UN NGO Center
Mission: There are more than 200 million of Russian-speaking people in the former Soviet Union, and due to language barriers they need to have increased access to the UN activities to achieve breakthroughs in Sustainable Development Goals and establish effective leadership in implementing strategies, policies and actions aimed at advancing sustainable development, human rights and political stability while addressing economic, social and environmental issues.
Action plan: Starting as a Russian/English resource web portal for civil society organizations, continue with webinars and conferences, establish in Geneva a UN Relations Support Centre for Russian-speaking community, aimed on implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, using UN DPI status.
Web-site http://unngo.info/ in russian you can see here.
Collaboration with the United Nations Organization as a Tool for Capacity-building for Civil Society Organizations
(Article for the Interanational Summit "International City and Civil Sisiety" , Istanbul, Turkey, 21/10/2017)
Andrei Generalov, president, Centre International d’Investissement.
Now, in the time of economic crisis, public diplomacy and non-government activities has higher impact, due to political and economic situation, including activity of political movements, especially “left” parties, as well as the fact that ecological and youth organizations became much stronger.
The phrase “non-governmental organization” came into use with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945 with provisions in Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter for a consultative role for organizations that neither are governments nor member states. The definition of international NGO (INGO) is first given in resolution 288 (X) of ECOSOC on February 27, 1950: it is defined as ‘any international organization that is not founded by an international treaty’.
At some point in their activities NGOs (as well as business enterprises) come to the understanding that they have a certain threshold in development and thus need to take some drastic steps to overcome it. Awareness of the need for change leads to the idea of expanding the territory and in many cases, fields of activities.
The problem still lays in weak connections between NGOs and lack of information about international community. Of course, everybody knows such international NGOs as Red Cross and Greenpeace, and nowadays many NGOs are trying to find the way to better organization and education, but real international experience is still far from the desired.
So the transition to the list of international organizations in consultative status with the UN is a significant step forward. Such a solution allows NGO to get ahead in the broad ranks of NGOs though demands a high volume of additional volunteer work as well as a high level of expertise in their field of activity.
Currently more and more people turn to social activities from business, teams are tight together to combat threats and NGOs internationalization can be a solution to achieve better results and achieve synergy by using success practices and exchange unique experience with the help of UN mechanism as well as by organizing direct connections between NGOs and other civil society actors.
Keywords: United Nations, civil society organisations, ECOSOC consultative status.
Collaboration with the United Nations Organization as a Tool for Capacity-building for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)
CSOs include a diverse set of organizations, ranging from small, informal, community-based organizations to the large, high-profile, International Non-governmental organisations working through local partners across the developing world. Their governance structures are varied in terms of mandate and constituency, but all of them share a common characteristic: they are independent of direct government control and management. Many actors, particularly United Nations Organization, refer to “NGO” and their role in international aid and development cooperation. But the phrase “NGO” now has been often substituted with a broader category of “civil society organizations” or “CSOs” and generally use of both abbreviations is correct speaking about collaboration with the UN.
Now, in the time of economic crisis, public diplomacy and non-government activities has higher impact, due to political and economic situation, including activity of political movements, especially “right” parties, as well as the fact that ecological and youth organizations became much popular.
The problem still lays in weak connections between CSOs and lack of information about international community. Of course, everybody knows such international NGOs as Red Cross and Greenpeace, but nowadays many CSOs are trying to find the way to better organization and education and real international experience is still far from the desired.
1. CSOs and UN
At some point in their activities CSOs (as well as business enterprises) come to the understanding that they have a certain threshold in development and thus need to take some drastic steps to overcome it.
Sometimes it is the logic of their own strategy, and sometimes external environment or business conditions change, such as change in legislation, and worsening conditions of CSO activities. The last two circumstances are more common in countries with so-called developing democracies.
Awareness of the need for change leads to the idea of expanding the territory and in many cases, fields of activities.
So the transition to the list of international organizations in consultative status with the UN is a significant step forward. Such a solution allows CSO to get ahead in the broad ranks of NGOs though demands a high volume of additional volunteer work as well as a high level of expertise in their field of activity.
From the very beginning of the work of the United Nations, non-profit organizations have interacted with the UN, more precisely, it began even earlier since the activities of the League of Nations. However, with the onset of globalization and the revolution in information and communication technologies, NGOs have intensified their activities in recent years. For a long time NGOs have been cooperating with or participating in the UN activities only within the frames of specific programs, primarily in humanitarian assistance. In 1996 NGOs have achieved a greater role in governance and decision-making. A certain breakthrough and a new formalization of relations between NGOs and the UN were undertaken in 1996.
Civil society organizations by their nature are diverse, heterogeneous and independent. They are diverse in their tasks, the amount of resources, methods of work, management, territory of activity, efficiency and reliability. Some CSOs are in constant partnership with government agencies and receive large amounts of funding from the government. Others have rather controversial relationships with governments, possibly affecting their ability to influence public policy. Some of them are transnational, while others are national or local.
CSOs had a significant impact on the negotiations and the development of multilateral treaties, including those that contributed to the development of the Sustainable Development Goals. They draw the attention of government agencies on important issues of environmental protection, population and human rights. Campaigns of non-governmental organizations on banning anti-personnel mines are well known, in which more than 1,500 non-profit organizations from different countries took part. They provide the international community with useful information about country conditions and compliance with international standards. International NGOs provide significant resource development and emergency assistance each year, helping to bridge the widening gap between the need for such assistance and the capabilities of the United Nations.
The conception "non-governmental organization" entered into use with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, according the provisions of Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the Charter of the United Nations for the advisory role of organizations that are neither Governments nor Member States. The definition of an international NGO (INGO) is first mentioned in ECOSOC resolution 288 (X) on 27 February 1950: it is defined as "any international organization not founded by an international treaty".
The ECOSOC status improves the NGOs activities by including them into the list of invitees to events on a higher level, both national and international that is not available for local NGOs.
At the same time the status leads to expanding opportunities for members of the organization, as well as an additional incentive to attract new members. In addition, UN consultative status permits NGOs to form their own delegations (usually up to 10 members) to participate in UN conferences, where they can meet directly with their government representatives, participating in these conferences and lobby for important issues, that at home is simply impossible for representatives of small or medium organization.
In recent years, the nature and extent of NGOs' access to the United Nations has evolved. Currently, NGOs have three classifications of consultative status in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The accreditation system provides wider access for NGOs working in more than one country. Access means different things: the right to distribute documents; access to informal preparatory meetings; monitoring of various proceedings; the right to speak at meetings. In addition, NGOs can be provided association with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), which permit access, but do not participation in UN meetings or discussions. The United Nations also provides a one-time NGO accreditation for a specific event, such as a conference that does not imply permanent membership.
At present time, there are several million public organizations in the world, but there are not many international ones among them, and only about 4,500 organizations have consultative status with the ECOSOC UN. Therefore, the transition to the list of international organizations having consultative status with the UN is a very important step forward. Such a decision allows NGOs to step forward in a wide range of NGOs, although it requires a large amount of additional volunteer work, as well as a high level of knowledge in their field of activity.
There are two ways for the beginning collaboration with UN system: the first one is obtaining the status of the UN ECOSOC and the second one - obtaining status from the Department of Public Information of the United Nations.
2. CSOs and ECOSOC UN
How can it be obtained? In 1996, ECOSOC had endorsed the resolution 1996/31 , which regulates the relations of NGOs with ECOSOC and non-profit public or social organizations, is eligible for consultative status. The consultative status provides NGOs with access not only to ECOSOC, but also to its numerous subsidiary bodies, to various United Nations human rights mechanisms, to special processes related to small arms, and to special events organized by the President of the General Assembly. There are three categories of status: general, special and registers of consultative status.
ECOSOC recruits voluntary experts and consultants and has the opportunity to take advantage of valuable and expert advice of NGOs. They, in turn, also have the opportunity to express their views and influence the work of the Council. NGOs have special competence, practical experience and flexibility, which is of great importance for the UN. For example, NGO in consultative status can:
- Provide an expert analysis of the issues directly from their experience in this field;
- Serve as an early warning agent;
- Assistance in monitoring and implementation of international agreements;
- Promote public awareness of relevant issues;
- Play an important role in promoting the goals and objectives of the UN;
- Create important information at the organization's events.
On the other hand, ECOSOC provides an opportunity for NGOs to hear a truly global audience and contribute to its agenda.
NGOs with consultative status can:
- Attend international conferences and events;
- Make written and oral statements at these events;
- Organize side events;
- Enter the premises of the United Nations;
- Have opportunities for communication and lobbying.
In addition, the consultative status of the UN allows NGOs to set up their own delegations to participate in UN conferences where they can meet directly with their government representatives, participate in these conferences and lobby for important issues.
To apply for the consultative status requests are sent to the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs, which are considered at its regular sessions, and then ECOSOC provides status in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee. Only 1/3 of the requests are processed at the first attempt, others usually request additional information. The process requires the submission of a large number of documents, including NGOs Charter and financial statements.
The main requirements for obtaining consultative status include the following:
- The organization's activities should be relevant to the work of ECOSOC;
- The NGO should have existed (officially registered) for at least 2 years;
- An NGO should have a democratic decision-making mechanism;
- The main part of the organization's funds should be received from contributions from national branches, individual members or other non-governmental components.
Obtaining consultative status with ECOSOC gives the organization not only opportunities to interact with UN structures, but also imposes certain responsibilities, such as:
- The organization should regularly participate in the work of UN structures,
- Organizations with special and general consultative status must submit a report on their activities every 4 years, which is considered by the Committee on NGOs
3. CSOs and UN DPI
Obtaining a status under the UN DPI requires fewer documents and takes slightly less time than obtaining status with ECOSOC.
DPI interacts with representatives of 1,300 non-profit organizations that support the UN at various levels, including international, regional, national and local levels. DPI, for its part, is carrying out a number of activities for these organizations, including the annual DPI / NGO conference (NGO event for civil society at the UN), weekly briefings, two information exchange workshops, two orientation programs for new representatives and NGOs, a youth initiative and a resource center. It also aims to promote the exchange of information and partnerships on issues related to civil society in other departments of the Department, as well as with colleagues from the UN Secretariat, and to assist civil society partners around the world to enhance their interaction and understanding work of the United Nations.
In order to apply, you must carefully read the instructions, because the system does not allow fixing it in case of an error.
The application should be accompanied by:
- copy of the Charter of organization,
- confirmation of tax-exempt status,
- copy of the last financial report,
- 6 different samples of the latest information materials or activities that your organization has conducted and that are relevant to the work of the United Nations (e.g. round tables, seminars, workshops, conferences, newsletters, reports, audio or video products, blogs, advertising publications/advertising events, etc.).
Also should be attached:
• 2 letters of recommendation from a person/organization familiar with the work of your organization.
• 1 letter of recommendation from UNIC / UNIS / UNRIC or the United Nations agency with which your NGO cooperates.
• 1 copy of notarized signatures of Chief Elected Officer (President) and/or Chief Executive Officer (Director)
Application form and all supplementary materials are sent online directly to the DPI.
The submissions must be provided in English or French and documentation in other languages should be accompanied by a translation into English or French.
If NGO has submitted a full application, the Public Relations Department prepares the application for submission to the Committee of the Association of NGOs with DPI, which will consider this application. This committee meets twice a year (spring and autumn) for this purpose.
NGO will receive a letter informing of the decision of the DPI NGO Committee on the application, the NGO/DPI Executive Committee will issue a press release that lists all newly associated NGOs.
What are the responsibilities of NGOs related to DPI?
• Raise public awareness, especially at the grassroots level, of key issues on the UN agenda, including the priorities of the UN Secretary-General and in accordance with the UN Charter.
• Collaborate with UN information centers or services or other UN entities through outreach campaigns or other promotional activities in the field of public information.
• Provide an annual online survey through the network of civil society organizations (CSO Net) annually. This is the process by which DPI-associated NGOs report to the DPI / NGO Liaison Unit on their activities and public information activities in support of the United Nations and are evaluated for further association and designating up to six representatives to ground pass to UN headquarters in New York.
4. Participation in the UN activities
For the NGOs with status exists many opportunities for the participation in the of ECOSOC activities, for example ECOSOC Partnerships Forum.
Each year, at the ECOSOC Partnerships Forum and other United Nations entities, some of the most influential leaders of governments, private and non-profit sectors and civil society gather to share the latest innovative solutions regarding the best ways to promote international development.
The forum serves to expand the circle of people interacting with ECOSOC. It contributes to the implementation of concrete measures for working with different groups to work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the development agenda for the 2030 period. 2017 ECOSOC Partnership Forum, held on April 5, 2017 was devoted to “Partnerships for promoting opportunities, increased prosperity and sustainable development for all”.
The Forum for Development Cooperation reviews the latest trends in international development cooperation and facilitates the coordination of the activities of various actors and activities. Open to all States Members of the United Nations, it brings together responsible leaders from developing and developed countries, members of parliament, representatives of civil society organizations, local governments and private foundations.
The FDC is held once every two years during the high-level segment of ECOSOC in New York. Specific topics for discussion at each session are determined by global priorities and are formed in consultation with the informal FSC Advisory Group in accordance with the international development community.
The FDC generates practical recommendations for policy makers and practitioners at all levels on development cooperation, including its quality, impact and effectiveness. Its work has heightened the urgency to put, into daily practice, a transformative focus on sustainable development results, putting the ‘furthest behind first’ and adapting institutions and policies in support of priorities and systems in developing countries. Alignment of actions and novel ways of working together will be key to ensure that all ‘means of implementation’ contribute to the different aspects of the 2030 Agenda, driven by a strong sense of partnership and fundamental commitment to leave no-one behind.
The FDC is one of the key mechanisms at global level for follow-up and review of the means of implementation under the 2030 Agenda.
Obtaining the status with the United Nations allows to get involved directly in the work of an organization that has a global impact on our life, and it's not only access to the conference, but also access to information, gaining knowledge about the promising ways of developing the world community.
At the same time, the spectrum of issues is very wide ranging from the UN Volunteers program to issues related to the sustainable economic development. The common people often think that we are very far from the work of the UN and the UN takes only political decisions, because basically in the media we hear about the work of the Security Council, the issues being taken by the UN to maintain peace, humanitarian assistance, but at the same time a very large part of the UN work remains unseen and, therefore, there is a sense of UN isolation from real life.
At the same time, if we look at the work of the UNECE, which deals with the regulation of various economic aspects of our life, from safe transportation to food standards, it became clear that we depend and interact with the UN much more than it may have been seen at the first glance. At the same time, the decisions made, for example, in the field of trade facilitation, human rights, intellectual property, communications and other fields have a direct impact on our lives. For example, the tendencies of changing the rules related to trade facilitation directly affect the business community, economy and our incomes.
Unfortunately, business community usually does not know about it, it does not know where to go, what to prepare for, because that there is still very little communication in this area.
The acquisition of the status with the UN provides CSOs from different countries with the opportunity to reach a new level of development, expand their potential partners, and implement measures to set up concrete work for the benefit of their participants, in the interests of the country, and in the interests of all mankind. The globality of the task in this case is not an obstacle, but an incentive for the further progressive and sustainable development of each organization, both individually and for the entire non-profit community as a whole. The widest range of issues solved by the UN in the interests of all mankind allows each organization to find its worthy place in this system and to make its own contribution to the cause of peace and general prosperity.
Participation in UN events will allow civil society organizations to create a platform that will attract and unite non-profit and other organizations from various fields of activity and promote active learning to increase their potential. Thus, this mechanism will facilitate the establishment of links, the exchange of experience and information between civil society organizations both at the national level and at the international level. New opportunities will contribute to strengthening the sustainability, effectiveness and ability of CSOs to adapt to changing conditions.
In the current situation, the progress of any society will increasingly be determined by the social activity of people. People become the main subject and object of social development. In the developed countries of the world the civil sector has become a powerful factor in improving quality of life by solving acute social problems. The higher is the share of the public component in the structure of the implementation of state policy, the more united and stronger is the society.
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