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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full statement may be viewed here.

NGOs related to the UN may endorse the Statement here.

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Organizational Endorsements as of 09 January 2021, 12:00 PM EST New York

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Globalt Fokus.

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

CoNGO President joins heads of IPPNW and PEAC Institute in welcoming entry into force of Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

NEWS FLASH:  (15 January 2021) With everything happening in the world right now, it’s wonderful to have a reason to celebrate. On January 22, 2021, the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons is entering into force, establishing in international law a categorical ban on nuclear weapons, seventy-five years after their development and first use! See PEAC’s invitation to celebrate.

New York, 16 November 2020 (CoNGO InfoNews) – Three heads of organizations, including the president of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), join to welcome the imminent entry into force of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. “The TPNW fills a gap in international law that for far too long saw the most destructive weapon ever invented, the only weapon which poses an acute existential threat to all humanity and to the biosphere, as the only weapon of mass destruction not expressly prohibited under international law”, they said.

Together with Liberato Bautista of CoNGO, the statement was signed by Michael Christ, executive director of the 1985 Nobel Peace laureate International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), and Rebecca Irby, president of Peace, Education, Art, Communication (PEAC) Institute. IPPNW and PEAC Institute are partners of the 2017 Nobel Peace laureate International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons. They are both full member organizations of CoNGO.

The full statement is available here.

Related stories:

PEAC Institute press release.

IPPNW

 

NGO Committee on Ageing and UN DESA mark the International Day of Older Persons, stress human rights of the ageing

New York City, 31 October 2020 (CoNGO InfoNewsres, speaking at the opening of a meeting on October 1, 2020, to mark the UN International Day of Older Persons.  Organized by the NGO Committee on Ageing (New York) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the on-line meeting addressed the question “Pandemics:  How Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?”

Set in the context of the World Health Organization’s Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and its Decade of Health Ageing 2020-2030, the meeting, viewed online by some 3500 people, was hosted by the International Federation on Aging and co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the United Nations in collaboration with the Group of Friends of Older Persons.

President of the UN General Assembly Ambassador Volkan Bozkir, in his video message to the meeting, pointed out that the seventy fifth anniversary of the United Nations will forever be remembered as the year of COVID-19.  Calling on all member states to reach out to older persons, he added: “We are only as safe as the most vulnerable members of society.”

Also addressing the meeting, the chair of the UN Commission on Social Development, Argentine ambassador Maria del Carmen Squeff stressed the need for added protections for the human rights of older persons.

Cynthia Stuen, chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing (New York) and UN representative of the  International Federation on Ageing, provided a historical overview of the UN’s attention to ageing issues, paying tribute to the late Julia T. Alvarez, known as “the Ambassador of Ageing”  to the UN, and to those UN agencies and NGO Committees which had helped put the issue of ageing on the UN agenda. Among the highlights: the First (1982) and Second (2002) World Assemblies on Ageing, the adoption of the UN Principles for Older Persons (1991), the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (2002), the International Year of Older Persons (1999),  International Year of Older Persons (1999, and the Sustainable Development Goals (2015).

“This pandemic,” Ms. Stuen concluded, “is a human rights issue.” The Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030) must be “one of action and a reminder that older persons’ rights are human rights,” she added.

Also featured on the programme were an address by Elizabeth Iro, Chief Nursing Officer at the World Health Organization, on the four actions called for in the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030), and an interactive dialogue among five panellists, moderated by Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing. In the panel were Peggy Hicks, of the office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights; Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the Institute of Health Equity, University College London; John K. Shakpeh, Director of Nursing at Redemption Hospital, Monrovia. Liberia; Jean Accius, of AARP International, and Ritu Sadana, from the World Health Organization.

Concluding remarks came from the First Lady of Chile, Cecelia Morel Montes, on behalf of the Group of Friends of Older Persons, and Masumi Ono, on behalf of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). The programme was chaired by Martha Bial, with co-chair, Bette Levy, both leaders of the NGO Committee on Ageing (New York). Generous contributions from IFA, AARP and M&T Bank made this observance possible.

The NGO Committee on Ageing in New York is one of more than thirty substantive committees of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO). There are also counterpart committees on ageing in Geneva and Vienna.

View entire programme.
See UN story about the event.
See flyer and program schedule of the event.
See postcard of event.
Download HelpAge International’s communication toolkit.

CoNGO President congratulates the UN World Food Programme for receiving 2020 Nobel Peace Prize

New York City, 12 October 2020 (CoNGO InfoNews) — The president of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Status with the United Nations (CoNGO) issued today a statement congratulating the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for receiving the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

The full statement of President Liberato C. Bautista, is as follows:

On behalf of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), I congratulate the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on its receiving the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition both of its many years of action to  alleviate hunger across the world and of its relief work during this time of pandemic.

The award to the WFP is a yes to food security and a no to “the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.” In their announcement of the award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee stated: “The link between hunger and armed conflict is a vicious circle: war and conflict can cause food insecurity and hunger, just as hunger and food insecurity can cause latent conflicts to flare up and trigger the use of violence. We will never achieve the goal of zero hunger unless we also put an end to war and armed conflict.”

Funded by the voluntary contributions of UN Member States and of civil society worldwide, the World Food Programme is a shining example of cooperation between government on the one hand and civil society on the other. Much of its work is dependent on partnership with non-governmental organizations of the kind that the Conference of NGOs is proud to represent.

At this time of crisis, when many governments are struggling to feed their people, and in which the incidence of poverty is rising because of economic disruption, CoNGO calls on UN Member States to support the global work of the World Food Programme, on nongovernmental organizations to work increasingly together to redouble their efforts to achieve the same goals, and on people of goodwill everywhere to play their part both in supporting the World Food Programme and in urging their governments to do the same.

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For a printable version of the statement, visit www.ngocongo.org
Visit WFP for more information.
For more information on the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, visit the Nobel Prize.

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