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Draw up and enforce legal and moral redlines on crimes against the environment, NGOs urge ongoing CCPCJ session in Vienna

Photo: @CCPCJ Twitter

Vienna, Austria, 18 May 2022 (CoNGO InfoNews) – Close to 50 non-governmental organizations in consultative relationship with the United Nations Economic and Social Council have joined to endorse a statement that asserted “the imperative for the international community to strengthen the international legal framework and international cooperation in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice”.

The statement was drafted under the leadership of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development in Vienna (NGO CSD Vienna). It was submitted to the thirty-first Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) now meeting in Vienna, Austria,  from 16th to 20th of May. Accredited NGOs participate in meetings of CCPCJ. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participation in person remains severely limited. Side events to the ongoing session are only online.

In the statement, civil society leaders asserted that “criminal law has a crucial role to play in drawing up and enforcing the legal and moral ‘red lines’ upon which the global population’s very ability to thrive and survive in its planetary home may well depend.”

Ingeborg Geyer, Chair of the NGO CSD Vienna, described the work of the committee, saying that “it started two years ago  on topics of crimes that affect the environment and followed up with resolutions which were tabled in previous sessions of UNTOC, Crime Congress and CCPCJ sessions.” This statement reinstates and spotlights once more the need to develop the international legal framework and cooperation in preventing what the statement calls “ecocide”.

The Conference of NGOs (CoNGO) and the NGO CSD Vienna collaborated in gathering endorsements of the statement by NGOs around the world. Many NGOs, including CoNGO members, engage the agenda of CCPCJ through the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. See their event here. To learn more about the work of CCPCJ, visit https://twitter.com/CCPCJ. Watch the 31st session live, here.

 

FULL STATEMENT

NGO Statement to the 31st Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Vienna, Austria, 16-20 May 2022)

Strengthening the international legal framework and international cooperation in the context of crimes that affect the environment

“If crime crosses borders, so must law enforcement. If the rule of law is undermined not only in one country, but in many, then those who defend it cannot limit themselves to purely national means.” (Kofi Annan, address to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000).

In the context of crime prevention and criminal justice as they pertain to the environment, the international community faces two major challenges. The first challenge relates to the urgent need to respond forcefully to the rapid rise in crimes affecting the environment. Eurojust,1 the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, ranks environmental crime as the fourth largest criminal activity in the world – on a par with drug-trafficking. Most regrettably, law enforcement in this sector remains pitifully low and out of all proportion to the threat it poses. The reasons are manifold. The most significant factors are: (i) the failure of the criteria set out in the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime2 to categorize numerous environmental crimes as ‘serious’; and (ii) the inadequacy of training in the law enforcement agencies, whose staff frequently lack the all-essential investigation and prosecution capabilities.

The second challenge relates to the absence of legal provisions addressing the many and varied instances of severe widespread or long-term harm to the environment. All too frequently, the environmental damage caused is a deleterious side-effect of industrial practices which, though patently dangerous, are nonetheless permissible under law. Similarly, those outcomes represent all too common a breach of civil environmental regulations or are attributable to sheer negligence with regard to safety protocols. In many cases, the environmental damage qualifies as a transnational offence as set out in article 3.2 (a) (b) and (d) of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

An offence is transnational in nature if:

(a) It is committed in more than one State;

(b) It is committed in one State but a substantial part of its preparation, planning, direction or control takes place in another State;

(d) It is committed in one State but has substantial effects in another State.

Both of the above challenges arise in the highly perturbing context of the critical global interlinkage between climate change, pollution and nature (biodiversity) loss. Furthermore, recent international reportstell us that these crises must be addressed with immediate urgency if we are to maintain the ability to support human civilization without severe, even irreversible loss and damage, mass migration and food crises.4

Moreover, the two challenges above relate both directly and causally to the current global crisis. The destruction or removal of carbon sinks and keystone species (e.g. via deforestation, poaching and trafficking), as well as severe soil, water and atmospheric pollution are all factors that inevitably exacerbate ecosystem collapse and climate change.

In the light of the foregoing, the imperative for the international community to strengthen the international legal framework and international cooperation in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice could not be clearer. Criminal law has a crucial role to play in drawing up and enforcing the legal and moral ‘red lines’ upon which the global population’s very ability to thrive and survive in its planetary home may well depend.

What form should this strengthening of frameworks and cooperation take? Recent meetings of this Commission have pointed in some useful directions, as indicated in the Chair’s summary documents of November 2021 and February 20225. Themes that emerged from those meetings included: ‘a robust legislative framework’; ‘measuring the impact of crime prevention’; and ‘treating environmental crimes as serious crimes.

The types of cooperation suggested are noteworthy in that they involve both international and cross-sector cooperation. They include the need for: ‘alternative sustainable livelihoods’, ‘the involvement of the private sector’; and ‘consideration of a crime prevention and criminal justice perspective within the broader “nature agenda”’.

Public perception and understanding are acknowledged as key elements in the successful enactment of criminal law: impunity was mentioned as a factor that undermined trust and perception of security, while a number of speakers noted that a culture of integrity was of crucial importance to crime prevention.

Inclusion was also a recurrent theme. Emphasis was placed on the importance that ‘governments and the international community as a whole, including the UN, listen [to] and support youth voices and recommendations.’

In this context it is worth focusing on the consistent demand for the recognition of ecocide as a crime before the International Criminal Court that the young as well as citizens’ assemblieshave voiced in recent years. Criminalizing ecocide would serve several purposes: to hold to account the leaders of criminal organisations and key decision-makers in government and industry alike; remove impunity; and to deter dangerous practices that incur environmental damage, thus strengthening the efficacy of current civil regulations.

We note that an independent expert panel convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation reached consensus on the legal definition of ‘ecocide’ in 20217. The definition has since gained significant political traction around the world, while the European Law Institute, for its part, is moving ahead on a related EU- specific definition8.

In the light of the foregoing, the undersigned non-governmental organizations in consultative relationship with the United Nations urge the participants in the 31st Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, in particular the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, to strengthen the international legal framework and international cooperation in the context of crimes that affect the environment.

We call on Member States to:

(a) strengthen the sanctioning of crimes incurring severe environmental effects, especially transborder effects, and treating them as ‘serious’ crimes as defined in the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;

(b) encourage international cooperation between law enforcement agencies so as to improve awareness-building and training related to investigation into and prosecution of transnational offences that affect the environment;

(c) encourage consideration of criminal law frameworks in the context of the broader ‘nature agenda’;

(d) assess current international legal frameworks in the context of the global ‘triple crisis’ and their impact on climate change, pollution and nature loss;

(e) acknowledge and support the recommendations of civil society, in particular the voices of the young, with respect to the international legal framework in the context of the ‘triple crisis’;

(f) ensure participation of local populations and stakeholders in the scope of the Aarhus Convention and Escazú Agreement;

(g) support expansion of existing international legal frameworks for combating crimes affecting the environment, including hazardous legacies, abandoned sites and zones afflicted by war and other belligerent activities;

(h) recognize ‘ecocide’ as a new international crime;

(i) enact policies and enforce legislation with the highest integrity, as well as investigate and punish corruption with respect to crimes that affect the environment;

(j) encourage consideration of the relationship between economic factors and environmental neglect, and its impact on criminal activities;

(k) secure the support of the private sector by providing a reliable framework for combating the destruction of nature and the persistence of corruption, thus enabling those concerned to proceed without incurring existential risks;

(l) strengthen communication with and cooperation between secretariats of the relevant UN agencies so as to sharpen the focus on crimes affecting the environment; and

(m) cooperate with the relevant UN agencies in the implementation of reporting systems so as to facilitate assessment of the impact of crime prevention measures.

______________

ENDNOTES

1   Eurojust, Report on Eurojust’s Casework on Environmental Crime, January 2021
UNCTOC Article 2 (b)
3 IPCC WGII & WGIII, 2022
4 In the context of preparations for Stockholm+50 conference, there have even been references to the current mindset of humanity as “war on nature”.
5 https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CCPCJ/session/31_Session_2022/docu mentation.html
6 Citizens Climate Assembly, France 2020; Global Citizens Assembly, Glasgow 2022
7  See https://ecocidelaw.com/legal-definition-and-commentary-2021/
8  See https://www.europeanlawinstitute.eu/projectspublications/current- projects/current- projects/ecocide

_____________________________

Endorsing organizations as of 11 May 2022 were gathered under the auspices of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) and its NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-Vienna which drafted this statement. Endorsements for purposes of showing continued collaboration among NGOs on the issues raised in this statement are still welcome. To endorse the statement, send an email to the CoNGO President at president@ngocongo.org.

  1. African Action on Aids (AAA)
  2. American Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation (AAPR)
  3. Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP)
  4. CGFNS International, Inc.
  5. Credo-Action (Lomé, Togo)
  6. Criminologists Without Borders
  7. Fracarita International
  8. Graduate Women International (GWI)
  9. Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya (I.M.A.M.)
  10. International Alliance of Women (IAW)
  11. International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP)
  12. International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)
  13. International Council of Psychologists (ICP)
  14. International Council of Women (ICW)
  15. International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)
  16. International Federation of Women Lawyers (IFWL)
  17. International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (IFWLC)
  18. International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
  19. International Inner Wheel (IIW)
  20. International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
  21. International Progress Organization (IPO)
  22. International Women’s Year Liaison Group, Japan (IWYLG)
  23. Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW)
  24. Japan Asia Cultural Exchanges, Inc. (JACE)
  25. Le  Comite Francais des ONG pour la Liaison et l’ Information des Nations
  26. New Humanity
  27. Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV).
  28. Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA)
  29. Pax Romana | ICMICA
  30. Servas International
  31. Sisters of Charity Federation (SCF)
  32. Socialist International Women (SIW)
  33. Soroptimist International
  34. Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (OSMTH)
  35. Teresian Association
  36. United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society (UMC-GBCS)
  37. Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
  38. Universal Peace Federation International (UPFI)
  39. Verein zur Förderung der Völkerverständigung
  40. VIVAT International
  41. WUZDA Ghana
  42. Women’s Federation for World Peace International  (WFWPI)
  43. Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO)
  44. World Circle of the Consensus (CMDC-SPOC)
  45. World Society of Victimology  (WSV)
  46. Zonta International

_________________

For information about this statement and the work of the  NGO Committee on Sustainable Development–Vienna, email its Chair, Dr. Ingeborg Geyer (http://ingeb.geyer@gmail.com) and visit the Committee’s website (https://ngocsdvienna.org/). Visit www.ngocongo.org to learn more about the work of CoNGO and its substantive committees.

Cease the war against Ukraine and resolve it peacefully and diplomatically, civil society organizations said in a joint statement

New York City, 4 March 2022 (CoNGO Infonews) – Civil society organizations that are predominantly women’s NGOs today issued a statement against the war in Ukraine. The seven initiating groups called for “an immediate halt to hostilities, for all troops to be withdrawn, and for good-faith, peaceful, diplomatic negotiations to begin in a neutral territory.” They issued the statement after the United Nations General Assembly and UN Secretary-General António Guterres have called for an immediate cessation to the conflict, outlining that it contravenes the UN Charter.

CoNGO President Liberato Bautista welcomed the initiative of the organizations, stating that the joint drafting process demonstrated “the best example of NGO good practice”. The call to endorse the statement leverages CoNGO’s convening platform for NGOs to consult, collaborate and cooperate together.

The original proponents of the statement welcome endorsement of the statement by other civil society organizations.  To add your endorsement, please send an email to infonews@ngocongo.org with the name and headquarter location of the organization, and the name of the responsible person agreeing to the endorsement.

 

Statement Against the War in Ukraine

5 March 2022

Soroptimist International, Associated Country Women of the World, International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Graduate Women International,  International Alliance of Women, Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas, Zonta International and the NGO Committee on Aging-Vienna stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who have found themselves in an unwanted conflict.

During the 20th Century, Europe and the world strove to recover from devastating wars. Now, war has returned to the continent to the detriment of humanity. The human impacts of this war will reach far into the future. This conflict is in clear violation of international law, which forbids acts of aggression, the UN Charter and human rights for all. International humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld; the targeting of civilians constitutes a crime against humanity and a war crime.

Together, we call for an immediate halt to hostilities, for all troops to be withdrawn, and for good-faith, peaceful, diplomatic negotiations to begin in a neutral territory. The actions of states must place the good of citizens and humanity at their heart, accordingly, all civilians must be protected.

War is never gender-neutral. Women and girls in all their diversity are always disproportionately affected by war, and it is no different in this conflict. The projections that millions will be displaced and will become refugees, are being realised with thousands fleeing daily. Many of those on the move are women and girls; specific, targeted, gender-transformative programmes must be immediately developed and implemented to ensure that their lives, hopes and dreams are not irreparably damaged by this war.

Women and girls caught up in this humanitarian crisis will miss out on valuable education. They are at increased risks of early or child marriage, trafficking, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence. Women and girls will now be unable to access vital medical services, including sexual and reproductive health treatment and support. The UN Population Fund has shared how pregnant women, new mothers and babies are having to be cared for in make-shift underground bunkers or are giving birth in metro stations as health facilities become unsafe or are too damaged to function.

Older and disabled women struggle to escape conflict areas as transportation becomes unsafe and usual support is no longer available. Girls and women of all ages are now facing an uncertain future with increasing fear under shelling. Many will be left with long-term trauma. The infrastructure damage caused by war sets back sustainable development, and the achievement of gender equality.

With the presence of working nuclear power plants in a war zone, the environmental risks are significant during a time when the world is already facing a climate crisis. Now, Russian nuclear forces are on high alert. The consequences of any nuclear fallout would be unimaginable and devastating to the Ukrainian people, the environment of neighbouring countries and the world. International institutions and the global political system have been constructed to avoid just such an eventuality. In 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, both major steps towards a non-nuclear world. Any nuclear threats must be stepped down.

Civil society organisations such as Soroptimist International, Associated Country Women of the World, International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Graduate Women International,  International Alliance of Women, Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas, Zonta International and the NGO Committee on Aging-Vienna are frequently the first responders on-the-ground, as they live in the affected communities, witnessing these challenges first hand, finding immediate solutions and distributing aid.

Members of civil society open their homes to refugees, feeding those on the move, and promoting their safety. This is already happening in Ukraine and neighbouring countries; these humanitarian efforts must be supported. Due to the nature of refugee dispersal and internally displaced persons, collecting thorough and reliable disaggregated data on women and girls in all their diversity will be almost impossible. This will make it difficult to assess the total impacts of this war on women and girls, including those living in rural and remote communities and those from indigenous communities less well-known outside of Ukraine.

The United Nations General Assembly and UN Secretary-General António Guterres have called for an immediate cessation to the conflict, outlining that it contravenes the UN Charter. The UN General Assembly has now voted overwhelmingly to condemn the invasion of Ukraine and has called for Russia to withdraw its forces. Soroptimist International, Associated Country Women of the World, International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Graduate Women International,  International Alliance of Women, Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas, Zonta International  and the NGO Committee on Aging-Vienna support these calls.

Soldiers must be withdrawn from hostilities on Ukrainian soil and political leaders must seek a peaceful resolution. International law and diplomacy should always be the mechanism to peacefully address disagreements between states; the needless destruction of war is only to the detriment of all people. In our interconnected world, we can see first-hand the rapidly increasing impacts of this conflict. We can all learn from the human stories which demonstrate the pointlessness, futility and devastation of war. Protests and acts of resistance and human understanding are being joined worldwide. The signatories of this statement join the call of many across the world for this war to end now.

_________________

{To endorse the statement, send email to infonews@ngocongo.org, including the name and headquarter location of the organization, and the name of the responsible person agreeing to the endorsement).

ENDORSING ORGANIZATIONS (As of March 11, 2022, 01:030PM EDT):

Original Proponents
Soroptimist International
Associated Country Women of the World | ACWW | United Kingdom
International Federation of Business and Professional Women | IFBPW
Graduate Women International | GWI
International Alliance of Women | IAW
Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas | FAWCO
Zonta International
NGO Committee on Aging-Vienna

Co-endorsers in the order received
Pan Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association | PPSEAWA
Universal Esperanto Association | UEA
Servas International
International Association of Applied Psychology | IAAP | France
World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation | WAPR
L’Association des Femmes de l’Europe Méridionale | AFEM | France
International Office for Catholic Education | OIEC | Italy
Sisters of Charity Federation | SCF
Mother’s Legacy Project | MLP | USA
World Council for Psychotherapy | WCP
Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem | OSMTH | Scotland
Greek League for Women’s Rights | GLWR | Greece
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers | USA
World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women | WFMUCW | Global
Credo Action | Togo
Maryknoll Sisters | USA
Virinoj por la Mondo | Women for the World
International Women’s Development Agency | IWDA | Australia
VIVAT International | USA
Japan Asia Cultural Exchanges, Inc. | JACE | USA
Soka Gakkai International | SGI | Japan
International Women’s Year Liaison Group | IWYLG | Japan
International Council of Women
Make Mothers Matter | MMM | France
Young Global Leadership Foundation | YGLF
United Methodist Church—General Board of Church and Society | UMC-GBCS | USA
Mercy International Association | Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Pax Christi International | PCI
United Methodist Women | UMW | USA
International Federation on Ageing | IFA | Canada
Servicio Profesionales Desarollo Rural / Agricultura | SEDRA | Chile
World Organization for Early Childhood Education | OMEP |
US Women’s Caucus at the UN | USA
The Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya | I.M.A.M. | USA
Generations United | GU | USA
The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations | WFUWO | Canada
Women First International Fund | USA
CGFNS International | USA
Miriam College (Philippines)
International Council of Women | ICW-CIF |
Kolping International | Germany
STUF United Fund | USA
Club Ohada Thies | Senegal
International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Center | IFSNC | Sweden/Finland
Inner Wheel International | IIC | United Kingdom)
Council of Organizations of the United Nations Association of the USA
The Unforgotten | unforgotten.org
National Grange | USA
National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc. | NJCDLP | USA
NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY

Address climate change without delay, NGOs say on eve of COP26 in Glasgow

New York City, 28 October 2021 (CoNGO InfoNews) – Measures and actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change need to be taken without delay. This is the message conveyed by  sixty-one NGOs that joined in issuing the statement “Challenges of Climate Change” under the banner of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO).

Ten of the 61 NGOs submitting the statement have observer status  with the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP26—which is the twenty-sixth UN conference on climate change—begins this weekend, October 31, in Glasgow, Scotland, and closes on November 12.

The UN convenes the climate change conference on the heels of the 2021 report of the International Panel on Climate Change—the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC 2021 report, released on August 9, characterized climate change as widespread, rapid and intensifying.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, included attention to climate change among ways to save succeeding generations.  In his “Our Common Agenda” report to the General Assembly, Guterres said, “Just as the founders of the United Nations came together determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, we must now come together to save succeeding generations from war, climate change, pandemics, hunger, poverty, injustice and a host of risks that we may not yet foresee entirely.”

The NGO statement was drafted and finalized by the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development Vienna, one of more than 30 substantive committees of CoNGO. Thirteen of the committee’s organizational members in consultative status with the UN approved the statement. 

The full statement follows: 

Challenges of Climate Change:
An NGO statement to the 2021 UN climate change conference, COP 26, in Glasgow

For many years the scientific community, the Member States of the United Nations, and civil society have discussed the impact on our planet of climate change and identified measures needed to protect the world in which we live.

To date, the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have convened 25 conferences. They have signed and ratified decisions, protocols and agreements on the reduction of CO2.

Measures and actions to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change need to be taken without delay. The undersigned NGOs admitted with Observer Status by the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC and joined by other NGOs in Consultative Status with the United Nations thus urge the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC to act promptly on the following challenges:

1) Mitigation 

The scientific community worldwide should coordinate research and innovation so as to draw up procedures to reduce CO2 emissions. Systems need to be developed that are sufficiently robust to operate under varying conditions, e.g., excessive drought or flooding, changes in flora and fauna due to rising temperatures, and the loss of biodiversity. The ultimate aim should be to halt global warming and achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

2) Adaptation

Recent months have shown that the impact of climate change is palpable on every continent and in every region, and is driven by the physical environment, such as mountains, oceans, and permafrost. Therefore, local decisions are critical to effective adaptation to changing weather and climate conditions. The regional focus should be on planning, land use, settlements and infrastructure, as well as forestry and agriculture. The global rise in temperatures and the related changes in the spread of disease pose an inordinate challenge for public health systems. Moreover, it is evident that with regard to energy systems, limiting changes to electric vehicles alone will not suffice.

3) Participation and cooperation 

Action plans for adaptation may result in significant changes to regional patterns of settlement and lifestyles and may have a disproportionate effect on marginalised populations including minorities, women and children. New formats for democratic participation are thus called for. They should be so designed as to inform all stakeholders and secure their participation in the decision-making processes. Only if the consistency of such measures is upheld can aims be reached ensuring that the most marginalised groups do not bear the brunt of the climate crisis.

On the international level, UN cooperation in particular needs to be reliable and accountable. International treaties and conventions must be respected, reports must be verifiable, obligations implemented without delay, and enforcement transparent. Matters would be  improved where an international panel set up empowered to monitor progress independently and make reluctant states confront their responsibilities.

4) Financial frameworks 

The costs for all necessary measures and actions will be very high, yet far lower than the costs of damages incurred in the case of “business as usual”. Countries should provide sustainable, long-term financial plans, which may require modifying tax systems. An international fund – administered by the UN – should provide assistance to the developing countries.

The challenges posed by climate change are global and cannot be successfully met by countries or regions in isolation, and even less by competition between nations. Cooperation and transparency are critical and indispensable to solving climate change.

October 4, 2021

Submitted by NGOs in Observer Status with the Conference of Parties of UNFCCC:

 Association pour le Développement Durable (ADD)

  1. Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD)
  2. Haiti Cholera Research Funding Foundation, Inc. USA
  3. International Council of Women (ICW)
  4. Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, Inc.
  5. Nurses Across the Borders (NAB)
  6. UNANIMA International
  7. Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
  8. United Methodist Church—General Board of Church and Society (UMC-GBCS)
  9. VIVAT International

Endorsed by NGOs in Consultative, Associated and Observer relations with the United Nations:

    1. Abraham’s Children Foundation
    2. African Action on Aids (AAA)
    3. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS)
    4. Arab Society for Academic Freedoms(ASAF)
    5. Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs
    6. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    7. Asociación Latinoamericana para Los Derechos Humanos (ALDHU)
    8. Association of Presbyterian Women Aotearoa New Zealand
    9. Awaz Centre for Development Services (AwazCDS-Pakistan)
    10. Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI)
    11. Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO)
    12. Congregations of St. Joseph
    13. Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute (CBCI)
    14. Dianova International
    15. ECPAT-USA
    16. Election Network in the Arab Region(ENAR)
    17. GCS International
    18. Global Action on Aging (GAN)
    19. Graduate Women International (GWI)
    20. Initiatives of Change
  1. Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Loreto Generalate
  2. International Alliance of Women (IAW)
  3. International Council on Environmental Economics and Development (ICEED)
  4. International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)
  5. International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)
  6. International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (FIFCJ)
  7. International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
  8. International Inner Wheel (IIW)
  9. International Presentation Association, The (IPA)
  10. International Progress Organization (IPO)
  11. Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)
  12. League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS)
  13. Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV)
  14. Pan Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA)
  15. Pax Romana
  16. Servas International
  17. Sisters of Charity Federation
  18. Society for International Development (SID)
  19. Socialist International Women (SIW)
  20. Soroptimist International (SI)
  21. Temple of Understanding
  22. Tiye International
  23. Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
  24. Verein zur Förderung der Völkerverständigung
  25. Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI)
  26. Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO)
  27. Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
  28. World Association for Psychological Rehabilitation (WAPR)
  29. World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)
  30. WUZDA Ghana
  31. Zonta International

The statement above was drafted and finalized by the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development in Vienna and was officially endorsed by the following NGO members with ECOSOC consultative status: Graduate Women International, Initiatives of Change, International Inner Wheel, International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Pax Romana, Servas International, Soroptimist International, Society for International Development, Socialist International Women, Verein zur Förderung der Völkerverständigung, Women’s Federation for World Peace International, Women’s International Zionist Organisation, and World Union for Progressive Judaism.

INVITATION TO CIVIL SOCIETY SUMMIT ON SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES

New York City 20 October 2021 (CoNGO InfoNews) – A civil society summit on substantive issues will be held on October 25, Monday, on the occasion of United Nations Day 2021. The summit is organized by CoNGO—the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations.The summit is open to the public and registration is ongoing.

The summit brings to a virtual conference some 45 UN, NGO and civil society leaders from all geographic regions of the world, from grassroots to international arenas, and from a cross section of fields of focus and expertise, leading seven thematic panels that will address the overall theme “shaping the future: the UN we need for the world we want”.

CoNGO president, Liberato Bautista, emphasized the word “for” in the theme. “It addresses the coherence needed between the UN we need and the world we want. That coherence happens only if the multilateral infrastructure is built around the true and urgent needs of the world, not just for today, but into the future, both immediate and long term.”

There are other renditions of the same theme, Bautista said, but many use the word “and” rather than “for”. The “UN for the world” provides a necessary if urgent orientation for this multilateral institution called UN, and for civil society organizations to be decisively organized and working in the service of people, the planet and their futures, Bautista asserted.

Impetus for the summit partly came from the report of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, Our Common Agenda. A high-level opening panel will explore the subtheme “the future in the present tense”. This civil society summit is not unlike Mr. Guterres’s concern for the future, Bautista opined, and hence the SG’s expressed desire to convene a Summit of the Future in 2023.

CoNGO’s declaration on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the UN called this global body and its Member States, “to enter into a dialogue with civil society to create innovative partnerships” and to recognize “the vast potential of civil society as an essential element of the international system, defining the present and shaping the future.”

The year 2023 will be CoNGO’s seventy-fifth anniversary. CoNGO since 2008 has had for its organizational theme, “defining the present, shaping the future”. Today’s UN undertaking has been more than a decade-old theme for CoNGO.

Moving into its seventy-fifth year, CoNGO is poised to join the UN and civil society worldwide in shaping the future. What kind of future(s) and what actions to undertake to achieve a just, peaceable, and sustainable world is an undertaking the civil society summit will try to elicit recommendations for from participants.

The summit on Monday will inform the work of CoNGO. A synthesis report will be submitted to the upcoming twenty-seventh CoNGO General Assembly scheduled for November 29 to December 1.

UN and NGOs are valued partners, said UNOG Director-General Tatiana Valovaya and CoNGO President Liberato Bautista in a virtual dialogue

Geneva, Switzerland, 15 June 2021 (CoNGO InfoNews) – In a virtual public event held on April 8, 2021, the Director General of the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), Tatiana Valovaya, and the President of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), Liberato Bautista, engaged in dialogue that reviewed UNOG’s work and priorities in 2020 and 2021, the UN’s global priorities, and the participation of civil society in multilateral processes, with special focus on meetings at UNOG.

This exceptionally successful event drew the interest and participation of close to 400 representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world. The dialogue’s success owed much to the initiative of Lidiya Grigoreva, who leads the UNOG engagement with civil society and NGOs, and who introduced the two speakers.

(UNOG Director-General Tatiana Valovaya and CoNGO President Liberato Bautista)

In her opening remarks, Director-General Valovaya reaffirmed that despite the recent and ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, UNOG had continued to be a totally relevant “operational centre for multilateralism, diplomacy and international cooperation.”

“If there were any sceptics about the interconnectedness of our world, last year clearly demonstrated to all of us how we are all connected and how collectively we are only as strong as our weakest link. In this context the importance of multilateralism and global solidarity cannot be overrated, ” Valovaya said.

Valovaya and Bautista underscored throughout the dialogue that the engagement of civil society is crucial to an informed, effective and sustainable multilateralism. For Valovaya, “the active participation of NGOs and civil society actors has historically been the strength of the UN work in Geneva and an example of inclusive multilateralism with civil society having its place at the table,” Valovaya said.

President Bautista’s opening remarks recalled how in the 73 years since CoNGO’s foundation in 1948 it has been a major interface with the United Nations System on behalf of its members and of the wider NGO community and civil society.

CoNGO has been and is wholly committed to upholding and advancing the goals and values enshrined in the UN Charter. It has however always been ready to offer constructive criticism of United Nations actions that do not live up to the Charter,” Bautista said.

The DG recalled that in 2020 UNOG hosted 4,274 meetings, mostly virtual or hybrid, and was now exceptionally experienced in organizing such meetings as well as press conferences and briefings. UNOG of course was confronted by the consequences of the liquidity crisis faced by the entire UN System.

According to Valovaya, UNOG would be totally engaged in the pursuit of the key objectives for 2021 set out by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, notably in regard to the sustainable development goals, peace and disarmament, human rights and gender equality, all in the context of combating COVID-19 and conforming to essential sanitary regulations and precautions.

Because of the pandemic, it would be necessary to continue the existing restrictions on entrance to the Palais des Nations. These restrictions were concerning to NGO representatives who experienced their serious effects on the interactions between NGOs and both governmental delegations and UN officials.

The dialogue amplified NGO concerns about attempts to use measures imposed by the pandemic to roll back principles of NGO access, including the prospect of instituting longer-term restrictions. “That is not only unacceptable, but is contrary to the best interests of UN-NGO collaboration and cooperation, the benefits of which are long established in virtually every domain of UN action,” Bautista said, emphasizing an oft-repeated message before UN entities especially the Economic and Social Council.

DG Valovaya confirmed that the major renovation of the Palais des Nations (Strategic Heritage Plan) was continuing despite COVID-19.  When completed, she said, it would ensure that the UNOG complex remains the world’s premier multilateral venue for decades to come.

At the dialogue, Bautista spoke of CoNGO’s commitment to robust multilateralism. “This multilateralism must include in its core the wide and representative consultation with civil society and the direct engagement of accredited NGOs in contributing to the meaningful and successful pursuit of the UN goals.”

“It’s not just about the ‘world we want’ but the ‘UN we need,’ Bautista said, adding also that “a robust UN-NGO relation must operate under clear and transparent mechanisms and accountable modalities of consultation and conferencing.”

A substantial part of the Dialogue was devoted to responding to questions posed in advance through email and the registration process or during the meeting by a wide range of NGO representatives. Cyril Ritchie, First Vice President of CoNGO, and Sheila Bordier, CoNGO Senior Associate, took turns to pose the questions to Valovaya and Bautista.

Quite a number of questions referred to the procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, which are in fact under the direct control of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and of governments, rather than of UNOG management.

Many participants expressed great disquiet over the increasing cases of governments restricting civil society space, sometimes using COVID-19 regulations as an excuse. In this context, substantial concern was voiced about a roll-back in many countries of fundamental freedoms of association, of assembly, of opinion and of expression.

There was  a widely-shared call for NGOs to stand up and speak up for the strengthening of their role in reflecting public opinion, in cooperating with the UN System both internationally and in the field, and in holding governments to account for genuinely implementing the conventions and decisions that they adopt in intergovernmental fora.

Other topics that surfaced concerned how NGOs can better work together, to be more effective in advocacy and impact. The Sustainable Development Goals were highlighted in this context, and DG Valovaya called them “A Roadmap for Humanity”.

Many participants called for CoNGO and other networks to become ever-more effective in advising on and fostering greater involvement by NGOs/CSOs  with the entire range of UN entities. CoNGO’s information and communication channel, the CoNGO website, was favourably commented on, especially its dedicated pages on NGO accreditation and UN access.

By the close of the event, there was an emerging consensus that this dialogue had been informative and beneficial, and the request was advanced that it be repeated,  perhaps regularly. UNOG and CoNGO are currently actively discussing follow up.

In a post-Dialogue message, DG Valovaya said, “I am glad to have been able to meet with the NGO community in the virtual mode.  Engagement of NGOs in the work of the United Nations system in Geneva is critical for informed, effective and sustainable multilateralism. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations  in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) for co-organizing this virtual dialogue, which enabled participation of NGO representatives from all over the world.”

Access here the full audio coverage of the dialogue between UNOG Director General Tatiana Valovaya and CoNGO President Liberato Bautista.

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L’ONU et les ONG sont des partenaires précieux, ont déclaré le Directeur général de l’ONUG, Tatiana Valovaya, et le président de l’ONG CoNGO, Liberato Bautista, lors d’un dialogue virtuel

Genève, Suisse, le 15  juin 2021 (CoNGO InfoNews) – Lors d’un événement public virtuel qui s’est tenu le 8 avril 2021, la Directrice générale de l’Office des Nations Unies à Genève  (ONUG), Tatiana Valovaya, et la Présidente de la Conférence des ONG ayant des relations consultatives avec les Nations Unies (CoNGO), Liberato Bautista, se sont engagés dans un dialogue qui a examiné le travail et les priorités de l’ONUG en 2020 et 2021, les priorités mondiales de l’ONU et la participation de la société civile aux processus multilatéraux, avec un accent particulier sur les réunions à l’ONUG.

Cet événement exceptionnellement réussi a suscité l’intérêt et la participation de près de 400 représentants d’organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) du monde entier. Le succès du dialogue doit beaucoup à l’initiative de Lidiya Grigoreva, qui dirige l’engagement de l’ONUG avec la société civile et les ONG, et qui a présenté les deux orateurs.

Dans son allocution d’ouverture, la Directrice générale Valovaya a réaffirmé qu’en dépit des défis récents et continus posés par la COVID-19, l’ONUG avait continué d’être un « centre opérationnel pour le multilatéralisme, la diplomatie et la coopération internationale » totalement pertinent.

« S’il y avait des sceptiques quant à l’interdépendance de notre monde, l’année dernière nous a clairement démontré à tous comment nous sommes tous connectés et comment, collectivement, nous ne sommes aussi forts que notre maillon le plus faible. Dans ce contexte, l’importance du multilatéralisme et de la solidarité mondiale ne peut être surestimée », a déclaré Valovaya.

Valovaya et Bautista ont souligné tout au long du dialogue que l’engagement de la société civile est crucial pour un multilatéralisme informé, efficace et durable. Pour Valovaya,  « la participation active des ONG et des acteurs de la société civile a toujours été la force du travail de l’ONU à Genève et un exemple de multilatéralisme inclusif avec la société civile ayant sa place à la table », a déclaré Valovaya.

Dans son allocution d’ouverture, le Président Bautista a fait le point sur le fait qu’au cours des 73 années qui se sont écoulées depuis la création de CoNGO en 1948, elle a été une interface majeure avec le système des Nations Unies au nom de ses membres, de la communauté des ONG au sens large et de la société civile.

« CoNGO a été et est entièrement engagé à défendre et à promouvoir les objectifs et les valeurs inscrits dans la Charte des Nations Unies. Il a cependant toujours été prêt à formuler des critiques constructives à l’égard des actions des Nations Unies qui ne sont pas à la hauteur de la Charte », a déclaré M. Bautista.

Le Directeur général a rappelé qu’en 2020, l’ONUG  avait accueilli 4 274 réunions, pour la plupart virtuelles ou hybrides, et qu’elle avait maintenant une expérience exceptionnelle dans l’organisation de telles réunions ainsi que de conférences de presse et de réunions d’information. L’ONUG a bien entendu été confrontée aux conséquences de la crise de liquidité à laquelle est confronté l’ensemble du système des Nations Unies.

Selon Valovaya, l’ONUG serait totalement engagée dans la poursuite des objectifs clés pour 2021 énoncés par le Secrétaire général de l’ONU Antonio Guterres, notamment en ce qui concerne les objectifs de développement durable, la paix et le désarmement, les droits de l’homme et l’égalité des sexes, le tout dans le contexte de la lutte contre le COVID-19 et du respect des règles et précautions sanitaires essentielles.

En raison de la pandémie, il serait nécessaire de maintenir les restrictions existantes à l’accès au Palais des Nations. Ces restrictions étaient préoccupantes pour les représentants d’ONG qui ont constaté leurs graves effets sur les interactions entre les ONG et les délégations gouvernementales et les fonctionnaires de l’ONU.

Le dialogue a amplifié les préoccupations des ONG concernant les tentatives d’utiliser les mesures imposées par la pandémie pour faire reculer les principes d’accès des ONG, y compris la perspective d’instituer des restrictions à plus long terme. « C’est non seulement inacceptable, mais contraire aux meilleurs intérêts de la collaboration et de la coopération entre l’ONU et les ONG, dont les avantages sont établis de longue date dans pratiquement tous les domaines de l’action de l’ONU », a déclaré M. Bautista, soulignant un message souvent répété devant les entités des Nations Unies, en particulier le Conseil économique et social.

La DG Valovaya a confirmé que la rénovation majeure du Palais des Nations (Plan stratégique du patrimoine) se poursuivait malgré la COVID-19.  Une fois achevé, a-t-elle dit, il garantirait que le complexe de l’ONUG reste le premier lieu multilatéral au monde pour les décennies à venir.

Lors du dialogue, Bautista a parlé de l’engagement de CoNGO en faveur d’un multilatéralisme solide. « Ce multilatéralisme doit inclure dans son cœur la consultation large et représentative avec la société civile et l’engagement direct des ONG accréditées à contribuer à la poursuite significative et réussie des objectifs de l’ONU. »

« Je ne parle pas seulement du «monde que nous voulons », mais de l’ONU dont nous avons besoin »,a déclaré M.  Bautista, ajoutant également qu’ « une relation solide entre l’ONU et les ONG doit fonctionner selon des mécanismes clairs et transparents et des modalités responsables de consultation et de conférence».

Une partie importante du Dialogue a été consacrée à répondre aux questions posées à l’avance par courrier électronique et par le processus d’inscription ou pendant la réunion par un large éventail de représentants d’ONG. Cyril Ritchie, premier vice-président de CoNGO, et Sheila Bordier,  coassociée principale de CoNGO, se sont relayés pour poser les questions à Valovaya et Bautista.

Un certain nombre de questions portaient sur les procédures du Conseil des droits de l’homme des Nations unies, qui sont en fait sous le contrôle direct du Haut-Commissariat des Nations unies aux droits de l’homme et des gouvernements, plutôt que sous la gestion de l’ONUG.

De nombreux participants se sont dit très préoccupés par l’augmentation des cas de gouvernements restreignant l’espace de la société civile, utilisant parfois les réglementations COVID-19 comme excuse. Dans ce contexte, de vives préoccupations ont été exprimées au sujet d’un recul des libertés fondamentales d’association, de réunion, d’opinion et d’expression dans de nombreux pays.

Un appel largement partagé a été lancé aux ONG pour qu’elles se lèvent et s’expriment en faveur du renforcement de leur rôle dans la prise en compte de l’opinion publique, dans la coopération avec le système des Nations Unies tant au niveau international que sur le terrain, et dans la relation avec des gouvernements pour qu’ils mettent véritablement en œuvre des conventions et décisions qu’ils adoptent dans les instances intergouvernementales.

D’autres sujets qui ont fait surface concernaient la façon dont les ONG peuvent mieux travailler ensemble, pour être plus efficaces dans le plaidoyer et l’impact. Les Objectifs du Développement Durable ont été mis en évidence dans ce contexte, et la DG Valovaya les a appelés « feuille de route pour l’humanité ».

De nombreux participants ont appelé à ce que la CoNGO et d’autres réseaux deviennent de plus en plus efficaces pour conseiller et encourager une plus grande participation des ONG/OSC avec l’ensemble des entités des Nations Unies. Le canal d’information et de communication de la CoNGO, le site Web de la CoNGO,  a fait l’objet de commentaires favorables, en particulier ses pages consacrées à l’accréditation des ONG et à l’accès aux Nations Unies.

À la fin de l’événement, un consensus s’est fait que ce dialogue avait été instructif et bénéfique, et il a été demandé qu’il soit répété, peut-être régulièrement. L’ONUG et CoNGO discutent actuellement activement du suivi.

Dans un message post-Dialogue, la DG Valovaya a déclaré: « Je suis heureux d’avoir pu rencontrer la communauté des ONG en mode virtuel.  La participation des ONG aux travaux du système des Nations Unies à Genève est essentielle pour un multilatéralisme éclairé, efficace et durable. Je tiens à exprimer ma sincère gratitude à la Conférence des organisations non gouvernementales ayant des relations consultatives avec les Nations Unies (CoNGO)  pour avoir co-organisé ce dialogue virtuel, qui a permis la participation de représentants d’ONG du monde entier. »

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Accédez ici à la couverture audio complète du dialogue entre la Directrice générale de l’ONUG, Tatiana Valovaya, et le Président de la CoNGO, Liberato Bautista.

NGO access to and at the UN is also UN’s access to the voice, expertise and support of civil society to the multilateral body, CoNGO President asserted at a meeting called by the ECOSOC President

New York City, 7 April 2021 (CoNGO InfoNews) – The United Nations and non-governmental organizations are each the poorer without the other. Grassroots, national, regional and international diplomacy have benefited from UN and NGO consultation and collaboration in addressing wide-ranging issues and problems confronted by governments, peoples, and humanity’s shared habitat.

This is the gist of the presentation by Liberato Bautista at the February 1, 2021 joint meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with the Chairs of its functional commissions and expert bodies. Bautista, the president of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations, was invited  to address the meeting by the ECOSOC President, Ambassador Munir Akram.

“It was a laudable gesture by Ambassador Akram to invite me to address the meeting, and calling me to speak in the middle of a crowded two-hour schedule, when all participants were still online to hear what the sole NGO representative had to say,” Bautista recollected.

“Engaging in dialogue and maintaining accessible lines of communication is critical to the consultative relation between NGOs and the UN System. NGO support for robust multilateralism entails access by NGOs to and at the UN, which in the same measure, also means UN’s access to the voice, expertise and support offered by civil society,” Bautista stated.

Bautista, addressing the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected NGO access to and at the UN, asserted that NGOs, like CoNGO, “stand ready to secure together the public space so that inclusive, participatory and democratic institutions thrive and prosper” rather than curtailed and pushed back during the pandemic.

The challenges that lay ahead for both the UN and NGOs for which their consultation and collaboration are needed were laid bare by Bautista. “It is time that the multistakeholder actors of our collaboration, including us NGOs, are put to work to address this coronavirus pandemic and the intersecting pandemics resulting from climate change, from hunger and poverty, from forced migration, from racism and xenophobia, employing every principle and approach, not the least of which include whole-of-government and all-of-society.”

Advocating for robust consultation and collaboration between the UN and NGOs is at the core of CoNGO’s key aims and objectives. And addressing the ECOSOC at this meeting is not CoNGO’s first time. Before this February meeting this year, Bautista also addressed the briefing for civil society organized by the ECOSOC presidency of Norway on May 4, 2020.

At the May 2020 meeting, Bautista maintained that “policy-making in a time of pandemic must strengthen our resolve to work together to address underlying fundamental inequalities in our society that hinder the full realization of the SDGs. In this important task,  a genuine engagement of civil society at the national and global levels is primordial.”

Are women making any progress in participation in leadership and decision-making? Three NGO leaders ask on the eve of 2021 International Women’s Day

New York, 5 March 2021 (CoNGO InfoNews) – “Women enable a just, equitable and peaceful world,” said the presidents of Soroptimist International (Sharon Fisher), International Alliance of Women (Cheryl Hayles), and Associated Country Women of the World (Magdie de Kock) in a joint statement they issued on the occasion of the 2021 International Women’s Day on March 8.

“Women and girls of all ages deserve a seat at the table in public life, leadership and decision-making. Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. To make that a reality, all states, the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders must work in collaboration,” the women leaders asserted.

The statement also called on the sixty-fifth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) to take leadership in the development and implementation of new laws, regulations and social justice programmes that respond to women’s and girls’ under-participation and under-representation in leadership. The theme of CSW65 is focused on women in public life and equal participation in decision-making.

The joint statement was warmly received by Liberato Bautista, the president of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), who helped produce it. The three organizations issuing the statement are full members of CoNGO. Soroptimist International and International Alliance of Women are current members of the CoNGO Board.

“Joint statements are an effective means of conveying to the United Nations our collective understandings of, and agreements and unities, as segments of civil society, on substantive issues that are on the UN agenda,” Bautista said. “Consultation and collaboration are valued good NGO practices,” he added.

Other CoNGO members that have issued statements on the International Women’s Day include the International Council of Women and the Universal Esperanto Association.A statement issued on November 15, 2020 and submitted to the CSW65 by members of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women Vienna, underscored many of the points raised by these statements.

NGO concerns on the overall agenda of gender equality, equity and justice are highlighted once again this year at the NGO CSW FORUM65 with varied program offerings starting on March 14 and ending on March 26.

See related story by International Alliance of Women here and by Soroptimist International here.

CoNGO president, three other NGO leaders, join in a statement on the International Day of Education 2021

News in French. News in Spanish.

New York City, 24 January 2021 (CoNGO InfoNews) — Education is a human right. Inclusion and equity are crucial for transformative education. Education as common public good requires public funding. Education at primary and secondary levels is universal and adult education primordial. Online education has blessings and perils. Safety and wellbeing is crucial at education venues. Education must be portable across borders. Global citizenship education is critical to multilateral collaboration. Educate to increase hope and decrease fear.

These are the thematic headings of a 26-point statement issued on the occasion of the International Day of Education 2021 by Liberato C. Bautista, president of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), and joined by Maria Helen Dabu, secretary general of the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), Franklin Shaffer, president and chief executive officer of CGFNS International, and Montse Rafel, director general of Dianova International.

The statement reaffirmed education as a human right, a public good and a public responsibility, and must be publicly funded.

The leaders recognized the blessings and perils of online education, naming the digital divide  exacerbated by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same vein, they recognized the importance of education especially for health and allied professions and their portability across borders, given the high demand but shortage of health workers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Education must foster civic engagement, democratic participation and social innovation, ” the statement said. “Now is the time to develop global civic consciousness and innovate on a global civics education that fosters global citizenship and multilateral collaboration. Each of our countries, our people and the planet will be better for it.”

The leaders spoke of basic and adult education in a time of intersecting pandemics. They called for “education to increase hope and decrease fear.”

“Education must expose fear brought about by threats to and violations against the dignity and human rights of persons, such as those generated by increasing racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance that alienate and divide people and communities from one another. These, on top of fears and anxieties resulting from intersecting crises of pandemic proportions—health crisis, racial crisis, climate crisis, migration crisis, economic crisis, violence, and more.”

The statement closed with an urgent call for “advocacy and partnerships for education among civil society organizations, and among NGOs, the UN System, and States.”

Read the full statement here.

See related story.

In new year message, CoNGO president rallies NGOs to increase hope and decrease fear

New York City, 4 January 2021 (CoNGO InfoNews) —  In a new year message, CoNGO president Liberato (Levi) Bautista called on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to decrease fear and increase hope. He lamented the surplus of fear and deficit of hope in the year just ended.

“To decrease fear, we must continually affirm human dignity and human rights as inherent, inalienable, indivisible and interdependent. To increase hope, we must build a common future for all the inhabitants of the earth and their natural ecology, refusing pillage and plunder in our economic life, and instead, promoting and safeguarding the common public goods and services indispensable to securing life and life’s flourishing” Bautista said.

President Bautista foresees more consultation and collaboration with all its members and partners, and with the numerous entities of the United Nations System. This statement comes  after meetings in late December of 2020 with Marc-André Dorel and Lydiya Grigoreva. Dorel is officer-in-charge of the NGO branch at the office of intergovernmental support and coordination for sustainable development at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Grigoreva is the head of the NGO liaison unit of the Office of the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.

A global briefing on UN-NGO relations and areas of consultation and collaboration is envisioned to be held sometime in February. NGO liaison officers at UN Office at Vienna will be contacted.

In issuing President Bautista’s message in English, French, Spanish and Esperanto, CoNGO aimed to reach more of its growing membership and constituency, hoping to engage them in varied arenas of collaboration and cooperation. Membership recruitment is also ongoing. Under Bautista’s leadership, eighteen NGOs have been added to CoNGO’s membership roll which stands at a little over 500.

President Bautista also announced a discount of 25 percent in membership dues for NGOs whose applications for new membership are approved and paid by the end of February.

Read the full text of President Bautista’s new year message in four languages, here.

Learn more about how to become a CoNGO member here. Get the application form here.

UN Office at Geneva and World Academy of Art and Science lead e-Conference on Global Leadership in the 21st Century; partners include CoNGO

UPDATE: See UNOG news release.

14 December 2020, New York City (CoNGO InfoNews) – An e-conference on Global Leadership in the 21st Century will be held on 15 and 16 December, under the joint leadership of the  United Nations Office at Geneva and the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS). The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) is one among 24 partner organizations from the UN System, academia, civil society, foundations and the private sector.

In an advance message, CoNGO President Liberato C. Bautista said: “Global leadership today must have a focus and a locus at once local and global. It will require transborder and transnational organizing, and mobilizing for glocal consciousness and action.”

At this two-day conference, the results of a year-long project to develop catalytic strategies to address the challenges of global leadership facing the world will be presented.  Online events will include sessions on peace and human security, economy and employment, health and food security, environment, finance, education, civil society, the media, youth networks, social movements, and integration of research and implementation.

Speakers include UN Office at Geneva Director General Tatiana Valovaya, Columbia University Center for Sustainable Development Director Jeffrey Sachs, actress and activist Jane Fonda, WAAS President and CEO Garry Jacobs, and numerous political, civil society and thought leaders from around the world.

The President of CoNGO, Liberato C. Bautista, will address the conference at 11:00AM (Geneva) | 05:00AM (New York) at the panel on “Mobilizing Civil Society: Building Global Social Consciousness”.

For further information and registration, please see http://bit.ly/3oGUtOO, the agenda and schedule at https://bit.ly/3gNcuYF and speaker bios here. Videos will be available online after the event, at the World Academy of Art and Science.

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