General Assembly President calls for stronger relationship between UN and civil society

Haya Rashed Al Khalifa

21 November 2006 – Civil society organizations can significantly help the United Nations achieve its development agenda, the General Assembly President said today as she called for a closer relationship between the two and a stronger voice for civil society groups within the world body.

Speaking in New York at a forum on the General Assembly and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which was jointly organized by her office and the UN Foundation, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa said civil society groups have been making “a serious contribution” to the UN since its beginnings in 1945.

“You are indispensable partners in delivering services to the poor, catalyzing action within countries and holding leaders accountable for their commitments,” she told participants at the forum.

“In crisis, post-conflict and post-disaster situations, national and international NGOs are vital implementing partners – without them, UN humanitarian assistance could hardly be delivered.”

Sheikha Haya added that world leaders have welcomed the recently enhanced dialogue between UN Member States and civil society, and she commended NGOs for their work in galvanizing public support for UN goals and representing the needs of people on the ground.

The General Assembly President said NGOs have also made valuable contributions to the UN’s reform agenda, especially on the issue of gender equality.

She announced that over the next year she will convene a series of informal thematic debates involving the private sector and civil society on development, gender and the dialogue among civilizations.

The first such debate, to be held next Monday, will consider the progress made so far on reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of eight internationally agreed targets for reducing key social and economic ills, and examine any obstacles that threaten their achievement.

Currently, more than 4,500 NGOs are accredited with the UN.

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