CIVICUS at the 2019 High Level Political Forum 

Without civil society, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would not be possible. Civil society not only actively contributes to achieving each of the goals, they are also actively monitoring and reviewing governments commitments under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. That’s why every July thousands of civil society representatives from around the world attend the High Level Political Forum in New York. 

When: Tuesday 9 July to Thursday 18 July 2019 
Where: New York 
What: The theme of the 2019 High Level Political Forum is "Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality" 
Six of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals will be under review in 2019. 
They are:  
  • Goal 4: Inclusive and equitable education 
  • Goal 8: Decent work for all 
  • Goal 10: Reduce inequality 
  • Goal 13: Urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
  • Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies
  • Goal 17: Global Partnerships

47 countries will present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) in 2019. CIVICUS members and other civil society will also contribute to review the Sustainable Development Goals by sharing their own findings, and by monitoring and reviewing governments commitments. CIVICUS also continues to actively advocate for increased formal recognition of the vital role of civil society in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, including through compelling civil society reports. 

Read the joint civil society statement endorsed by over 250 organisations from 27 countries calling for governments to make civil society equitable partners in the implementation of the sustainable development goals.


CIVICUS is co-organising the following events during HLPF 2019: 

When: Thursday 11 July, 10 AM to 1 PM EST 
Where: UNHQ Conference room 5 
Co-sponsors: Amnesty International, Action for Sustainable Development, CBM International, CIVICUS, Gallaudet University, International Civil Society Centre, Institute for Development Studies, International Movement ATD Fourth World, Oxford University, Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities 
What: A practical workshop featuring national examples of creating a more inclusive approach to reviewing the Sustainable Development Goals.
A UN pass is required to attend this event. 
When: Friday 12 July, 1:00 to 3:00 PM EST 
Where: Ford Foundation 
Co-sponsors: CIVICUS, Article 19, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD), Oxfam, Action Aid, Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), Government of Finland, UN OHCHR. 
What:Who are the people who are making our world more sustainable, just and inclusive and how can we ensure that they are protected and empowered by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? 
This event will be livestreamed on the CIVICUS Facebook page
Please RSVP here by 11 July: No UN pass necessary.
When: Monday 15 July, 1:15 to 2:30 PM EST 
Where: Conference Room B, UNHQ 
Co-sponsors: World Resources Institute, UN ECLAC, Government of Costa Rica, The Access Initiative, Namati, DAR, CIVICUS 
What? Escazu Agreement Side Event 
This event will be livestreamed on the CIVICUS Facebook page
A UN pass is required to attend this event. For more information please contact: Natalia Gomez Pena


CIVICUS also supports civil society participation in the Sustainable Development Goals through our membership of the global network, Action for Sustainable Development. Overview of these additional events:

When: Thursday11 July, 1:15 to 2:45 PM EST 
Where: UN Conference Room 1 --- requires UN ground pass
Co-sponsors: Action for Sustainable Development, TAP Network, Forus 
A UN pass is required to attend this event. 
When: Saturday 13 July, 9:00 to 3:00 PM EST 
Where: UN Church Center
Co-sponsors: Action for Sustainable Development
When: Wednesday 17 July, 2:00 to 4:00 PM EST 
Where: Ford Foundation
Co-sponsors: Action for Sustainable Development, Forus, TAP Network, the Asia CSO Partnership for Sustainable Development and others


You can follow the developments at the HLPF by following #SDGs #HLPF #HLPF2019 and @Action4SD on Twitter. 


CIVICUS members and civil society contribute to all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals but we carefully follow Goals 16 and 17 in particular because these specifically relate to civil society’s important role in sustainable development. 

The below infographic provides a helpful snapshot of how the 47 countries under review at this year’s High Level Political Forum are doing on SDG 16.10 according to data from the CIVICUS Monitor. 

CIVICUS is also closely monitoring: 

SDG Target 16.7. Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels 

SDG Target 16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms 

SDG Target 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships 

CIVICUS is also a signatory to the May 2019 Rome Civil Society Declaration on SDG16+


Why civic action and participation is vital for achieving the sustainable development goals, by Lysa John. 

Report: The linkages between the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.  

How Civil Society’s Contributions to Sustainable Development are Undermined at the HLPF, by Lyndal Rowlands 


UN to turn 75 in 2020: Commemoration events must include civil society

The year 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This anniversary provides a much-needed opportunity to reflect on the direction of the UN and ensure it is built to address the global challenges of the 21st Century.

Current plans for the commemoration of the anniversary do not properly include the participation of civil society. Concerns about the transparency and inclusiveness of the UN meetings and events to mark the anniversary (starting June 2020) have been expressed to the UN missions of Singapore and Iceland, who are responsible for facilitating this programme of meetings. See below for joint letter to the Permanent Representatives of Singapore and Iceland, which your organisation can also sign, by emailing with the name of your organisation the end of May.

Learn more about the the opportunities to strengthen the UN by visiting UN2020.

Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations

Dear Excellencies,


We write to you in your capacity as co-facilitators on preparations for the UN’s 75 anniversary to express our deep concern that nascent plans for the commemorative plenary are not suitably inclusive of civil society.

The anniversary presents a vital opportunity to consider how the Organization must adapt to cope with the global threats facing humanity. As the President of the General Assembly said recently: “it is a chance to make the UN more effective, more transparent, more accountable and more relevant to ‘we the peoples.’”[1]

We are, therefore, concerned that the zero draft resolution for the commemoration might not envision a meaningful enough role for civil society. It appears that civil society is not part of the intergovernmental preparatory work, from consultations on outcomes that may be adopted – and even from the commemorative event itself. This would represent a missed opportunity to ensure the inclusion of a diversity of voices in the plenary outcomes, especially those of the most marginalized, through civil society participation.

Global civil society has been a committed and determined ally of the UN since its inception in 1945 – when delegations worked together with NGO representatives on the text of the Charter. Today, that partnership is even more important – as civil society supports delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, and plays a key role in policy formulation, innovation and communication of progress to the broader public.

Encouraged by your stated “deep commitment to an open, transparent and inclusive process”[2] – that reinforces the President of the General Assembly’s emphasis on “making the UN relevant to all people” – we call on you to champion the voices of “we the peoples”, and to ensure that meaningful participation from civil society is included at every step of the way towards the 75th anniversary of the UN.

In this vein, we ask that you consider engaging civil society in the process you are leading, for example, through an informal hearing with civil society, by inviting civil society representatives to present at the next suitable meeting, or by organizing a civil society briefing.

We thank you for your efforts to date, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that the 75th anniversary is a meaningful event with lasting impact.

Yours sincerely,

Association of World Citizens

Afrihealth Optonet Association, Nigeria

All Win Network Foundation

Association 3 Hérissons

Association for Farmers Rights Defense (AFRD)

Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India

Association pour l'Integration et le Developpement Durable (AIDB), Burundi

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly

Centre for Human Rights - Nis

Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research

Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development (CSEND)

Child Rights Information Network

Citizens for Global Solutions

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Commons Cluster of the UN NGO Major Group

Council of Organizations of the UNA-USA

Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), India

Democracy Matters

Democracy Without Borders

Development Goals Global Watch (DGGW) Inc.

Dr Uzo Adirieje Foundation' (DUZAFOUND), Nigeria

Echoes of Women in Africa Initiative (ECOWA) Nigeria

Elizka Relief Foundation

Elmoustkbal for Media, Policy and Strategic Studies, Egypt.

EPE (Ethical-Possibility-Enhancement) Movement

Equality Bahamas

Federation of Environmental and Ecological Diversity for Agricultural Revampment and Human Rights

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York Office

Global Voice

Green Hope Foundation

Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi Public Trust (ITA) / Centre for Education and Consciousness

International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)

Igarapé Institute

Institute for Planetary Synthesis

Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Loreto Generalate

International Alliance of Women (IAW)

International Network for Corporate Social Responsibility

International Presentation Association

Justice for All/BurmaTask Force

Kenana Association for Sustainable Development and Women Empowerment, Egypt

Kikandwa Environmental Association (KEA), Uganda

KULU - Women and Development, Denmark

Lanka Fundamental Rights Organization, Sri Lanka

Mahila Dakshata Samiti, India

National Campaign For Sustainable Development, Nepal

National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Liberia (NSACCSOL)

National Society of Conservationists - Friends of the Earth, Hungary

Network of Rural Women Producers Trinidad and Tobago (NRWPTT)

Nigeria Network of NGOs

Noble Delta Women for Peace and Development

Nonviolence International

One World Trust

Radanar Ayar Association, Myanmar

Radha Paudel Foundation, Nepal

Reaccion Climática- Bolivia

RIPESS Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy

Rural Area Development Programme (RADP), Nepal

Servicios Ecuménicos para Reconciliación y Reconstrucción

Shirley Ann Sullivan Educational Foundation

Shishu Aangina

Sisters of Charity Federation

Society for Conservation & Sustainability of Energy & Environment in Nigeria (SOCSEEN)

Society for International Development (SID)

Soroptimist International

Soroptimist International Great Britain & Ireland (SIGBI)

Tamkeen Association for Rights of People with Disabilities, Egypt

The Stimson Center (Just Security 2020 Program)

Theatre of Transformation Academy

Together First

Transdiaspora Network

U-Solve School of Empathic Leadership & Entrepreneurship (SELE)

UN2020 Initiative

United Nations Association – Suriname

United Nations Association – UK

Women Environmental Programme (WEP)

Women for Water Partnership

Workable World Trust

World Citizens Association of Australia

World Democratic Governance project Association - WDGpa

World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy

  1. President of the General Assembly statement, 8 April 2019
  2. Co-facilitators joint letter, 29 April 2019


CIVICUS at the UN Commission on the Status of Women


Together with our members, CIVICUS is participating in the Commission on the Status of Women (11-22 March, UN Headquarters, New York). This is the 63rd session of the global intergovernmental body, which is dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. There are a number of events and advocacy activities taking place during the two week UN meeting. See our programme and learn more about how governments, UN agencies and civil society work together at this annual meeting to advance gender equality,  via our CSW portal


The UN’s NGO Committee Defers Rights Groups

  • More than half of NGOs had their applications for NGO status deferred, even though no specific objections were made to their applications
  • Organisations working on human rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and migration are repeatedly obstructed
  • India, Nigeria and Sudan routinely block applications from NGOs working in their respective countries
  • The longest waiting organisation, the International Dalit Solidarity Network, has had its application delayed since 2007.


UN Panel Discussion, Freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


Freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

When: 13:15-14:30, Wednesday 17 October 2018

Where: UNHQ, Conference Room E, New York

Co-sponsors: Civic Space Initiative, CESR, ISHR, Oxfam, Solidarity Center

Keynote: Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, delivering opening remarks
Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
Kate Donald, Director, Human Rights in Sustainable Development Program, Center for Economic and Social Rights
Shayana Kadidal, Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights

Moderator: Lyndal Rowlands, CIVICUS

Panellists will discuss the connections between sustainable development and the the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association drawing on examples from movements related to different aspects of sustainable development from the environment to worker’s rights. The discussion will take place on the occasion of UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Clément Nyaletsossi Voule presenting his report (A/73/279) ‘The linkages between the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ to the UN General Assembly, on Tuesday 16 October.

Please register here.

*Non-UN pass holders must register by noon on Monday 15 October to attend this event*

For more information please contact: Lyndal Rowlands, CIVICUS, 

Clément Nyaletsossi Voule - @cvoule

Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, a national from Togo, has been appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association in March 2018. Prior to his appointment, he led the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) work to support human rights defenders from States in transition and coordinated the organization’s work in Africa as the Advocacy Director.

Andrew Gilmour - @gilmourUN

Andrew Gilmour of the United Kingdom assumed his functions as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on 1 October 2016, heading OHCHR’s Office in New York. In October 2016, Mr. Gilmour was designated by the Secretary-General as senior official to lead the efforts within the UN system to address intimidation and reprisals against those cooperating with the UN on human rights.

Kate Donald - @Mskaydee

Kate Donald joined Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) in 2014. She is currently the director of the Human Rights in Development program at the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and former Adviser to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

Shayana Kadidal - @ShayanaKadidal

Shayana Kadidal is Senior Managing Attorney of the Guantanamo litigation project at the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is counsel in Energy Transfer Equity, et al, v. Greenpeace, a lawsuit brought by the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline against a number of environmental groups aiming to recast their support of grassroots activism against the pipeline's construction as criminal conspiracy and terrorism.

Lyndal Rowlands - @lyndalrowlands

Lyndal works in UN advocacy for CIVICUS the global alliance for citizen participation. She is an award-winning journalist and former UN correspondent and has written or conducted research for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Al Jazeera, the Diplomat, The Saturday Paper and IPS, where she was UN Bureau Chief.


Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the UN, addresses the Security Council. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

United Kingdom responds to CIVICUS members’ Security Council questions

French | Spanish

As part of its consultations with civil society during its Presidency of the Security Council for the month of August, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations responded to questions submitted by CIVICUS members on the security situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Gaza and Myanmar.

Civil society play an important role in the Security Council’s agenda and CIVICUS thanks the United Kingdom and all members of the Security Council for their ongoing commitment to involving civil society in the council’s workings.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Seven questions were submitted from civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo reflecting a high level of concern about the security situation there in the lead up to elections in December. Members asked if the Council is monitoring the current situation as well as how the Council plans to prevent deaths during the upcoming elections.

The Security Council is monitoring the situation in DRC closely.  In resolution 2409 we asked the Secretary General to provide us with 30 day reports.  The Council also discusses the DRC frequently. The Security Council continues to underline the importance of peaceful, credible, inclusive and timely elections on 23 December 2018, in line with the electoral calendar, leading to a peaceful transfer of power, in accordance with the Congolese Constitution.  The Security Council also continues to stress the importance of protecting civilians, including through the mandate for MONUSCO which includes the protection of civilians as a strategic priority. During the UK Presidency, there was a Security Council briefing on the DRC, focusing on the upcoming elections. The Ambassador’s statement can be found here.


A question on Eritrean-Ethiopian relations noted that the relationship has begun to normalise and improve rapidly. While there is no doubt that international and regional efforts have played a role in this improvement it is remarkable that there has been a push for an improvement of human rights and the democratic situation on the Ethiopian side but that the same has not been extended to Eritrea. Does the Security Council now plan to push to improve the human rights situation in Eritrea?

The Security Council issued a statement on the Signing of Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship between Eritrea and Ethiopia on 9 July 2018.


Palestinian Consultative Staff for Developing NGOs, from the West Bank asked about why the Council is reducing UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) services, especially to children, women and elderly people. They also asked if the Security Council would consider visiting Gaza.

UNRWA was established and is mandated by the UN General Assembly.  The possibility of service suspension due to UNRWA’s current financial shortfall is a matter of grave concern to members of the Security Council; as was expressed during the 22 August Council consultations on the situation in the Middle East.

The UK remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. In the face of growing financial pressures, the UK has provided approximately $60 million USD in 2018. We continue to urge others to provide additional funding and regular disbursements to ensure that UNRWA can continue its essential work.

The Security Council is following closely and with concern the situation in Gaza, including through regular briefings such as that provided to the Council on 22 August by Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo.


Maisaa Alamoodi a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia asked if the Council would consider imposing sanctions on the Government of Myanmar if it continues to abuse the rights of the Rohingya and prevent their safe return home.

The UK’s overriding long term aim is the safe, voluntary and dignified return to Rakhine, under international monitoring, of as many as possible of the million Rohingya refugees currently in Bangladesh. We currently do not deem the conditions are right for the refugees to return. We will support Burma to do this, but it needs to make tangible improvements on the ground. Most immediately, Burma should allow the UN unfettered access to northern Rakhine.  

The UK has welcomed Burma’s announcement of a Commission of Inquiry into the violence in Rakhine. It is now essential that the Burmese government now sets out how the investigation will be credible, transparent and impartial. We are still awaiting the ICC's decision if it has jurisdiction over Rohingya deportations to Bangladesh (a Rome Statute signatory).

Other questions received from CIVICUS members this month covered civic freedoms in Colombia, the withdrawal of UNAMID troops from Darfur, food insecurity in the Sahel, the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, the deterioration of civic space in Uganda, Sudanese leader, Omar Al Bashir’s case in the International Criminal Court and the global threat of cyber crime.

These question/response are the outcomes of a Monthly Call to CIVICUS members to submit their question to the President of the UN Security Council. This is an opportunity for members to connect with an important international forum where decisions are made. CIVICUS staff pose the questions on CIVICUS members’ behalf during the President’s brief each month. Stay in touch and be part of this action by joining CIVICUS as a member.

For more information please contact Lyndal Rowlands, 


Your Questions Answered at UN Security Council

CIVICUS member questions, addressed to the President of the UN Security Council
Español | Français

We were very pleased with the warm response to our first open call for CIVICUS members to submit questions to be posed to the President of the UN Security Council. In total we received questions from 24 members about the council’s work in places including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel, Malawi, Nigeria, Palestine and Syria, as well as the situation for refugees in Europe.

CIVICUS NY posed questions on behalf of 3 members related to the situation in Burundi and the situation in Gaza. You can watch the video of the briefing here (English). The questions from CIVICUS members and responses from Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations are included below. We also wish to thank the World Federation of United Nations Association for organising this monthly briefing.

Question 1 - On behalf of Lebanese youth activist Nouhad Awwad Founder of Nature’s Advocate and an Ambassador at Arab Youth Sustainable Development Network @Awwad_Nouhad
(Read by Lyndal Rowlands, CIVICUS NY Office)

How does the UN security council plan to protect the civilians in Palestine and especially Gaza against attacks from the Israeli army? The last month was particularly devastating. Additionally, how does the council plan to support the Human Rights Council investigation into deadly shootings of Gaza protestors by Israeli forces.


On Gaza, well we share the concern on the situation in Gaza of course and I’m sure that you have heard our speaking up  against the violence there and the use of force against innocent civilians. Again we will continue to do that. Again we will also try to work with the special envoy Mr Mladenov who has presented a few thoughts on how we can de-escalate the situation there. We want the Security Council to support there and i think that there are also things that can be done in terms of the humanitarian relief of the situation  in Gaza, pending a peace negotiation that has to include an improvement of the situation for the people in Gaza. We have also committed very strongly for supporting UNRWA in their support to Palestinian refugees not just in Gaza but elsewhere. We are disappointed with countries that are moving away from that commitment so it’s important that others come in and that those who have committed stay committed.

Question 2 - On behalf of two Burundian human rights defenders
(Read by Mandeep Tiwana, CIVICUS NY Office)

Although  Burundi is not on the top of the council’s agenda there is the Security Council resolution 2248 which was adopted in 2015 which requires the government to guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms, however the situation in  Burundi remains grave at the moment and civic space remains completely closed. In fact New laws have been adopted further curtailing civic space, and human rights defenders have been sentenced to up to 32 years in prison. How is the council ensuring that resolution 2248 is upheld? What can the council do now, with the least delay, to ensure that the Burundian government lives up to its commitments.


On Burundi, it is on the Security Council agenda, it’s just that we have not scheduled it this month (current program of work) and that is partly because there is a sequence here that puts it on the agenda in August, so I mean that’s a pretty lame answer to be honest, given the situation as you describe but it’s just that unfortunately the situation in the world is such that we also have to prioritise. I’m not saying that Burundi’s not important I’m just saying that we’re overwhelmed, with situations that are relating to human rights violations and international law, but thank you for reminding us about the human rights situation in Burundi and we’ll see if there is a way that we can raise this somehow.

We plan to continue our advocacy with  the council both through monthly calls for questions from members to pose at these briefings as well as through other opportunities throughout each month!


What's the status of the Sustainable Development Goals? UN & civil society annual meeting

The 2018 High Level Political Forum will be held at UN headquarters in New York from Monday 9 to Wednesday 18 July.

At the annual forum, governments, civil society and business, review progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

UN member states self-report their progress towards the goals by presenting a report known as a Voluntary National Review (VNR). In 2018, 47 countries will present their Voluntary National Reviews, the highest number so far. The goals that will get particular attention from 47 countries* participating in the review, include:

  • Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. This goal is considered each year.

CIVICUS' Activities at the HLPF
CIVICUS is hosting a complete programme of events, together with a number of civil society partners and coalitions:

See the full calendar of civil society events and resources

*Full list of countries under review at this year’s High Level Political Forum:
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Benin, Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Niger, Paraguay, Poland, Qatar, Republic of the Congo, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, State of Palestine, Sudan, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, and Vietnam


UN NGO Committee Consultations

On Friday 22nd June 2018, the UN NGO Committee convened consultations with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in consultative status with the United Nations. The consultations, the first of their kind, were an opportunity for NGOs to respond to questions from the committee on ways to improve NGO engagement with the United Nations. In total, 195 organisations submitted written statements and more than 50 organisations delivered oral statements. A summary of the written statements can be found here. CIVICUS' statement can be found below and our written submission here.

CIVICUS Statement
UN NGO Committee Consultations
Friday 22 June 2018

As a global alliance of civil society organisations with members in more than 175 countries, CIVICUS welcomes the opportunity to participate in this consultation.

We also welcome the committee’s call for inputs and recognition that organisations from the Global South continue to be less represented than organisations from the Global North at the United Nations.

This is also a priority for many of our members, who have indicated that they would most value additional opportunities to engage with the UN at the national and regional level at local ons outside of Geneva and New York. To this end we call on the committee to encourage more major ECOSOC meetings and consultatons to be held at regional centres.

We also note, that for non‐governmental organisations from the Global South, the barriers to fully participate at the UN remain considerably higher.

Organisations from the Global South in particular o en lack the resources to navigate complex accreditation on processes. As noted in the joint NGO statement delivered by our colleague from CONECTAS, we call for the the committee to make the accreditation on process as transparent and efficient as possible, including through publishing clear guidelines and allowing applicants to respond to questions posed to them in a reasonable  me frame.

We also urge the Committee to enable robust participate on of NGOs in various activities of the UN. We share the concerns raised by our NGO colleagues that numerous NGO representatives were unable to obtain visas to a end this year’s Commission on that Status of Women despite receiving formal invitations and support from UN agencies and ECOSOC accredited organisations.

In order for non‐governmental organisations to fully participate in the UN’s work, it is also essen al that the committee considers the importance of enabling environments for non‐governmental organisations, both at the global and national level. It is critical that member States and the UN system take the lead in global efforts to create an enabling environment for civil society and support effective partnerships in line with Agenda 2030 commitments. States elected to the NGO Committee should demonstrate commitment to modeling enabling environments for NGOs domestically.

Notably, an important function of NGOs is to speak ‘truth to power’ and ensure that the voices of the excluded are factored in decision making. In this respect we urge the NGO Committee to remain ever vigilant with regards to reprisals against civil society members for engaging with UN mechanisms. UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has stressed that civil society is a key instrument for the success of today’s UN. We look forward to working with the NGO Committee. 


Open Letter to ECOSOC regarding upcoming elections to the Committee on NGOs

We write to you regarding the upcoming elections to the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs for the 2019-2022 term, which will take place on April 16.

NGOs are an essential partner of the UN, as recognized by article 71 of the UN Charter as well as ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31, which acknowledges “the breadth of non-governmental organizations' expertise” and their capacity “to support the work of the United Nations.” The Committee on NGOs plays a necessary role in facilitating this partnership by considering NGO applications for consultative status with the UN and assessing the contributions of accredited NGOs to ECOSOC. The Committee makes recommendations about which NGOs will enjoy access and participation rights and which will not. Given the importance of the tasks of the Committee, it is essential that members uphold the highest standards in regard to fulfilling the Committee’s mandate in a fair, apolitical manner.

The practice of the Committee has been the object of much criticism for failing to treat applicant and accredited NGOs objectively. Some members of the Committee use membership as a means to keep some NGOs – particularly human rights NGOs – out of the UN. Recent, positive developments – the webcasting of all open sessions of the Committee and the invitation to accredited NGOs to meet with the Committee – have all come about due to ECOSOC interventions, not as a result of initiatives taken by the Committee itself.

Membership of the Committee on NGOs matters. The upcoming elections to the NGO Committee in April, for the 2019-2022 term provide States with a commitment to ensuring civil society access and participation with the opportunity to put themselves forward as candidates. ECOSOC members will also be able to show they are committed to fair practice for civil society through who they elect.

In addition, membership of the Committee on NGOs is currently not subject to term limits. The organizations joining this letter believe the introduction of term limits would allow for greater diversity within the Committee over time. States should be required to leave the Committee for a specific period after serving the maximum agreed terms.

We urge all ECOSOC Member States to commit to electing to the Committee on NGOs States that have a positive record in regard to ensuring a safe and enabling environment for civil society to operate in and addressing cases of intimidation and reprisals swiftly and effectively, as encouraged in Human Rights
Council consensus resolutions on civil society space.1 Similarly, we urge all candidates for membership on the Committee on NGOs to commit publicly to ensuring a safe, enabling environment for civil society to operate in, including at the United Nations.

The upcoming elections for the Committee on NGOs are an opportunity for States to put into practice a genuine commitment to promoting civil society access and participation at the UN either as candidates or electors. We hope that they will lead to much needed transformation in the membership, as well as the practice, of the Committee on NGOs.

Amnesty International
Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Conectas Direitos Humanos
Freedom Now
Human Rights Watch
Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights 
International Service for Human Rights


Le Royaume-Uni répond aux questions posées par les membres de CIVICUS sur le Conseil de sécurité

Durant les consultations du mois d’août de la présidence du Conseil de sécurité avec la société civile, la Mission permanente du Royaume-Uni auprès de l’Organisation des Nations Unies a répondu aux questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS concernant les situations sécuritaires en République Démocratique du Congo, Érythrée-Éthiopie, Gaza et Myanmar.

La société civile joue un rôle important dans l’agenda du Conseil de sécurité et CIVICUS remercie le Royaume-Uni et tous les membres du Conseil de sécurité pour leur engagement à impliquer la société civile dans son fonctionnement.

Le Conseil de sécurité suit de près la situation en RDC. Dans le cadre de la résolution 2409, nous avons demandé au Secrétaire général de nous faire transmettre des rapports mensuels. Le conseil tient des discussions fréquentes sur la RDC. Le Conseil de sécurité continue de souligner à quel point il est important que les élections du 23 décembre 2018 soient tenues dans le calme, de façon crédible, inclusive et dans les temps et qu’elles respectent le calendrier électoral, menant à un transfert pacifique du pouvoir, en accord avec la constitution congolaise. Le Conseil de sécurité continue aussi d’accentuer l’importance de la protection des civils, y compris à travers le mandat de la MONUSCO qui fait de la protection des civils une priorité stratégique. Durant la présidence du Royaume-Uni, un briefing s’est tenu au Conseil de sécurité sur les élections à venir en RDC. La déclaration de l’ambassadeur se trouve ici.

Le Conseil de sécurité a publié un communiqué concernant la signature de la déclaration conjointe de paix et d’amitié entre l’Érythrée et l’Éthiopie du 9 Juillet 2018.

L’UNRWA (l'Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient) a été établi et reçoit son mandat de l‘assemblée générale de l’ONU. La possibilité qu’elle doive suspendre ses services à cause de sa mauvaise situation financière préoccupe énormément les membres du Conseil de sécurité, comme cela a été exprimé durant les consultations du conseil du 22 août sur la situation au Moyen-Orient. Le Royaume-Uni reste fortement engagé dans son soutien à l’UNRWA et aux réfugiés palestiniens à travers le Moyen-Orient. Face à des pressions financières de plus en plus fortes, le Royaume-Uni a versé environ 60 millions de dollars en 2018. Nous continuons d’encourager d’autres à verser des financements additionnels et à effectuer des versements réguliers pour assurer que l’UNRWA puisse continuer son travail essentiel.
Le Conseil de sécurité suit avec beaucoup de préoccupation la situation à Gaza, y compris à travers des briefings réguliers, comme par exemple celui du 22 août par la Secrétaire générale adjointe Rosemary DiCarlo.

Sur le long-terme, le Royaume-Uni a pour but ultime le retour sans danger, volontaire et avec dignité du million de réfugiés Rohingyas, actuellement au Bangladesh, vers l’Etat Rakhine sous la surveillance internationale. Nous estimons que les conditions actuelles ne sont pas suffisantes pour que les réfugiés y retournent. Nous soutiendrons la Birmanie pour y arriver, mais une amélioration concrète des conditions sur le terrain est nécessaire. Dans l’immédiat, la Birmanie devrait donner à l’ONU un accès sans restriction à l’Etat du Nord-Rakhine. L’ONU s’est réjouie de la déclaration du gouvernement birman annonçant la mise en place d’une commission d’enquête sur les violences commises dans l’Etat Rakhine. Il est à présent essentiel que le gouvernement birman démontre comment l’enquête sera crédible, transparente et impartiale. Nous sommes toujours en attente d’une décision de la CPI concernant sa compétence à juger des déportations des Rohingyas au Bangladesh (qui est un état signataire du statut de Rome).

D’autres questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS ce mois concernent les libertés civiques en Colombie, le retrait des troupes de l’UNAMID au Darfur, l’insécurité alimentaire au Sahel, la relocalisation de l’Ambassade des États-Unis d’Amérique à Jérusalem, la détérioration de l’espace civique en Ouganda, le cas du dirigeant Soudanais, Omar Al Bashir auprès de la Cour Pénale Internationale et la menace globale du cyber crime.

Ces questions-réponses résultent d’un appel mensuel auprès des membres CIVICUS de soumettre leurs questions au président du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies. Il s’agit d’une opportunité pour nos membres d’être reliés à un forum international important où des décisions sont prises. Les employés de CIVICUS posent les questions au nom de nos membres durant le briefing du président tous les mois. Tenez-vous informé en devenant membre de CIVICUS.


CIVICUS at the Commission on the Status of Women

Next week at the largest annual global women’s rights forum - the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women - CIVICUS will be calling on the governments to prioritse gender equality and to foster women´s rights movements taking the world by storm. We will convene several meetings with partners and activists highlighting the civic space restrictions linked with gender and call for actions through a two week campaign with activists telling governments to protect civic space because women’s rights can only be achieved together with civil society. 

CIVICUS calendar of events at the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (New York)
Date   Time   Event   Where   Sponsors
Tuesday March 14   10:00-12:00   Workshop: Using the CIVICUS Monitor to support women human rights defenders    Event now closed. For more information about the Monitor, contact    CIVICUS
Tuesday March 14   16:30-18:00   Shrinking Space for the Feminist Movement - RSVP   Community Church Center, Assembly Hall, 40 East 35th Street   CIVICUS & other international CSOs
Friday March 17   17:00-20:00   Supporting Feminist Movement Building for Planet 50-50 by 2030 - RSVP   Great Hall of The Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street   UN Women, OHCHR, the City of New York’s Commission on Gender Equity, ICRW, CIVICUS and Cooper Union

Join the conversation on social media. Content being shared at the following hashtags:


Egyptian women's rights defenders risk life in prison


Event at CSW60: The Role of Women Human Rights Defenders and Feminist Organizations in Realizing Goal 16

When: 15 March 2016, 10:30AM-12PM 

Where: Chapel of UN Church Center, New York City

As the Sustainable Development Goals are a priority theme of the 60th Session on the Status of Women(CSW60), 27 Global South and international civil society organizations will co-host a parallel event  to address the role of feminist organizations and women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in realizing Goal 16, which focuses on building peace, justice and strong Institutions.


Response to the Proposal of the Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals

We write to you as members of the Civic Space Initiative, a global program jointly implemented by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the World Movement for Democracy, who are committed to the creation of an enabling environment for civil society.

In April 2013, we made a joint submission on “Enabling Environment for Civil Society” to the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons. The submission highlighted cascading restrictions impeding the work of civil society actors around the globe and emphasized the centrality of civil society organisations (CSOs) to development.

We are deeply concerned that there is no explicit recognition of an “enabling environment for civil society” in the OWG’s proposal on Sustainable Development Goals and urge that the UN Secretary General’s synthesis report highlights this issue.  In addition, we urge that the report reinforces the key role of civil society in development.

Read the full letter


SD2015 Newsletter

This e-newsletter will share with you the latest updates on our SD2015 projects and the most recent information on different post-2015 activities and processes.

For more regular SD2015 updates and insights we encourage you to follow our website:

Issue 7 - January 2015

Issue 6 - October 2014

Issue 5 - Septemer 2014

Issue 4 - August 2014

Issue 3 - July 2014

Issue 2 - July 2014

Issue 1 - June 2014


65th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference on "2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda"

Following the release of the reports of the Open Working Group and the Experts Committee on SD Financing this summer, we invite you to prepare for the 65th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference on "2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda" taking place at UN HQ (NY), 27-29 August 2014. The Conference will provide an opportunity for civil society, international networks and activists to develop an “Action Agenda” to mobilize messaging, advocacy strategies, partnerships and accountability frameworks in the lead up to the start of the intergovernmental negotiations at the beginning of the 69th session of the General Assembly for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, due to culminate at a Summit in September 2015. The Conference will also be an important milestone ahead of the Secretary-General’s September 2014 Climate Summit and UN General Assembly, finalization of the Synthesis Report on the post-2015 development agenda, and the Lima (2014) and Paris (2015) UNFCCC COPs.
As planning for the Conference continues, we invite you to submit your proposals for midday workshops based upon the conference plenary themes which will include poverty eradication, sustainability, climate change and human rights, with partnerships and accountability frameworks as cross-cutting issues. Please find here the conference concept note and the guidelines for submitting workshop proposals.

The deadline to submit is 4 June 2014, at 11 pm (2300) US EST.


Expert Group meeting on Mainstreaming sustainable development in National Development Strategies

DEADLINE for NOMINATIONS 8 September: Expert Group meeting on Mainstreaming Sustainable Development in National Development Strategies

UN DESA is inviting each Major Group to nominate up to 3 people each to participate in the following national capacity building Workshop and Expert Group Meeting on mainstreaming sustainable development in developing countries. The Workshop and EGM will take place at the UN secretariat (NY), 9-11 October 2013.

Major Groups, civil society stakeholders and national and international experts together with a select group of UN Country Team members will be invited to join approximately 30 Government officials from key Ministries, mostly from least developed countries (see list below). The overall goal of the Workshop and EGM are to enhance the capacity of key stakeholders, including Government officials and civil society, to effectively integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development into national development planning and implementation.


Major Groups and Other Stakeholders Briefing Days

Major Groups and Other Stakeholders Briefing Days
20 and 22 September 2013 New York City, USA

The United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs (UNDESA) in partnership with Stakeholder Forum and CIVICUS is organising two briefing days for Major Groups and other stakeholders in preparation for the High Level Segment of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly taking place in New York this September. The purpose of the the briefing days is to take stock of progress on outcomes from Rio+20, with a particular focus on the role of stakeholders in the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), High Level Political Forum (HLPF) and financing for sustainable development. Details are as follows:

Friday 20 September, 14:00 - 18:00 in Conference Room 2 (CB), UN Headquarters, New York
This event will assess the progress around the implementation of outcomes from Rio+20 and entry points into associated follow-up processes. In particular participants will be briefed on how the High Level Segment of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly will advance the post-Rio+20 processes, review lessons learned from the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and propose new models of stakeholder engagement for the High Level Political Forum (HLPF).


Sunday 22 September, 10:00 -13:00 in Conference Room 2 (CB), UN Headquarters, New York
This event will focus on the current state of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) process, what happens next including the planning of the intersessional and morning meetings with the Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs, as well as advocacy planning for the OWG's report drafting phase from February-September 2014. In addition the event will explore the role of stakeholders in the convergence of the SDGs and Post-MDGs processes.



Statement by Jeffery Huffines, CIVICUS, NGO Major Group Organizing Partner on behalf of Major Groups and other Organizations

Statement by Jeffery Huffines, CIVICUS, NGO Major Group Organizing Partner on behalf of Major Groups and other Organizations

HLPF Informal Informals, 14 May 2013

Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to OP 16 on Major Groups and other stakeholders that includes “enhanced consultative role and participation of the Major Groups”. I would also add that we fully support OP 24 that requests the SG “to carry over all the remaining funds from the CSD Trust Fund to a voluntary Trust Fund of the Forum” and would ask the Member States to not eliminate it as a cost cutting measure.

Last month members of the Major Groups and NGOs active in the post-2015 development agenda met to discuss issues of common concern where they all agreed that it is only through strong means of implementation which includes financing for sd, together with a robust institutional framework, will ensure the successful achievement of the future SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda.

In this regard the Major Groups and other stakeholders call for the establishment of a dedicated high level institution with universal membership, complete with a secretariat and reporting to the UNGA and ECOSOC, to replace the CSD. Recognizing the “hlpf” is just a placeholder name, such an institution could be called the UN Sustainable Development Committee.


Modalities for Stakeholder Engagement in the high level political forum

Modalities for Stakeholder Engagement in the high level political forum
14 May 2013

This document reflects an ongoing discussion among Major Groups (MGs) and relevant stakeholders on modalities for MG/CSO participation in the HLPF and builds on modalities granted the major groups by the UNGA  and in general decisions taken at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio, June 2012 (also called Rio+20) and found in the Outcome Document, “The Future We Want.”

Major Groups and other stakeholders take note of Member States agreement during the course of the Rio+20 negotiations, in particular paragraph 43 of the Rio Outcome Document , that the inclusion of Major Groups, civil society organizations, and relevant stakeholders – including persons with disabilities and volunteers -- is vitally important to effective sustainable development policy and implementation. Deliberations among MGs/CSOs have also begun to consider the “enhanced consultative role and participation of Major Groups” by considering specific practices for stakeholder engagement in the HLPF process, which build on the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), as well as drawing on best practice elsewhere, such as the FAO’s Strategy for Partnerships with Civil Society Organizations and its Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and Human Rights Council inter alia.


Draft Inputs from the Food and Agriculture Cluster of the NGO Major Group for upcoming thematic discussion at the third session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Draft Inputs from the Food and Agriculture Cluster of the NGO Major Group for upcoming thematic discussion at the third session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York, 22-24 May, 2013

The Food and Agriculture Cluster was formed in New York to support messages from Major Groups and Civil Society before, during and following the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The Cluster continues to coordinate messages for the Post Rio processes and Post 2015 Thematic Consultations on food security and nutrition. As the first thematic discussion of the OWG will be on food security, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, land degradation, desertification, drought and water and sanitation during its third session on 22-24, the Cluster is helping to bring civil society voices into intergovernmental processes in New York at United Nations Headquarters. We look forward to working with the Member States, UN System, Major Groups and other stakeholders to ensure that sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security are prioritized and recognized as critical to achieving sustainable development. 

Six key priorities for an SDG for food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture:

1. Progressive realization of the right to food and issues of equity of access to resources and social inclusion should be the foundation of any multistakeholder informed SDG for food and agriculture.
2. Improving the livelihoods of smallholder and women farmers should be at the forefront in SDG development and implementation
3. A transformative agenda should call for a systemic and holistic approach to diverse, sustainable and resilient food production to consumption systems
4. Sustainable and humane livestock systems should be included as key to sustainable agriculture and diets.
5. Strengthening urban rural linkages, decentralized and territorial planning for an ecosystem-based approach to nourishing cities should be recognized as a key element of the transformation agenda.
6. Progress on the post 2015 Goals need to be measured and monitored by independent bodies with relevant knowledge, competences and capabilities.


Major Groups/Post 2015 constituency consultation on post Rio+20/Post 2015

Major Groups/Post 2015 constituency consultation on post Rio+20/Post 2015
16 April 2013, NY

Submitted by Jeffery Huffines (CIVICUS) and Debra Jones (Save the Children), Meeting Co-Facilitators

The meeting co-facilitators opened the meeting highlighting the objectives of the meeting which focused on bringing together Major Groups and Civil Society Organizations (MG/CSOs) that are engaged with post Rio+20 and post 2015 processes.  Both agreed that it is a critical moment for these processes and reminded everyone that the meeting was not a decision-making meeting but an opportunity to discuss joint strategies to be shared with the broader constituency. Outcomes sought included: 1) Common understanding of the various processes and timeline; 2) Process for dialogue on producing coordinated advocacy strategies on post 2015/post Rio+20; 3) Begin to formulate concrete proposals for Member States on enhanced stakeholder engagement.

Sharing strategies for Post 2015 and Post Rio+20 SDGs

It was reported that the Expert Group Meeting on the high level political forum (hlpf) expressed unanimous support for stakeholder involvement and that what was successful in CSD should be carried over to hlpf. Specific references were made to FAO Committee on Food Security (CFS) as an interesting template.  

The Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) proposal for the Open Working Group (OWG) was outlined. Rio+20 occurred under CSD rules of procedure, but the OWG is under GA procedures where Major Groups and NGOs have no standing. In order to formalize rules of procedure for MG involvement in the SDG process, MGs came up with the MAG proposal that articulates agreed on principles where all stakeholders can participate to ensure an “open, transparent and inclusive” intergovernmental process promised by the Member States at Rio+20.

CSO strategies regarding the High Level Panel (HLP) on Post-2015 report were discussed, with the HLP now entering an intensive drafting period. There will be a HLP meeting on 13 -15 May, and the HLP report will be presented on 30th May. These are key opportunities that CSOs should use to follow-up with key Member States (MS), to give support to the report. Possibly there could be a civil society consultation in the summer.

For outreach, anything directed to the hlpf co-facilitators should also be directed to facilitators for ECOSOC reform.


UN General Assembly Should Condemn the Violence in Syria: Civil society joint letter

October 20, 2011

To: All Member States of the UN General Assembly
Dear Ambassador,

In light of the Security Council’s failure to address the violence by Syria’s security forces against their own people, we call on the UN General Assembly urgently to adopt a resolution demanding that the Syrian government immediately halt all unlawful use of lethal and excessive force against demonstrators, end the arbitrary arrest and torture of detainees, account for all those who have been subject to enforced disappearances, cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry established by the UN Human Rights Council, allow the unrestricted deployment of human rights monitors, and grant access to humanitarian organizations and independent journalists.


CIVICUS urges the UN Security Council to go beyond mere rhetoric

Johannesburg 23 February 2011. Although, the 15 members of the UN Security Council have issued a unanimous statement condemning the violence in Libya, they have failed to take any concrete actions to restore peace and security to the people of Libya.

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation calls upon members of the UN Security Council to discharge their responsibility to guarantee international peace and security and prevent crimes against humanity by issuing a binding resolution calling upon the Libyan Government to immediately halt the attacks on protestors.

As news reports indicate, the violent and brutal crackdown against protestors is continuing in the country. Libya's 'supreme leader' Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has urged his supporters to come out on the streets to attack the "rats" and "cockroaches" opposing his 40 plus years iron grip on power.

Indications from Colonel's Gadaffi's public address of 22 February show that he has no intention of  relenting to the legitimate demands of the pro-democracy protestors. Instead he has threatened to purge opponents "house by house" and "inch by inch".




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