Following is the text of a letter, dated 2 August 2001:

To: All Permanent Missions and Permanent Observer Missions to the United Nations, New York
From: The President of the General Assembly


I am writing to you in connection with civil society outreach, a subject which has been discussed in the United Nations for a number of years.

In my acceptance speech last September, I stressed that the United Nations outreach towards civil society is closely related to the overall relevance of the Organisation. The development of this relationship is both a challenge and an opportunity. The work of civil society actors is indispensable and complements the role of the United Nations in many fields.

It is in this spirit I am pleased to enclose a copy of a reference document on the participation of civil society during the 1990s at the United Nations conferences and Special Sessions of the General Assembly prepared by my Office.

I am also enclosing a copy of a report of the UN Civil Society Outreach Symposium held under my patronage from 30 May to 2 June 2001 sponsored by the Stanley Foundation and the World Federation of United Nations Associations.

Both documents are also available on my web site (

At the Millennium Summit, Member States resolved to give greater opportunities to civil society to contribute to the realization of the Organisation's goals and programmes. In this context, I hope that you will find these two documents useful and of interest when you continue your discussions on this issue.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Harri Holkeri