United Nations General Assembly

  • CIVICUS at the UN General Assembly (September 2023)

    The General Assembly is the main policymaking organ of the United Nations. It is composed of representatives of all member States and has a general mandate to discuss and make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN Charter. The 78th session of UNGA (5-26 September) will feature over 140 world leaders descending on New York City. A key meeting will be the Sustainable Development Goals Summit, as 2023 represents the halfway point in the implementation of the global goals. The SDGs are woefully behind schedule and it is critical that the UN and world leaders take this opportunity to forge partnerships with civil society to get the goals back on track. To read a detailed overview of our key messages and priorities for the General Assembly, see our recent article for Inter Press Service.

    In this regard, CIVICUS, alongside multiple civil society organisations and representatives, will participate in several side-events and meetings with the aim of building links between civil society and decision makers at the United Nations, while strengthening civil society’s voice on high-level platforms. 

    CIVICUS will also be attending bi-lateral meetings in New York with allies, members and donors to continue strengthening solidarity and collaboration.  

    Here is a full calendar of our engagements at #UNGA78: 

    Date, Timeand Place



    CIVICUS Attendees

    13 September

    UNHQ ConfRoom 5 

    OHCHR roundtable on Civic Space

    Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR)  

    Mandeep Tiwana as panelist  

    13 -14 September

    Ford Foundation for Social Justice in New York

    Global Partnership Board Meeting 

    Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data 


    Mandeep Tiwana




    15 September

    2 -3pm 

    The SDG Pavilion at the North Lawn of the United Nations Headquarters


    UN Democracy Fund’s event marking this year’s International Day of Democracy 

     UN Democracy Fund

    Lysa John

    Mandeep Tiwana

    17 September 


    GPIN networking gathering 

    Global Public Investment

    Lysa John

    17 - 18 September 

    777 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017 United States

    Global Peoples Assembly 


    Two events – one on civic space and human rights – along-with CPDE and others. The other on Global Democracy and the UN  

    Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) 



    Mandeep Tiwana

    Lysa John



    18 September


    CIVICUS Office, WeWork Space, 4th Floor on 450 Lexington Ave.

    CIVICUS Meet & Greet 


    Mandeep Tiwana

    Claire Nylander

    Lysa John 

    18 September

    8.30 am – 11.00am 

    Apella, located at 450 E 29th St, New York, NY.


    MIT Solve: Solve Challenge Finals

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

    Lysa John

    18 September

    12:30 – 1:45pm  

    Hilton Midtown

    1335 6th Avenue

    New York


    Private Roundtable | Global Public Investment: How to Unlock Finance for Health, Climate, and the SDGs 


    Clinton Foundation & Global Public Investment 


    Lysa John

    18 – 19 September

    18th: 9am – 6pm 

    19th : 3pm – 7pm  

    UN Headquarters

    UN SDG Summit

    SDG Summit 2023  

    SDG Summit Programme

    United Nations

    Mandeep Tiwana

    Lysa John  



    20 September

    8:00 am - 9:30 am 

    Ford Foundation,

    New York

    CEO Financing Roundtable: ‘Unlock Financing - A Meeting of Minds’

    Unlock the Future coalition

    Mandeep Tiwana

    20 September

    6.30 - 8.30pm 

    Agenda and venue received after registration

    WBA High-Level Launch event for the White Paper on Corporate Accountability Gap in support of the SDGs - More Info

    World Benchmarking Alliance 



    Lysa John


    21 September

    9:30 - 10am  Networking  

    10 - 11:30 am Main event (online and in person) 

    Alliance Bernstein, 1345 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10105

    Philanthropy and Localisation Agenda: Pathways to Action for Local Equity 





    Lysa John

    21 September 

    9:30 to 11:30 am 

    Agenda and venue received after registration

    2023 WBA Alliance Action Forum : More Info


    Register: Alliance Action Forum

    World Benchmarking Alliance

    Claire Nylander

    Mandeep Tiwana

    21 September


    International Peace Institute - 12th floor of 777 UN Plaza.

    Trygve Lie Symposium on Fundamental Freedoms in New York 

    MFA Norway and the International Peace Institute (IPI) 


    Lysa John

    21-22 September

    The Westin New York Grand Central

    Global Africa Business Initiative– Unstoppable Africa

    Global Africa Business Initiative 

    Claire Nylander

    22 September

    1pm – 2:30pm  

    Bahai International Community Office 866 UN Plaza 

    Club de Madrid Action Lab segment on Rethinking Social Development for People and the Planet  



    Club of Madrid  

    Mandeep Tiwana


  • CIVICUS: UN must prove its relevance at this year’s General Assembly

    JOHANNESBURG/NEW YORK - As world leaders gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly this September, global civil society alliance CIVICUS calls on UN leadership to use this year’s summit to prove its value to solve the world’s compounding crises.

    “The UN’s own relevance is at stake at this year’s General Assembly, with leaders of four out of five permanent members of the Security Council not attending this year’s meetings,” said Mandeep Tiwana, CIVICUS representative to the UN. “The globe faces an acute crisis of leadership. The post-Second World War consensus to seek solutions to global challenges through the UN is at a breaking point.”

    Millions of people suffer from conflict in Ukraine, Sudan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Sahel region, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. Meanwhile, authoritarian leaders have seized or maintained power through a combination of political populism, outright repression and military coups. Our findings on the CIVICUS Monitor show 85% of people live in places experiencing serious attacks on basic freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression.

    “It is the UN’s job to halt the severe backsliding on peace and rights–it cannot be outsourced or ignored,” said Tiwana. “UN leaders, including Secretary General Antonio Guterres, must urgently and directly call out governments causing immense suffering around the globe.”

    CIVICUS likewise urges the UN to play a leading role in economic decision-making to combat rising inequality. Economic disparities not only make life harder for the world’s most vulnerable people, but drive further unrest.

    “Despite eye-watering inequality within and between countries, big economic decisions affecting all countries are not made collectively at the UN,” said Tiwana. “The challenge before UN leaders this September is to bring harmony to decisions made by the G20, OECD, BRICS and others so they serve the best interests of excluded people around the globe.”

    The concurrent Sustainable Development Goals Summit on September 18-19 offers hope. Called the greatest ever human effort to create peaceful, just, equal and sustainable societies, the SDGs are woefully behind schedule. UN leaders should forge effective partnerships with civil society to get the SDGs back on track.

    “The formation of the UN as the conscience of the world in 1945 was an exercise in optimism and altruism,” Tiwana said. “This September that spirit will be needed more than ever to prove the UN’s value to start creating a better world for all.” 

    For interviews, please contact

    CIVICUS is the global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. A worldwide community of informed, inspired, committed citizens engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity. We were established in 1993 and since 2002 have been proudly headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with additional hubs across the globe. We are a membership alliance with more than 9,000 members in more than 175 countries.

  • Enhance the process to select new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

    In a letter to the UN Secretary-General, a coalition of more than 70 civil society organisations has put forward proposals to revitalise and enhance the process to select the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    Mr. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

    The appointment of the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, due to take place later this year, is a vital moment for the United Nations, with implications for the human rights of millions of people around the world.

    The new High Commissioner faces a world in which universal human rights norms are under threat or even in retreat, including in established democracies. The person appointed will have to confront global human rights challenges in the context of historic and on-going underfunding for the United Nation’s human rights pillar – now dubbed by many as “the forgotten pillar”. Against this backdrop, the need for global leadership and international cooperation in the area of human rights is greater than ever.

    It is therefore crucial that the most highly qualified candidate is selected who will be able to rise to the challenges of this demanding and important post. Under General Assembly resolution 48/141, the High Commissioner is expected to, inter alia: 

    • Monitor and speak out about human rights violations – ‘preventing the continuation of human rights violations throughout the world’;
    • Act as the secretariat to the ‘competent bodies of the United Nations system in the field of human rights and making recommendations to them;’
    • Provide capacity-building, advisory services and technical assistance, at the request of the State concerned, ‘with a view to supporting actions and programs in the field of human rights’;
    • Engage in human rights diplomacy (‘dialogue’) with governments and ‘enhance international cooperation,’ in order to promote the implementation of international human rights obligations and commitments, and respect for human rights;
    • Coordinate human rights mainstreaming across the UN system; and
    • Make recommendations and driving efforts to ‘rationalize, adapt, strengthen and streamline the United Nations machinery in the field of human rights with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness.’

    Additionally, given the pressure that civil society is under in many parts of the world, it is increasingly important that the High Commissioner be civil society’s champion. The High Commissioner is in a unique position to guarantee civil society space, not just through words but also through actions (e.g. by meeting marginalised or at-risk groups and human rights defenders while on country missions). 

    In recent years, international organisations, including the UN, have made major improvements and reforms to recruitment processes to enhance the transparency and accountability of high-level appointments. Of course, your own appointment as UN Secretary-General benefited greatly from a fairer, more open and more inclusive process. For the credibility of the United Nations as well as the standing and authority of the next High Commissioner, it is imperative that a rigorous selection process is undertaken which meets the high standards now expected by governments, civil society and the general public – standards which are also enshrined as part of universal human rights norms.

    In the opinion of the undersigned, a group of civil society organisations strongly committed to upholding the UN Charter and its values, the procedure adopted by the General Assembly in 1993 to appoint the High Commissioner can be enhanced – to make it more transparent, inclusive, meritocratic, and engaging for civil society and the general public. We believe this can be achieved in a manner consistent with existing UN documents, while avoiding politicisation and keeping the final decision in your independent hands.

    Specific proposals for consideration should include: publishing a formal set of selection criteria; improving the global visibility of the formal call for candidatures; publishing a clear timetable for the selection process that enables adequate assessment of candidates; publishing an official list of candidates; and requiring all candidates to produce vision statements.  We also believe, in the interests of transparency, inclusivity and public engagement, that the selection process should include wide consultation with all stakeholders, including civil society. 

    Such a process would, we believe, improve the authority, independence and credibility of the new High Commissioner, contribute to the existing reform agenda with regards to the revitalisation of the UN and, more broadly, improve the Organisation’s global legitimacy.

    Finally, we believe thought should be given to changing the mandate of the High Commissioner to a single non-renewable term of five years. This would help any new High Commissioner avoid political pressure and would strengthen her or his independence. We recognise that this would require bringing changes to the relevant General Assembly resolution, and should thus be carefully explored by the relevant actors.

    As the United Nations celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, we hope that you will seize this historic opportunity to bring the procedure for the selection of the High Commissioner more squarely into line with the high principles set down in that inspiring document, including by giving due consideration to the proposals outlined above. This will help ensure that the best and most qualified candidate is selected to become the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    Yours sincerely,

    Asian Human Rights Commission
    Association for the Prevention of Torture
    Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors (UMDPL)
    Avaaz Bond · Society Building (United Kingdom)
    Canadian Council for International Co-operation
    Cecade (El Salvador)
    Centre for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
    Child Rights International Network
    Coordinación de ONG y Cooperativas de Guatemala
    Deca Equipo Pueblo (Mexico)
    European Centre for Non-for-Profit Law
    Fundación para la Paz y la Democracia
    Freedom House
    Geneva Infant Feeding Association
    Fundacion Multitudes (Chile)
    Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor (Armenia)
    Human Rights Information Centre (Ukraine)
    Index on Censorship (United Kingdom)
    Institute of Social Sciences (India)
    International Centre for Non-for-Profit Law
    International Planned Parenthood Federation
    Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (Ukraine)
    National Forum for Voluntary Organizations (Sweden)
    Network of Democrats in the Arab World
    Open Estonia Foundation
    Open Lithuania foundation
    Quê Me: Vietnam Committee for Human Rights
    Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning - RFSU / The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education
    Sexual Rights Initiative
    Small Planet Institute
    Solidarity Center (United States)
    The Right Livelihood Award Foundation
    Transparency International Portugal
    United Nations Association – UK (UNA-UK)
    Universal Rights Group
    World Movement for Democracy
    Human Rights House Tbilisi on behalf of:
    Article 42 of the Constitution
    Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
    Human Rights Centre
    Media Institute
    Union Sapari – Family without violence
    Human Rights House Azerbaijan (on behalf of the following NGOs):

    • Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center
    • Legal Education Society
    • Women’s Association for Rational Development

    Human Rights House Belgrade (on behalf of the following NGOs):

    • Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
    • Civic Initiatives
    • Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
    • Lawyers Committe for Human Rights
    • Policy Centre

    The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House (on behalf of the following NGOs):

    • Belarusian Association of journalists
    • Belarusian Helsinki Committee
    • Belarusian Language Society
    • Belarusian PEN Centre
    • Human Rights Centre Viasna
    • Legal Initiative

    Human Rights House Oslo (on behalf of the following NGOs):

    • Health and Human Rights Info
    • Human Rights House Foundation
    • The Norwegian Tibet Committee

    Human Rights House Yerevan (on behalf of the following NGOs):

    • PINK Armenia
    • Socioscope
    • Human Rights House Zagreb (on behalf of the following NGOs):
    • B.a.B.e. Be active. Be emancipated.
    • Center for Peace Studies
    • Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity – CROSOL
    • Documenta - Center for Dealing with the Past
  • Global Post- 2015 Development Agenda Initiative (2)

    The adoption of the Millennium Declaration in 2000 by all 189 Member States of the UN General Assembly was a defining moment for global development cooperation. In recognition of the need to translate this commitment into action, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted. Since their endorsement by the UN General Assembly, the MDGs have defined a common framework of priorities for the development community. In September 2010, a High Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly convened to review progress on the MDG targets and agreed on a concrete action plan to accelerate progress towards their full achievement by 2015. It also called on the UN System to continue informing the global debate on development and to lead the international discussion on a post 2015 development agenda.

    The 2011 Annual Report of the Secretary- General: Accelerating progress towards the MDGs: options for sustained and inclusive growth and issues for advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015, lays out the broad principles of the post-2015 process. These include the need to foster an inclusive, open and transparent consultation process with multi-stakeholder participation, and to use established global, regional and national mechanisms and processes to ensure that such deliberations incorporate the lessons learned and experiences from all stakeholders. At the substantive level, the Report recommends drawing on the values and principles in the Millennium Declaration and on a thorough, broad based and inclusive review of the MDGs, which should be put in the context of the global development challenges ahead, as the starting point for the discussion of a new development agenda beyond 2015. 

    Read more at United Nations Armenia

  • Joint letter in support of the UN General Assembly resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran

    Joint statement

    To: All Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York

    Your Excellencies,

    The undersigned national, regional and international civil society organisations urge your government to support resolution A/C.3/73/L.42 on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been presented to the Third Committee in the framework of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. This annual resolution provides an opportunity for the General Assembly to take stock of human rights violations in Iran over the last year and the many other human rights concerns that remain unaddressed in the country, as detailed in reports recently issued by the UN Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and offers key recommendations for how the Government of Iran can better implement its national and international human rights obligations.

    We echo the Secretary-General’s observation that this year has been “marked by an intensified crackdown on protesters, journalists and social media users”, in the wake of the wave of protests that erupted across Iran in December 2017 and continued into 2018. The Iranians authorities have stepped up their repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, jailing hundreds of people on vague and broadly worded national security charges. Those targeted include peaceful political dissidents, journalists, online media workers, students, filmmakers, musicians and writers, as well as human rights defenders, including women’s rights activists, minority rights activists, environmental activists, trade unionists, anti-death penalty campaigners, lawyers, and those seeking truth, justice and reparation for the mass executions and enforced disappearances of the 1980s. In a worrying development, the Iranian authorities this year arbitrarily arrested and detained, prosecuted and imprisoned on spurious criminal charges lawyers representing civil society activists and others charged for politically motivated reasons. Judicial authorities have denied detainees accused of national security-related charges access to a lawyer of their choice, particularly during the investigation process.

    The resolution also acknowledges positive steps taken by the Government, including putting into effect an amendment to the country’s drug law which has resulted in fewer executions for drug-related offences being carried out in the country.

    Nonetheless, Iran’s wide use of the death penalty remains of great concern. Iranian law still retains the death penalty for a wide range of drug trafficking offences. Iran also continues to use the death penalty for vaguely worded offences such as “enmity against god” (moharebeh) and “spreading corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel arz), which do not amount to an internationally recognisable criminal offence. The death penalty is also retained for acts that should not even be considered crimes including some consensual same-sex sexual conduct and intimate extra-marital relationships. The penal code also continues to provide for stoning as a method of execution.

    Also deeply concerning is Iran’s continued use of sentencing to death and executing those who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime. Despite repeated condemnations by UN bodies, to date in 2018, the Iranian authorities have executed at least five people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime of which they were convicted; according to Amnesty International, at least 85 others remain on death row and the real number could be much higher. This horrific practice is a flagrant violation of Iran’s human rights obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as under customary international law, and requires urgent action by UN member states.

    We, as civil society actors, believe that the UN’s ongoing engagement is necessary in order to press Iran to undertake long-overdue reforms and respect the human rights of all in the country. The Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur have repeatedly stressed that various laws, policies and practices in Iran continue to seriously undermine the fundamental rights of the people of Iran, including their rights to life; freedom from torture and other ill-treatment; fair trial; freedom of religion or belief; peaceful exercise of the freedom of expression (online and offline), association and assembly; and equal enjoyment of all to education, to health and to work.

    Violence and discrimination, in law and practice, against individuals on the basis of gender, religion, belief, ethnicity, language, political opinion, sexual orientation and gender identity, among other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, also remain widespread and continue to be sanctioned by laws, policies and government practices.

    Women and girls experience pervasive discrimination, in law and practice, and receive little or no protection against cruel, inhuman or degrading practices, including domestic violence, marital rape, early and forced marriage and forced veiling.

    In addition, the systematic persecution of Baha’is continues unabated. Other religious minorities including Christian converts, Yaresan (Ahl-e Haq) and Sunni Muslims also face systematic discrimination. This year the authorities have subjected Gonabadi Dervishes to a harsh crackdown, with hundreds arrested and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and over 200 sentenced after grossly unfair trials to harsh prison terms, floggings, internal exile, travel bans, and/or a ban on membership of social and political groups. Ethnic minority activists, including Arabs, Baloch, Kurds and Azerbaijani Turks have also been subjected to widespread patterns of abuse and serious violations of their rights.

    Further to this, Iran has by and large failed to implement key recommendations by UN human rights bodies. For instance, torture and other ill-treatment at the time of arrest and in detention, including prolonged solitary confinement, continue to be committed on a widespread basis and with complete impunity. Judicial authorities also continue to impose and implement sentences that constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments, including floggings and amputations, which amount to torture.

    Cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms is lacking. The Government’s engagement with these entities, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, has been cursory. Despite the Government’s issuance of a standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures in 2002 and dozens of UN recommendations urging the Government’s cooperation with them, pending requests for country visits from 10 thematic procedures remain unaddressed. No special procedure has been allowed to visit Iran since 2005. Furthermore, individuals, including human rights defenders, have faced reprisals on the basis of real or perceived contact with UN bodies.

    The continued attention of the international community is required to ensure Iran upholds its international human rights obligations. By supporting resolution A/C.3/73/L.42, the UN General Assembly will send a strong signal to the Iranian authorities that the promotion and respect of human rights is a priority, and that genuine and tangible improvements to the situation are expected to ensure the dignity inherent to all persons in Iran.


    Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights

    All human rights for all in Iran

    Amnesty International

    Arseh Sevom

    Article 18

    ARTICLE 19


    Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran - Geneva

    AHRAZ - Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran

    Balochistan Human Rights Group

    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

    Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights

    Center for Human Rights in Iran

    Centre for Supporters of Human Rights

    Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

    CIVICUS : World Alliance for Citizen Participation

    Conectas Direitos Humanos

    Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM)

    Gulf Centre for Human Rights

    Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI)

    Human Rights Watch

    Impact Iran

    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

    International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)

    International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism

    International Service for Human Rights

    Iran Human Rights

    Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

    Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO)

    Justice for Iran

    Kurdistan Human Rights Network

    Minority Rights Group International

    OutRight Action International


    Siamak Pourzand Foundation

    Small Media

    The Advocates for Human Rights

    United for Iran

    World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

    6Rang (Iranian Lesbian & Transgender Network)

  • Open Letter to ECOSOC regarding upcoming elections to the Committee on NGOs

    We write to you regarding the upcoming elections to the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs for the 2019-2022 term, which will take place on April 16.

    NGOs are an essential partner of the UN, as recognized by article 71 of the UN Charter as well as ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31, which acknowledges “the breadth of non-governmental organizations' expertise” and their capacity “to support the work of the United Nations.” The Committee on NGOs plays a necessary role in facilitating this partnership by considering NGO applications for consultative status with the UN and assessing the contributions of accredited NGOs to ECOSOC. The Committee makes recommendations about which NGOs will enjoy access and participation rights and which will not. Given the importance of the tasks of the Committee, it is essential that members uphold the highest standards in regard to fulfilling the Committee’s mandate in a fair, apolitical manner.

    The practice of the Committee has been the object of much criticism for failing to treat applicant and accredited NGOs objectively. Some members of the Committee use membership as a means to keep some NGOs – particularly human rights NGOs – out of the UN. Recent, positive developments – the webcasting of all open sessions of the Committee and the invitation to accredited NGOs to meet with the Committee – have all come about due to ECOSOC interventions, not as a result of initiatives taken by the Committee itself.

    Membership of the Committee on NGOs matters. The upcoming elections to the NGO Committee in April, for the 2019-2022 term provide States with a commitment to ensuring civil society access and participation with the opportunity to put themselves forward as candidates. ECOSOC members will also be able to show they are committed to fair practice for civil society through who they elect.

    In addition, membership of the Committee on NGOs is currently not subject to term limits. The organizations joining this letter believe the introduction of term limits would allow for greater diversity within the Committee over time. States should be required to leave the Committee for a specific period after serving the maximum agreed terms.

    We urge all ECOSOC Member States to commit to electing to the Committee on NGOs States that have a positive record in regard to ensuring a safe and enabling environment for civil society to operate in and addressing cases of intimidation and reprisals swiftly and effectively, as encouraged in Human Rights
    Council consensus resolutions on civil society space.1 Similarly, we urge all candidates for membership on the Committee on NGOs to commit publicly to ensuring a safe, enabling environment for civil society to operate in, including at the United Nations.

    The upcoming elections for the Committee on NGOs are an opportunity for States to put into practice a genuine commitment to promoting civil society access and participation at the UN either as candidates or electors. We hope that they will lead to much needed transformation in the membership, as well as the practice, of the Committee on NGOs.

    Amnesty International
    Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    Conectas Direitos Humanos
    Freedom Now
    Human Rights Watch
    Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights 
    International Service for Human Rights

  • Russian Federation: UN General Assembly should suspend Russia’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council

    We, the undersigned civil society organisations, call on Member States of the United Nations to take and support action at the UN General Assembly to suspend the Russian Federation as a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

  • UN to turn 75 in 2020: Commemoration events must include civil society

    The year 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This anniversary provides a much-needed opportunity to reflect on the direction of the UN and ensure it is built to address the global challenges of the 21st Century.

    Current plans for the commemoration of the anniversary do not properly include the participation of civil society. Concerns about the transparency and inclusiveness of the UN meetings and events to mark the anniversary (starting June 2020) have been expressed to the UN missions of Singapore and Iceland, who are responsible for facilitating this programme of meetings. See below for joint letter to the Permanent Representatives of Singapore and Iceland, which your organisation can also sign, by emailing jeffery.huffinesATcivicus.org with the name of your organisation the end of May.

    Learn more about the the opportunities to strengthen the UN by visiting UN2020.

    Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations
    Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations

    Dear Excellencies,


    We write to you in your capacity as co-facilitators on preparations for the UN’s 75 anniversary to express our deep concern that nascent plans for the commemorative plenary are not suitably inclusive of civil society.

    The anniversary presents a vital opportunity to consider how the Organization must adapt to cope with the global threats facing humanity. As the President of the General Assembly said recently: “it is a chance to make the UN more effective, more transparent, more accountable and more relevant to ‘we the peoples.’”[1]

    We are, therefore, concerned that the zero draft resolution for the commemoration might not envision a meaningful enough role for civil society. It appears that civil society is not part of the intergovernmental preparatory work, from consultations on outcomes that may be adopted – and even from the commemorative event itself. This would represent a missed opportunity to ensure the inclusion of a diversity of voices in the plenary outcomes, especially those of the most marginalized, through civil society participation.

    Global civil society has been a committed and determined ally of the UN since its inception in 1945 – when delegations worked together with NGO representatives on the text of the Charter. Today, that partnership is even more important – as civil society supports delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, and plays a key role in policy formulation, innovation and communication of progress to the broader public.

    Encouraged by your stated “deep commitment to an open, transparent and inclusive process”[2] – that reinforces the President of the General Assembly’s emphasis on “making the UN relevant to all people” – we call on you to champion the voices of “we the peoples”, and to ensure that meaningful participation from civil society is included at every step of the way towards the 75th anniversary of the UN.

    In this vein, we ask that you consider engaging civil society in the process you are leading, for example, through an informal hearing with civil society, by inviting civil society representatives to present at the next suitable meeting, or by organizing a civil society briefing.

    We thank you for your efforts to date, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that the 75th anniversary is a meaningful event with lasting impact.

    Yours sincerely,

    Association of World Citizens

    Afrihealth Optonet Association, Nigeria

    All Win Network Foundation

    Association 3 Hérissons

    Association for Farmers Rights Defense (AFRD)

    Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India

    Association pour l'Integration et le Developpement Durable (AIDB), Burundi

    Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

    Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly

    Centre for Human Rights - Nis

    Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research

    Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development (CSEND)

    Child Rights Information Network

    Citizens for Global Solutions

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

    Commons Cluster of the UN NGO Major Group

    Council of Organizations of the UNA-USA

    Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), India

    Democracy Matters

    Democracy Without Borders

    Development Goals Global Watch (DGGW) Inc.

    Dr Uzo Adirieje Foundation' (DUZAFOUND), Nigeria

    Echoes of Women in Africa Initiative (ECOWA) Nigeria

    Elizka Relief Foundation

    Elmoustkbal for Media, Policy and Strategic Studies, Egypt.

    EPE (Ethical-Possibility-Enhancement) Movement

    Equality Bahamas

    Federation of Environmental and Ecological Diversity for Agricultural Revampment and Human Rights

    Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York Office

    Global Voice

    Green Hope Foundation

    Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi Public Trust (ITA) / Centre for Education and Consciousness

    International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)

    Igarapé Institute

    Institute for Planetary Synthesis

    Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Loreto Generalate

    International Alliance of Women (IAW)

    International Network for Corporate Social Responsibility

    International Presentation Association

    Justice for All/BurmaTask Force

    Kenana Association for Sustainable Development and Women Empowerment, Egypt

    Kikandwa Environmental Association (KEA), Uganda

    KULU - Women and Development, Denmark

    Lanka Fundamental Rights Organization, Sri Lanka

    Mahila Dakshata Samiti, India

    National Campaign For Sustainable Development, Nepal

    National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Liberia (NSACCSOL)

    National Society of Conservationists - Friends of the Earth, Hungary

    Network of Rural Women Producers Trinidad and Tobago (NRWPTT)

    Nigeria Network of NGOs

    Noble Delta Women for Peace and Development

    Nonviolence International

    One World Trust

    Radanar Ayar Association, Myanmar

    Radha Paudel Foundation, Nepal

    Reaccion Climática- Bolivia

    RIPESS Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy

    Rural Area Development Programme (RADP), Nepal

    Servicios Ecuménicos para Reconciliación y Reconstrucción

    Shirley Ann Sullivan Educational Foundation

    Shishu Aangina

    Sisters of Charity Federation

    Society for Conservation & Sustainability of Energy & Environment in Nigeria (SOCSEEN)

    Society for International Development (SID)

    Soroptimist International

    Soroptimist International Great Britain & Ireland (SIGBI)

    Tamkeen Association for Rights of People with Disabilities, Egypt

    The Stimson Center (Just Security 2020 Program)

    Theatre of Transformation Academy

    Together First

    Transdiaspora Network

    U-Solve School of Empathic Leadership & Entrepreneurship (SELE)

    UN2020 Initiative

    United Nations Association – Suriname

    United Nations Association – UK

    Women Environmental Programme (WEP)

    Women for Water Partnership

    Workable World Trust

    World Citizens Association of Australia

    World Democratic Governance project Association - WDGpa

    World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy

    1. President of the General Assembly statement, 8 April 2019
    2. Co-facilitators joint letter, 29 April 2019


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