UTC | 19:30 CEST |  13:30 EST). CoNGO members who are partners of the Summit include the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) which is on the CoNGO Board and led the planning of this Summit, Baha’i International Community (BIC), International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), International Council of Social Welfare (ICSW), and Public Services International (PSI). 

Here is the full press release on the Summit:

“During the Summit people will be able to share their experiences and stories in different ways. These will include presentations from people in communities, live panels, open mic rooms, indigenous-led sessions, storytelling, interviews, cultural expression along with workshops, academic presentations, and keynote addresses from political and civil society leaders. All live and video-presentations will have a chat section for your contributions and to interact with the presenters. This process will provide opportunities for co-building a new eco-social world, and generate security, safety and sustainability for this and future generations.

“The summit effectively acts as a people’s assembly that uniquely and proudly comprises differing world cultures and values, with a holistic vision that combines sustainability, social justice and ‘we the people’ working together for an eco-social world. It was initiated by 26 global diverse organizations and represents 100s of millions of people with roots in communities throughout the world. We share the perspective that the lofty pledges made by governments after the second world war – on peace, development and human rights – have not been realized. Inequalities and fractures have grown. Poverty sits alongside extreme wealth. Nature has been stripped, leading to climate warming and environmental destruction. Millions of people have been displaced as a result, adding to the millions more displaced by conflict and violence. The governments that made these commitments have prioritized competition over collaboration, sovereignty over solidarity. They have not yet served the people they represent.

“In the Summit all participants will contribute to The People’s Charter for an Eco-Social World. The process has already started by people and communities submitting their contributions on what values, policies and practices needed to be developed to give everyone and the planet safety and security. During the Summit, the Charter will be developed and drafted from everyone’s contributions. The partners have agreed that the Charter needs to be a living document and will be initially submitted to the world’s leaders as they gather at the 2022 United Nations High-Level Political Forum and General Assembly as an invitation to join us and call to action to work with us for our shared futures.

“This is one step on the journey of a continuing process for sustainability, justice and equality for all.”

NGO Committee on Language and Languages Elects New Executive Board

Photo: IYIL 2019

New York, USA | 24 May 2022 (CoNGO InfoNews) – An NGO Committee on Language and Languages has been established in New York under the auspices of CoNGO, the Conference of Nongovernmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations.  Some 23 NGOs have joined as founding members of the committee, which aims to give greater attention to language issues in the policies, practice and outreach of the United Nations, especially as these relate to the overall importance of language, linguistic justice, and linguistic non-discrimination.

The by-laws of the new committee were approved at a May 18 meeting and an executive board elected. The meeting featured briefings by UNESCO personnel on the organization’s programmes in the field of languages, particularly multilingual education, the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, and the new World Atlas of Languages.

Francis M. Hult and Humphrey Tonkin, representatives of the Universal Esperanto Association to the UN, were elected as chair and vice-chair respectively. Francis Hult is Professor Education at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and Humphrey Tonkin is President Emeritus of the University of Hartford.

Elected as secretary was Linda Fitchett, former president of the International Association of Conference Interpreters. Hans E. Becklin, of the Esperanto youth organization TEJO, was elected as treasurer. Daniel LeBlanc, of VIVAT International, and Allison Rodriguez, of the International Federation of Translators (FIT) were elected as at-large members of the board.

The work of the committee actually began before the formal May 18 meeting: in December 2021, the committee founders sponsored a briefing meeting with the UN Coordinator for Multilingualism, Under Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management, H.E. Mr. Movses Abelian, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, H.E. Ms. Rabab Fatima, and the Deputy Director of the News and Information Branch of the Department of Global Communications, Ms. Mita Hosali. The committee, along with a number of other organizations, also sponsored a symposium on “Multilingualism and COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Looking Forward” on May 3 and 4, 2022.


For information about this statement and the work of the NGO Committee on Language and Languages, email its Chair, Francis M. Hult ( Visit to learn more about the work of CoNGO and its substantive committees.

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