Global Policy Forum

UN Should Forge Stronger Ties with Civil Society, Deputy Secretary-General Says

UN News
October 4, 2004

The General Assembly today began discussing a report endorsed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan which urges the United Nations to open its deliberations to greater involvement by civil society groups. In presenting the report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations, as well as Mr. Annan's response, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette noted that the contribution of civil society groups to the UN "has been invaluable."

"The time is right to take this partnership one step further for the benefit of the Organization and the people it was created to serve," she said. The Panel's report, released in June, said that as the world's problems grow more complex, the United Nations should no longer limit its decision-making processes exclusively to governments and instead open its discussions to more input by civil society groups and the private sector.

The 12-member Panel, chaired by former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, also recommended that the General Assembly include civil society organizations more regularly in its affairs, and called for increased civil society dialogues with the Security Council as well as the appointment of a senior UN official to promote engagement with civil society.

Ms. Fréchette noted that the Secretary-General, in his response, suggested that the contribution of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in intergovernmental bodies should be built into the General Assembly's regular business. Member States could hold "interactive" hearings with NGO representatives before each session of the Assembly, and before major events, she said.

She also advocated improving the UN Secretariat's own dialogue with NGOs, including by giving them easier access to information and documentation. "Taken together, the proposals of the Panel and the Secretary-General aim to strengthen the United Nations, enrich intergovernmental debate, and most importantly, improve the services we provide to the world's people," she said.

More Information on NGOs
More Information on NGO Access at the UN
More Information NGOs and the General Assembly
More Information on the Cardoso Panel

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