NGO Access to the UN

CoNGO’s mission is to facilitate and enhance the participation of NGOs in the UN System. Working to promote and ensure that NGOs have adequate access to UN meetings, conferences, special events, and documentation is a central CoNGO activity.

The UN-NGO relationship has been evolving and changing since the signing of the UN Charter in 1945. The issue of NGO access to and at the UN has at times been under great scrutiny and debate, especially because access is the major form through which NGOs are able to presence their voice and agency. It is through access that NGOs exercise their consultative (or associative and observer) roles at the UN.

CoNGO advocates for the free exchange of ideas among all parties at the United Nations, by defending the consultative relation of NGOs at the UN. Such relation includes the ability of NGOs to voice their concerns and contribute their energy, expertise and field of competence to the UN.

NGOs played an essential role in the discussions leading to the founding of the United Nations, and the United Nations Charter itself made provision for formal participation of NGOs through the mechanism of consultative status granted through the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). From the beginning, a combination of independence from, engagement with, and support for the United Nations has been the hallmark of CoNGO.

CoNGO is an active member of the NGO Working Group on UN-NGO Relations that brings together key NGO representatives based at UN Headquarters. The Working Group was founded in 2009 and advocates for a positive and open partnership between the United Nations and NGOs, addressing issues such as the accreditation process, NGO participation in UN meetings and conferences, and physical access to the Headquarters complex. Here is a sample of the Working Group’s NGO access campaigns.

CoNGO convenes NGO meetings on access issues at the UN offices in Geneva and Vienna, and follows closely the relevant developments at other UN centres throughout the world, as well as in relation to UN Summits, Conventions and major conferences.

Related Resources:

Basic Facts About ECOSOC Status
UN and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): A Quick Guide