Recent innovations in UN system relations with NGOs
- All major entities of the UN system have engaged in fundamental reviews
of their relations with CSOs, resulting in policy statements, institutional
reforms and more focused cooperation. Guidelines for working with NGOs are
being developed, procedures for granting formal relations are being revised
and NGO liaison offices are being strengthened and integrated more closely
with their organizations' substantive programmes.
- Most UN agencies and programmes now hold periodic consultations with
CSOs. Many, including the World Bank, IFAD and WFP, have created standing
NGO advisory committees to facilitate dialogue.
- New forms of governance are emerging that involve the formal participation
of NGOs, such as in the governing body of UNAIDS or the Inter-Agency Standing
Committee on Humanitarian Affairs.
- Innovative and often informal arrangements for UN interaction
with civil society actors at the international level are being developed
in forms such as panels and briefing sessions. UNIDO and UNCTAD have experimented
successfully with workshops bringing together NGOs and the private sector
around issues of common concern.
- Proposed NGO amendments have been given official recognition alongside
government texts in the preparatory meetings of Habitat II, the Code of Conduct
for Responsible Fisheries and the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests.
- The UN has established a focal point for NGOs and civil society
in the Office of the Secretary-General and re-established Interdepartmental
Working Groups on NGOs in New York and Geneva.
- Operational cooperation with NGOs has increased significantly (in
the case of the World Bank from 6 percent of projects approved in 1988 to
more than 50 percent in 1996). Programmatic and institutional mechanisms are
being developed such as the UNHCR's Partners-in-Action process and the memorandums
of understanding that WFP signs with major NGO partners. UNDP is finalizing
procedures for project execution by NGOs. Financing or cofinancing
of joint development and other activities between the UN system and
CSOs is increasing, with emphasis on programmes of capacity building for civil
- Cooperation with local NGOs is being developed by the UN system's
decentralized offices, particularly UNDP and the World Bank, more than half
of whose Resident Missions now have designated staff responsible for NGO partnership.
Encouraging CSOs' participation in national policy dialogue is seen as an
important role for the UN system.
- UN bodies have reviewed their information disclosure policies and
are increasing their capacity to deliver appropriate information through the
use of new communication technologies and national channels.