Honoring the United Nations on its 70th anniversary

UNPANELCongo_21Guest Blogger H.E. Ambassador Sajdik, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations and President of the UN Economic and Social Council, was a recent participant in GFDD’s UN commemoration event held in partnership with CoNGO on May 7, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UN and the role of NGOs in the design of the new Post 2015-Development Agenda.

San Francisco Conference
Negotiations between country representatives at UN Conference in San Francisco (June 1945)

The year 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. In commemorating the achievements of the UN we must also remember the opening words of the Charter – ‘We the peoples of the United Nations …’ – which have been attributed to the presence of non-governmental organizations at the founding conference in San Francisco, as has been the inclusion of Article 71 which enabled the Economic and Social Council (the Council) to engage with NGOs.

Civil society organizations should be proud of their role thus far in ensuring that the promise of the MDGs is met through a wide range of citizen action and engagement.  The last decade has witnessed the emergence and flourishing of a growing number of civil society organizations to become effective advocates and champions for the MDGs. Civil society organizations have become increasingly represented in international, regional and national fora, demonstrating their capacity to engage in policy debates and in holding national governments and international agencies to account.

UN Negotiations San Francisco
Negotiations between country representatives at the UN Conference in San Francisco (June 1945)

As the gateway to the UN for all non-state stakeholders, the Council has provided an enabling environment where all relevant stakeholders can come together for advancing an integrated approach to a unified and universal agenda. Last year 383 NGOs were granted consultative status with the Council. As of April 2015 the total number of NGOs in consultative status is 4167.

“In any economy the Government is the driver, the UN development system and the private sector are the engine, the civil society is the GPS and people are the passengers”. If we are to meet our goals of ending poverty, reducing inequality and protecting the environment, then we will all have to work together to forge new partnerships and alliances. The role of civil society will be even more important for the next 15 years in guiding the work of governments, international institutions and the private sector.

Signing of the Charter
Signature of the UN Charter in San Francisco (June 1945)

Moving towards the post-2015 era, the Council will remain committed to fostering the engagement and dialogue of NGOs through a variety of means, including attendance to official meetings, access to all official information and documents, oral and written contributions to the segments and meetings of the Council, speaking roles in panel discussions, interventions during interactive sessions and general debates, organizing side events, and contribution through e-discussion forums and social media platforms.

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