Civil society actors have been present at all three (1980, 1990 and 2001) previous UN Conferences for LDCs. In the first two such conferences in Paris, those present were NGOs and associations that had consultative status with the UN. They were few in number, mostly representing NGOs from donor countries.
At the Third UN LDC Conference in Brussels in 2001, the participation of civil society actors was enhanced with the organisation of an NGO Forum at the conference. Financed by the European Union, the Forum brought together more than 1,000 civil society representatives from all over the world, with a substantial number coming from LDCs. It laid the basis for coherent mechanisms to be established for follow up, and a provisional NGO Forum structure was established at the end of the Forum which had a base in the Least Developed Countries. LDC Watch was established on the basis of this follow up structure. The fourth UN Conference on the LDCs offers an opportunity to build on the achievements of the NGO Forum.
The Role of civil society
LDCs and their partners have committed themselves to placing the people at the centre of the development process. This is reflected in the first commitment of the Brussels Programme which calls for “fostering a people-centred policy framework”.
Civil society plays a vital role in representing and giving voice to the needs and aspirations of ordinary people in the Least Developed Countries. With its community-level presence, civil society is able to bring the experiences, concerns and priorities of ordinary citizens to the policy making process. Similarly, it is well placed to sensitize people about government policies and the opportunities they entail. It plays an important role in mobilizing and empowering the population to participate in the development process.
Civil society is not only important in advocating for the needs of the people with governments and their partners, but also holding LDC governments and their development partners accountable for the commitments they have made.
The participation of the civil society in the LDC-IV process will strengthen the bottom-up character of the process. It will bring the rich experiences and lessons from the ground to bear on the process, ensuring a more thorough assessment of the Brussels Programme, and a more inclusive new programme.
The participation and implementation of the CSO activities towards the LDC IV conference will be overseen and directed by a steering committee, with a secretariat being established to facilitate, implement and follow-up the decisions of the steering committee.
Civil Society preparatory activities
Civil Society Partners
Doctors Worldwide http://www.ldcistanbul.org
LDC Watch http://www.ldcwatch.org/