CIVICUS At UNGA77: Key Highlights & Takeaways

A message from Lysa John, Secretary-General of CIVICUS 

Dear CIVICUS members and allies, 

For the first time in three years, this September, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session and associated meetings were organised in person. Together with a broad array of civil society actors, CIVICUS staff participated in several side-events and meetings on a range of issues aimed at assessing progress on UN related commitments and bridging the gap between decision-makers and those affected by the outcomes of intergovernmental policy-making. 

We participated in the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data Board meeting and the Data Values Campaign launch which focused on the importance of strengthening data systems for better decision-making, especially in the Global South. The #UnstoppableAfrica summit, hosted by Global Africa Business Initiative, offered us the opportunity to speak on the role of the continent’s leadership in the framing of the #SDGs and the importance of investing in civil society. The UN SDG Action Zone hosted a diverse panel of civil society actors and provided a space to discuss ways to safeguard against threats and protect civil society. 

UNGA77 served as an ideal platform for funders and civil society representatives to engage in much-needed discussions around civil society resourcing and the barriers grassroots activists face in efforts to secure sustainable funding. We participated in two high-level conversations hosted by the International Peace Institute and the UN Foundation aimed at bettering the processes of resourcing for civil society and youth activists. 

The importance of civil society participation and open civic space was one of the key messages at the 2022 Global People’s Forum and at an event to mark 30 years of the UN Declaration on Minority Rights. Following concerns raised at the Civil Society Pillar meeting of the Community of Democracies about civil society’s lack of access to the UN premises during the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly, the Secretary General of the Community of Democracies issued a positively worded statement calling on the UN to reverse the suspension of annual and temporary NGO passes enter the UN headquarters.  

The World Benchmarking Alliance’s (WBA) Alliance Action Forum highlighted how civil society mobilisations and solidarity have helped ensure corporate accountability.  While WBA’s High-Level session event which was held on 22 September focused on the role of corporate accountability in an effective global governance system. 

As civic space conditions continue to deteriorate throughout the world, human rights defenders continue to face severe consequences for speaking truth to power. During UNGA77 it was critical for CIVICUS to participate in spaces and activities that allowed us to spotlight the need to defend civic freedoms and call for the release of all imprisoned human rights defenders. The Global Citizen Festival and the drafting of the 2022 Global People’s Assembly Declaration which was released during an engaging press conference with various civil society actors, provided good opportunities to raise these issues. We also engaged Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund governments and civil society partners in overcoming the challenges faced by CSOs operating in closed political spaces and countering authoritarianism and supporting civil society defending environmental and Indigenous peoples’ rights. 

Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to all those who attended CIVICUS’ Meet & Greet at our New York office on 19 September. There is truly nothing more powerful than civil society activists, funders and allies working together with the common goal of creating a better world for all.  

In solidarity, 

Lysa John 

Secretary-General, CIVICUS 




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