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Civil Society Summit on Substantive Issues

25 October 2021 @ 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM EDT




Held on the Occasion of the United Nations Day 2021

Theme: Shaping the Future: The UN We Need for the World We Want 

(October 25, 2021, Monday, Virtual, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, EDT, New York)



UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Our Common Agenda): “Decisions made today will define the future for younger and future generations….Humanity faces a series of long-term challenges that evolve over the course of multiple human life spans: warming and degradation of the planet, as well as managing new technologies such as artificial intelligence and gene editing, demographic shifts towards an older population, urbanization and the evolution of social welfare provision. With the fourth industrial revolution, we are in one of the most important transformational moments in recent history. The way in which people live, work, eat and interact with each other is likely to look very different in the future. Yet our dominant political and economic incentives remain weighted heavily in favour of the short term and status quo, prioritizing immediate gains at the expense of longer-term human and planetary well-being. Decisions made today will shape the course of the planet for centuries. Our understanding of “we the peoples” in the Charter of the United Nations needs to be expanded to protect the interests of all the people of the twenty-first century and to bequeath a liveable world to those who will follow.”

 Declaration of CoNGO on the Occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations: On the occasion of the 75th Anniversary {of the United Nations}, we call upon the   United Nations and Member States to enter into a dialogue with civil society to create innovative partnerships that respond to the challenges of a changing world. The spirit of Agenda 2030 requires the robust participation of the peoples of the world so that the benefits of multilateralism are felt in their daily lives. Everyone must work in concert so that the United Nations we need for the world we want prospers in a rules-based international order. We call upon Member States to recognize the vast potential of civil society as an essential element of the international system, defining the present and shaping the future. We must dismantle the hurdles to physical and political access to United Nations processes, to achieve internationally agreed development goals and social justice agendas.”

UN Declaration on the commemoration of the UN 75th anniversary (A/RES/75/1): “We will boost partnerships. Today’s challenges require cooperation not only across borders but also across the whole of society. We have to make the United Nations more inclusive and engage with all relevant stakeholders, including regional and sub-regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia, and parliamentarians to ensure an effective response to our common challenges.”



On the occasion of United Nations Day 2021, CoNGO, the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Status with the United Nations, invites you to participate in a virtual Civil Society Summit on Substantive Issues on Monday, 25 October 2021.

The Summit on Substantive Issues will focus on 1) identifying the issues and concerns we as NGOs are addressing and must address today, and 2) examining whether our responses to these issues and concerns are adequate and relevant—both in the present context and for the future. These foci are predicated on a self-understanding of the roles of NGOs, civil society groups and social movements, and an assumed understanding of how such roles interface with the goals of the United Nations.

We are looking for your best thinking, and your organization’s best thinking, on our collective priorities.

The Summit is partly a venue to engage the report of UN Secretary General António Guterres to the UN General Assembly, Our Common Agenda, and partly an effort to determine CoNGO’s strategic direction for the period beyond 2021, as it reaches its 75th anniversary in 2023.

If we are to contribute to shaping the future, what should that future be, and how can we prepare ourselves and our communities? What agenda can we hold in common? What values must we engender and what actions must we take if we, with others, are to build the world we want? What must we understand about today if we are to contribute to building tomorrow? What actions must we take to address today’s problems in ways that respond to current needs and anticipate future expectations? Above all, how can we mobilize our various publics to address the challenges of today and tomorrow?

As for the UN, what would it take for the world organization to be fully effective, efficient and relevant for the world and the future we want? What innovations are required for multilateral action, and how can we build the trust that multilateral action requires? What must we assert as roles and offer as contributions —as NGOs, CSOs and social movements—in shaping that future we envision?

What can you do? What can CoNGO do? Above all, what can the UN do, with our help?

As a preliminary event leading to the 27th CoNGO General Assembly, this summit invites civil society representatives around the world to join CoNGO member organizations and members of its NGO Committees in shaping the strategic directions of CoNGO as it moves into its 28th term (2021-2025). A synthesis of the product of the thematic panels will be submitted for consideration by CoNGO when it meets for its 27th General Assembly.



UN Secretary General’s Report: Our Common Agenda

Declaration on the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations (A/Res/75/1)

Declaration of CoNGO on the Occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the UN

A Statement of CoNGO: NGO Access to and at the United Nations in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

CoNGO President’s Statement on NGO Access

Millennium Forum Declaration (2000)


Summit Lead Chair: Liberato Bautista (CoNGO President)

Lead Rapporteurs: Cyril Ritchie (CoNGO First Vice President), Martina Gredler (CoNGO Second Vice President) and Humphrey Tonkin (University President Emeritus, University of Hartford | Universal Esperanto Association)



9:00 AM-10:15 AM EDT


Welcome: Liberato Bautista (CoNGO President)

Irina Bokova (Former Director General, UNESCO)

Radhika  Coomaraswamy (Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflict)

Garry Jacobs (President and CEO, World Academy of Art and Science)

Francis Hult (Professor of Educational Linguistics, University of Maryland, Baltimore County)



Panel 1. Human Dignity and Human Rights

10:20 AM-11:15 AM EDT


Chair: Bobbi Nassar (Chair, NGO Committee on Human Rights-New York)

Panelists: Craig Mokhiber (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, New York), Cecilia Jimenez-Damary (UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons), and Anselmo Lee (Coordinator, Asia Civil Society Forum for Sustainable Development)

Rapporteurs: Scott Stearman (UN Representative, Baptist World Alliance and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) and Bruce Knotts (Chair, NGO Committee on Peace, Disarmament and Security | UN Representative, Unitarian Universalist Association)


Panel 2. Agenda 2030: Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action

11:20 AM-12:15 PM EDT


Chair: Ingeborg Geyer (Chair, NGO Committee on Sustainable Development Vienna | Zonta International)

Panelists: Richard Amalvy (CEO, Brazzaville Foundation), Rudelmar Bueno de Faria (General Secretary, ACT Alliance), Hellen Grace Akwii-Wangusa (Former Africa Coordinator, UN Millennium Development Goals and former Anglican Observer to the UN), Anita Thomas (Chair, NGO Committee eon Financing for Development), and Rebecca Malay (Former Co-Chair, Global Call to Action Against Poverty)

Rapporteurs: Anita Thomas (Chair, NGO Committee on Financing for Development | Women First International Fund) and Ivy Koek (Vice Chair, NGO Committee on Status of Women New York | Soka Gakkai International)


Panel 3. Peace and Threats to Security of People and the Planet

12:20 PM-1:20 PM EDT 


Chair: Hiro Sakurai (Director, Office for UN Affairs, Soka Gakkai International)

Panelists: PL de Silva (Seton Hall University | Director, Institute for Strategic Studies and Democracy in Malta),  Jenaina Irani (Research Director, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders), Christopher Ferguson (Former General Secretary, World Communion of Reformed Churches | International Visiting Professor, Universidad Reformada, Barranquilla Colombia), Grace Ji-sun Kim (Professor of Theology, Earlham School of Religion)

Rapporteurs: Helga Kerschbaum (NGO Committee on Peace, Vienna) and Nazlee Maghsoudi (Chair, New York NGO Committee on Drugs)


Panel 4. Social Justice: Migration, Racism, and Health

1:25 PM-2:20 PM EDT


Chair: Dorothy Davis (Congressional Black Caucus Institute | CBCI)

Panelists: Saths Cooper (Pan African Psychology Union), Eni Lestari (President, International Migrants Alliance), Manjit Dosanjh (European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN | ICEC | University of Oxford)

Rapporteurs: Robert Hejdenberg (President, Agrenska Foundation), Priska Fleischlin (International Federation of Social Workers) and Chris Hanway (Chair, NGO Committee on Migration)


Panel 5. Gender Justice, Youth and Intergenerational Solidarity

2:25 PM-3:20 PM EDT 


Chair: Houry Geudelikian (Chair, NGO Committee on Status of Women New York)

Panelists: Myriam Sfeir (Arab Institute for Women | Lebanese American University),

Kehkashan Basu (UN Human Rights Champion | Regional Organizing Partner for North America for the NGO Major Group | Founder-President of Green Hope Foundation), Nafisa Ferdous (Senior Programs Manager, Restless Development)

Rapporteurs: Laurie Richardson (Chair, NGO Committee on Status of Women Vienna) and Beverly Bucur (Director Advocacy, Soroptimist International)

Panel 6. UN-NGO Relations: Enhancing Multilateralism, Ensuring Access, Protecting Civic Space and Discourse

3:25 PM-4:30 PM EDT 


Chair: Liberato Bautista (CoNGO President)

Panelists: Mandeep Tiwana (Chief Programs Officer, CIVICUS),  Eleanor Openshaw (International Service for Human Rights), James Paul (Former Executive Director, Global Policy Forum), Gitanjali Sah (International Telecommunication Union | ITU | WSIS Process)

Rapporteurs: Holly Shaw (Chair, NGO Committee on Mental Health and the NGO Committee on Education, Learning and Literacy) and Shantu Watt (International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse) 

Civil Society Summit: Closing Remarks by Cyril Ritchie (CoNGO First Vice President)


Bios of Panelists, Chairs and Rapporteurs



Irina Bokova is a Bulgarian diplomat, politician, and from 2009-2017 she was the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  Dr. Bokova was the first woman to lead the Organization.  Bokova joined the United Nations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria in 1977. Appointed in charge of political and legal affairs at the Permanent Mission of Bulgaria to the United Nations in New York, she was also a member of the Bulgarian Delegation at the United Nations conferences on the equality of women in Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995). Bokova also served as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador of Bulgaria to France, Monaco and UNESCO (2005-2009).  As Secretary of the Council of Ministers for European integration and as Foreign Minister, advocated for European integration.

 Radhika Coomaraswamy received her BA from Yale University, her J.D. from Columbia University and her LLM from Harvard University. In Sri Lanka, she was Director of International Centre for Ethnic Studies from 1982 to 2005 and the Chairperson of the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission from 2003 to 2006. Recently, from 2015-2018, she was a member of the Constitutional Council. Regionally, Coomaraswamy was a founder member of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development and currently Chairperson of the South Asians for Human Rights. Internationally, Coomaraswamy served as UN Under Secretary General and as Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict from 2006 until her retirement in 2012.,and the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women from 1994-2003. In 2014, the UN Secretary General asked Coomaraswamy to lead the Global Study to review the fifteen year implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. In 2017 she was appointed to the UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar and also appointed as a member of The Secretary General’s Board of Advisors on Mediation. Coomaraswamy is often a visiting lecturer at the New York University School of Law and at the Oxford University Human Rights program. She was privileged to be asked to deliver the Grotius Lecture of the American Association of International Law in 2013 and the Tanner Lecture of the University of Michigan in 2016. She has also received numerous prizes, awards and honors both nationally and internationally. Among these are the International Law prize of the American Bar Association, honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburg, Amherst College and the Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven. In 2005, the Sri Lankan government conferred on her the honor of Deshamanya.

Garry Jacobs is an American author, researcher and consultant on business management, economic and social development, education and global governance. Dr. Jacobs is President, Chief Executive Officer and former Chairman of the Board of the World Academy of Art & Science; Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of World University Consortium; founder of Mira International, a management consultant to businesses in Europe, North America and Asia on strategic growth and profitability; Managing Editor of Cadmus Journal on economics, education, international security and global governance; Vice-President of The Mother’s Service Society (MSS), an educational and social science research institute in India; a full member of the Club of Rome; Professor of Trans-disciplinary Social Science, IACP, Italy. The integrating theme in Jacobs’ research is the social and psychological process of growth and development as it expresses at the level of the individual, organization, nation and the global community.

Francis M. Hult works at the crossroads of education, discourse studies, and sociolinguistics. Growing up bilingual in a Swedish-American family, his personal experience with bilingualism and transnationalism led him to a career in language studies. Dr. Hult earned his master’s degree in TESOL and French education at New York University, where he also received his bachelor’s degree, and a PhD in educational linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. Hult’s research focuses on multilingualism in policy and practice, investigating ideological dimensions of national language policies, policy formation and implementation, language teacher engagement with educational policy discourses, and visual language use in multilingual communities. He has been recognized for his work in these areas with the Early Career Award of Merit and the William E. Arnold Award from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, a Language Learning Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence appointment at the University of Calgary Language Research Centre, and a Charles A. Fergusson Fellowship at the Center for Applied Linguistics. His books include the Handbook of Educational Linguistics (with Bernard Spolsky), Directions and Prospects for Educational Linguistics, and Research Methods in Language Policy and Planning (with David Cassels Johnson). He has been active for many years with pre- and in-service teacher education in the United States and Sweden, having taught courses on topics such as TESOL methods, grammar, educational sociolinguistics, and practitioner research as well as conducted field supervision.

Liberato “Levi”  Bautista is President of CoNGO—the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (2018-2021). He was also CoNGO president between 2008 and 2011. Dr. Bautista is Assistant General Secretary for UN and International Affairs at the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) of The United Methodist Church. He represents CoNGO and GBCS at the UN. Bautista was former Chair of the Council of Organizations of the UN Association of the USA. Bautista studied political science, history, and international studies at the University of the Philippines and religion and social and political ethics at Drew University (New Jersey). Union Theological Seminary conferred on him Doctor of Divinity honoris causa in 2016 in the Philippines. Bautista lectures and publishes in a variety of fields, including international affairs; social and political ethics; theology, religion and ecumenism; and peace and human rights. He teaches in university, seminary and conference settings. Bautista has visited some 80 nations, attending UN, ecumenical, civil society, and academic conferences since late 1970’s. Among accolades received are the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award (Drew University, 1996 ); recognition of his contributions to the democratization and struggle for peace and justice in the Korean Peninsula (Korea Democracy Foundation, 2017); award of honor for work on religious freedom worldwide (from International Religious Liberty Association, 2017) and the George Fritze human rights award (Cologne, Germany) for human rights work during the Marcos dictatorship in the 1980s with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. Some of Bautista’s published works are Migrants and Refugees: Voice and Agency–Towards an Infrastructure of Welcome and Hospitality and an Architecture of Advocacy and Solidarity, in International Handbook on Ecumenical Diakonia (Oxford: Regnum Books, 2021); The Intersections of Human Rights, Migration and Development Justice (New York and Manila: CWWM, 2014), Sustainable Development Goals: The Ethical Demands of Human Rights and Equity, in MDG Global Watch Journal (New York, 2012); Indigenous Peoples: Confession, Repentance and Forgiveness, in On This Spirit Walk—The Voices of Native American and Indigenous Peoples, (Nashville, Tennessee, 2012);  And None Shall Make Them Afraid: Militarism, Militarization and Human Rights, in Praxis (Hong Kong: WSCF-AP, 2000);  and Those Who Would Give Light Must Endure Burning: Spirituality for Justice and Peace (Geneva: WCC, 1986).

Cyril Ritchie currently serves as CoNGO First Vice President (2018-2021) and was its President (2011-2018). Cyril’s roles in international Civil Society have included: International Secretary, World University Service; Executive Director, International Council of Voluntary Agencies; Director, International Schools Association; President of the World Civil Society Conference; President of the International Civil Society Forum for Democracy; Chair, World Child Strategy, NGO Committee on UNICEF; Chair, Environment Liaison Centre International; and President, Union of International Associations. Cyril has participated in a large number of United Nations World Conferences and Summits, including Food (Rome), HABITAT (Vancouver and Istanbul), Environment and Development (Rio), Women (Nairobi) Nutrition (Rome), Social Development (Copenhagen), Sustainable Development (Johannesburg and Rio), World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva). Cyril has been engaged in NGO and civil society liaison and advocacy mechanisms with many United Nations agencies and entities, inter alia, ECOSOC, ESCAP, HLPF, UNDP, UNDPI, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCHR, UNHCR, WSIS Forum. Cyril participates regularly in many annual or recurring UN Commissions and Sessions. Cyril has been for six years a Visiting Professor at Kyung Hee University, Seoul. He is a member, inter alia, of the Academic Council on the UN System, CIVICUS, the International Baby Food Action Network, the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health. Cyril is based in Geneva, and has visited 90 countries.

Martina Gredler was born in Vienna, then lived and went to school in France, Germany and China. She returned to Austria for medical studies, completed in 1985 as MD, and thereafter completed her dental studies in 1989 as DDS. Since then, she has worked in her dental practice. Dr. Gredler is a former member of the European Parliament as well as the Austrian Parliament, with a focus on studies of mediation and conflict resolution. She is a Court expert witness and was named first health award winner in 2015 for a housing project. Dr. Gredler has served as Soroptimist International’s Representative at the United Nations since 2012, and as Chair of the NGO Committee on Status of Women Vienna from 2015-2018.

Humphrey Tonkin is representative of the Universal Esperanto Association to the United Nations. President Emeritus and University Professor of the Humanities Emeritus at the University of Hartford, he was President of the University from 1989 to 1998. From 1966 to 1983 he was Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, and from 1983 to 1988 President of the State University of New York at Potsdam. Educated at Cambridge University and Harvard, he has been visiting professor at Columbia University and visiting scholar at Yale and Oxford Universities. At various times he has chaired the boards of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, the Canadian Fulbright Commission, and the Center for Applied Linguistics, and was President of the Universal Esperanto Association from 1974 to 1980 and from 1986 to 1989. He has published extensively on Renaissance literature, sociolinguistics, language policy, and international education, and is currently heading the effort to establish an NGO Committee on Language and Languages under the auspices of CoNGO.



 Craig Mokhiber is Director of the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. An international lawyer and specialist in human rights law, policy, and methodology with more than thirty-five years in the international human rights movement, including more than twenty-five years at the United Nations, he has held senior UN positions in Geneva, New York and in the field, and has undertaken human rights missions to dozens of countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Mokhiber has served as the UN’s Senior Human Rights Advisor in Palestine, and in Afghanistan, led the team of human rights specialists attached to the High-Level Mission on Darfur, headed the Rule of Law and Democracy Unit, and served as Chief of the Economic and Social Issues Section, and Chief of the Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch at OHCHR Headquarters. He was for five years the Chairman of the UN Task Force for Action Two (a global initiative to advance national human rights protection systems), and later Chaired the UN Democracy Fund consultative group, the UN Working Group on Leadership, and the UN Consultative Group on Inequalities.

Cecilia Jimenez-Damary (Philippines) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2016 and assumed the mandate on 1 November 2016. Ms. Jimenez-Damary is a lawyer in human rights and international humanitarian law specialised in forced displacement and migration. She has over three decades of experience in NGO human rights advocacy for the Asia-Pacific region and teaching experience as an adjunct professor of international human rights and humanitarian law. Ms. Jimenez-Damary previously acted as Senior Legal Adviser and Trainer with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Geneva; as the National Director of the IDP Project of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines; and as the government representative to the Philippine Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission for the Bangsamoro. Ms. Jimenez-Damary holds an LL.M. in Public International Law from King’s College London, UK; an MDC in International Organizations-MBA from the University of Geneva, Switzerland; an LL.B. from Ateneo de Manila, Philippines; and a B.Sc. in Foreign Service from the University of the Philippines. She was admitted to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in 1990.

Anselmo Lee is currently regional coordinator of the Asia Civil Society Partnership for Sustainable Development (APSD), a regional partner of the Action for Sustainable Development which is a global civil society advocacy platform on SDGs. He has been involved in the civil society movement in Korea and internationally, for more than 30 years, on issues related to human rights, democracy, peace, ODA, as well as recently the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for more than. He has also engaged in research and teaching about human rights and SDGs at several universities including Kyunghee University and Sungkonghoe University in Korea. He is currently serving the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) as a non-standing board member. Mr. Lee was Executive Director of the Korea Human Rights Foundation from 2010 to 2018 after serving the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) as Director General in charge of Human Rights Policy and Education (2008-2010). Previously he worked for Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) as Executive Director (2005 – 2008) based in Bangkok. He was Chair of Working Group for Asia and Vice-President of CoNGO in 2001-2004 when he was working in Geneva as Secretary General of Pax Romana ICMICA.

Bobbi Nassar is a retired Social Work Professor. She was on faculty of Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University’s graduate school of social work, from 1979 through 2013 (34 years). Dr. Nassar represents International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (IFS) at the United Nations and has since 1991. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the NGO Committee on Human Rights. Dr. Nassar is a mental health clinician and works with refugee communities. This work includes providing counseling to survivors of torture and human rights training. She serves on the board of South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) and is a Senior Adviser for International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD).

For over three decades, Scott Stearman has served as a pastor in the Christian (Baptist) tradition. His experience includes congregations in Athens, Greece and Paris, France. For twelve years he served as Senior Pastor of the Kirkwood Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri. While in St. Louis, Dr. Stearman worked actively in advocacy for racial justice (serving on the advisory board of the New Baptist Covenant – President Jimmy Carter’s anti-racist initiative) and in state-wide efforts to fight discrimination against the LGBTQ community.  Most recently, he has been a pastor in New York City where he continues to be the representative of the Baptist global body at the United Nations (supported by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance). He is active in helping lead NGO committees related to human rights and the freedom of religion and belief, has been engaged in civil society’s advocacy at the High-Level Political Forum around the UN’s Agenda 2030 (SDGs). Dr. Stearman is a trustee on the board of the Parliament of World Religions and writes regularly on the intersection of religion and international/cultural affairs.  His educational background includes theological degrees from Southwestern and Princeton Seminaries and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma.

Bruce Knotts was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia (1972-75), worked for Raytheon in Saudi Arabia (1976-80) and on a World Bank contract in Somalia (1982-4), before he joined the Department of State as a U.S. diplomat in 1984. Bruce had diplomatic assignments in Greece, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire and The Gambia, where he served as Deputy Chief of Mission. While in Cote d’Ivoire, Bruce served as the U.S. Government’s Regional Refugee Coordinator for West Africa. Bruce worked closely with several United Nations Special Representatives and observed UN peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone from 2000-2003. Bruce retired from the Foreign Service in 2007 and began directing the Unitarian Universalist Association Office at the United Nations (UU@UN) in 2008. Bruce founded faith-based advocacy for sexual orientation/gender identity human rights at the United Nations and continues to advocate for the rights of women, indigenous peoples and for sustainable development in moral terms of faith and values. Bruce is frequently invited to speak on various topics at venues around the world including recently in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Republic of Korea, Ghana, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Bruce is co-chair of the NGO Committee on Human Rights at the United Nations, the chair of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, and a member of the NGO Working Group on the UN Security Council, and Bruce is co-moderator of Religions for Peace, USA, a trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and a Commissioner for the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation. In 2006, Bruce and Isaac Humphrie were wed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Isaac works internationally as a lead producer for IMG Focus Productions at New York Fashion Week, an event environmentalist, a photographer, and a social media consultant.



Since June 2020 Richard Amalvy is the Chief Executive of the Brazzaville Foundation, a UK-based charity focusing on African issues. A former journalist and parliamentary assistant in France, Richard has a long record as a leader of national and international NGOs. Former External Relations Director for World Scouting (2004-2010), he served as Vice-President of CoNGO as a scout representative (2008-2010). He also worked as a consultant to the World Bank (Youth policy), OECD (Public affairs), and IAEA (Resources mobilisation).

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria (Brazil) is the General Secretary (CEO) of the ACT Alliance, an international coalition of 156 churches and faith-based organizations working together in humanitarian, development and advocacy work in over 120 countries.  Prior to this, he served as the World Council of Churches Representative to the United Nations in New York, and Deputy Director for the Lutheran World Service. He has over 25 years of experience working with national and international non-governmental organizations. His education embraces business administration, international relations and foreign trade.  He has post-graduation studies on Diakonia and Community Development and several specialization courses related to international, humanitarian and human rights laws. Rudelmar is co-chair and member of the United Nations Multi-Faith Advisory Council, member of the UN Steering Committee for the Implementation of the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence, member of the UN High-Level Commission of the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 Follow-up, member of the AMC Engagement Group of the COVAX Facility, member of the Advisory Board for the Humanitarian Encyclopedia,  member of the Generation Equality, member of the NGO Working Group on the UN Security Council, and member of the Steering Committee on Humanitarian Response (SCHR).

Anita Thomas is the Chair of the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, a Substantive Committee of the Conference of NGOs (CoNGO). She was elected to this role by the Committee for a third term in 2021. She also serves as the Convener of the NGO Coalition to End Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. She represents Women First International Fund at the UN, an NGO in ECOSOC Consultative Status, that provides grants for the economic empowerment of women and girls globally. She served as the main representative and alternate representative of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to the UN for over ten years. Her professional experience, spanning over twenty years with both domestic and international NGOs, include management roles with the Conference of NGOs, Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, and consultant roles in project management, grants management, and finance. She holds an M.S. in Finance from the Simon School of Business, University of Rochester, a MPAP from the Bloustein School of Public Policy, Rutgers University and an M.A. Economics from Madras Christian College, India. She is a Fellow of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University.

Rebecca Malay is the former co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and the chairperson of the board of GCAP’s Global Foundation. She is a Trustee of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM). She has 30 years of extensive experience in managing policy advocacy, campaigning,, and building capacity in the areas of Sustainable Development and Human Rights; debt, trade, aid and economic justice issues; poverty, inequality and climate change; transparency, accountability and people’s participation; electoral and political reform, election observation and monitoring; and voter education. Malay holds a Bachelor of Arts  in Economics degree from the University of the Philippines, a Certificate in Development Management from PZRRM and the Asian Institute of Management Course o Development, and a Certificate Course/Fellow from the African Programme on Rethinking Development Economics, Cape Town, South Africa.

Ingeborg Geyer has been a member of Zonta Club Vienna since 1985. Dr. Geyer served as a member of the Zonta International Board of Directors from 2008-2010 Nd has been representing ZONTA International at the UN in Vienna since 2010. Over the years, she has been active as board member in various functions at the NGO Committee on Status of Women Vienna, NGO Committee on Sustainable Development Vienna, NGO Committee on the Family, and the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. She currently chairs the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development Vienna. Professionally, Ms. Geyer has been a lexicographer and linguist, the Head of an Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences from 2003–2012, and served as chief editor of the Lexicon of Austrian-Bavarian Dialects until 2015. She holds a Doctor’s degree from the University of Vienna.

Ivy Koek of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is Program Coordinator for the SGI Office for UN Affairs in New York. Engaged in SGI’s work in the fields of gender equality and women’s empowerment, sustainable development, peace and disarmament, and human rights mainly through its nonformal education approach since joining in 2013.She has served on the NGO CSW/NY Executive Committee since 2014; currently as Vice Chair of the Committee and Co-chair of the Young Professionals Subcommittee. Prior to her current position, Ivy’s work has taken her to Venezuela, Boston, and Japan in the fields of education, study abroad, editing and translation. She has been involved in projects on issues such as the empowerment of women peacebuilders, child labor, and women’s leadership. Ivy holds an MA with a concentration in Sustainable Development from the School for International Training and received her Bachelor’s from the University of Georgia in Japanese Language and Literature with a Spanish minor.



 PL de Silva, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor, School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, and Director, Institute for Strategic Studies and Democracy (ISSD) Malta. He was previously Senior Advisor, United Nations Global Compact in the Executive Office of Secretary-General (EOSG) of Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Dr de Silva has taught Political Science, International Relations, Diplomacy and United Nations Studies at a number of universities in the United States, and served as Lecturer, School of Politics and the Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict at the Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. He has over thirty-years-experience in conflict and peace studies – with special focus on political violence, paramilitaries, counterterrorism, and transnational security, as well as the role of diplomacy within the United Nations system. Dr de Silva’s current research focuses on human trafficking, forced migration and terrorism in Libya, sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. He is coeditor, with Robin Andersen (2018), The Routledge Companion to Media and Humanitarian Action, and with Ronaldo Munck (2000) Postmodern Insurgencies: Political Violence, Identity Formation and Peacemaking in Comparative Perspective, London: Macmillan and New York: St. Martin’s Press. Dr. de Silva’s new book is forthcoming (2022) Media and Transcontinental Humanitarian Action in the Time of COVID-19: Human Trafficking, Forced Migration and the German Marshall Plan With Africa, New York: Routledge.

Jenaina Irani is a research consultant and former Research and Advocacy Intern for GNWP’s Asia Peacebuilding Programs. Among her current projects, she is working on an advocacy report to strengthen the global response to conflict-related sexual slavery. She has also contributed to three publications at GNWP. In the Spring of 2020, she received her Masters in Global Affairs at New York University, specializing in International Development and Gender Studies. At NYU, she served as the Managing Editor of the Global Affairs Review academic journal and the Vice-President of the Gender Working Group. As part of a Graduate Consultancy representing the CGA, she conducted research and policy analysis for the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). Jenaina has previously interned with UN Women’s Peace and Security team. She was involved in communications & research tasks, related to Security Council Resolution 1325 and the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. She has also interned with the New York-based non-profit the Desai Foundation working on fundraising, online campaigns, and impact analysis to facilitate development and public health programs in India. She hopes to hone further expertise on the nexus of climate change, gender, and security. Prior to her graduate studies, Jenaina served as the Associate Director for Intelligence for Max Security, a multi-national risk consultancy firm. She has in-depth experience in risk analysis and strategic foresight for Fortune 500 corporate clients and international organizations. Jenaina also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media and Journalism from Jai Hind College, Mumbai. During this time, she was the recipient of a Canadian government undergraduate scholarship to study at the University of Windsor for one year, where she focused on International Relations.

Chris Ferguson is the former General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, an International Visiting Professor at La Universidad Reformada, Barranquilla, Colombia, an Ordained Minister of the United Church of Canada, and a co-Rapporteur of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Reference Group for the Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace. Rev. Dr. Prof. Ferguson has been involved in interfaith and ecumenical initiatives for climate justice, education and human rights. He is the principal author of important ecumenical statements on climate, economic and social justice including the “Accra Confession.” Dr. Ferguson has been involved in peace and reconciliation processes for over 40 years notably South Africa, Central America, Colombia, Israel Palestine, the Middle East, the Philippines  and the Korean Peninsula. He represented the World Council of Churches at the UN HQ in New York and in Jerusalem. He served as General Secretary and Ecumenical Officer with the United Church of Canada and was responsible for Relationships in the Caribbean and Latin America. Ferguson was Director of Chaplaincy Services at McGill University in Montreal and adjunct professor at United Theological College. He served as Professor of Ministry and Theology at the Seminario Biblico Latinoamericano in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim was born in Korea, was educated in Canada, and now teaches in the United States as professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. Dr. Kim is the author or editor of 20 books, most recently, InvisibleHope in Disarray; Keeping Hope Alive; and Making Peace with the Earth.  Making Peace with the Earth is an edited volume on climate justice published by the World Council of Churches (WCC). Kim has been part of the WCC delegation to COP for many years and will attend COP26. She was also part of the peace delegation to South Korea with Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. Kim is a Series Editor for Palgrave Macmillan Series, “Asian Christianity in the Diaspora” and has served on the American Academy of Religion’s Board of Directors. Kim writes for Baptist News Global, Sojourners, Faith and Leadership and Wabash Center and has published in TIME, The Huffington Post, Christian Century, US Catholic Magazine and The Nation. She is the host of Madang podcast which is hosted by the Christian Century and is an ordained Presbyterian Church (USA) minister. More of her writing and work can be found on her blog site Loving Life.

Since 2015, Hiro Sakurai has been serving as the Director of the Office for UN Affairs at the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and managing its UN offices in New York and Geneva which mainly cover the areas including peace and disarmament, sustainable development, climate justice, human rights education, and gender justice. Since 1997, Hiro has been based in New York as SGI’s representative to the UN and assumed various responsibilities including: President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations (2004-2007 and 2019-present); founding member of the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace (2006); Civil Society Task Force member for the General Assembly High-level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Cooperation and Understanding for Peace (2007); President of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security (2009-2012); founding member of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace (2010-); and Convener of the Asia Pacific Faith-based Coalition for Sustainable Development (APFC) (2018-2019). Hiro has also helped SGI’s non-formal education projects including the production of an environmental education film A Quiet Revolution, exhibitions and lecture series on the culture of peace, a youth nonviolence initiative the Victory Over Violence, a grassroots nuclear disarmament project, Peoples Decade for Nuclear Abolition.

Helga Kerschbaum studied law in Vienna and worked for many years as a judge. She is the author of the book “Culture of Benevolence” (2004). She is main representative of Pax Romana at the UN Vienna and is currently the Chair of the NGO Committee on Peace Vienna since 2018.

Nazlee Maghsoudi is Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the New York NGO Committee on Drugs, a global committee that supports civil society engagement on drug policy at the United Nations and represents 100+ organizations. She has been deeply involved in the development of evidence-based drug policies at the grassroots, local, national, and international levels since 2013. Nazlee is Manager of the Policy Impact Unit at the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation. She is also a Strategic Advisor at Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, having formerly acted as Chair of the Board of Directors. Nazlee is a PhD candidate in Health Services Research at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University and a Master of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto.



Saths Cooper is the Pan-African Psychology Union President, International Science Council Governing Board Member, International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) and Psychological Society of South Africa Past President. Dr. Cooper is a Fellow of the psychological societies of South Africa, India, Ireland and Britain. The first black chair of the Professional Board for Psychology, and the first non-medical/dental professional to become Vice President of the Health Professions Council (HPCSA), he was Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Durban-Westville. Amongst his awards are the inaugural IUPsyS Achievement Against the Odds, the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology and the HPCSA Presidential Merit Award. A close colleague of the Black Consciousness founder Steve Biko, he was banned and house-arrested at 22 years of age1 and jailed for nine years, spending over five in the same Robben Island cell-block as President Mandela. Accused No. 1 in the seminal SASO/BPC trial2, he was a leader of the struggle against apartheid from the late 1960s, playing various leadership roles after his release from Robben Island Prison in December 1982. His house was petrol-bombed by the police in 1984 and his last imprisonment was during the state of emergency June-September 1986. Despite the granting of his first passport in October 1986 – valid only for the USA – he nevertheless completed his PhD in Clinical/Community Psychology as a Fulbright Scholar at Boston University in a record three years in December 1989. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (chaired by Nobel Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu) declared him a ‘victim of gross human rights violations’ in 1998. On the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Board, he chairs its Public Broadcasting Committee, and is an officer of the anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-sectarian 1970s group of activists striving for Restoring Our Common Humanity, who ignited the “spark that lit a veld fire across South Africa” (Mandela, 2002). A Clinical Psychologist for over 30 years, Cooper is Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria and Honorary Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

Eni Lestari is an Indonesian migrant domestic worker in Hong Kong for over 20 years and a migrant rights activist. She is the current chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance  (IMA), a first ever global alliance of grassroots migrants, immigrants, refugees and other displaced people. In 2016, she was the only grassroots migrant chosen to speak at the opening of the UN General Assembly on the Large Movement of Migrants and Refugees in New York City, USA. She received several nominations and awards for her dedication, including Non-Profit Leader of American Chamber of Commerce. Hong Kong, BBC 100 Women 2016, and the Cathay Changemaker 2020 by Cathay Pacific.

Manjit Dosanjh holds a PhD in Biochemical Engineering from the UK and her professional efforts in the fields of cancer and she has held positions in various academic and research institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Italy, CERN in Switzerland. At CERN was instrumental in applying the technologies developed for particle physics to the medical field and society at large. She is recognized as a “bridge builder” among disciplines, people, cultures, and countries, amply demonstrated by ENLIGHT network, SEEIIST-Balkan collaboration and now the STELLA (Smart Technologies to Extend Lives with Linear Accelerators) collaboration in Africa. In addition, she is actively involved in helping non-profit health and science education and gender related organizations in Geneva and served as the UN representative in Geneva for GWI-IFUW (International Federation of University Women) as well working groups for health and STEM for CSW Geneva. She was the editor or NGO-CSW Geneva Bejing+20 Platform outcome report. She is on the board of directors for ICEC based in Washington DC, where she is actively involved in addressing the lack of access to cancer treatment in LMICs.

Dorothy Davis is the ECOSOC Representative of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute’s Global African Diaspora Initiative (CBCI) under the leadership of CBCI’s Executive Director, Vanessa Griddine-Jones. CBCI, a non-governmental organization, is the policy advocacy and leadership training arm of the Congressional Black Caucus. CBCI’s Global African Diaspora Initiative serves as the platform for the voices of African Americans within the African diaspora in support of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Ms. Davis is also President of Dorothy M. Davis Consulting, an international development communications and public affairs consulting and project management firm. Born in Liberia to pioneer United States Foreign Service parents, she was raised in Tunisia, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the U.S.A. She has worked across the UN system and with a variety of international non-governmental organizations, including: UNDP, UN Office of South-South Cooperation, UN-OHRLLS, IFAD, WHO, UNECA, UN Women, UNESCO, ILO, FAO, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNEP, The Andrew J. Young Foundation, Africa America Institute, Shared Interest, African Union, Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund of Liberia, African Women’s Development Fund and Femmes Africa Solidarite, and the African Development Bank. Ms. Davis is a member of the National Board of Directors of UN Women-USA.

Robert Hejdenberg is since 2004 the President and CEO of Ågrenska in Sweden. Robert has over 30 years’ experience of working in leading positions and strategic work. Since the early 1980s Robert has been involved in policy- and patient advocacy work on local, regional, national, and international levels. Robert has continuously been involved in arranging and moderating meetings and conferences. Such as high-level meetings arranged by the NGO Committee for Rare Diseases. Robert is currently: • CEO and President of Ågrenska in Sweden since 2004 • Board member of the Rare Disease Research foundation in Sweden since 2015 • Board member of the CoNGO4 board (in Consultative Status of the United Nations) since 2020 • Board member in the NGO Committee for Rare Diseases since 2018 • Chair of the Asthma and Allergy research foundation6 since 2016 • Member of several other regional, national, and international steering/working groups and taskforces mostly in the fields of holistic health, quality of life and rare diseases

Priska Fleischlin has been appointed as the first UN Commissioner of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) after its General meeting in 2018 and has agreed to build up a UN Commission. In her function she focusses on the Agenda 2030 and is passionate about transdisciplinary partnership that includes civil society. Ms. Fleischlin graduated with a Master of Science in Social Work in Lucerne, Switzerland. Her Bachelor and Master Thesis were focused on the ‘Social Worker’s empowerment in developing aid’ and ‘cohesion in transnational transdisciplinary project-Teams.’ She is an experienced social worker (youth, adults, older people) and is CEO at a Swiss NGO in the field of care farming (topics: housing, people with disabilities, mental health, rural development, care).

Since 2014, Christopher Hanway has served as the Executive Director of Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, a community-based social service organization in Long Island City, Queens that serves hundreds of migrants and their families per year. Prior to that, he was the organization’s Director of Development & Communications for five years. Mr. Hanway has over 20 years of professional experience in the not-for-profit sector, most notably at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, the Institute for Classical Architecture, and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. He received his B.A. from Hunter College of the City University of New York and has a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. He serves on several boards, including United Neighborhood Houses of New York, the Chhaya Community Development Corporation and the International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers. Mr. Hanway is also Chair of the NGO Committee on Migration, which advocates at the United Nations and other international organizations on behalf of migrants, refugees and asylees worldwide and serves on the Executive Committee of the NGO Committee on Aging in New York.



Myriam Sfeir joined the Arab Institute for Women (AiW) in 1996. She is currently the Director of AiW. Previously she served as senior managing editor of Al-Raida, the double-blind peer-reviewed journal published by AiW. She has over 25 years of experience working in the area of women’s rights issues and gender equality and ample experience doing research, expert analysis and trainings. She has worked on several groundbreaking projects that dealt with various subjects considered taboo in the Arab world (sexuality, honor killings, incarcerated women, homosexuality, etc.). She has organized several international and regional conferences, film festivals, and lectures at LAU. Myriam is knowledgeable on issues related to human rights, gender-based violence, and sexuality. Myriam earned her Bachelor degree in Philosophy from the American University of Beirut and her Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

Winner of the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize, Kehkashan Basu is a global influencer, environmentalist, champion of women and children’s rights, TEDx speaker, Climate Reality Mentor, author, musician, peace and sustainability campaigner. A Forbes 30 Under 30 and the first-ever Winner of the Voices Youth Gorbachev-Schultz Legacy Award for her work on nuclear disarmament, Kehkashan is a United Nations Human Rights Champion, a National Geographic Young Explorer, a UN Habitat Young City Champion, the Regional Organizing Partner for North America for the NGO Major Group and one of Canada’s Top25 Women of Influence. Kehkashan is the Founder-President of global social innovation enterprise Green Hope Foundation, that works at a grassroots level in 25 countries, empowering those from vulnerable communities in the sustainable development process. She has spoken at over 200 United Nations and other global fora across 25 countries. She is the youngest Trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Council Lead of the Toronto-St. Paul’s Constituency Youth Council, Canada, a member of the World Humanitarian Forum Youth Council and a Co-Leader of UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum Action Coalition on Feminist Action for Climate Justice. She works tirelessly to amplify the voices of young people, women and girls, in decision-making processes.

Nafisa Ferdous is the Senior Program Manager for the global youth-focused organization Restless Development, specializing in gender and sexual rights programming and advocacy. She has over 10 years of experience with global feminist advocacy and reserach in Asia and East Africa. She has led digital campaigns on sexual rights including sex workers rights, access to safe abortion and online gender-based violence. Most recently Nafisa conceptualized and managed Restless Development’s Feminist Action Lab – an intergenerational online course integrating the history of the Beijing Platform for Action, Generation Equality Forum and broader feminist approaches to advocacy. She is interested in challenging neoliberal and top-down development narratives and supporting greater historical and intergenerational learning around feminism.

Houry Geudelekian is currently the Chair of the NGO Committee on Status of Women-New York. She was the previous Gender Program Coordinator at NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY and the UN Coordinator of Unchained At Last, an ECOSOC accredited US based organization that fights to stop early marriage in the US. She recently ended her term as Co-Chair of Working Group on Girls and Co-Chair of NYC4CEDAW. Born in Beirut, Lebanon into an Armenian family, she moved to New York City in the late 70’s with her husband and together they started a business that grew to over 30 employees and 2000 clientele in the competitive market of Manhattan. Her professional expertise is in Project Management, Marketing and Public Relations with a passion for Human Rights. Houry has been involved with many non-profits and academic institutions, chaired major events and fundraised for special events. In her capacity as UN Coordinator for Armenian Relief Society (2011-2016), she served as Executive Committee member of NGO CSW NY for two terms, Co-Chaired NGO CSW Forum Planning Committee, MC’d two Consultation Days and Chaired Women of Distinction Award for CSW57/58. As a board member and the current chair of NGO CSW NY she was a founding member of the Cities for CEDAW campaign as well as Beijing Platform for Action+20, working closely with UN Women. She is always actively looking to partner with international organizations to bring gender equality to global attention while mentoring young adults to be inspired and care about Human Rights. She has also facilitated and partnered with UN Member States, UN Women, UNDP to bring about positive change globally through panel discussions and projects.

Laurie Richardson is the UN Liaison for FAWCO, leading a team of UN Representatives engaged in advocacy on gender equality, climate change, human rights and migration. She is Chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women Vienna. Her early career was in international development; she lived and worked in Colombo, Sri Lanka and held assignments in India and Pakistan. She has a Master’s degree in non-profit management from Yale University and a Bachelor’s in international affairs from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Beverly Bucur is the Soroptimist International Director of Advocacy.  A Soroptimist since 1993, Bev has served at many levels of the organization including SIA Midwestern Region Governor, SIA Federation Board Member and numerous leadership positions at the club level. In her current role as Soroptimist International Director of Advocacy, she works with the Soroptimist International UN Representatives, the Advocacy Committee and SI Board to ensure that Soroptimist International is the Global Voice For Women. Beverly has 40 years of experience as an educator. In addition to teaching in elementary, high school and college, she has worked in curriculum design, mentoring programs, and in training programs for new teachers. She holds a MA in Educational Administration, and an MA in Reading.



Mandeep Tiwana is the Chief Programmes Officer at CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance. He currently oversees CIVICUS’s portfolio of work on defending civic freedoms and democratic values. Mandeep is based at CIVICUS’s UN liaison office in New York. He has written extensively on the intersection between civil society, sustainable development and international affairs.

Eleanor Openshaw has worked for ISHR for 10 years leading their work on civil society access and participation, as well as on Latin America and the Caribbean. She has also worked for Amnesty International and Peace Brigades International.  Until recently she was working from New York but is now based in London. Follow her on Twitter: @eleanoropenshaw

James Paul served as GPF Executive Director from its foundation in late 1993 through the end of 2012. As Executive Director, he was a prominent figure in the NGO advocacy community at the United Nations and a well-known speaker and writer on the UN and global policy issues. Born in New York City, he earned a B.A. from Harvard College in 1963 (cum laude), his M.A. from Oxford University in 1968 and his Ph.D. from New York University in 1975 with a specialty in comparative politics. Paul was awarded various fellowships during his graduate studies including the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and the Book Prize for academic excellence at Christ Church College in Oxford. Paul has served on more than a dozen boards and committees. He was Chair of the Board of Trustees of the World Fellowship Center. Other past affiliations include the Committee for an Exploratory Study of Graduate Education in Political Science of the American Political Science Association and the Editorial Committee of Peuples Méditérranéens. From 1995-1999, Paul was the representative of the International Federation of Human Rights at UN headquarters. Between 1995 and 2010, he frequently served as Chair or Vice Chair of the NGO Working Group on the Security Council. He was the founding Convener of the NGO working Group on Food & Hunger from 2008 through 2012.  He is a member of the Academic Council on the UN System and he is currently board Chair of the Repast Baroque Ensemble, a New York City based classical music performance group. He is also Co-Chair of the Trinity House Tenants Association. His honors include the World Hunger Media Award and a “Peacemaker” award by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Gitanjali Sah is a Coordinator for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and an expert on ICT for Sustainable Development matters. She has 15+ years of work experience in ICT policy issues at the national, regional and international level and is an experienced International Civil Servant having worked at several UN Agencies. Gitanjali has been providing strategic advice and is coordinating actions on the alignment of the WSIS Process and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. She has been working and coordinating with multiple stakeholders to ensure that ICTs play an enabling role in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Gitanjali also strategized and designed the WSIS-SDG Matrix with UN Agencies, which is a key reference document for linkages of WSIS Action lines with SDGs.
Working towards making a difference in the lives of people has always been her passion. As a young person, she started working in the urban slums of Delhi to explore the impacts of ICTs on women and the youth. She successfully set up Knowledge and Information Centers in the slum areas of Delhi and conducted research in Urban Slums to analyze the economic and social impact of ICT4D. She holds an Development Studies from the University of Cambridge, UK and a Masters in Political Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India. ​​

Holly K. Shaw is a professor, clinician, consultant, and advocate focusing on global health, healing, and trauma. She is a graduate of the Harvard Medical School Master Class in Global Health, the Art and Science of Reflective Practice, and the Masters Certificate Program in Global Mental Health, Trauma and Recovery. Her work within the UN System representing the International Council of Nursing (ICN) includes Civil Society leadership serving in appointed and elected positions in DGC and ECOSOC. A former Director of the Global Executive Committee and member of several Substantive Committees, Dr. Shaw currently serves as Chair, NGO Committee on Mental Health, Inc. and Chair, NGO Committee on Education, Learning and Literacy (NGO CELL). She has presented at numerous UN global Civil Society Conferences and as Moderator at DPI/DGC Briefings and programs and 2020 World Health Day event. Dr. Shaw is the author of peer-reviewed journal articles, and chapters. Her research and clinical interests focus on resilience and healing, global health and nursing, and collaborative, reciprocal mentorship. She is an international lecturer, consultant, and keynote presenter integrating the art and science of healing and resilience and serves as adjunct Professor at Long Island University and University of Minnesota.

Shantu Watt is the vice chair of Committee on Ageing in UN Vienna and a current Board Member for the NGO Clubfoot Mali. She also serves as Board Director for Make me Smile Kenya, (Austria), and as a member of INPEA. Previously, she was vice chair of UNWG and non-executive Director of NHS’ largest area. A senior academic with some publication, Dr. Watt speaks internationally on a range of human rights topics, especially racial discrimination and poverty.



  1. The Civil Society Summit on Substantive Issues is open to the public, but especially NGOs and civil society participants. Each panel is a standalone event. The thematic foci of the panels, taken together, make a cohesive whole. They address a wide range of civil society concerns. The recommendations arising from the panels will be commended to various audiences, but especially civil society at large and the UN, systemwide.
  2. A synthesis of the discussions at the thematic panels will be submitted for consideration by CoNGO when it meets for its 27th General Assembly. The summit will thus serve as a platform to hear and develop recommendations for CoNGO assembly to consider. Representatives of member organizations of CoNGO, the NGO Committees related to it have been urged to participate.
  3. Each panel will proceed in succession, each with its own zoom link that will run for exactly 55 minutes. A five-minute interval between two panels will allow participants to login to the next panel session.
  4. The summit presider will convene a meeting of all the chairs and rapporteurs to agree on the actual mode of conducting the panel sessions, including on a brief description of each panel—to help focus the panel and guide participants on which panel to join.
  5. A list of background documents is included in this concept note. They inform the planning of this Summit and thus are helpful background reference for summit participants.
  6. Members of NGOs and NGO Committees are encouraged to spread out their participation in the different panels—aiming to cross-fertilize the different panels with varied perspectives.


Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO)
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Hybrid | New York | Virtual
New York, NY 10017 United States + Google Map
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