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CoNGO 75th Anniversary Commemoration in New York and the Fifth CoNGO Global Thematic Webinar on “UN-NGO Relations: Enhancing Multilateralism, Protecting NGO Access, Civic Space, and Democratic Discourse”

27 October 2023 @ 1:30 PM - 6:30 PM UTC-5

Online Participation

In-Person Participation

In-person venue: Horizon Condominium  |  44th Floor  |  415 E 37th St., Manhattan, New York City

(close to the corner of First Avenue and 37th Street)






  1. As part of the commemoration of its 75th Anniversary,  CoNGO is organizing four Commemorative Events (chronologically Vienna, Bangkok, New York, and Geneva)  plus six Global Thematic Webinars to generate engagement, cooperation and urgent action on global issues that form the daily concerns of the broadest range of NGOs/CSOs. They are conceived in the spirit of CoNGO’s commemorative motto,  “Defining the Present,  Shaping the Future,  Making the Change Now”.
  2.  This advance notice is to invite and encourage you to reserve the day of  Friday, October 27  (1:30 pm – 6:30 pm EDT / 19.30-00.30 CEST) when the third Commemorative Event will be held, leading into the Fifth Global Thematic Webinar.      The above theme of UN-NGO RELATIONS  will inspire the sessions. An outline structure of the commemorative event and the webinar will be issued shortly.
  3. The Concept of the October 27 event is based upon the following: Cooperation with the United Nations System is built into the purposes and operations of immense numbers of NGOs/CSOs. The UN and NGOs struggle individually and collectively, every day and every year,  to meet the needs, the suffering, the 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 and inequalities, along with wars and conflicts, have made many governments unable to provide adequate health, education, social protection and other human rights to their citizens. All these topics are the elements of ongoing UN-NGO interaction,  both in conference halls and in rural and urban settings worldwide.
  4. Based on Article 71 of the UN Charter and successive ECOSOC Resolutions  (1996/31 being the most recent)  that provide the framework for UN consultative arrangements with NGOs, innumerable texts, statements, and declarations  — by Heads of State and Government by UN Conferences, by the UN Secretary-General and multiple other governmental and intergovernmental forums and dignitaries – have underlined  Resolution 1996/31’s acknowledgment of the breadth of NGOs’ expertise and the capacity of NGOs to support the work of the UN. It was the Heads of State and Government themselves who, in the UN Millennium Summit (UN Document A/RES/55/2), ‘resolved…to give greater opportunities to…NGOs and civil society, in general, contribute to realizing the UN’s goals and programmes’. Moreover, the Declaration of Heads of State and Government at the September 2023 Sustainable Development Goals Summit states, “We commit to enhancing global, regional, national and local partnerships for sustainable development, engaging all relevant stakeholders, including civil society…recognizing the important contribution they can make towards achieving the 2030 Agenda, and the localization of the SDGs.”
  5. It is also well known that several UN bodies would have significant difficulties in implementing their mandates if they were not able to rely on day-to-day cooperation with a wide range of NGO/CSO partners and field operators. Examples include the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, UN Women,  and the World Food Program. A list of fruitful UN-NGO advocacy and working relations would include examples from the International Criminal Court, the International Telecommunication Union, UNDP and UNESCO, and, of course, the Secretariats charged with advancing the implementation of multiple UN Conventions and Agreements.
  6. The path of UN-NGO consultation and interaction has not been and could be smoother. For example: a) The UN is chronically underfunded,  and the many NGO Liaison Offices are at the “back of the queue.”  b) Governments do not universally implement their own declarations and decisions, and the examples in the sphere of UN-NGO contacts are legion. c) Many authoritarian governments find ‘excuses’ to inhibit, even proscribe, NGOs at the national level and in their relations with the UN.  d) Many human and environmental rights defenders have been targeted for persecution and physical attack, as have their media and legal contacts.  e) NGO access to UN events and venues is subject to many constraints and interdictions, overt and covert. f) “Multistakeholderism,” which has gained much ground in UN circles, is welcomed as it is also worrying, especially in the context of unequal and unclear natures of roles, relationships and partnerships around conferences and decision-making tables. There are many occasions when multistakeholderism’s extension to NGOs without accreditation within the United Nations System has contributed to undermining the Consultative Status. There are more, and they will be amplified at the webinar.
  7. The CoNGO Anniversary Commemoration and the Thematic Webinar will bring together UN Secretariat officials,  NGO leaders and government representatives to explore these issues, with a view to mapping and learning from good and bad practices so that people and the planet can take optimal advantage of the irreplaceable contributions that NGOs/CSOs can, should and must make to a future world of social justice, equity and sustainability. The timing of the Commemoration and Webinar – October 2023 – makes this a venue for advance inputs to the UN Summit of the Future (SOTF) scheduled for 2024.
  8. Stand by for further specific information and be ready to offer your advice, support, and participation.  For 75 years,  CoNGO has been the prime location for discussing and advancing overall UN-NGO relations. The partnerships established within and through CoNGO are the prime basis for future advances. For the World We Want and for the UN We Want, the United Nations and NGOs NEED each other.


THE CoNGO 75th Anniversary Commemoration 

and the Fifth Global Thematic Webinar  


1:30 PM – 1:40 PM Musical Prelude | Begona Bilbao, soprano

1.- “Si mi chiamano Mimi..”. Aria from the Opera “La Boheme” by G. PUCCINI….4:20
2.- “O mío babbino caro …” Aria from the Opera “Gianni Schicchi” by G. PUCCINI…. 2:09
3.- “Vissi d’arte…” Aria from the Opera “Tosca”. by G. PUCCINI… 3:15

1:40 PM – 2:30 PM: SEGMENT 1

 75th Anniversary Commemoration

“Defining the Present, Shaping the Future, making  the Change, Now”

  1. Greetings from the 75th Anniversary Honorary Co-Chairs                                                                                                         a.  Ms. Gillian Sorensen (Former UN Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations | International Rescue Committee)
    b.  BGen. John T. Digilio, Jr. (for BGen. Patrick Rea (OSMTH)
  2. Introduction by CoNGO President Liberato Bautista (References to the totality of the 75th Anniversary Year; to the uniqueness of CoNGO in relating to the entire United Nations System; to CoNGO’s sharing of the values and goals set out in the UN Charter, while remaining critical when those values are so often neglected or overturned by governments; the related need for prolonging meaningful multilateralism; the forward link to the 2024 UN Summit of the Future…
  3. Statements by High-Level UN officials (CoNGO and the UN over the last 75 years. How do – and should – UN-NGO relations look from the UN perspective?)
    1. H. E. Linda Thomas-Greenfield | US Ambassador to the United Nations (invited)
    2. Dennis Francis | President of UN 78th General Assembly (tbc)
    3. Tatiana Valovaya | Director-General of UN Office at Geneva
    4. Ghada Fathi Waly | Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna and of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
    5. Achim Steiner | Administrator, UNDP (invited)
    6. Volker Turk | UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (invited)
    7. Nikhil Seth | ASG and Executive Director | UNITAR
    8. Cynthia Samuel Olonjuwon | Director of the ILO Office for the United Nations, New York (tbc)
    9. Maher Nasser | Director, Outreach Division, Department of Global Communications

2:30 PM – 2:40 PM (Musical Interlude I)
New Asia Chamber Music Society presents
Rose Hsien & Jaram Kim, violins
Andy Lin, viola / Nan-Cheng Chen, cello
W.A. Mozart: Divertimento in D Major, K.136
I and III movements

2:45 PM – 4:15 PM: SEGMENT 2

Fifth CoNGO Global Thematic Webinar

“UN-NGO relations: enhancing multilateralism; protecting NGO access,

civic space and democratic discourse.”

4. The history of UN-NGO Relations: Overview by CoNGO First Vice President Cyril Ritchie (What has been the status and evolution of UN-NGO relationships over these 75 years: legal, operational, supportive, adversarial—an outline of an extremely variegated picture)

5. Presentation of specific successes and challenges experienced by NGOs, notably through the range of CoNGO Substantive Committees. What (and who) needs to change: when and how? 

NGO Speakers: Chairs of specific NGO Substantive Committees (Geneva, New York, and Vienna) and key civil society partners.
a. Ivy Koek | NGO Committee on Status of Women, New York
b. Margo LaZaro | NGO Committee on Sustainable Development, New York
c. Ann Lindsay | NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva
d. Anita Thomas, NGO Committee on Financing for Development
e. Uwem Robert Otu | President, Global NGO Executive Committee (GNEC)
f. Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo | President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

UN Speakers: NGO Liaison Officers in New York, Geneva, and Vienna.

a. Wook-jin Chang | UN DESA
b. Hawa Diallo | UN DGC
c. Amel Haffouz | UNCTAD
d. Gitanjali Sah | ITU

4:20 PM – 4:30 PM: Musical Interlude II

New Asia Chamber Music Society presents
Rose Hsien & Jaram Kim, violins
Andy Lin, viola / Nan-Cheng Chen, cello
Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings

4:30 PM – 5:20 PM SEGMENT 3

Looking Ahead: Challenges and Possibilities—Another Look at Multilateralism and Multistakeholderism  in View of the Summit of the Future (2024)

6. Multilateralism and Multistakeholderism

a. Harris Gleckman (Transnational Institute | Former UNCTAD Representative in New York)
b. Azza Karam (UN Secretary General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism)
c. Peter Prove (Churches Commission for International Affairs | World Council of Churches)
d. Robert Zuber (Global Action to Prevent War and Armed Conflict)

5:25 PM – 5:35 PM: Musical Interlude III

New Asia Chamber Music Society presents
Rose Hsien & Jaram Kim, violins
Andy Lin, viola / Nan-Cheng Chen, cello
Antonín Dvořák: String Quartet No.12 in F Major “American Quartet”
I & IV movements

7. Closing Remarks by the CoNGO President

5:45 PM – 5:55 PM Musical Postlude | Begona Bilbao, soprano1.- “Casta Diva”
Aria from the Opera “Norma” by V. BELLINI……6:00
2.- “Un bel di vedremo…”.
Aria from the Opera “Madame Butterfly” by G. PUCCINI…… 4:16


Join CoNGO in an early evening reception to celebrate 75 years at:

In-person venue: Horizon Condominium  |  44th Floor  |  415 E 37th St., Manhattan, New York City


Liberato C. Bautista, CoNGO President


Cyril  Ritchie, CoNGO First Vice President


27 October 2023
1:30 PM - 6:30 PM UTC-5
Event Category: