Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play a crucial role in reaching the MDGs and in designing Sustainable Development Goals, as well as a post-2015 development agenda. They advise on relevant issues and pursue country-level action. Last year for example, more than 10,000 NGOs made recommendations for the outcome document “The Future We Want” at the Rio+20 Conference.
“The concerns of everyone, not least the world’s poor and marginalized, must be heard loud and clear,” Navid Hanif, Director of the Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination in the DESA said. “Civil society is well placed to achieve this,” he added.
The 2013 regular session of the Committee on NGOs was held from 21 to 30 January to review new and deferred applications for consultative status, requests for reclassifications, quadrennial reports, and requests for change of name. Mr. Hanif noted that the number of applications had never been higher. There were 600 this year, double the number from 2012.
The Committee has 19 members who are elected on the basis of equitable geographical representation. The 19-member Committee vets applications submitted by NGOs, recommending general, special or roster status on the basis of such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. Once accredited, NGOs can attend meetings of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and enjoy different levels of benefits, depending on their status.
During its interactive dialogue with NGOs seeking accreditation, Committee members questioned applicants about, among other things, links to the Governments of their host countries, project details, advocacy activities, expenditure, income, partnerships, tax status of applicants and how they intended to contribute to the work of the United Nations.
The Committee’s decisions are considered recommendations, in the form of draft decisions calling for action by the ECOSOC. The ECOSOC then reviews these recommendations, takes note of the Committee’s report and makes the decisions final. It is only after the recommendation becomes an ECOSOC decision that the NGO is granted the consultative status.
Committee Chair Marghoob Saleem Butt noted that a total of 159 applications, including 134 new applications, and 25 deferred from previous sessions had been recommended for consultative status during the current session. The figure was the highest ever.