The UN and Civil Society

Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed at center of group photo with five women in a UN office.

Join us in building a better world

The United Nations recognizes the importance of partnering with civil society, because doing so advances its ideals, and helps support its work. We offer two ways for civil society to join us in building a better, safer and more sustainable world.

Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council provides non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with access not only to ECOSOC, but also to its many subsidiary bodies, to the various human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, ad-hoc processes on small arms, as well as special events organized by the President of the General Assembly. There are three types of ECOSOC consultative status for NGOs. As of April 2021, 5,593 NGOs enjoyed active consultative status with ECOSOC. Consultative status with ECOSOC is separate and distinct from association with DGC.

The Integrated Civil Society Organizations (iCSO) System

The Integrated Civil Society Organizations System provides online registration of general profiles for civil society organizations, including address, contacts, activities and meeting participation.  It facilitates the application procedure for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and assists accredited NGOs in submitting quadrennial reports and in designating representatives to the United Nations.

Association with the UN Department of Global Communications

The Civil Society Unit of the Outreach Division in the United Nations Department of Global Communications (DGC), is mandated to link the Organization with civil society organizations (CSOs) that are associated with DGC and to support the department's efforts to disseminate information on the work and role of the UN. 

A civil society organization (CSO) or non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level.  

Over 1,500 CSOs with strong information programmes on issues of concern to the United Nations are currently in formal association with the Department of Global Communications, giving the United Nations valuable links to people and communities around the world. DGC helps CSOs gain access to and disseminate information about the range of issues in which the United Nations is involved, to enable them to more effectively carry out their activities in support of the UN Charter and to raise awareness among public audiences about the work of the Organization.

The UN Democracy Fund

The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) was built to support projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes.  The large majority of UNDEF funds go to local civil society organizations -- both in the transition and the consolidation phases of democratization.