UN officials spoke about the benefits of Consultative Status | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

6 December,


UN officials spoke about the benefits of Consultative Status

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At the initiative of the International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF) with the support of the United Nations Office in Azerbaijan and the Council for State Support to Non-Governmental Organisations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a UN seminar on "Consultative Status at the UN: Opportunities and Benefits for NGOs" Authorised representatives also made interesting speeches.
 
Ms. Lydia Grigorieva, Head of the NGO Relations Department of the UN Office in Geneva, thanked the IEPF office for organising the event and noted that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations, as well as cooperation with NGOs.
"Partnership between UN civil society is very important. "This partnership helps the UN to achieve such goals as maintaining peace and security, promoting economic and social progress, and protecting fundamental human rights and freedoms," Grigoryeva said. He noted the advantages of the UN consultative status, noting that due to this status, NGOs have gained a number of powers, such as the right to expert analysis, the right to review international agreements.
 
In addition, during the webinar, the Permanent Representative of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers to the UN Office in Geneva, Ms. Micol Savia, informed the participants about the requirements for obtaining the status of a consultant. He stressed the importance of the principles of international law, the great responsibility to express freely in the main languages ​​of the United Nations and to carry this status. In addition, he reiterated his interest in partnering with the IEPF to protect human rights and freedoms and international law.
 
EDNews.net presents the full text of the speeches of Lidya Grigoryeva and Micol Savia:
 
 

Dear event organizers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you from the suburbs of Geneva, where I, like all my UN colleagues in Geneva, work distantly because of COVID-19. I would like to thank the organizers of today's event for the invitation and the opportunity to talk about the importance of interaction between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations, as well as how this interaction is being implemented in practice in the framework of Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

This year we celebrate the United Nations’ 75th anniversary. NGOs have been actively interacting with the UN since its establishment in 1945. Since then, this interaction has undergone profound changes both in terms of the number and diversity of participants, as well as in terms of the depth of key issues and priorities.

The UN recognizes the importance of partnership with civil society; because this partnership helps achieve the organization’s goals of maintaining peace and security, promoting economic and social progress, and affirming fundamental human rights.

The institutionalization of the NGOs’ interaction with the UN was determined in Article 71 of the Charter of the United Nations, signed on June 26, 1945. Thanks to several NGOs that were present during the process of creating the organization, Article 71 appeared in the UN Charter, which stipulates that ECOSOC can take appropriate measures to consult with non-governmental organizations dealing with issues within its competence.

This situation has opened the door for cooperation and consultation with NGOs.

Let me remind you that ECOSOC is one of the six main organs of the United Nations along with the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, the International Court of Justice and the Trusteeship Council. ECOSOC is the main body for coordination, policy review, dialogue and development of recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as for the implementation of internationally agreed development goals.

Today, ECOSOC remains the only major UN body that has an official framework for NGO participation in its work. Following a series of reforms, consultative relations between NGOs and ECOSOC are regulated by resolution 1996/31, which sets out the requirements for obtaining consultative status, the rights and obligations of NGOs, the procedures for revoking or suspending status, the role and functions of the ECOSOC NGO Committee, and the responsibilities of the UN Secretariat for supporting consultative relationships.

This accreditation system benefits both the United Nations and NGOs.

On the one hand, NGOs have the competence, practical experience and flexibility that are important to the UN. Having consultative status, NGOs can:

- conduct expert analysis directly on the basis of their field experience;

- act as an early warning agent;

- assist in monitoring and implementing international agreements;

- raise public awareness of relevant issues;

- promote the goals and objectives of the UN, and

- share information and experience at UN events.

 

On the other hand, consultative status with ECOSOC gives NGOs the opportunity to participate in global governance, be heard by a global audience and contribute to the UN agenda. Accredited NGOs in consultative status may:

- participate in international conferences and events;

- speak at these events with written and oral statements;

- organize your own and side events;

- have the opportunity to build relationships with other interested participants and promote issues that NGOs are involved in.

 

After receiving consultative status, NGOs can participate in the work of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies - its eight functional commissions (such as the Commission on the Status of Women or the Commission on Sustainable Development, and etc.), five regional commissions (such as the Economic Commission for Europe), as well as other bodies, such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as well as the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.

Over the years, there has been an increase in the participation of NGOs in the work of the UN. In 1946, 41 NGOs had consultative status. In 1992, their number increased to 700. Currently, 5,451 NGOs have consultative status with ECOSOC. I counted 14 NGOs from Azerbaijan that have consultative status with ECOSOC, most of them have received it over the past 10 years. About 108 NGOs from Azerbaijan are registered in the database of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, possibly with the aim of further applying for status.

It would be appropriate here to make an important digression. In addition to the consultative framework through ECOSOC, there are other types of NGO participation in the UN. Disseminating NGOs may be accredited by the United Nations Department of Global Communications. NGOs can participate in high-level events and special events on the principle of “no objection” from UN member countries. In addition, engagement at the political and operational levels can be established directly with UN agencies, programs and funds, such as the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Development Program, the UN Environment Program, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Children's United Nations Fund (UNICEF). NGOs also collaborated with specialized UN agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNEXO and the World Health Organization, as well as with the International Labor Organization. NGOs also work closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and international human rights mechanisms, including treaty bodies, special procedures of the Human Rights Council and the universal periodic review. At the national level, partnerships between NGOs and UN country teams contribute to global goals.

Over the years, civil society actors have made a significant contribution to the work of the UN by convincing UN member countries of the need for decisions and resolutions on disarmament, development, human rights and other issues. NGOs contributed to the development of new treaties and even UN institutions, such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. They played an important role in the creation of the International Criminal Court. They initiated new topics on the UN agenda, such as the environment, women's rights, or anti-personnel mines. They provided humanitarian and refugee assistance and dealt with development issues in societies that survived violent conflict. NGOs contributed to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, and since 2015, within the framework of the universal agenda 2030 with its 17 goals of sustainable development, NGOs have been involved in assisting in their implementation.

At present, very rarely, intergovernmental decisions and agreements are adopted without specific participation and consultation with NGOs.

Let me give you a concrete example of how NGOs can use their consultative status in the field of international cooperation. Let's look at the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review. This is a unique process that includes a periodic review of the human rights situation in all 193 UN member states. The last time the human rights situation in Azerbaijan was considered in the framework of the UPR mechanism in May 2018. There is an opportunity for NGOs to directly provide information for review, and this is not limited to NGOs in Consultative Status with ECOSOC. For the review of Azerbaijan, about 18 reports were submitted, of which about two joint reports with the participation of national NGOs; the rest came from international NGOs. The very participation in the review is open only to NGOs in Consultative Status with ECOSOC. This gives NGOs the opportunity to organize side events for the exchange of information on the implementation of the recommendations of the previous UPR cycle and the promotion of new recommendations to the state under review. When adopting a country review at a subsequent session of the Human Rights Council, NGOs in Consultative Status can submit written reports, organize side events and make oral statements in plenary (10 statements made by international NGOs during the last review on Azerbaijan). Such participation of NGOs enriches both the UPR process itself and the subsequent implementation of the adopted recommendations by the state under review. By the example of the last review on Azerbaijan, it is clear that there is a need to increase the potential for participation of national NGOs in this process, and for this it is necessary to obtain consultative status with ECOSOC.

The current situation with COVID-19, which has affected all countries of the world, shows that the role of NGOs in the UN system will increase. Many NGOs are currently at the forefront of assisting communities affected by the pandemic. In fact, their experience in helping to deal with large-scale epidemics in developing countries, such as Ebola or malaria, has already proven their important role and relevance in supporting public health. The role of NGOs in the post-crisis period will be more significant in helping communities and groups affected by the economic downturn and the loss of jobs and livelihoods. We are already witnessing that some categories of the population are the most vulnerable, and are more affected by the current situation. These are women, the elderly, people with disabilities, the homeless, victims of domestic violence, persons deprived of their liberty, refugees, asylum seekers, and generally low-income people. NGOs could ensure that the needs of these segments of society are taken into account when developing national and international policies related to medical, economic and social issues after the pandemic. NGOs could also help authorities reach vulnerable groups as they are in direct contact with their target groups and have built trust with them. The UN Secretary General, who has issued several analytical reports since the outbreak of the pandemic to draw attention to the global challenges of the pandemic, emphasized the role of civil society in overcoming the current crisis.

Thus, the interaction of NGOs with the UN system will go on increasing. In our UN Office in Geneva alone, more than 1,500 NGOs are currently accredited annually - this is 4% more than last year, and such growth has been observed for several years. The active participation of NGOs makes international cooperation stronger, and I invite Azerbaijani non-governmental organizations to use the opportunities provided by Consultative Status at ECOSOC so that their voices can be heard at the decision-making table at the intergovernmental level, which, in turn, will help advance common goals and objectives at the national level.

Thank you.

 
 
Thank you very much.
 
I greet everyone.
 
Thank you for organizing such an interesting webinar and inviting me here. Many useful information was voiced in the opinions of those who spoke before me, and I am especially grateful to them. As mentioned earlier, my name is Micol Savia. I am an international human rights lawyer. I am originally from Italy, but since 2008 I have been working mainly in Geneva and representing NGOs in the International Association of Democratic Lawyers at the United Nations.
 
This organization was established in 1946 to ensure the general activity of lawyers and operates in accordance with the UN Charter. Our first President was Rene Cassini, a well-known lawyer who was one of the main founders of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We were granted Consultative Status at ECOSOC in 1969. Since then, we have been active in UN human rights mechanisms and other areas. We currently have permanent representatives at UN Headquarters in Geneva, New York, Vienna and Paris.
 
I have attended meetings and conferences of various formats, but my main work is in Geneva. Therefore, I would like to share with you my experience in human rights. In general, based on my experience, I can say that the contribution of NGOs to the work of the UN is very important. It is known that the most important step forward in the promotion and protection of human rights is the promotion of civil society movements. Not all NGOs that can contribute to the work of the UN in various areas of activity have the consultative status of ECOSOC.
 
In addition, we can help our government better understand its duties and responsibilities under international law in order to improve its human rights record, while working with local representatives to promote the UN's principles and norms of action. Therefore, there is no need to obtain Consultative Status. We also do not need consultative status to interact with the UN. For example, each individual can tell a group to enter relevant information into a system and submit it to the United Nations. If this information is comprehensive and reliable, we can take it into account, even if it does not have the status of a consultant.
 
However, with the consultative status at ECOSOC, we can participate in the official UN meeting and, as a result, play a role in cooperation with the UN. Consultative status provides civil society organizations with a wide range of opportunities and opportunities in the Human Rights Council, as well as the ability to act on behalf of UN bodies such as the UN General Assembly or the Security Council. When accrediting NGOs, the Human Rights Council presents all statements in public debates and in an interactive dialogue with human rights experts. Oral statements allow the delegation to draw attention to human rights violations and problems that need to be addressed to the international community. The disappointing point in making such statements is the limited time available due to the large number of NGOs. So, we have only 90 seconds, 1 minute and a half for each statement. We can say a lot, but it is important to at least listen to our voices. In addition, we can issue a written statement, which will be considered an official document of the meeting, and this statement will then be widely disseminated by the secretariat.
 
We can organize parallel events during the meeting of the Human Rights Council at the UN Headquarters. We are provided with space by the UN, UN staff helps, and all this is free. Due to the large number of such events, it is difficult to attract the attention of many people. Nevertheless, we can organize such high-level events with NGOs and, at best, our colleagues from UN member states.
 
In my opinion, the importance of having the status of a consultant is to allow accredited NGOs to be close to the decision-making process and other initiatives that will affect the lives of all of us to some extent. We usually campaign to reach out to experts from a number of countries and all stakeholders. And imagine they all gather in one room at the same time. You can approach them, share your concerns with them, give them advice and suggestions. If you do your job well and are patient, you can be sure that your concerns will sooner or later be reflected in an official UN document. This means that we can influence and shape the development of international law, which is very important. I want to conclude my speech, but I have a lot to say.
 
But we have little time. I would like to give some advice. In order to interact effectively with the UN, it is first and foremost important to have a thorough knowledge of international law. You need to constantly increase your knowledge in this area.I've only been doing this for the last 12 years and I still have a lot to learn. It is also useful to know international relations, given that we work in a very sensitive area that is politicized and strongly influenced by interstate relations. Finally, knowledge of the language is important, because, unfortunately, neither Azerbaijani nor Italian is the official language of the UN. Although the UN is committed to providing oral and written translation into various languages, sources and documents in other languages ​​are often inaccessible, especially to those who do not speak English.
 
Thus, it is a great advantage to have the consultative status of the UN ECOSOC and to participate in meetings. These benefits come from duties and responsibilities. I don't think we have time to talk about duties and responsibilities. I hope we will talk about it at the next meeting. Thus, 70 years ago, we, the people of the United Nations, decided to join forces to maintain international peace and security, to use the international mechanism for the economic and social development of all. In the post-pandemic era, we must be more determined than ever to strengthen our determination to act together, as we promised in 1945. The UN calls on us to play a decisive role, and it will not be easy in the near future. We need to be there to monitor and help. The UN is our organization and it is our duty to contribute to it. For all this, I am grateful to the International Eurasia Press Fund for its initiative, supported by the UN Office in Azerbaijan and the NGO Council. I recommend that you join another rapporteur to apply for consultative status in order to continue your relationship with the UN.
 
Thank you for your attention. I am ready to answer your questions and I hope to see you next time in Geneva.

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