As an NGO

What is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)?

NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) are legally constituted organizations that operate independently from any government, typically in pursuit of humanitarian goals. Early international NGOs were important in anti-slavery and women’s suffrage movements. NGOs have been active at the United Nations since its founding in 1945. Their existence and role are actually defined in Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter.

If an NGO would like to become affiliated with the United Nations, it has two ways it can do this. The first is by affiliation with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), which gives it official recognition and permits it to receive documents and other official notices and information from the DPI.

celia martinThe second type of affiliation is through being accepted as an NGO in “consultative status” with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This allows the NGO to use its expertise in areas of concern to the United Nations the ability to interact with the UN Secretariat, programs, and agencies, and consult with member states—researching issues, educating, lobbying, and providing background information. Through this status the NGO can influence UN debate by proposing items for the draft agenda, submitting written statements, and making oral presentations at various UN functions. UNANIMA International has both DPI and ECOSOC affiliations with the United Nations.

One United Nations commission, the Commission on the Status of Women, says on its website that “Active participation of NGOs is a central element in the work of the CSW. NGOs have been influential in shaping the current global policy framework on women’s empowerment and gender equality…They play an important role in holding international and national leaders accountable for the commitments they make.” NGOs also provide a way for “grassroots” people and groups to influence United Nations policies and documents.

In an address delivered to the United Nations, Pope John Paul II referred to NGOs as “the conscience of the UN.”