CFS:2000/Inf.6


 

COMMITTEE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY

Twenty-sixth Session

Rome, 18-21 September 2000

BROADENED PARTICIPATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY
IN THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY (CFS)

Table of Contents



I. SUMMARY

1. The Committee on World Food Security (CFS), in its Twenty-Fifth Session in May-June 1999, examined the issue of "Broadened Participation of Civil Society and Other Partners in the Work of the Committee on World Food Security", and requested the Secretariat and Bureau to pursue the process of direct communication with NGO/CSO representatives and to report back on the matter at the next session of the Committee. In addition the Secretariat was requested to circulate a comparative document covering NGO/CSO participation in other UN fora, with special emphasis on follow-up to major Summits and Conferences.

2. FAO has recently endorsed a paper on FAO Policy and Strategy for Cooperation with Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organizations, which provides a solid basis for strengthening relationships between FAO and NGOs/CSOs.

3. Steps taken since June 1999 to broaden the participation of NGOs/CSOs in the work of the FAO in general and the CFS in particular include:

II. BACKGROUND

A. DISCUSSION ON BROADENED PARTICIPATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY AND OTHER PARTNERS IN THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY AT THE
TWENTY-FIFTH SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE
ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY

4. The Committee on World Food Security (CFS), in its Twenty-Fifth Session in May-June 1999, examined the issue of "Broadened Participation of Civil Society and Other Partners in the Work of the Committee on World Food Security", on the basis of Document CFS/99/5, prepared by the Secretariat.

5. The Committee acknowledged the importance of the work of NGOs/CSOs in food security and encouraged the NGOs/CSOs to collaborate with governments in national follow-up to the World Food Summit (WFS) recommendations.

6. The Committee invited the NGOs/CSOs to be closely involved in the process of follow-up to the WFS and suggested that, in each subsequent session, the NGOs/CSOs present a report on their activities related to WFS follow-up and make any necessary suggestions. To this end, the Committee called on the NGOs/CSOs to prepare a report that constitutes a synthesis of the different opinions and actions, within a constructive framework.

7. The Committee commended the Secretariat for its work on improving the communication of information and for the facilities made available to NGO/CSO representatives on FAO premises to facilitate their participation.

8. The Committee recommended that FAO representatives be encouraged to help local NGOs/CSOs gain access to information and documentation available on the Internet and other documentation available for food security and convey their views and comments to the CFS Secretariat.

9. No conclusion was reached regarding the number or type of NGO/CSO representatives to be allowed to participate in the work on the CFS nor on the way of this participation. However, it was suggested that NGOs/CSOs determine the method by which their spokespeople be selected.

10. The Committee commended the commitment of NGOs/CSOs to the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action and their commitment to food security, and noted their interest in consultations to be held in parallel to the FAO Regional Conferences scheduled for the year 2000.

11. The Committee requested the Secretariat and Bureau to pursue the process of direct communication with NGO/CSO representatives and to report back on the matter at the next session of the Committee. In addition the secretariat was requested, on said occasion, to circulate a comparative document covering NGO/CSO participation in other UN fora, with special emphasis on follow-up to major Summits and Conferences.

B. FAO POLICY AND STRATEGY FOR COOPERATION WITH NON-GOVERNMENTAL AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS

12. The recently endorsed paper on FAO Policy and Strategy for Cooperation with Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organizations provides a solid basis for strengthening relationships between FAO and NGOs/CSOs. This document was issued in late 1999 and is the result of a thorough process of review. At the request of the Director-General of FAO, the Unit for Cooperation with the Private Sector and NGOs (TCDN) coordinated an FAO-wide review, involving NGOs/CSOs in all regions and the technical departments and field offices of FAO. This document has been widely disseminated.

13. The paper highlights the challenge of developing cooperation with a rapidly expanding NGO/CSO sector in a period of declining resources. Meeting this challenge requires a strategic choice of partners and activities; promoting networks among NGOs/CSOs to multiply outreach; sharing responsibility for programme planning and resource mobilization; and using FAO country offices to reach the organizations closest to rural people.

14. The paper identifies four functional areas for working together: information sharing and analysis; policy dialogue; field programmes; and resource mobilization. For each area, the paper presents priority actions which form the basis for a long-term programme. Several of these actions are particularly relevant to enhancing the participation of NGOs/CSOs in the work of the CFS.

15. In the area of information sharing and analysis, for example, FAO will establish an Internet page for NGOs/CSOs with links to several departmental sites, including to that of the CFS. In the area of policy dialogue, FAO will help to facilitate civil society participation in national policy discussions, promote regional NGO/CSO networking and encourage NGOs/CSOs to organize preparatory consultations to feed into the biannual FAO Regional Conferences. Other proposals for action which could enhance NGO/CSO participation in the work of the CFS include designating a staff member in each regional and subregional office to act as an NGO/CSO focal point to enhance their participation in monitoring of the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action.

16. Actions by the CFS Secretariat to broaden participation of civil society in the work of the CFS have been taken within the framework of the overall FAO policy and strategy for cooperation with NGOs and CSOs.

III. ACTIONS TAKEN SINCE JUNE 1999 TO BROADEN PARTICIPATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE WORK
OF THE CFS

A. ENHANCED INFORMATION EXCHANGE

Facilitation of information exchange by the CFS Secretariat

17. The CFS Secretariat has enhanced the CFS web page and linked it to other FAO pages on the various aspects of food security. The recently issued FAO Policy and Strategy for Cooperation with Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organizations proposes the development of a page for NGOs/CSOs on the TC Department web page with links to other departmental pages and TCDN has initiated consultations for the preparation of this page.

18. The CFS Secretariat is also exploring with TCDN, how the web site can be better used to foster discussion on food security and the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action through, e.g. developing a page dedicated to this discussion and an Internet Forum on WFS Follow-up. These mechanisms can stimulate exchange amongst NGOs/CSOs as well as with FAO.

19. Greater use of the FAO web site offers an excellent means to enhance information exchange amongst and with civil society organizations in all parts of the world. Civil society organizations are rapidly increasing their access to e-mail and the Internet. Nevertheless, many NGOs/CSOs still do not have easy access to the Internet on regular basis. For this reason, it is important to use all forms of media to disseminate discussions and information on food security and implementation of the WFS Plan of Action. A quarterly newsletter could be used to this end, for example.

20. The CFS Secretariat has continued to maintain direct communications with civil society organizations through all forms of media. The FAO-NGO/CSO Regional Consultations and the Rapid Appraisal were significant mechanisms for facilitating information exchange. These initiatives are described below in III B below.

Electronic conference

21. As part of FAO's strategy to promote information exchange with and amongst NGOs/CSOs on issues of food security, the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (RLC) conducted a three-week electronic conference for NGOs/CSOs. Held prior to the 26th FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, the discussion focused on the topics to be debated at the Regional Conference: impact of technical and non-tariff barriers on agricultural trade in Latin America and the Caribbean; reforms of rural development institutions; and food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean (as follow-up to the World Food Summit). The weekly summaries of the discussion were posted on the RLC web site.

22. Similar initiatives in other regions could be encouraged in preparation for the 2002 FAO Regional Conferences and for future sessions of the Committee on World Food Security. Such a Forum could provide a place for NGOs/CSOs to exchange information on their actions to implement the WFS Plan of Action and to discuss their input to the work of the CFS.

ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security

23. The ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security, managed by FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in close cooperation with the World Food Programme (WFP), is actively seeking ways to encourage the participation of NGOs/CSOs in the country-level Thematic Groups. The Thematic Groups provide a framework to discuss, plan and implement collaborative activities in rural development and food security and enhance the efforts of national governments to implement the commitments of the World Food Summit Plan of Action. Some 30 countries currently report NGO/CSO participation in these groups. The Secretariat of the ACC Network at FAO is developing a strategy to further promote NGO/CSO participation. Further, the ACC Network web site, hosted by FAO, posts information about CSOs and gives examples of their participation in Thematic Groups at the country level.

B. ENHANCED POLICY DIALOGUE

Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations

24. A major action taken to promote enhanced dialogue with NGOs and CSOs was the organization of Regional FAO - NGO/CSO Consultations in parallel with the FAO Regional Conferences in 20001.

25. The objectives of the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO consultations were to:

26. The FAO Secretariat provided the participants with documentation for discussion, including: FAO Policy and Strategy for Cooperation with Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations; Document CFS/99/5 on Broadened Participation of Civil Society in the Work of CFS and the Regional Conference Documents on Follow-up to the World Food Summit.

27. A representative of the CFS Secretariat participated in the first three Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations for Africa, the Near East, and Latin America and the Caribbean and made a presentation on follow-up to the World Food Summit, as well as discussed with participants about improving the participation of NGOs/CSOs in the CFS.

28. Each of the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations elected a president who presented to the FAO Regional Conferences a document reflecting the viewpoints of the NGOs/CSOs as discussed in the Consultations. Elements from these presentations were included in the Reports of the FAO Regional Conferences.

29. The Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultation for Africa took place in Yaounde, Cameroon from 21 to 25 February 2000 in conjunction with the 21st FAO Regional Conference for Africa. Participants came from farmers' organizations and national and regional NGOs involved in food security activities, in all parts of Africa.

30. Participants stressed the need for strong partnerships between government, FAO, NGOs and other stakeholders to address food security issues. They recommended that FAO:

31. The Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultation for the Near East took place in Beirut, Lebanon from 21 to 22 March 2000, in conjunction with the 25th FAO Regional Conference for the Near East. Twenty NGOs/CSOs participated in the Consultation.

32. Participants stressed that the achievement of sustainable agricultural development required the cooperation and close collaboration of governmental organizations, CSOs and NGOs. They considered the document on FAO Policy and Strategy for Cooperation with Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organizations as a good basis for the development of enhanced coordination. They recommended that FAO:

33. The Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean was held in Mérida, México from 10 to 11 April 2000, in conjunction with the 26th FAO Regional Conference. Twenty-five participants representing 21 organizations came from the region.

34. The participants decided to create a regional network of NGOs/CSOs for Latin America and the Caribbean. This network will be oriented towards rural development and food security issues, with emphasis on equality and equity, including gender equity. The goals of the network are to:

35. This Network will, inter alia, establish a coordination and communication system between FAO and NGOs/CSOs, at a national and regional level, that allows the sharing of information on successful experiences in the fight against poverty and food insecurity; and organize preparatory meetings for FAO regional consultations, should these be continued in the future.

36. Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations are also being held in conjunction with the 22nd FAO Regional Conference for Europe in Porto, Portugal from 24 to 28 July 2000 and the 25th Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific in Yokohama, Japan from 28 August to 1 September 2000.

37. In all of the FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations, the participants stressed that:

38. The participants requested FAO to:

Rapid appraisal on enhancing NGO/CSO participation in the CFS

39. During the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations, participants discussed ways to ensure that the CFS is better informed about NGO/CSO views and about their action to implement the World Food Summit Plan of Action. Strengthened NGO/CSO networking at national and regional levels was identified as one means towards this goal.

40. In follow-up to the Regional Consultations, the CFS Secretariat conducted a rapid appraisal through a questionnaire to the participants soliciting their views and suggestions regarding networking and communications with the CFS. Questionnaires were sent out in March in three languages to all the participants of the first three Regional NGO/CSO Consultations for the Near East, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, and were distributed to the participants at the NGO/CSO consultations for Europe and Asia.

41. Respondents indicated that NGO/CSO networks could be effective mechanisms for exchanging information; serving as a platform for taking action and advocating common issues; and promoting common or joint activities. They also indicated that networks could carry their ideas and viewpoints to the CFS.

C. PARTICIPATION IN CFS MEETINGS

42. In follow-up to the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations, FAO is inviting the five presidents of the Consultations, elected by the participants, to attend the 26th Session of the CFS. They will participate as members of national or international NGO/CSO delegations and will be given appropriate opportunity to present views and recommendations from the Consultations during the CFS debate.

43. A major innovation at the 26th Session of the CFS is the opportunity for NGOs/CSOs to participate in the special half-day panel discussion on follow-up to the World Food Summit, that will be held outside the formal agenda.

NGO/CSO participation in panel

44. A half-day panel discussion has been organized at the 26th Session of the CFS to allow both governments and NGOs/CSOs to present and discuss their actions and views on issues related to food security and the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action. Government representatives of the seven regions and two NGO/CSO representatives will give 10 minute presentations each, followed by a discussion in which both governments and NGOs/CSOs can participate.

45. The five presidents or spokespersons of the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations are being requested to prepare a consolidated presentation to the CFS on the actions taken by NGOs/CSOs to implement the WFS Plan of Action. They should select one from amongst themselves to present this during the panel. The CFS Secretariat is providing time and facilities for these spokespersons to meet together prior to the CFS session to prepare their consolidated presentation.

46. The international NGOs and networks with which the CFS maintains regular relationships are also being invited to prepare a synthesis paper and select a spokesperson to present their views on food security issues at the panel. The CFS Secretariat is providing these groups with space, computers, Internet access and e-mail in order to facilitate their participation. The e-mail connections could enable these groups to quickly consult with and receive feedback from their constituencies and other NGOs/CSOs that are unable to be present.

47. This initiative is considered to be a significant step forward in facilitating the participation of NGOs/CSOs in the work of the CFS. Consideration should be given to including NGO/CSO presentations in such panels as may be organized in the future.

48. Bringing the five presidents of the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations will help ensure a wider range and more balanced representation of NGO/CSO views from all regions. Consideration should be given to continuing this practice in future sessions of the CFS.

D. STRENGTHENING LINKAGES WITH NGOS/CSOS
AT ALL LEVELS

National, regional and global NGO/CSO networks

49. Both the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations and the responses to the Rapid Appraisal expressed the view that networks could be effective mechanisms for exchanging information; engaging in policy dialogue and bringing NGO/CSO ideas and viewpoints to the CFS.

50. Relating to networks makes it possible to engage a wider range of NGOs/CSOs in dialogue and to bring in a broader NGO/CSO perspective to the CFS, within the given limitations of time and space for NGO/CSO participation in the CFS. Networks provide a structure through which independent groups and organizations can come together for a particular purpose, but still maintain their autonomy, organizational structure, substantive priorities and strategies. Networks allow for difference and diversity among their affiliated groups, while recognizing the usefulness of linking across such differences for particular purposes. In relation to the CFS, diverse organizations could thus form networks for a particular activity (e.g. monitoring implementation of WFS), while maintaining their autonomy and specific activities and fields of work.

51. A network can function only when it serves the needs of its member organizations and has the capacity to facilitate their common efforts. While networks generally do not require heavy structures, they do need some basic human and financial resources and a coordination point or points that can stimulate and maintain the exchange of information and communication.

National Networks

52. The responses to the Rapid Appraisal in follow-up to the FAO-NGO/CSO Regional Consultations indicate that a variety of national NGO/CSO networks exist, depending on the particular circumstances of each country. In some countries, NGOs/CSOs have formed themselves into multi-stakeholder networks, comprising all NGOs/CSOs, or all NGOs/CSOs involved in food security and rural development. In other countries, there are a number of networks of sectoral organizations, such as farmers' and producers' organizations, consumers' organizations and other sectoral and interest groups. In some countries, the government has taken an interest in the organization of national NGO/CSO networks and/or has given support to such networking initiatives.

53. Several responses to the Rapid Appraisal also indicated that NGOs/CSOs were interested in or already taking the initiative to develop national networks of NGOs/CSOs working in all areas of food security or to develop in their national NGO/CSO network, a sub-group on food security. Such networks can serve as a means for NGOs/CSOs to give their input to national governments regarding follow-up to the World Food Summit. The existence of national networks also facilitates the task of the FAO Representatives as focal point for CFS information and communications with national NGOs/CSOs.

Regional Networks

54. The initiative of the participants in the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean to form a regional network is a significant step towards establishing a mechanism to exchange information and to engage in dialogue with FAO and the CFS. The network members cover a range of different kinds of organizations involved in all aspects of food security and rural development, and include organizations representing farmers, agribusiness, agricultural workers' trade unions, environmentalists, food product tradespeoples, research workers, consumers, social workers etc. The network thus provides a means for multi-stakeholder discussion and elaboration of a platform representing different sectors. This initiative could be brought to the attention of NGOs/CSOs in other regions for eventual replication, taking into account differences in regional situations.

55. As initial activities, the Latin American and Caribbean Network intends to: create a civil society food security forum; establish a coordination and communication system between FAO and NGOs/CSOs, at a national and regional level, that allows the sharing of information on successful experiences in the fight against poverty and food insecurity; disseminate research results and technologies so that these can be used by NGOs/CSOs; create databanks of NGOs/CSOs; organize preparatory meetings for the FAO regional consultations; and set up multilateral meetings at the different levels (global, regional, national) for the design of food security strategies.

56. In order to facilitate the realization of these activities, the participants of the FAO-NGO/CSO Regional Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean requested FAO to: establish a focal point at the regional level to support and coordinate the network activities and to keep the NGOs/CSOs updated on the fulfillment of the World Food Summit agreements. The FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean is currently exploring how to fulfill this role.

57. The responses to the Rapid Appraisal in follow-up to the FAO-NGO/CSO Regional Consultations indicate that a number of regional networks already exist in other regions. Some of these networks are sectoral, bringing together e.g. farmers' or consumers' organizations in a region, while others are multi-stakeholder networks bringing together diverse organizations involved in food security and rural development.

58. These networks could be encouraged to join with other organizations to form a network similar to that in Latin America and the Caribbean for the purpose of reporting on the range of activities undertaken by NGOs/CSOs in the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action and in monitoring its implementation; as well as to present a synthesis of the views from the regions on the matters under discussion at the CFS.

59. The initiative to form networks must come from NGOs/CSOs themselves, but they could be encouraged to bring together a wide range of organizations and thus promote broad participation of NGOs/CSOs in the work of the CFS, particularly in the follow up of the WFS. Multi-stakeholder regional networks focussed on food security, could bring a wide range of perspectives and help to ensure a greater regional balance in the participation of NGOs/CSOs in the CFS meetings.

60. If the CFS continues the practice of giving the time and space for NGOs/CSOs to give a synthesis of regional input, as in the panel discussion at its 26th Session, there would be an incentive for the NGOs/CSOs to strengthen their regional networking. This would not require any additional direct financial resources from FAO. NGOs/CSOs from developing regions and countries might however need to have access to support from external sources to cover some of their travel costs.

Global Networks

61. FAO also relates to some global networks that are involved in aspects of food security. Some of these networks bring together organizations in a particular sector and some are multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder. The number of global networks is multiplying in response to globilization and the need to address global issues and problems through global action. Such networks also help stimulate inter-regional exchange, communication and dialogue.

62. For the 26th Session of the CFS, global networks are being invited to join together with international NGOs to prepare a consolidated presentation of their views at the panel discussion. The CFS Secretariat relationship with global networks could be strengthened by more regular communication between global networks and the CFS Secretariat, using all means of communication, including the Internet and printed media such as a quarterly newsletter.

63. Since there is a trend towards the creation of NGO/CSO networks at national, regional and global levels, it would be helpful to create a data base of information on the composition of these networks, their focal points and activities.

IV. CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION IN FOLLOW-UP TO OTHER WORLD SUMMITS AND CONFERENCES

64. A wide range of civil society actors has participated in follow-up to the major UN conferences held in the 1990s. The UN world conferences have succeeded in mobilizing widespread awareness of the issues of children, environment, human rights, population, sustainable development, women, human settlements and food security. In general, the greater the involvement of CSOs in the preparatory activities and the Conferences themselves, the greater has been their involvement in mobilizing awareness within their own organizations and in society at large. This section briefly examines how civil society has participated in follow-up to major World Summits and Conferences held in the past decade. In addition to the information provided below, FAO is currently undertaking a broad-ranging review of policy and practise regarding NGO/CSO participation in intergovernmental meetings/processes throughout the UN, whose results will be available during 2001.

A. WORLD SUMMIT FOR CHILDREN, 1990

65. Ten years after the World Summit for Children, a Special Session of the UN General Assembly is being planned for September 2001 which will review the implementation of the Plan of Action agreed on in 1990. UNICEF is the substantive Secretariat for the Special Session. The UN General Assembly stressed the need for the active involvement of NGOs in the preparatory process.

66. Participation in the Preparatory Committee of the General Assembly Special Session on Children was opened to NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC and other NGOs that have relationships with UNICEF, including those working on newly emerging challenges. Further, the Preparatory Committee encouraged governments to include representatives of civil society in their national and regional preparatory processes.

67. Facilities were provided for NGOs to meet during the Prepcom and to organize side events.

68. In the official sessions of the Preparatory Committee meeting in May/June 2000, NGOs took an active role along with governments and other civil society groups, including interventions on the format for the outcome report of the Special Session.

69. NGOs organized themselves into regional caucuses and two issue caucuses. During the Prepcom, the NGO caucuses met on a regular basis. In addition there were daily briefing sessions on NGOs and a range of side events and informal meetings, including a UNICEF/NGO exhibition, a film showing, and panel discussions.

70. Information on NGO/CSO participation in the World Summit for Children follow-up can be accessed from the main page of the UNICEF web site.

B. UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT (UNCED), 1992

71. The UN Commission on Sustainable Development has the main responsibility for international follow-up to the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), or the Earth Summit.

72. Participation in the CSD and the Intersessional Meetings is open to all NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC and those groups that were accredited to UNCED and who then submitted an application form to the CSD and had it accepted. NGOs are categorized into Major Groups, as defined in the main text of UNCED, Agenda 21. The nine Major Groups are: farmers, voluntary groups, youth, trade unions, industry, scientists, women, indigenous peoples, and local authorities. More than 1000 NGOs are accredited to participate in the CSD. The CSD Secretariat prepares an Information Note annually with Guidelines for Major Group participation.

73. The CSD's deliberations are based on reports that identify the main trends and emerging issues under a given theme. Major Groups can send their written inputs to the Major Groups Focal Point in the CSD Secretariat.

74. At the CSD sessions, accredited NGOs have the right to make brief oral statements, at the discretion of the Chair and with consent of the members. NGOs are encouraged to select a small number of speakers through the NGO working groups on different topic areas, and to balance the speeches among NGOs representing different themes, sectors, regions and gender.

75. The rules of procedure also allow accredited NGOs to circulate written statements. However, these are not issued as official documents, and the NGOs bear the costs of translation, printing and circulation. The CSD Secretariat reserves the right to remove materials deemed not appropriate.

76. Major Groups, governments and UN agencies organize side events outside of the regular meeting times of the CSD throughout the session. The events on topics related to the CSD themes help increase opportunities for sharing information, exchanging views, highlighting lesson learned and showcasing various partnerships and initiatives. The CSD supports such initiatives to the extent possible. The Secretariat handles requests for side events, room and time-slot allocation and requests for equipment. Language interpretation services are not available for side events. Only exhibitions and displays authorized through the CSD Secretariat are allowed. At some CSD sessions, dialogue sessions have been organized with governments, at which NGOs/CSOs have made presentations and engaged in discussion with governments.

77. Since 1998, the CSD Secretariat has organized a Learning Centre at the CSD sessions, jointly with a CSO. The Learning Center showcases education kits, newsletters, books, CD-ROMs and other materials relevant to the topics of the CSD. The CSD Secretariat also publishes Sustainable Development Success Stories, for which NGOS/CSOs may submit stories.

78. NGOs elect their own Steering Committee, with two Co-chairs, one from the North and one from the South. The Steering Committee organizes, in coordination with the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS), orientation sessions for NGOS, morning NGO briefings and evening Government/NGO dialogues; facilitates NGO Working Groups: and acts as the link to the CSD Bureau for dealing with problems concerning speaking rights and accreditation. The Steering Committee also raises funds for its work on behalf of NGO participation. NGOs organize themselves into caucus groups and determine how to work together to make their participation as effective as possible, including how to ensure regional representation.

79. A Special Session of the UN General Assembly (Earth Summit II) conducted the five-year review of UNCED in 1997. This was accompanied by NGO/CSO participation of thousands of Major Group representatives in a whole series of NGO/CSO-organized side events.

80. Information on NGO/CSO participation in UNCED follow-up can be accessed from the UN web site on Economic and Social Development.

C. WORLD CONFERENCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS, 1993

81. The follow-up mechanisms to the World Conference on Human Rights, which adopted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA), include, among others, an annual review by the Commission on Human Rights on progress made to implement the VDPA, and a five-year review of the implementation of the VDPA. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) has the principal responsibility for coordinating the implementation of the VDPA.

82. Participation in the session of the Commission on Human Rights is open to NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC. They are invited to send requests for accreditation for each session to the CHR Secretariat.

83. NGOs are permitted to circulate written statements that are submitted to the Secretariat within established rules and deadlines. Representatives wishing to take the floor on one of the items dealt with by the CHR are invited to register at the "Speaker's List" Desk in the conference room and submit 20 copies of each statement well in advance to enable the Secretariat to transmit the texts to the interpreters. NGOs may request rooms to hold parallel meetings during the session. They are required to submit lists of non-accredited guests to the Secretariat. The CHR has also held special sessions during their regular meetings for "interactive dialogue" among governments, intergovernmental agencies and CSOs on key issues. The Secretariat holds briefing sessions for governments and NGOs before the sessions. Documentation for the CHR session is available for consultation on the UNHCHR web site.

84. The UNHCHR has also invited CSOs to submit information to its Special Rapporteurs and thematic working groups on violations of human rights. Instructions for filing complaints or submitting information on the violation of human rights are posted on the UNHCHR web site.

85. Information on NGO/CSO participation in the VDPA follow-up can be accessed from the UNHCHR web site.

D. INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON POPULATION AND
DEVELOPMENT (ICPD), 1994

86. Civil society organizations were invited to participate in the five-year review processes in follow-up to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD + 5). This included a Special Session of the UN General Assembly, thematic round table and technical meetings, regional reviews, and an international forum (The Hague Forum), organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

87. Participation in the Preparatory Committee was open to NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC and NGOs accredited to the ICPD, while other interested NGOs were invited to request accreditation, giving information on the organization's competence and relevance to the subject of the Special Session.

88. UNFPA encouraged NGO participation in country delegations invited to The Hague Forum and the Special Session. An NGO Forum on ICPD implementation was held prior to The Hague Forum. In addition, UNFPA invited CSO representatives as expert participants to UNFPA round tables and technical meetings. NGOs were invited to suggest resource material to be considered as part of the background documentation for the round tables and technical meetings. Information was provided to NGOs on the preparatory process through UNFPA field offices, the Internet and an ICPD + 5 news bulletin. A special UNFPA ICPD + 5 web site provided daily coverage of the round table proceedings and the Hague Forum. Arrangements for NGO side events for the Special Session and The Hague were handled by NGO Coordinators.

89. UNFPA provided financial support to CSO projects designed to build awareness and monitor implementation of the six priority areas of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action in several countries.

90. Information on NGO/CSO participation in the ICPD follow-up can be accessed from the UNFPA web site.

E. WORLD SUMMIT ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, 1995

91. The United Nations Commission for Social Development has been entrusted with primary responsibility for following-up and reviewing the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development (Social Summit).

92. A five-year review and appraisal of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development was held in a Special Session of the UN General Assembly in Geneva in June 2000. In parallel to this intergovernmental event, the Swiss Government organized the Geneva 2000 Forum to provide a platform for representatives of NGOs and other civil society organizations as well as governments and intergovernmental organizations to exchange and share experiences through a series of special events. These included panel discussions, exhibitions, workshops and multi-media events.

93. NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC were allowed to make statements in the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the Special Session. A limited number were also allowed to make statements in the debate of the Plenary of the Special Session.

94. Information on NGO/CSO participation in the Social Summit follow-up can be accessed from the UN web site on Economic and Social Development.

F. FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN, 1995

95. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has the primary responsibility for coordinating follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the Platform for Action. The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) is responsible for servicing the CSW.

96. Participation in the CSW sessions and the Special Session of the UN General Assembly five-year review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing + 5) is open to NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC and NGOs which were accredited to the Fourth World Conference on Women.

97. NGOs accredited to the Special Session in June 2000 were allowed to make statements in its Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole. In addition, a limited number of NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC were allowed to make statements in the plenary. NGOs were requested to select spokespersons among themselves and provide a list thereof to the President of the General Assembly through its Secretariat. The President of the Assembly was requested to present the list of selected NGOs to the Member States for approval and to ensure that the selection was made on an equal and transparent basis, taking into account geographical representation and the diversity of NGOs.

98. In addition, DAW issued an invitation to CSOs to contribute ideas and suggestions for further actions and initiatives for the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action for consideration at the Special Session.

99. Rooms are made available for NGO briefings, caucuses and workshops during the CSW and Special sessions. NGOs wishing to hold side events must make a request to the Secretariat. An international NGO committee was established to facilitate communications about the Special Session. NGOs have organized themselves into regional and thematic groups and caucuses to facilitate their participation in the sessions and in the side events. A global web site for NGO participation in the follow-up to Beijing was made possible by special grants from UN and private agencies.

100. Information on NGO/CSO participation in follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women can be accessed from the UN web site on Economic and Social Development.

V. CONCLUSIONS AND PROPOSALS

A. ENHANCED INFORMATION EXCHANGE

101. Greater use of the FAO web site offers an excellent means to enhance information exchange amongst and with civil society organizations in all parts of the world. To this end, the CFS web page has been linked to other FAO web pages dealing with aspects of food security. The CFS Secretariat is also exploring other ways to use the FAO web site to foster discussion on food security and the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action amongst NGOs/CSOs. Since many NGOs/CSOs still do not have easy access to the Internet on a regular basis, e-mail circulation of information or printed materials, e.g. a quarterly newsletter, could also be developed for this purpose.

102. Electronic conferences, such as the one conducted by the FAO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, prior to the Regional Conference, could provide a place for NGOs/CSOs to exchange information on their actions to implement the WFS Plan of Action and to discuss their input to the work of the CFS. Similar initiatives in other regions could be encouraged.

103. The ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security is actively promoting NGO/CSO participation, including the posting of information on the ACC Network web site about NGO/CSO participation in Thematic Groups at the country level.

B. ENHANCED POLICY DIALOGUE

104. Participating NGOs/CSOs considered the FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations in parallel with the FAO Regional Conferences this year to be a significant step forward in enhancing information exchange and policy dialogue.

105. In all of the FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations, the participants stressed that:

106. The participants requested FAO to:

C. PARTICIPATION IN CFS MEETINGS

107. In follow-up to the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations, FAO is inviting the five presidents of the Consultations, elected by the participants, to attend the 26th Session of the CFS as members of national or international NGO/CSO delegations. Bringing the five presidents of the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultations will help ensure a wider range and more balanced representation of NGO/CSO views from all regions. Consideration could be given to continuing this practice in future WFS follow-up monitoring sessions of the CFS.

108. A major innovation at the 26th Session of the CFS is the opportunity for NGOs/CSOs to participate in the half-day panel discussion on follow-up to the World Food Summit. A representative of the five regional consultation presidents and a representative of the international NGOs/CSOs and networks is each being invited to present a synthesis report on actions taken by NGOs/CSOs to implement the WFS Plan of Action, and lessons learned that might have wider applicability. This initiative is considered to be a significant step forward in facilitating the participation of NGOs/CSOs in the work of the CFS. Consideration should be given to including NGO/CSO presentations in such panels as may be organized in the future.

D. STRENGTHENING LINKAGES WITH NGOS/CSOS
AT ALL LEVELS

109. Respondents to the Rapid Appraisal, conducted by the CFS secretariat, following the Regional Consultations, indicated that NGO/CSO networks could be effective mechanisms for exchanging information; serving as a platform for taking action and advocating common issues; and promoting common or joint activities. They also indicated that networks could carry their ideas and viewpoints to the CFS.

110. National networks can serve as a means for NGOs/CSOs to give their input to national governments regarding follow-up to the World Food Summit. The existence of national networks also facilitates the task of the FAO Representatives as focal point for CFS information and communications with national NGOs/CSOs.

111. The participants in the Regional FAO-NGO/CSO Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean decided to create a regional network for the purpose of contributing to the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action; and sharing and disseminating experiences through information and communication platforms. The FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean is currently organizing to assist this new network. The formation of similar networks could be encouraged in other regions.

112. Relationships could be strengthened by more regular communication between global and regional networks and the CFS Secretariat, using all means of communication, including the Internet and printed media such as a quarterly newsletter.

113. Since there is a trend towards the creation of NGO/CSO networks at the national, regional and global levels, it would be helpful to create a data base of information on the composition of these networks, their focal points and activities.

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1  Extra-budgetary support to help cover the costs of these Consultations has been received from the Governments of Canada, Italy and The Netherlands and from the agricultural cooperatives of Japan (JaZenchu).