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Key issues for the Open-ended Working Group on the Review of
Arrangements for Consultations with Non-Governmental Organizations

Submitted by an Ad Hoc Committee of NGOs *

June 23, 1994

The following list seeks to identify some of the priority concerns among those that have been addressed by the Open-ended Working Group on the Review of Arrangements for Consultations with Non-Governmental Organizations in the first three days of its deliberations. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but seeks to highlight those issues where there is agreement among the NGOs who have endorsed this statement. The order in which the issues have been listed -- both among and within the categories -- does not necessarily indicate the priority of their importance.

  • A "Principle of Inclusion" should be applied to the consultative process. NGOs with the right to apply for consultative status should include, in addition to those enumerated in Resolution 1296:
    • National umbrella NGO councils
    • Regional and sub-regional umbrella NGO councils
    • National NGOs
    • National and Regional NGOs representing racial and ethnic minorities
    • There is a need to adopt provisions for consultation respecting the special needs and interests of indigenous nations and peoples
    • To provide for inclusion in practice, there is a need for a trust fund to support NGO participation from developing countries and countries in transition

  • NGO rights, practices and privileges should be maintained. Among the rights and practices that need to be maintained are:
    • Speaking rights and procedures.
    • Document distribution and translation rights and procedures.
    • Access to and participation in informal, negotiating and drafting sessions.
    • Access to buildings, passes, adequacy of seating arrangements, etc.
    • The ability to bring visitors in on an NGO pass needs to be reestablished.
    • Existing procedures for establishing NGO credentials should be maintained.

  • Effective access to documents and information needs to be strengthened. To this end, actions need to be taken to:
    • Ensure timeliness of access to documents.
    • Ensure availability of documents.
    • Strengthen and systematize procedures for electronic distribution and availability of documents.
    • Ensure effective access to documents and information in languages other than English.
    • Provide support for resources and capacity-building for NGOs in use of information and communication technology.

  • The NGO unit and NGO services need to be strengthened. Steps that need to be taken include:
    • Coordination of assorted NGO-related units.
    • Enhancement of information and communication resources and capacity for NGO unit(s), including cooperative arrangments with UN Information Centers and UNDP Resident Representatives.
    • New funding for strengthening NGO support services.
    • Resolve inadequacy of resources, space, etc in the NGO Resource Room, which should be accessible to the handicapped.
    • Increased use of innovative financial mechanisms to support capacity-building of NGOs.

  • Meetings of the Council Committee on NGOs should be held more frequently.
    • Applications procedures for consultative status should be simplified and clarified.

  • System-wide consistency of procedures is needed.
    • Conferences.
    • Functional Commissions.
    • Regional Commissions.
    • NGO access should be extended through various United Nations bodies, including the General Assembly and the Security Council.
    • Support strengthened NGO access to World Bank, Regional Development Banks, International Monetary Fund, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade / World Trade Organization.

  • New modalities for consultation should be encouraged. Among modalities that should be considered are:
    • Government-NGO dialogues.
    • Panel discussions and expert testimony.
    • Regional, sub-regional and national hearings.

  • Intersessional work re the Open-ended Working Group.
    • There should be widespread, systematic dissemination of information on the NGO Review process, including dissemination of the Secretary-General's report, and the report and Chairman's summary of these meetings.
    • All NGOs with consultative and/or participatory relationships with UN, including ECOSOC, CSD, Conferences, Agencies, and Regional Commissions, should be contacted.
    • There is need for a survey of needs and problems of NGOs -- particularly in developing countries and countries in transition -- concerning the consultative process.
    • The Working Group is encouraged to sponsor and/or support intersessional initiatives -- including conferences, seminars, informal hearings, etc.
    • There is a need for an NGO conference on consultation, cooperation and coordination issues.

* This statement was compiled by the International Synergy Institute (now Information Habitat: Where Information Lives) on behalf of an Ad Hoc Committee of NGOs that participated in the the Open-Ended Working Group

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