Global Policy Forum

NGOs and the General Assembly

NGOs have worked with the UN General Assembly (GA) since the earliest days of the United Nations. They have attended meetings of GA committees and other subsidiary bodies, as well as meetings of the GA itself. Some NGO leaders have even addressed the GA (meeting as a committee of the whole). In 1996, after the conclusion of negotiations for broader NGO rights within ECOSOC, NGOs hoped that they would at last gain some kind of consultative status with the General Assembly. But though there have been many discussions and negotiations, progress has been very slow. This page provides links to various documents on the subject.


Key Documents | NGOs & the GA | The GA Resolution | Support Letters | Background | US Proposals at ECOSOC | The Kamal Sub-Group | Statement and Reports of Meetings | Reform Initiatives


Key Documents

Response to Advisors' Report to the President of the 60th General Assembly on the Relationship between Member States and NGOs (September 1, 2006)

In this statement, a group of NGOs, including Global Policy Forum, responds to the recommendations of Ambassadors Johan Lovald of Norway and Rezlan Jenie of Indonesia for boosting NGO participation at the General Assembly (GA). The text reflects on past NGO contributions to the work of the UN, reiterates calls for regular status with the GA and also conveys reservations about the use of the Cardoso report as a "basis for policy." The NGOs request a formal and open process, instead of just hearings, to foster sustained dialogue between Member States and NGOs.

Report to the President of the 60th General Assembly on the Relationship between Member States and NGOs (July 5, 2006)

In a report to General Assembly President Jan Eliasson, Ambassadors Johan Lovald of Norway and Rezlan Jenie of Indonesia advise on how to enhance NGO participation with the General Assembly. After consultation with Member States and NGOs, the report recommends some possible avenues, but comes short of specific implementation plans and skirts important issues such as the establishment of a mechanism for regular consultations between NGOs and Member States.

Letter from President of General Assembly to Member States on UN-NGO relations (May 18, 2006)

In this letter distributed to Member States, President of the 60th General Assembly Jan Eliasson announces his intention to explore ways to enhance NGO participation at the UN, and the General Assembly in particular. Eliasson has appointed Ambassadors Johan Lovald of Norway and Rezlan Jenie of Indonesia as his personal advisers.

Paper on NGO Participation at the United Nations (March 28, 2006)

A group of NGOs, including Global Policy Forum, has submitted a letter to the General Assembly President calling for improved NGO access and participation at the UN. The General Assembly should formalize consultative arrangements with NGOs, which at present are primarily informal and ad hoc. "A formal role for NGOs should be arranged on a more permanent basis, in particular for the standing committees."

Brazilian Draft Resolution on UN-Civil Society Relations (February 16, 2005)

In this draft resolution on UN-civil society relations following up on the Cardoso report, the Brazilian delegation invites NGOs to participate in General Assembly (GA) main committee meetings and offers informal, interactive hearings before major events, but stops short of calling for NGO participation in the GA's annual plenary meeting. The resolution also welcomes the trust fund for NGOs particularly of developing countries, and decides to establish a working group to analyze a single NGO accreditation system at the UN.

Letter to the Secretary General on Civil Society Participation in the GA Summit (November 12, 2004)

The UN's Millennium Declaration called for "strong partnerships" with "civil society organizations," and an additional statement on the 2005 General Assembly plenary meeting stated that preparations for the meeting would be "open, inclusive and transparent." This letter's signatories, who include Global Policy Forum Europe Director Jens Martens, say other measures in the report actually restrict NGO participation. The letter argues that NGO engagement would promote action on the Millennium Development Goals and includes several already-tested suggestions for involvement in the summit.

Proposed General Assembly NGO Resolution on NGO participation in the UN General Assembly (May, 2000)


NGOs and the General Assembly


NGOs Hope First Date Wasn't Just a One-Night Stand (June 24, 2005)

Following unprecedented UN General Assembly civil society hearings, NGOs express the need for more regular interaction with the United Nations. Many organizations are disappointed about their current degree of participation in UN decision-making, and stress that they would play an essential role in addressing the "lack of connectivity between documents and action on the ground." (Inter Press Service)

UN Hosts Historic Session with Civil Society (June 22, 2005)

The UN General Assembly hosts landmark hearings with civil society organizations to discuss the themes in Secretary General Kofi Annan's report "In Larger Freedom." While the sessions are a great achievement for NGOs, many doubt the impact they will have on the September summit outcome document, and some organizations question the UN's selection criteria of participants. (Inter Press Service)

UN Should Forge Stronger Ties with Civil Society, Deputy Secretary-General Says (October 4, 2004)

In a General Assembly debate on the Cardoso Panel report, Deputy Secretary General Louise Fréchette reiterated the Secretary General's call for incorporation of NGO contributions into the General Assembly's regular business. She also supported increased NGO access to documents and information. Better NGO-UN relations, said Fréchette, could "help improve the services we provide to the world's people." (UN News)

Working Group on UN Conference Follow-Up Fails to Include NGOs (December 17, 2002)

The General Assembly adopted a draft resolution that established a working group to follow-up on UN conferences in the economic and social fields. The final resolution does not include any provisions for NGOs, but NGOs still hope that the President and Chairs will allow them monitoring rights. (International NGO Task Group on Legal and Institutional Matters)

UN Civil Society Outreach Symposium (June 1, 2001)

This paper emphasizes the need to allow greater NGO participation in UN policy development. It addresses issues such as extending NGO consultative status to the General Assembly and increasing the ability of Southern NGOs operating at a grass-roots level to be heard at the UN. (Stanley Foundation)

The GA Resolution

CONGO's Version of a GA NGO Resolution

Support the NGO GA Resolution!

The World Federalist Movement is chair of the International NGO Task Group on Legal and Institutional Matters (INTGLIM) leading the campaign for NGO consultative status in the GA. Click here for more information supporting the GA NGO Resolution.

Partial List of NGO Supporters of the GA NGO Resolution


Support Letters From NGOs

Open letters to Member States of the UN supporting the proposed General Assembly NGO Resolution to advance the crucial relationship between the UN and civil society

Letter From Amnesty International (March 23, 2001)

Letter From the Basel Action Network (February 1, 2001)

Letter from the Institute for Agriculture and Trace Policy (November 21, 2000)

Letter from Greenpeace (August 31, 2000)


UN Legislative History of the GA Resolution on NGOs

GA President Calls For New Relationship Between UN and Civil Society (November 6, 2000)

The GA President declared that one of his priorities is to enhance the participation of Civil Society in the UN. Will this declaration actually lead to concrete improvements? (UN Press Release)

William R. Pace, Chair of INTGLIM, on NGO participation in the General Assembly (May 3, 1999)

Canada-Netherlands Initiative at the General Assembly

Final Text of General Assembly Decision (A/53/L.68)


General Assembly Adopts Canadian Resolution on the Role of NGOs (December 17, 1998)


General Assembly Adopts Decision for SG Study on NGO Access (December 19, 1997)


Canada Draft Decision (December 17, 1997)


Informal Consultations on NGOs Conclude (December 17, 1997)


Report on 15 December Meeting of Governments on NGO Access (December 15, 1997)


Report on 11 December Informal Government Consultations on NGO Access (December 11, 1997)

Report on 9 December Meeting of Governments on NGO Access (December 9, 1997)

Report on 8 December Meeting of Governments on NGO Access (December 8, 1997)

Update on NGO Access (October 27, 1997)

Draft Canadian Text on the Secretary General's Report on NGOs (December 3, 1998)

US Proposals at ECOSOC

INTGLIM Memo Analyzing the US Resolution (July 15, 1997)

Draft US Resolution at ECOSOC on NGO Accreditation (July 1997)


The Kamal Sub-Group

Speaking Notes of Amb. Kamal for Sub-Group Meeting (May 5, 1997)

NGO Statement to the Sub-Group (February 4, 1997)

Speaking Notes of Amb. Kamal for Sub-Group Meeting with NGOs (February 4, 1997)

"Essy Group" Sets up Sub-Group on NGO Consultation,(January 23, 1997)


Statements and Reports of Meetings

Statement of President of the GA (December 17, 1996)

Report on Soundings Meeting (December 11, 1996)

Speaking Notes of Amb. Kamal for "Soundings" with Governments (December 11, 1996)

Report on Soundings Meeting (December 9, 1996)

Statement on NGOs and the General Assembly by the World Federalist Movement Delivered at the Kamal NGO "Sounding" (December 9, 1996)

Speaking Notes of Amb. Kamal for "Soundings" with NGOs (December 9, 1996)

Speaking Notes of Amb. Kamal for "Soundings" with Governments (December 2, 1996)


Reform Initiatives

"NGOs and the UN: an evolving partnership" by the World Federalists of Canada (November 1996)

"NGOs and the Democratization of the UN" by the World Federalist Movement (October 1996)

Enlarging the Contribution of NGOs to the UN's Disarmament Work (October 1996)

NGOs Call for Greater Transparency in Reform Process (January 18, 1996)



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