Presidential Statements

Artificial and Yet Real: Artificial Intelligence—From Warfare to Welfare

Artificial and Yet Real: Artificial Intelligence—From Warfare to Welfare

A Presentation by Liberato C. Bautista at the XXIII Infopoverty World Conference under the auspices of the Observatory for Digital Communications (OCCAM) and collaborators

“A.I. turmoils digital processes: how to act to ensure human rights and provide e-welfare for all?”

12 April 2024 | CR11 | UNHQ New York

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you, Mr. Civili, chair, for the kind introduction.

I want to thank Mr. Pierpaolo Saporito, president of OCCAM and the intellectual architect behind these Infopoverty Conferences, for including me and the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CoNGO) again in this year’s conference. I cannot recall how many times I have spoken at these conferences, possibly 10 of the 23.

This year’s infopoverty conference theme continues the orientation toward human rights, global solidarity, and e-welfare, which are crucial if we address what this conference’s objectives describe as “critical gaps,” naming, among others, food security, health, and education.

I cannot agree more. The twin foci of eliminating hunger and eradicating poverty distill the 17 SDGs into a framework that matters to humanity’s survival and the planet’s sustainability. Hunger and poverty, peace and sustainability are words comprehensible to ordinary people experiencing economic hardships, political instabilities, and social and health inequalities.

How exciting it would be if AI were oriented to achieving these!

The digitization of information and the digitalization of knowledge must be oriented to the specific proposition of communications justice and the larger social justice project.

AI is fast-moving and expensive for struggling economies to fund. Unless regulated, it will leave others behind, widening existing social, digital, and gender gaps and inequalities.

Indigenous peoples, whose indigenous knowledge is digitally archived, are asking—with no electricity and computers on the reservation—will we have access again in the future to our knowledge base, which is being digitalized?

Some young people in Africa are asking their governments—by digitalizing information on the SDGs, isn’t it a violation of our human rights if we did not have electronic access to such information due to lack of electricity and computers in our homes and villages?

As this panel suggests, a holistic approach is needed, but even more so, one that ingrains human rights and social justice values to ensure e-welfare is true welfare for all.

Could A.I. be harnessed to achieve such ends?

The theme and argument for this opening panel point to the necessity of a “holistic approach” to AI, recognizing that it “presents both risks and opportunities for human well-being.” The use of the word “turmoils” in the conference’s theme caught my attention, asserting what it said is the predominant use of AI in warfare {and surveillance } rather than in welfare. Indeed, today, military and defense spending (warfare) far exceeds by leaps and bounds spending in social safety nets (welfare).

How can we use ICTs, including AI, in the service of humanity? How can we use these technologies to serve humanity and people’s longings for economic justice, human rights, participatory democracy, and more?

In a world where fear is in excess, and hope is in deficit, the use of technologies, including AI, when they multiply such fear and deflate such hope, does not augur well for achieving peace and prosperity for people and the planet—the Agenda 2030 mantra.

Such thinking is on the agenda of CoNGO when it meets on April 28 in Bangkok during the UN ESCAP annual meetings. A panel will address the topic AI: Artificial and Yet Real,” exploring how AI might serve humanity’s survival and the planet’s sustainability.

At the 2021 Infopoverty conference, I posited that “the digitization of knowledge and information and the digitalization of the same are fraught with moral and ethical considerations.

Talking about the digital divide and digital inequalities points to some of these moral and ethical issues because they intersect with larger economic, political, social, and cultural divides.

“Because communication is intrinsic to our humanity and the relations we build, the right to communication and access to information are “basic human rights, essential to human dignity and a just and democratic society.”

Building a future with technologies changing by the second and a future besieged by intersecting health and social pandemics is commendable at best and mission impossible at worst.

I am pleased that both CoNGO and OCCAM are conduits of the ongoing multilateral processes arising from the World Summit on Information Society in Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005). We have joined forces at the annual WSIS Forums in Geneva, where issues such as ICTs for SDGs are prime agenda items.

CoNGO welcomes the UN General Assembly resolution on “Seizing the opportunities of safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems for sustainable development,” issued on 21 March 2024. I hope today’s deliberations provide input to the Summit of the Future in September, including the Zero Draft of the Pact for the Future, primarily as it addresses the digital society through a Digital Compact.

CoNGO is drafting a working paper on the Summit of the Future, with the placeholder title, “The Present in the Future Tense: The Grammar and Implements of a Just, Peaceable, Inclusive, and Sustainable Future.” This conference will inform the drafting.

These ethical lenses bring subsidiary but intrinsic values to “Information Communications Technology.” Justice, sustainability, and participatory democracy are ethical values at the core of the voice and agency of human beings who are conscious producers and consumers of digitalized knowledge and information.

A strong moral compass is needed to direct digital communication to the ethical true north whose elements constitute the respect for peace and the fundamental values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, shared responsibility, and respect for nature.

Crucial to the principle of access and stewardship in the use of information communications technology is the recognition of vulnerable and marginalized peoples, especially migrants, internally displaced peoples, older persons, people with disabilities, and refugees. Will their real knowledge figure in artificial intelligence?

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Digital Society we ought to foster must be peaceable and secure—for the people and the planet. By security, I mean beyond national security into human and planetary security. I am excited about this year’s Infopoverty conference because it covers these and more.

Thank you for your kind attention.


The Crucial Role of NGOs at WSIS+20 and Policymaking on ICTs

The Crucial Role of NGOs at WSIS+20 and Policymaking on ICTs

Intervention by Liberato Bautista

26 March 2024 | 14:00 -15:00 CET | ITU Geneva

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

  1. The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) reaffirms its commitment to the WSIS Process. We attended the two world conferences in Tunis and Geneva and the subsequent WSIS Forums. We confirm our participation in the WSIS+20 High-Level event. It is a commitment and a recognition of the critical role of civil society and non-governmental actors in the WSIS Process.
  2. We engage in the WSIS Process, recognizing that “ITU and WSIS have established exemplary procedures enabling a most open and transparent participatory process that could well be emulated elsewhere throughout the UN System” (C. Ritchie). The Open Consultation Process has been crucial to the inclusive and participatory character of the multistakeholder platform modeled by the WSIS Process.
  3. We join the Swiss Ambassador’s statement at this meeting, reiterating the WSIS Process as the global venue and forum for information, communication, and digital technology policy. CoNGO has made several interventions at WSIS Forums on many action lines, especially the ethical dimensions and challenges that ICTs bring.
  4. We engage the WSIS process because, at CoNGO, we prioritize access to the UN’s substantive agenda, including digitized information and knowledge and access to the UN’s physical premises and meetings. The ICT regime currently in place within the ambit and mandate of WSIS is foundational to this direction toward digital and communications justice. The involvement of NGOs and civil society actors in such a direction is critical.
  5. CoNGO welcomed the action taken on 11 March by UN General Assembly entitled “Seizing the opportunities of safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems for sustainable development” (A/78/L.49 ). In this GA resolution, the WSIS Process and relevant documents related to it is amply acknowledged. CoNGO looks forward to contributing to the overall review of the “progress made since the World Summit on the Information Society” in 2025.
  6. This coming April, CoNGO’s Regional Committee in Asia-Pacific will meet in Bangkok during the annual meeting of UN ESCAP. It will also convene a panel on “Artificial and Yet Real: Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development and Humanity.” This event will engage the ITU-led Artificial Intelligence for Good Platform.
  7. I look forward to meeting as many of you in Geneva this May at the WSIS+20 High-Level event.


Taking Stock and the Way Forward for Civil Society in International Drug Policymaking: Commemorating the NYNGOC’s 40th Anniversary

Taking Stock and the Way Forward for Civil Society in International Drug
Policymaking: Commemorating the NYNGOC’s 40th Anniversary

Speech by Liberato Bautista

March 19, 2024 | Room M6 | Vienna International Center

UN Office at Vienna

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. I want to thank all governments, UN entities, and civil society groups collaborating on this side event at CND67.

  1. Congratulations, New York NGO Committee on Drugs, on passing a significant milestone after forty years of supporting civil society in engaging with the UN system! As the only committee of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN working on drug and drug policy issues and practice, I extend CoNGO’s thanks for all your contributions to these issues and concerns.
  2. The NYNGOC has played an essential role over the last four decades in supporting the work of the CND and UNODC, including during the “Beyond 2008” NGO forum, which preceded the 2009 High-Level Meeting on Drugs, as well as more recent examples of the Civil Society Task Force, which facilitated global NGO participation at the 2016 UNGASS and the 2019 Ministerial Segment, and by facilitating global civil society participation for the 2024 mid- term review.
  3. These civil society engagements are examples of the essential role of civil society in multilateral and global governance, which are in keeping with the implementation of ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31 governing NGO participation at the UN, especially in all ECOSOC functional commissions, including CND, and not just in Vienna but UN systemwide worldwide.
  4. Our advocacy for robust NGO engagement with the UN and its member states occurs against a backdrop of shrinking civic space. CoNGO’s constant refrain is for equitable access to the physical premises and the substantive agenda of the UN.
  5. Effective collaboration among diverse entities can enhance system-wide coherence between drug control and the UN pillars of peace and security, human rights, and sustainable agenda, including Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. Such collaboration is critical to crafting a pact for a shared and collective future.
  6. CoNGO looks forward to continued UN and NGO collaboration, including NYNGOC’s crucial role for the next forty years and beyond!


Partnerships and solidarity are meaningful ways to face the present and the future together

Partnerships and solidarity are meaningful ways to face the present and the future together

Speech by Liberato Bautista


30 January 2024 | ECOSOC Chamber | UN Headquarters | New York


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

  1. Madam ECOSOC President, Ambassador Paula Narvaez, thank you for having the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations, also called CoNGO, address this 2024 ECOSOC Partnership Forum.
  2. This Forum’s focus is timely if urgent. Any discussion of eradicating poverty, eliminating hunger, acting on climate change, achieving peace and justice, and growing partnerships for the goals must involve collaboration and partnerships among all peoples, nations, and institutions. Nothing less will work if we are to make progress with Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.
  3. At the Conference of NGOs, consultation, collaboration, and cooperation undergird our advocacy for meaningful access to the physical premises of the UN and to the substantive promises of sustainable development, peace and security, human dignity, and human rights, which are the very pillars of the UN System.
  4. Over the years, I have advocated for NGOs and civil society to be assured of time and space to address UN bodies, especially ECOSOC. Today, Madam President, you made it possible in a more meaningful way by interspersing our interventions between member state and UN entity speakers, ensuring time no longer runs out on us. This is part of a true partnership—indeed, of multilateralism—that I hope grows and continues.
  5. I hope the strong statements in support of civil society delivered here by many will be reflected better in the ongoing deliberations leading to the Summit of the Future and in the text of the Pact for the Future.
  6. Excellencies and colleagues, even as we address the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, we recognize the poly-crises and intersecting pandemics- not just health but social pandemics—we face today under conditions of uneven economic development. Partnerships and solidarity are meaningful ways to face the present and the future together. Let’s muster the courage and resources to make them real.
  7. I thank you for your kind attention.


Healing and Wholeness for Biological Bodies and the Body Politic

Healing and Wholeness for Biological Bodies and the Body Politic
The Case for Advancing Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment Through Health Worker Migration and the Role of Civil Society and Nurses in Advancing Health and Other Global Public Goods at the UN and Worldwide

A Presentation by Liberato C. Bautista

11 March 2024 | Salvation Army Auditorium | New York City

Excellencies, distinguished representatives from the UN System, esteemed NGO colleagues, ladies, and gentlemen:

  1. Thank you, Dr. Peter Preziosi—President and CEO of CGFNS International—for this singular honor to speak at this CSW68 parallel event on such an essential topic as advancing gender equality and economic empowerment through health worker migration. I treasure this occasion as CoNGO President. CGFNS is the Secretary, and thus an officer, of the Board of CoNGO—the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations. The participation of CGFNS in the life of CoNGO is a prime example of the power and importance of consultation, collaboration, and cooperation in our interlocutory role vis-a-vis the United Nations System.
  2. At the outset, I also want to say that holding this event at the Salvation Army Auditorium—part of the building that houses the International Social Justice Commission of the Salvation Army—evokes special meaning and emotion. Sixteen years ago, 2008 to be exact, this building was inaugurated, and I was invited to deliver an inaugural speech—both in my capacity as CoNGO President and as the Main Representative at the UN for the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. You may not know that the Methodist family and the Salvation Army trace their roots to John Wesley and the holiness movement. Why do I mention this at a CGFNS event? This shared Wesleyan ethos is steeped in the “joining of mercy and justice, of heart and hand, and witness and service.” Thank you, Salvation Army, for making this facility available as an extension of NGOs’ physical access to the UN’s thematic agenda.
  3. I refer to the joining of works of mercy and works of justice because it provides a theoretical handle to place the role of healthcare in achieving health, healing, and wholeness and advancing gender equality and economic empowerment. I put this framework up front to say that the healing and wellness of the biological body and the body politic are critical discourses in sustainable development, if not healthcare. This is why I welcome the complexity of your theme. The health sector, especially nursing, is a predominantly women’s profession and, therefore, must be naturally concerned about achieving gender equality and economic empowerment. This is crucial to attaining women’s human dignity and rights, if also for everyone.
  4. Last week, I was in Jakarta, Indonesia, where I keynoted an international consultation of a tripartite gathering of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, domestic workers, and people caught in the many forms of trafficking (human, labor, sex, drug, and trafficking in human organs), accompanied by migrant and refugee service agencies and several religious institutions from around the world. This group has met regularly for the last 12 years. They offer a viable formulation to address migration and its attendant challenges and advance gender equality and economic empowerment. This tripartite gathering in Indonesia has been developing this framework over the lifetime of its work, which refers to building infrastructures of welcome and hospitality and creating an architecture of protection and solidarity. The infrastructure refers to immediate acts of mercy or the need to attend to the immediate healing of the human body. Architecture refers to the need to develop, institute, and systematize legislation and public policy to ensure social justice, including gender justice, economic justice, labor and migration justice, climate justice, and so much more.
  5. I submit that advancing gender equality and economic empowerment through health worker migration cannot be addressed in isolation from the more significant political and economic empowerment issues for all people. I say this as someone from the Philippines, where many of the world’s healthcare workers—nurses, doctors, and medical technologists come from. In my discussion with Dr. Preziosi and his CGFNS teams, I have mentioned the dual challenge of brain drain from migrant-sending countries and brain gain in the receiving countries. Alas, brain gain is not the dominant vision of health worker migration, but rather, in the general public’s view, it is just one more instance of local employment grabbed by a foreign worker. Education about migrant justice must form part of our advocacy for gender equality.
  6. I am especially pleased with the number of NGOs in the health profession, especially nurses who are members of CoNGO. Aside from CGFNS, there is the ICN, SONSIEL (Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Leaders), the Katharine J. Densford Center for International Nursing Leadership at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, and NIGH (Nightingale Initiative for Global Health). The nursing profession can genuinely be on the mission to “heal bodies” as much as to “heal nations”—the body politic and the citizenry, if you will. A healthy people make for a healthy nation. However, healthcare must benefit from robust public funding. Otherwise, this health, which should be a commonwealth, is imperiled, unraveling inequalities in health care and access to the necessities that make for just, resilient, and inclusive health for all, not to mention health as a human right.
  7. Consider this: migration today is mainly about labor chasing significant capital and capital chasing cheap labor. In this dynamic, it is crucial not to commodify the human body and commoditize their labor and services. Academic studies have shown that in the globalization of labor, migration has been gendered and sexualized, racialized and ethnicized, 3) even militarized and securitized. Migrating nurses and all people in situations of mobility must be spared and protected from this exploitative and oppressive dynamic. This is a matter of concern not just in migration and labor justice but also in the framework of “brain drain, brain gain.” Consider, too, that the labor export policies of certain countries are critical in ensuring the steady flow of hard currency, which is crucial, for example, to a country like the Philippines. The massive movement of labor across borders, including forced movement–requires a just, durable, and sustainable solution, especially under conditions of uneven development of economies and structural inequalities within and among countries. The demographics of migration—which countries are the biggest nurse-sending and nurse-receiving—give us a pretty good idea about the politics and economics of labor migration today. Just the remittances of healthcare workers to their countries of origin is an economic narrative one cannot ignore just because of the sheer amount they contribute to national economies.
  8. Consider this larger picture borrowed from another keynote speech in the Jakarta meeting I attended. Joanna Concepcion, the Chairperson of Migrante International, said, “Around 60% of developing countries are in debt or high risk. The latest data in 2021 shows that 39 countries paid more in principal and interest than the new loans they received. The United States has even raised interest rates, and indebted countries will have to pay more to borrow and pay off their debts. Sixty-two countries in the world are now spending more on foreign debt than on healthcare. While public debt continues to rise, budgets for critical, vital social services, education, healthcare, support for farmers and local agricultural production, and support for workers and laborers are cut, severely impacting the poorest communities. We have been hearing the phrase “post- pandemic recovery.” Still, for the world’s working people, it has only meant that the inequalities they have already faced before the pandemic are only worsening daily. While big businesses continue to reap higher profits, billions of workers are paid slave wages. The wages of billions of workers cannot keep up with inflation, rising energy costs, and essential goods. In 2022, the average global inflation reached its highest level in two decades. More and more people do not have long-term job security or are underemployed. The number of unemployed globally rose to 207 million in 2022, increasing by 21 million compared to 2019. At least 435 million more women and girls have been pushed to extreme poverty. Women and girls in the global South particularly bear the worst impacts of the rising living costs, and the majority of them are forced into informal employment. (IBON) This is the context in which economic empowerment and gender equality must be seen—for the healthcare worker as much as any other migrant worker. Their hard-earned dollars are crucial in the uneven development of economies. This is why achieving the 17 SDGs is vital, even as they are not the entirety of what needs to be done.”
  9. Nurses and nurse practitioners are prime deliverers of an infrastructure of healing and wholeness, which you excel in doing in your workplaces. But you are essential interlocutors in the development at the UN of international norms and standards that compose the architecture of solidarity and protections, which are the legal frameworks and arrangements that protect and promote all human rights for all, including health rights, women’s rights, and worker’s rights, including the ones that protect you in the workplace, in the recruitment process, and the migration route from origin to destination. This is why I am continually encouraged and impressed with the work of CGFNS in developing and flourishing ethical recruitment policies for healthcare workers.
  10. I am also excited at the launch today of CGFNS Insights Brief – Advancing Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment Through Nurse Migration, which, among others, highlights the following:
    1. As the most significant profession within healthcare, nursing is pivotal to a country’s ability to provide essential and comprehensive care. As a female-dominated profession, it offers unique economic opportunities to women, and nurses are often seen as beacons of female empowerment within their communities.
    2. As a female-dominated profession, the status of women and nurses are closely intertwined. Nurse migration enables women to bring their expertise across borders, benefiting individuals, families, and economies in both source and destination countries.
    3. Although gender disparities, discrimination, and lack of leadership positions persist for women in the nursing profession, recognizing the pivotal role of nursing in advancing gender equality and economic empowerment for women and girls worldwide underscores the need for concerted efforts to support and empower this profession.
  11. Friends and colleagues, I want to repeat what I said to you in 2022. The nursing profession is in a strategic place to address the social inequalities, not just in health but in other aspects of society. This is to say that the biological body’s health, healing, and wholeness are equally dependent on the health, healing, and wholeness of the body politic and the planet Earth. I have in mind nurses being crucial partners in building back better and justly from the ravages of intersecting pandemics in health, the economy, and our environment, including from the pandemic of violence and gender inequality. This, even as I also hasten to add that nurse and health worker migration is part of that transborder and transnational movement of peoples, which should be protected within the framework that the freedom of movement is a protected human right.
  12. Justice is at the heart of health for all. Health for all is a principle underlying the more excellent principle that health is a global public good and that all those who work to protect and promote health play crucial roles in the public’s overall health. Today, I want to thank the nurses who chose to move. Human mobility is more than just a biological function. Where we stay, as much as why we leave places of meaning and memory in our lives and relations, are decisions of geopolitical import. For every migrant nurse attending to your care and well-being, please always thank them. They left places of meaning and people they love so that they can earn with dignity and respect and remit some of their earnings to their families and loved ones. In the same vein, I want to thank CGFNS International again for its work of flourishing the voice and agency of nurses in achieving gender equality and economic empowerment so that they can do and do best what their profession has trained them for—helping people and their relations heal, including their relation to the planet, for themselves, their families, and their communities. Thank you for your indulgence.


Sharing: To Eradicate Poverty, Strengthen Institutions and World Education for Reconciliation and Peace

Sharing: To Eradicate Poverty, Strengthen Institutions and
World Education for Reconciliation and Peace
A Presentation by Liberato C. Bautista1
at a Side Event organized by the

Foundation for Subjective Experience and Research (Germany)
on the sides of the 68th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

13 March 2024 | CR10 | Church Center for the UN | New York

  1. Thank you, Josefine Brecht, for having me on this panel on a crucial and urgent topic, such as eradicating poverty, strengthening institutions, and the need for peace and reconciliation in the world, and achieving them through education that is at once local and global—which global citizenship education must be about. I am especially delighted that the Foundation for Subjective Experience and Research is a member of CoNGO. I have been involved in their programs in New York and Germany, including their network, which includes the Baltic Sea Forum.
  2. The theme for today’s discussion is at once simple and complex. Simple because who can disagree with the urgency of eradicating poverty or the need for education (local, global, and perhaps education for global citizenship, too)? And who can disagree with the need for reconciliation and peace today? Possibly, no one disagrees with these aspirations, but how and what kind of resources we must gather and mobilize, and who must do them and make them possible, is the more challenging part of the theme. The organizers suggest that SHARING is that value that makes it possible. I agree.
  3. Let me characterize the social, economic, and political context in which we are and why eradicating poverty and achieving gender equality and gender justice are urgent. Today, there is a surplus of fear and a deficit of hope among the world’s people. I have often spoken about fear and hope because people’s futures and those of our planets are at stake. That future is imperiled. People and the planet are imperiled. It is so imperiled that forecasting the future might require an immediate and minimal undertaking—eliminating hunger and eradicating poverty. Even as we affirm the interdependence and interrelatedness of the 17 SDGs, these and other development goals revolve around an ethical imperative that if we fail it, all else will fall short— and that ethical imperative is eliminating hunger and eradicating poverty. As governments, civil society groups, and the UN System get closer to the UN Civil Society Conference (Nairobi, May 9-10, 2024) and the Summit of the Future (New York, September 22-23, 2024), and as multiple stakeholders engage in the Zero Draft of the Pact for the Future, I dare say that the future will get bleaker before it gets better unless we address hunger and poverty which mires the lives and livelihoods of the majority of the world’s people.
  4. Today’s theme implies the importance of strengthening multilateral institutions, which I agree with. But with caveats, to include for now the importance of revisiting the institutions that have been put in place to check the excesses of national assertions of sovereignty (transborder aggression and wars, colonialism and imperial conquest) but also to harness the power of working together under the rule of law, both national and international law. The aspect of sharing in the theme must animate this imperative to strengthen institutions so that even as nation-states assert sovereignty, such sovereignty must be in the interest of building a world animated by peace and security, human dignity and human rights, sustainable development and human progress—to quote the pillars of the UN.
  5. Civil society formations, primarily organized into NGOs, are crucial in bettering our world—be it the relations of nations or the relations of peoples. Each stakeholder must play their parts—singly in their mandates and jointly with others in addressing issues that impact the well- being and dignity of populations through acts of solidarity that aim for the achievement of social justice in all its forms—gender justice, climate justice, intergenerational justice, economic justice, migration justice, climate justice, and so much more. Social justice and social solidarity are aspirations that must be pursued if peace among people, nations, and the planet is to be achieved.
  6. This is why when we imagine what future we might help to carve for ourselves and future generations already born and yet to be born, our imagination of that future must include the creation of inclusive and resilient communities where livelihoods are sustainable, with decent jobs and living wages. The well-being and dignity of people and their communities are ensured. Even as we must move away from continually blaming the COVID-19 pandemic as responsible for the health dilemmas and economic problems we face today, we must still look at health justice as a critical component of social justice, without which the value of sharing will falter and not flourish.
  7. Sharing can thrive and prosper when we foster transformative social protection systems in national and international policies. But even more, when we add to these arrangements the right to development that includes socially just international trade agreements, financial architecture that advances human rights, and, I must add, promotes the concept and practice of food sovereignty, which is foundational to what makes for resilience and inclusion in society, and crucial to the eradication of poverty. The survival of humanity is at stake in an ever more imperiled and unsustainable natural ecology. Intersecting crises endanger the health of people and the planet, not the least brought about by the health and social pandemics, global violence and wars, global forced migration, climate crisis, racial injustice, and so much more.
  8. To decrease fear, we must affirm the fundamental principle that human dignity and human rights are non-negotiables. To increase hope, we must build a shared future for all the inhabitants of the earth and their natural ecology by promoting and safeguarding the common public goods and services indispensable to human life, their livelihoods, and their neighborhoods. At face value, you may think that decreasing fear and increasing hope are fundamental tasks of nation-states. Nay—it is a task for all. Recovery from the intersecting pandemics that people and the planet face today must not only be inclusive of and resilient for people and the planet but also just. Justice must be at the heart of recovery. After all, we are recovering from past historical injustices, including slavery, colonialism, and racism, that have marginalized peoples, plundered their lands and resources, and subverted their human dignity and their communities, primarily indigenous communities. When inclusion, resilience, and justice unite, we can move away from the prevalence of fear and transition into the resurgence of hope.
  9. Justice is what rights and wrongs pandemics are made of. When justice is pursued, resilience goes beyond the human capacity to adapt. When people who have undergone injustices for centuries and among generations in their families and communities undertake acts to unyoke themselves from such injustices, I refuse to call that recovery. It is transformation in its most fundamental, if revolutionary, sense. We must not consign resilience to resignation as if we will weather every climate and economic crisis without structural and systemic changes. Nay, resilience must be about uprooting the intersecting social pandemics and injustices that have entrenched people and the planet in hunger and poverty.
  10. The impoverization that has resulted from shameful acts of injustice in human history has plunged our planet into the precipice of unsustainability and the resulting dehumanization and commodification of people and populations everywhere. The concerns of this side event are most commendable because they can summon and mobilize both material and moral resources to undo the entanglements of public policy with such injustices that allow for poverty and hunger and for wars and violence to linger longer. And if this happens, our yearnings for successfully implementing the SDGs and achieving gender justice will have come to naught.
  11. We must increase hope and decrease fear through arrangements that genuinely put people and the planet at the center of the local and global public imagination and public policy action. We certainly need global leadership—and global citizenship education—to help identify catalytic action and strategies for transformative change. Multilateralism and sovereignty as we know them today must be reformed if reformulated, as they will no longer suffice for that catalytic and transformative change I have described.
  12. The challenge to multilateralism today is not only that the world’s problems have exponentially multiplied over as imagined since the Peace of Westphalia in the early 17th century that endowed us with the notion of sovereignty and sovereign nation-states who can contract treaties between and among them. The true challenge to multilateralism lies in the urgency that these sovereign nation-states recognize how each of their people and their natural ecology is tied to the survivability and sustainability of all others and that acting together globally is in their local and national interest. Doing so makes for that peace and reconciliation conceived in this side event’s concept note.
  13. In my former office at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines hangs a poster produced by the Peace and Justice Center in Marin, California. The text on the poster said these words that continue to influence my thinking and doing: “At the table of peace shall be bread and justice.” Food invokes images of a table where we break bread together, tell stories of lives and living, families forge solidarity, and peace talks are held. I agree with this image because the peace we seek needs women and youth to populate the tables of peace where bread and water, peace and justice, are served.

Thank you for your kind attention.


Strengthen Social Justice and Solidarity at the Core of ECOSOC and HLPF’s Mandates

Strengthen Social Justice and Solidarity at the Core of ECOSOC and HLPF’s Mandates

Speech by Liberato Bautista

At the second informal consultation to review the General Assembly resolutions 75/290 A and 75/290 B and their annexes on strengthening the Economic and Social Council and the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

7 March 2024 | ECOSOC Chamber | United Nations, New York

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

  1. The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations, also called CoNGO, which is in general consultative status with ECOSOC, thanks the distinguished Co-Facilitators, the Permanent Representatives of the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Guinea, for inviting me to this second informal consultation to review the General Assembly resolutions 75/290 A and 75/290 B and their annexes on strengthening the Economic and Social Council and the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development. This is a necessary process, and I thank you for continuing to include civil society participation, especially NGOs accredited by ECOSOC.
  2. The pulse and life of society are its people. Civil society is constitutive of that pulse and life beat. People’s life stories and flourishing, as much as their struggles and strivings, must go beyond footnotes into main notes in multilateral texts. This understanding will be reinforced in Nairobi this May at the UN 2024 Civil Society Conference supporting the Future Summit of the Future. I read the Elements Paper with such a view.
  3. Reading the Elements Paper, I was struck by how many items we could express our complete agreement on. Let me emphasize a few, hoping they do not get deleted along the rough and stony road of negotiation.
    1. In the Chapeau (pt. 6), we welcome the text “strong commitment to multilateralism and to accelerating implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs,” even as we urge continued review of multilateralism as a crucial venue not just for addressing the future but also for the continuing past, not the least the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and racism that continues to slow down efforts to address the uneven development of peoples and nations and their economies, even political cultures. These reviews should examine how multilateral processes and ECOSOC and HLPF themes address global poverty, forced migration, health injustice, peace, violence, and the need to demilitarize national and international relations. All these, even as we affirm the interrelatedness and interdependencies of all the SDGs and the coherence of the Agenda 2030.
    2. In the Review of ECOSOC: We welcome the text related to the enhancement of the engagement of civil society…in ECOSOC meetings (Gaps. Pt. 3). But this has been said many times in as many multilaterally negotiated texts. For NGOs to contribute meaningfully to the recovery of people and the planet from the pillage of social and health pandemics, including climate change, NGOs must be afforded access to both physical premises and the promises of the UN for their voice to be heard and their expertise tapped in achieving Agenda 2030–and the promises that are about peace and prosperity, progress and partnerships, for people and the planet. This concern is underscored in the review of the HLPF Programme “Fully implement provisions of previous GA resolutions on strengthening the contribution of MGOS and NGOs to the HLPF” (Point 5), in the text “Facilitate ongoing dialogue between governments, civil society, and other stakeholders, and share best practices and lessons learned” (Pt. 6), and in the review of the HLPF, the text “Encourage the involvement of relevant stakeholders in a whole of society approach, and include stakeholders in deliberations at the national, regional and global levels” (VNRs, Pt.5).
    3. Much progress has been achieved in civil society participation and expertise in the systemwide multilateral agenda at the UN. Much more remains to be done. In this case, the ECOSOC’s Committee on NGOs is primarily responsible for advancing the implementation of ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31, which governs the consultative status of NGOs, UN systemwide, including in ECOSOC’s functional bodies in Geneva, Vienna, and the regional commissions. The Elements Paper must include this resolution regarding NGO engagement with ECOSOC. This resolution, adopted by governments, is a commitment by those same governments to ensure the optimal contribution of civil society in the work of ECOSOC. This includes accrediting NGOs from vast and varied geographic locations worldwide, but especially from underrepresented groups and regions of the global South, and in a fair, safe, inclusive, and timely manner to ensure NGOs can fully exercise their consultative status. We recognize that the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs is overworked, and its DESA Secretariat needs to be funded. It would also benefit from much more significant and timely funding of the United Nations by its member governments, a call CoNGO has frequently advocated for.In the Review of HLPF, we welcome the statement that HLPF “Themes should be informed by the recommendations of the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) of 2023.” Including the “issue of internal displacement in the ECOSOC agenda” (Review of ECOSOC, Point 7) is essential and must remain in the text. Global migration, especially force and massive displacement, dispersal, and dislocation of peoples and communities, are existential threats to the flourishing of people and the planet and must be at the forefront of the ECOSOC agenda.
    4. In the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) section of the review of the HLPF, we welcome the text “Encourage the involvement of relevant stakeholders in a whole-of-society approach” (Pt.5). This follows the same theme as our view about participation and partnerships with civil society. Much more can be said here, but I would like to highlight for now the importance of not just the VNRs but also the work of the UN systemwide—and that is our concern for linguistic diversity and language justice. As enshrined in various rights instruments, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among others, human rights include linguistic human rights. We cannot forget about multilingualism as we prepare for the High-Level Political Forum and the Summit of the Future. Multilingualism is a core value of the United Nations, so it must be a core consideration when implementing sustainable development. About SDG 1, in particular, let us take stock of how linguistic discrimination exacerbates poverty by excluding people from employment opportunities and other life chances. Concerning SDG 16, let us reflect on how language rights are being respected on all levels in ways that support inclusive societies and equitable institutions. Let us ensure that multilingualism for sustainable development receives the attention it deserves in the Pact for the Future.
  4. Excellencies and colleagues, I conclude by expressing concern that there does not appear to have been an assessment and analysis of the implementation of the recommendations in Resolution 75/290 A and B to provide a basis for new recommendations. For example, Para. 15 of resolution 75/290A required the promotion and review of the implementation of the ministerial and political declarations – was this done? What review was carried out to facilitate the recommended improvements? New recommendations will need to be more precisely defined. Given the urgency to meet the SDGs, there is no time for generalities.
  5. We are way behind in the SDG implementation. The HLPF must fulfill its mandate under resolution 67/290 when the General Assembly decided that the HLPF “shall provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development.” And yet, we still need to be on track to meet the goals. It is time to stop using COVID-19 as an excuse. We were off-track even before the pandemic. Moving forward, we must be bold and unflinching and leave no one behind. We need to be more explicit, more precise, more ambitious. The Elements Paper provides good ideas, but the recommendations must be specific. Ideas must now turn into transformative action.
  6. As we review the work of the Council and the HLPF, our moral compasses must not veer away from justice and solidarity, indeed even compassion, as we feel the brunt of the poly- crises and intersecting health and social pandemics and face conditions of uneven economic development. ECOSOC and its leadership are in an unenviable position to lead us to a common agenda to establish a just, peaceable, and inclusive future. In line with recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession, the role of educators and the academe in teaching and enjoining all peoples of the world, diverse partners, and stakeholders in the work to achieve the SDGs and realize Agenda 2030 is crucial and necessary. Civil society can do its share in this shared work on this common agenda. I thank you for your kind attention.




Partnerships: Premises and Promises, Possibilities and Perils

Presentation by Liberato C. Bautista, President of CoNGO

at the 2023 ECOSOC Partnership Forum Side Event: WSIS Cooperation for Accelerating Progress on the SDGs

Organized by United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS)  and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

31 January 2023

  • Partnerships must be at the core of what multilateral and multistakeholder mean. CoNGO’s long-term partnership with the WSIS Process and Forums is a model in this direction.
  • Stakeholders have varying access to power and resources, which they deploy in various partnerships. But there are as many perils as there are possibilities in these partnerships.
  • The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is critical in addressing the unequal relations among stakeholders. 
  • Partnerships at the UN flourish under conditions that make it possible for all stakeholders to access both physical space (premises) and substantive agenda (promises), not the least on all matters related to the successful implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.


Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen:

  1. Thank you to friends at WSIS and ITU for having me again at another WSIS event during the ECOSOC Partnership Forum 2023. Thank you for allowing me to respond to two questions you posed.  The first question deals with how the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) views partnerships and why it is imperative for ECOSOC and the WSIS Process, as much as civil society, to collaborate in implementing and achieving the vision of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.
  2. My response to both is an organizational one—a celebration of the partnership between CoNGO and the WSIS Process through ITU, which I believe is a model of consultation, collaboration, and cooperation among varied actors who have been given access to physical premises as well as access to the substantive promises of the WSIS agenda. I will come back later to a nuancing of what I call the dynamic of premises and promises. The participation of CoNGO in the WSIS Forum last year (i.e., as a high-level track facilitator, as a speaker at a side event, opening ceremony and closing session, and in CoNGO’s event) and at the WSIS Forum 2023 this coming March (as high-level track facilitator again) are examples of this partnership.
  3. Both the multilateral and the multistakeholder approaches to doing work can be successful and meaningful if conducted under conditions of just and democratic governance. But also, one must consider the uneven development of economies and differentiated responsibilities on the common challenges we face in local, regional, and global spaces. Doing so is an exercise in knowing what can be realistically expected from a partner.
  4. Sustainable development is fundamentally about development justice. And development justice must also be about digital justice, which is the equitable deployment and access to the implements of digitalization, including ICTs. For CoNGO, these understandings underscore the reality that stakeholders have varying degrees of reach and access to the levers of power and resources and ICT implements, hence the concern, for example, for digital justice.
  5. There is broad agreement that the full and successful implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development relies heavily on the partnerships among governments, multilateral institutions, the private sector, the business sector, and the widest breadth of civil society groupings, including non-governmental organizations.
  6. For NGOs to contribute meaningfully to the recovery of people and the planet from the pillage of pandemics and the devastations due to climate change,  NGO voice and agency must be afforded access to both multilateral premises and participation in visioning and shaping the substantive promises of the UN. Key to NGO partnership is having their voice heard, and their expertise tapped. This is what access to the promises of the UN means—access to realizing the promises of peace and prosperity, for people and the planet, as a shared vision and task.
  7. Let me now address the second question explicitly dealing with the close collaboration between CoNGO and WSIS, but also why I consider the ethical dimensions of knowledge and information society crucial.  The platforms the WSIS process has afforded NGOs are a model for such partnerships. They point to the direction of achieving digital justice, which is co-constitutive with environmental and development justice. WSIS and CoNGO’s long history of collaboration is substantive in both access to the premises of each other’s meetings and their substantive agendas. In 2003 in Geneva and 2005 in Tunis—at the twin conferences that launched the World Summit on the Information Society, CoNGO played a central role in promoting and facilitating cooperation among the many civil society groups that converged in these two conferences. We have supported WSIS and the WSIS Forums ever since, with the CoNGO President or First Vice President being a regular plenary speaker or facilitator.  The “ITU-CoNGO Agreement” signed in 2005 with then SG Utsumi set the ground for increasingly fruitful cooperation. The “Agreed Concept Note for Enhanced Involvement of CoNGO in the WSIS Process” was elaborated and strengthened in 2010 under SG Touré and DSG Zhao. 
  8. NGOs in Geneva and Tunis spoke of the various dimensions of ICT,  but even more so on the ethical dimensions(WSIS Action Line 10) concerning the common good, social justice, human dignity and human rights, sustainability and development, and so much more identifiable values. In the context of Agenda 2030, such ethical dimensions come in even greater focus because ICTs, to be a tool for the common good, must first redound to the enhancement of the dignity and protection of people’s human rights and the securing of sustainability for the planet.
  9. The digitization of knowledge and the digitalization of information—in all its applications, but especially in industry and commerce—are fraught with moral and ethical considerations. These moral and ethical considerations point to the digital divide and vex our efforts to safeguard human rights, including their intersections with more significant economic, political, social, and cultural realities. For its part, CoNGO will compose this year a CoNGO Board Advisory Working Group on Information Communications Technology, intended to supplement the CoNGO compendium of principles for NGO good practice (2021), this time focusing on best practices in the use of ICTs as experienced by NGOs and civil society groups.
  10. CoNGO’s collaboration with the World Academy of Art and Science, which partnered with the UN Trust Fund for Human Security to launch the Human Security for All campaign, is essential to mention here. This year, the campaign got loud-speaker access in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The titans of ICT industries agreed to have human security as its theme for the show. It is a step in the right direction for commerce and drives to be involved in implementing the SDGs.
  11. Last week, the ninth edition of the annual symposium on the role of religion and faith-based organizations in international affairs, which I chaired, also focused on human security. It was a symposium in collaboration with UNDP acting on behalf of the UN inter-agency task force on religion and development, including 27 UN entities collaborating. I said at the symposium that digital security must be a part of our understanding of human security. And that human security must be shared security for all. It must be shared security for all because it is about the flourishing of life, human well-being, and the planet’s sustainable development. 
  12. Peace and prosperity are undoubtedly critical components of our understanding of partnerships, and I submit that we have muted the justice components all too often. Yesterday’s session on Partnership Innovations raised the matter of common but differentiated responsibilities again. It is an assertion that a framework of inequality and uneven development still characterizes our partnerships. That’s the justice issue—recognizing who the duty bearers and the rights holders are so that, in the end, the SDGs are about the partnerships for people and the planet and not partnerships among inanimate institutions and organizations. CoNGO celebrates its partnership with ITU and WSIS for the great potential to continue advancing this perspective together. I trust the WSIS process, and forum will continue this orientation.



January 24, 2023 | ECOSOC Chamber | 10:00 – 13:00

Madam ECOSOC President, Ms. Lachezara Stoeva, thank you for convening this important and timely session.

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen

At the core of these atrocity crimes that this session has addressed, namely genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, is the ignominious assault on intrinsic human dignity and fundamental human rights.

These crimes decimate every semblance of civility and humanity and, when left unpunished, may happen again with impunity.

To prevent these crimes, ECOSOC must underscore the holistic implementation of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights regimen, underscoring and reinforcing already available international laws and agreements for just and equitable sustainable development.

Prevention requires turning national security into shared security where there is just and equitable provision of food and freedom, jobs and justice, and land and liberty, for all peoples and communities everywhere.

Denying people these public goods that make for a peaceable, secure, and sustainable future provides fertile ground for atrocity crimes to thrive.

In the end, stopping death-dealing crimes is as urgent as the flourishing of life itself—that of people and the planet.

I take this opportunity to announce the creation within the Conference of NGOs of two more NGO committees whose agenda will include the concerns of this special meeting:

1) an NGO Committee on Racism, Colonialism, and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, and

2) an NGO Committee of Youth and Future Generations. A substantive investment in our youth today should be a wise investment in preventing all atrocity crimes.

Thank you, Madam President.


The Rev. Dr. Liberato Bautista is President of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (2007-2011, 2017-2025), an NGO in general consultative status with ECOSOC. He is also the Assistant General Secretary for United Nations and International Affairs of the United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society, also in consultative status with ECOSOC. He serves as its main representative to the UN.

CoNGO President to Speak at ECOSOC NGO Committee Consultation With NGOs


13 December 2022 | UN Headquarters, New York City

(The following statement by Liberato Bautista, the President of CoNGO—Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations—forms the basis of his three-minute presentation scheduled for delivery at the ECOSOC NGO Committee consultation with NGOs to be held on Tuesday, 13 December 2022 at UN Headquarters in New York City. Many of the points raised in the statement come from comments received during an open mic conducted by President Bautista with CoNGO member organizations.)

1. I am Liberato Bautista, speaking as President of the Conference of Non- Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations. CoNGO is an NGO in general consultative status with ECOSOC whose membership includes more than 500 NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC. Since CoNGO’s founding in 1948, it has been a significant interface between NGOs, now the broader Civil Society, and the United Nations System. CoNGO has consistently promoted, defended, and boosted civil society access—both physical and political—to deliberative and decision-making processes throughout the United Nations System.

2. CoNGO has encouraged and facilitated competent NGO inputs across the entire spectrum of issues that constitute the daily and yearly agenda of the United Nations. All these, while maintaining open lines of communication with the President of ECOSOC, the Chair of the Committee on NGOs, the Chief of the NGO Branch at UN DESA, and other NGO liaisons within the UN System through my leadership emphasis on consultation, collaboration, and cooperation.

The following points address the four questions sent in advance by the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs for the consultation to address:

On question 1: How can NGOs further contribute to the work of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies? What are the most efficient modalities for NGOs to contribute to the United Nations’ policymaking, be recognized, and be influential in these processes?

3. In its 74 years as a primary interface with the United Nations System, CoNGO has constantly reiterated the importance to the UN of encouraging and receiving open and interactive engagement with NGOs and broader civil society. We again underline that ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31 contains virtually all the technical and procedural modalities to achieve this purpose. Member States must faithfully implement all the provisions of 1996/31, being the most effective guarantee that NGOs can contribute, be recognized, and enrich the UN’s deliberative and decision-making processes.

4. Specifically, NGOs should receive targeted advice on accessing the information on primary UN documents issued, on timely registration for UN conferences and consultations, on any supplementary badging procedures, on conditions for submitting NGO documents, and on physical access to meeting rooms. NGOs should receive timely information on the requirements for organizing side events, plus practical guidance for on-site arrangements. For its part, CoNGO has designed its website ( as a portal to valuable information on UN and NGO meetings and the UN regulations on the consultative process.

5. The UN must structure its work modalities for access to NGOs and hearing their voices at UN meetings. The speaking time for NGOs should be allotted so that their turn to speak is not based on remaining available time but rather on a specific time. Accessing digital space, including through the UN WebTV, is laudable but should not be a substitute for the physical, in-person presence of accredited NGO representatives at UN conferences, consultations, and meetings.

6. Member States, having already in Resolution 1996/31 acknowledged and endorsed the fundamental value of the consultative relationship, should place no ad-hoc or meeting-specific limitations or restrictions on NGO participation in policy-making, nor invent counter-productive measures on participation that contradict the spirit of the consultative process. This, and more, is the essence of a statement I delivered at a consultation conducted by the ECOSOC President in 2021 with Chairs of its functional commissions and expert bodies.

7. Recognizing the people-oriented grass-roots experience of NGOs, along with their professional and technical competences on issues being considered by the United Nations, Member States should be open and welcoming to the monitoring and advocacy initiatives of NGOs, both within and outside UN premises. Competent NGO input to policy-making enhances government policy output.

On Question 2: What is your organization’s view should be done to provide better support to NGOs during the process of obtaining consultative status with ECOSOC?

8. NGOs unfamiliar with UN terminology would benefit from guidance on its intricacies in all UN languages. Multilingualism should be pursued. During the preliminary review by the DESA Secretariat of new applications for accreditation, attention should be paid to the theoretical structure and claimed constituency of applicants to ensure that the organization is more than just its founder and can genuinely be considered able to reflect representative public opinions and claimed competences.

9. The UN needs varied competences which diverse NGOs could bring to the multilateral arena. The application should be judged not solely from the angle of whether it fits into existing UN programmatic categories but whether it can also contribute to the debate on new and emerging issues.

On Question 3: How can the participation of NGOs from developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the UN’s work be increased?

10. A robust civil society in every country makes for a healthy democratic space in the public arena. The UN should work with civil society and Member States to develop democratic, participatory practices at all levels of the organization and in society.

11. In countries under authoritarian rule and where governments have recently restricted civil society in contradiction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights terms and the International civil and political rights Covenant, this shrinkage of civic space should be fully reversed. Doing so will foster accountable and responsible civil society participation at local, national, and international levels, including those NGOs seeking ECOSOC consultative status.

12. The accreditation process must not be used as an extension for governments to take reprisals against civil society organizations or representatives taking seriously their civil, human, and democratic rights, including being able to participate fully in the life of the UN by gaining consultative status. All parties involved in the ECOSOC accreditation process must endeavor to make the process and the resulting consultative relationship a place and opportunity to jointly prosper democratic values and practices. CoNGO, for its part, has urged its members to adhere to NGO good practices through a compendium of principles it has adopted.

On Question 4: Once the consultative status is granted to organizations, how best can NGOs access the opportunities to participate in UN processes?

13. The Secretary-General should advise the UN Safety and Security Service that NGOs are just as much UN partners as media representatives (perhaps even more so…) and thus should not be excluded from, or hindered in access to, UN premises. Government representatives, notably those who hold Bureau positions at UN Conferences and Commissions, should be aware of the many positive precedents for NGO access throughout the UN System based on Resolution 1996/31 and beyond and apply them with understanding and agility. The same remark applies to the senior UN Secretariat officials who serve UN fora. The flow of communications from the UN Secretariat(s) to NGOs must be extensive, comprehensive, and targeted. Reference links to appropriate UN websites must invariably be
included, including prior relevant documentation.

14. UN DESA should collaborate with NGOs to develop and prosper “good practice principles” that work for inter-NGO relations and UN-NGO relations. All agencies/departments/entities of the UN System, including the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, should have a civil society focal point charged, among other things, with promoting and facilitating NGO access to UN processes.

CoNGO’s commitment to the consultative relationship with the UN

15. CoNGO has often spoken out in defense of the values that the UN and Civil Society share and has addressed governments with the plea—indeed the demand—that the financial underpinning of the UN is substantially reinforced to enable the UN to adequately respond to the needs of the people and the planet. More sustained and timely funding for the UN is also needed for it to engage more comprehensively with Civil Society, whose inputs are critical to fulfilling the UN’s mandates and activities.

16. Following a Civil Society Summit convened by CoNGO, we urge the UN General Assembly and ECOSOC to ensure the following priorities in all UN Resolutions, mandates, and field programs:

a. Human dignity and human rights must undergird all government and intergovernmental policies.

b. Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals remain a basic template and challenge for all governments, all NGOs, and society. Total commitment to implementation is crucial.

c. Peace and the security of people and the planet have been newly and dramatically challenged this year in defiance of the UN Charter. Governments start wars; we call on all governments to end them.

d. The world is plagued by unresolved issues of social justice, managing migration, continuing racism, of guaranteeing good health. We again remind governments of their overriding responsibility – collectively and individually – to respond meaningfully and urgently.

e. Equally, government action remains inadequate in achieving gender justice, involving youth, and promoting intergenerational solidarity. We call on governments to be determined and courageous in tackling these issues.

f. The UN must be better “used” by its member governments to enhance multilateralism, restore democratic discourse, and protect civil space and NGO participation.

17. CoNGO will, during 2023—its 75th Anniversary Year—work tirelessly with its members and other NGOs, the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs, and all relevant United Nations System entities to achieve the peaceable, secure, sustainable, and better world we want and need.

1 2 3