Fostering access for civil society in multilateral processes

Democratizing intergovernmental processes
More than 2,000 civil society organizations were accredited to the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, March 1995).

UNGA-Link UK (UK Network for Civil Society Link with UN General Assembly) was established in 1998 to bring together NGOs which work to assist the United Nations system in peace and security matters, humanitarian affairs and development. It will assess proposals for a forum of civil society to complement the General Assembly, including the recommendation by the Commission on Global Governance (CGG) for an annual Civil Society Forum, as well as the Secretary-General's suggestion of a People's Millennium Assembly which may be modified to a Millennium Forum. In the longer term, the Network will assess the possibilities for a second chamber of the General Assembly "representing national civil society organizations", an idea supported by UNESCO's World Commission on Culture and Development. UNGA-Link UK was formed after a survey of civil society organizations (CSOs) which showed 83% of responses in favour of a UN-linked Civil Society Forum and 74% in favour of networking for shared representation.

1. Agreed methods for the participation of civil society in international fora remain undeveloped, tokenistic, ineffective and inefficient. The is the fault not only of governments, may of which see no reason for involvement of civil society in intergovernmental fora. There is no universal definition of the term NGO and in many cases governments are making decisions on access to process without any understanding as to which sectors of civil society they are granting access to. Lack of effective involvement is also the fault of NGOs or civil society organization to reach common positions among themselves. This dissipates their substantive impact and adds a significant measure of diversion from their role in any multilateral process.
Counter Claim:
Unquestionably, there is strength in diversity, and balanced geographical representation must be achieved in all multilateral processes. But there are inherent weaknesses in large number of organizations meeting, networking for contacts and submitting written papers that contain extensive changes on the texts being considered by governments. In such circumstances the diversity of views weakens the voice of civil society and makes it difficult, if not impossible, for governments to seriously consider their proposals. Without agreeing on common positions and on spokespersons, NGOs will remain in the hallways and observer galleries, valiantly attempting to influence the process without having any substantive impact.
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions