Ever since its inception in 1945, the United Nations has been actively engaged with NGOs and has recognized the importance of partnering with them to advance the organization’s ideals and help support its work. In 1946, only 41 NGOs were granted consultative status by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). But this number has grown and today, thousands of NGOs enjoy this status with the Council. These organizations are represented all over the world and work in many different areas including with education, health, poverty eradication, human rights, gender equality and indigenous issues.
Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, NGOs also play an important role as partners on the ground, helping the international community deliver this ground-breaking agenda. This fact was also recognized by UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin at a recent Civil Society Forum when he reiterated UN DESA’s “commitment to a genuine partnership with civil society in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.
“No one has all the answers, but one thing we do know is the importance of partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders. Governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector need to work together to promote sustainable development,” Mr. Liu said.
Consultative Status is a formal relationship between non-governmental organizations and the United Nations to allow NGOs to participate in the work of the UN. ECOSOC is the only main entry point into the UN system for NGOs with a formal framework for NGO participation.
So, what are the benefits for NGOs having this status? NGOs that are accredited with ECOSOC can participate in many events, including, but not limited to, regular sessions of ECOSOC, its functional commissions and its other subsidiary bodies. They may:
- Attend official meetings;
- Submit written statements prior to sessions;
- Make oral statements;
- Meet official government delegations, UN officers and other NGO representatives;
- Organize and attend parallel events that take place during the session;
- Participate in debates, interactive dialogues and panel discussions.
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