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CoNGO 75th Anniversary Commemoration in Geneva and the Sixth Global Thematic Webinar

15 December 2023 @ 1:30 PM - 5:30 PM UTC-1

The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in

Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO)

and co-organizer

with co-sponsors

invite you to the

CoNGO 75th Anniversary Commemoration in Geneva

and the

Sixth Global Thematic Webinar

CoNGO and UDHR: Celebrating 75 Years

December 15, 2023

Geneva 13:30 – 17:45 CET | New York 7:30 – 11:45 EDT | Nairobi 15:30-19:45 EAT
Bangkok 1:30-5:45 ICT Dec. 16 | Fiji 00:30-4:45 FJT Dec. 16
Rio de Janeiro 9:30-12:45 BRT | Beirut 14:30 – 18:45 BRT
Time Zone Calculator

Venue: In-person (Main Hall, Ecumenical Centre, Geneva) and Online (Zoom)

This event will also be live-streamed on YouTube.

Language interpretation in English, Arabic, French and Spanish

Register for In-Person Participation

Register for Online Participation

Concept Note Ver. 7.0

A. In commemoration of its 75th Anniversary in 2023, the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) has organized three Commemorative Events (chronologically Vienna, Bangkok, and New York) and five Global Thematic Webinars generating engagement, cooperation, and action on global issues that constitute the core of ongoing programs of non-governmental and civil society organizations. These sessions have been conceived in the spirit of CoNGO’s commemorative motto, “Defining the Present, Shaping the Future, Making the Change Now.”

B. The Civil Society Summit on Substantive Issues, “Shaping the Future: The UN We Need for the World We Want,” held by CoNGO on 8 October 2021, highlighted global justice among all humanity’s significant global critical concerns. The Summit brought together over 1,000 participants worldwide to contribute experience and competencies, share doubts about our current world, and collectively articulate aspirations and proposals we must achieve for the world we want. The Civil Society Summit was rich in outlining concepts and actions needed to shape the future. As a direct outcome, the CoNGO General Assembly resolved to use the outcome of the Summit—the Synthesis Report—as a substantive basis for CoNGO’s programmatic direction, especially highlighting it in 2023, CoNGO’s 75th-anniversary year. The assembly agreed to convene a series of six high-level global thematic webinars throughout 2023 to engage a global constituency on the critical themes articulated at the Summit and to elaborate on the agenda, responses, and actions necessary to implement the anniversary theme.

C. The first webinar (March 2, 2023) focused on social justice, particularly migration, racial, and health justice. The second webinar (June 5, 2023) focused on pursuing global justice and solidarity, particularly realizing Agenda 2030, sustainable development and humanitarian action. The third webinar (August 31, 2023) focused on gender justice, youth and intra- and intergenerational justice and solidarity for future generations. The fourth webinar (September 7) focused on peace, human security and the threats to the security and sustainability of people and the planet, continuing what previous webinars had explored—engaging CoNGO’s constituency in a deeper dive into the UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s “Our Common Agenda,” including the proposed convening in 2024 of a Summit of the Future, which was projected to offer what was being called the “Pact for the Future.” The webinar also examined the UN SG’s Policy Brief on A New Agenda for Peace. The policy brief included recommendations “to achieve more effective multilateral action for peace and security, based on international law, for a world in transition.” The “A New Agenda for Peace” was framed around the core principles of trust, solidarity, and universality that were the foundations of the UN Charter and a stable world. It presented twelve concrete sets of proposals for action in five priority areas.” The fifth webinar (October 27) focused on cooperation with the United Nations System, built into the purposes and operations of numerous NGOs/CSOs. The UN and NGOs struggle individually and collectively, every day and every year,  to meet the needs, sufferings, and aspirations of people and the planet in a time when global inequities are widening, human rights are under renewed threat, a climate emergency time bomb is ticking, and millions affected by ongoing or new catastrophes are off the public screen. Debt crises, inequalities, wars and conflicts have prevented many governments from providing their citizens with adequate health, education, social protection and other human rights. All these topics are the elements of ongoing UN-NGO interaction,  both in conference halls and in rural and urban settings worldwide. The sixth and final webinar will be focused on human rights, allowing for a double commemoration of the 75th anniversaries of both CoNGO and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

D. The Fourth Anniversary Event and the Sixth Thematic Webinar will be held in Geneva on December 15, 2023, honoring and sharing in the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10 is Human Rights Day). It is also relevant that 2023 is the 75th Anniversary of the World Health Organization, UN Peacekeeping Operations, and the ILO Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize. It is also the 75th Anniversary of the CoNGO Member Organization, the World Council of Churches, based in Geneva, which will host the sessions. The first director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, Dr. O. Frederick Nolde, is credited for drafting Article 18 of the UDHR, dealing with, among others, freedom of religion. WCC was a founding member of CoNGO in 1948. The World  Federation for Mental Health, a long-serving CoNGO member who will join us on December 15, also celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year.


E. It is foreseen that Items 4-7 in Section F below will be based on presentations of the present and desired future of human rights commitments, obligations and aspirations in each sub-thematic area. It will also consider the strides in developing a right to development and the right of future generations and the intersections between human rights and planetary justice in the age of the Anthropocene. Among the categories to be referenced will be women’s rights, older persons’ rights, migrants’ rights, labor/worker’s rights, the actions and safety of human rights defenders and environmental rights defenders,  and lawyers and journalists engaged in protecting and promoting human rights, closing the gaps in the implementation of United Nations Conventions and Covenants; and more. Much like the previous five, the discussions in this last webinar aim to engage the UN 2020 General Assembly Declaration on the commemoration of the UN 75th anniversary and to produce NGO contributions to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s Our Common Agenda, the UN Summit of the Future and related Pact for the Future and the 11 Policy Briefs.


F. Programme

See Speaker Bios

SEGMENT I: Moderated by CoNGO President Liberato Bautista


1. Introduction and Message by Liberato Bautista (CoNGO President)

2. Welcome and Keynote Address by Jerry Pillay, General Secretary, World Council of Churches (Delivered by Kenneth Mtata, WCC Programme Director for Public Witness and Diakonia)

3. Keynote Addresses from the UN System

a. Director General Tatiana Valovaya (Delivered by Sophie Torelli-Chironi, NGO Liaison Unit, United Nations Office at Geneva) 

b. Written Communication from Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

c. Ibrahim Salama (Chief, Human Rights Treaties Division, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)

d. Lina Nykanen-Rettaroli (Senior Technical Lead for Human Rights, World Health Organization)


SEGMENT II: Moderated by Cyril Ritchie (CoNGO First Vice President)


e. Ruth Marlyn Grace Sidabutar (World Summit on the Information Society | International Telecommunication Union) (human rights and ICTs)

f. Barbara Reynolds (Chair, UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent) (human rights and racism)

4. Human Rights, women and gender justice:

a. Jane Aeberhard-Hodges (Former Director, Gender Bureau, ILO) (human rights in the context of the 75th anniversaries of the UDHR and the Freedom of Association as a fundamental human right

b. Carolyn Handschin (Chair, NGO Committee on Status of Women Geneva)      

c. Casey Harden (General Secretary, World YWCA)

5. Human Rights in the Age of the Anthropocene

a. Human Rights and the Right to Development (Shyami Puvimanasinghe, Human Rights Officer, Right to Development Section, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) 

b. Human Rights and Economic and Environmental Justice (Budi Tjahjono, International Advocacy Director, Franciscans International and Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights) 





SEGMENT III: Moderated by Manjit Dosanjh (International Cancer Expert Corps, CoNGO Board Member)


6. Human Rights and Specific Populations and Concerns

a. Human rights and health (Manjit Dosanjh, International Cancer Expert Corps) 

b. UDHR and Freedom of religion or belief (Ganoune Diop, Seventh-Day Adventist | International Religious Liberty Association) 

c. Migration and human rights of migrants (Torsten Moritz, Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe) 

d. Human rights, minorities and indigenous peoples (Antine Sonde, Associate Human Rights Officer, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) 

e. Human rights, food sovereignty and human security (Manoj Kurian, Coordinator, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance) 

f. Human Rights and Ethics (Fadi Daou,  

g. Human rights education and learning (Elisa Gazzotti, Soka Gakkai International) 

h. Intergenerational Justice and Solidarity (Alejandro Bonilla, NGO Committee on Ageing Geneva | Greycells)


SEGMENT IV: Moderated by CoNGO President Liberato Bautista


7. Navigating the Future

a. Human Rights and the Building of a New Eco-Social World: Navigating Future Directions (Joan Davis-Whelan, Vice President, International Federation of Social Workers) 

b. Towards the UN Summit of the Future (2024): Strengthening the UN System, Reinforcing Human Rights (Jan Lonn, Secretary-General, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations) 

8. Concluding remarks by Liberato C. Bautista (CoNGO President) 


G. Reception

17:06 to 17:45

A reception at the Ecumenical Center will follow after the programme.

For inquiries, contact:


Liberato C. Bautista Cyril  Ritchie

CoNGO President CoNGO First Vice President 


13 December 2023 (Version 7.0)



15 December 2023
1:30 PM - 5:30 PM UTC-1
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