Committee to decide on large number of NGO applications (UN Photo/UNICEF/Marco Dormino)

Committee to decide on large number of NGO applications

The 2013 regular session of the Committee on NGOs was held earlier this year and saw a record number of applications from NGOs seeking consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). On 20-29 May, and on 7 June, the Committee will resume its session and make decisions about which NGOs to accept for general, special or roster consultative status.

As the Committee concluded its first session of the year on 8 February, 159 NGOs were recommended to be granted consultative status. The Committee will revisit this recommendation and also review the applications of a total of 246 new and 180 deferred applications by NGOs at the upcoming session.

Navid Hanif, Director of the Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in DESA, said the number of NGO applications had never been higher. More than 600 of them, from all over the world, were submitted this year, which is double the number compared to last year.

NGOs play vital role for reaching development goals

Mr. Hanif also underscored the crucial role of NGOs and civil society in reaching the Millennium Development Goals and in helping to design Sustainable Development Goals, as well as a post-2015 development agenda. “The concerns of everyone, not least the world’s poor and marginalized, must be heard loud and clear,” Navid Hanif said. “Civil society is well placed to achieve this,” he added.

Established as a standing committee of ECOSOC in 1946, the Committee reports directly to the Council. Comprised of 19 members elected on the basis of geographical representation, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations decides about the general, special or roster consultative status on the basis of an applicant’s mandate, governance and financials, among other criteria. Once accredited, NGOs can attend meetings of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and enjoy different levels of benefits, depending on their status.

Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend Council meetings and make oral statements, or circulate written statements. In addition, those with general status may recommend items for the Council’s provisional agenda. Roster status organizations can attend meetings, but submit statements only if requested by the Council or Secretary-General. Groups with general and special status must also submit a report every four years, which is also analyzed by the Committee. There are currently more than 3700 organizations with ECOSOC consultative status.

“The Committee’s work is seen as essential by many NGOs as ECOSOC consultative status provides important benefits, such as automatic accreditation to many intergovenmental meetings, as well as year-round access to the UN conference facilities in Geneva, Vienna and New York,” Navid Hanif said.

Wide range of work carried out across the globe

While the majority of applications still originate from Europe and North America, an increasing number of applications is being received from what is known as the developing world. This is a reflection of the clear trend towards globalization of civil society and, as the application process is entirely online, increased access to the Internet globally.

Most of the organizations now seeking consultative status work directly with social and economic issues. Representing all corners of the world, they operate focusing on sustainable development, improving living conditions and reducing poverty in rural areas, reaching educational equality, addressing racism and fighting HIV/AIDS. They also support health and social workers, promote women and girl’s rights, protect natural resources and biodiversity and foster civil society partnerships for development as well as the participation of youth.

For more information:

Committee on NGOs

Civil society database