CIVICUS at the UN General Assembly (September 2023)

The General Assembly is the main policymaking organ of the United Nations. It is composed of representatives of all member States and has a general mandate to discuss and make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN Charter. The 78th session of UNGA (5-26 September) will feature over 140 world leaders descending on New York City. A key meeting will be the Sustainable Development Goals Summit, as 2023 represents the halfway point in the implementation of the global goals. The SDGs are woefully behind schedule and it is critical that the UN and world leaders take this opportunity to forge partnerships with civil society to get the goals back on track. To read a detailed overview of our key messages and priorities for the General Assembly, see our recent article for Inter Press Service.

In this regard, CIVICUS, alongside multiple civil society organisations and representatives, will participate in several side-events and meetings with the aim of building links between civil society and decision makers at the United Nations, while strengthening civil society’s voice on high-level platforms. 

CIVICUS will also be attending bi-lateral meetings in New York with allies, members and donors to continue strengthening solidarity and collaboration.  

Here is a full calendar of our engagements at #UNGA78: 

Date, Timeand Place



CIVICUS Attendees

13 September

UNHQ ConfRoom 5 

OHCHR roundtable on Civic Space

Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR)  

Mandeep Tiwana as panelist  

13 -14 September

Ford Foundation for Social Justice in New York

Global Partnership Board Meeting 

Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data 


Mandeep Tiwana




15 September

2 -3pm 

The SDG Pavilion at the North Lawn of the United Nations Headquarters


UN Democracy Fund’s event marking this year’s International Day of Democracy 

 UN Democracy Fund

Lysa John

Mandeep Tiwana

17 September 


GPIN networking gathering 

Global Public Investment

Lysa John

17 - 18 September 

777 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017 United States

Global Peoples Assembly 


Two events – one on civic space and human rights – along-with CPDE and others. The other on Global Democracy and the UN  

Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) 



Mandeep Tiwana

Lysa John



18 September


CIVICUS Office, WeWork Space, 4th Floor on 450 Lexington Ave.

CIVICUS Meet & Greet 


Mandeep Tiwana

Claire Nylander

Lysa John 

18 September

8.30 am – 11.00am 

Apella, located at 450 E 29th St, New York, NY.


MIT Solve: Solve Challenge Finals

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Lysa John

18 September

12:30 – 1:45pm  

Hilton Midtown

1335 6th Avenue

New York


Private Roundtable | Global Public Investment: How to Unlock Finance for Health, Climate, and the SDGs 


Clinton Foundation & Global Public Investment 


Lysa John

18 – 19 September

18th: 9am – 6pm 

19th : 3pm – 7pm  

UN Headquarters

UN SDG Summit

SDG Summit 2023  

SDG Summit Programme

United Nations

Mandeep Tiwana

Lysa John  



20 September

8:00 am - 9:30 am 

Ford Foundation,

New York

CEO Financing Roundtable: ‘Unlock Financing - A Meeting of Minds’

Unlock the Future coalition

Mandeep Tiwana

20 September

6.30 - 8.30pm 

Agenda and venue received after registration

WBA High-Level Launch event for the White Paper on Corporate Accountability Gap in support of the SDGs - More Info

World Benchmarking Alliance 



Lysa John


21 September

9:30 - 10am  Networking  

10 - 11:30 am Main event (online and in person) 

Alliance Bernstein, 1345 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10105

Philanthropy and Localisation Agenda: Pathways to Action for Local Equity 





Lysa John

21 September 

9:30 to 11:30 am 

Agenda and venue received after registration

2023 WBA Alliance Action Forum : More Info


Register: Alliance Action Forum

World Benchmarking Alliance

Claire Nylander

Mandeep Tiwana

21 September


International Peace Institute - 12th floor of 777 UN Plaza.

Trygve Lie Symposium on Fundamental Freedoms in New York 

MFA Norway and the International Peace Institute (IPI) 


Lysa John

21-22 September

The Westin New York Grand Central

Global Africa Business Initiative– Unstoppable Africa

Global Africa Business Initiative 

Claire Nylander

22 September

1pm – 2:30pm  

Bahai International Community Office 866 UN Plaza 

Club de Madrid Action Lab segment on Rethinking Social Development for People and the Planet  



Club of Madrid  

Mandeep Tiwana


CIVICUS at the 2023 UN High Level Political Forum  


Without civil society, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would not be possible. Civil society actively contributes to each of the goals, while also fulfilling an important watchdog role in the monitoring of government commitments. That’s why every July civil society representatives from around the world attend the UN High Level Political Forum in New York, the governance body for the SDGs. This year’s meeting took place from 10-19 July, 2023 and represented the halfway point between the adoption of the global goals and their 2030 deadline. Very few of the goals are on track and some targets, including commitments to protect civic freedoms are regressing below their 2015 baseline.

In particular, five of the SDGs were under review at the meeting:

  • Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
  • Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
  • Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Goal 11: Sustainable citieis and communities
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

38 countries presented their Voluntary National Reviews at the 2023 meeting while civil society presented their own progress reports (see the halfway report by the TAP Network). CIVICUS’ interventions had an emphasis on Goals 16 and 17, which specifically relate to civil society’s important role in sustainable development. Key targets in focus for us to include:

  • 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 (see CIVICUS’ ratings on how UN members are protecting 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

Across each of these targets, attacks on civil society and civic freedoms are threatening adequate progress. During HLPF 2023 CIVICUS participated in roundtables organized by the Action for Sustainable Development coalition and the Transparency, Accountability and Participation network. We also co-organised a side event organized by the Permanent Missions of Costa Rica and Denmark on the Unmute Civil Society initiative. Further, we participated in a civil society roundtable at the South Korean Permanent Mission on SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. We also engaged with the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on civic and democratic participation in Agenda 2030.

The next big moment for the Sustainable Development Goals is scheduled for 18-19 September, at the second UN SDG Summit to be held in New York.

Read More

CIVICUS at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

The 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 77) will start on the 13th of September 2022.

CIVICUS will participate in a number of events, consultations and campaigns geared towards building a more inclusive United Nations, accelerate progress on existing commitments and provide recommendations on how COVID-19 recovery plans can help countries build back better. 

For an overview of CIVICUS' and our partners' events at this session of the UN General Assembly please visit this link: CIVICUS at #UNGA77


CIVICUS’ submission to the High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism

The High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism launched a wide range of public consultations on ideas for more effective multilateralism with experts, leaders, practitioners, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders. CIVICUS’ submission examines the main challenges facing multilateralism and provides a United Nations (UN) reform agenda to ensure greater access to civil society. Read the submission here.


Stop the war in Ukraine: Global solidarity statement

We, civil society groups from the five continents of the world working together for a just, peaceful, sustainable and prosperous world, jointly call for a negotiated solution to end the war in Ukraine as promptly and swiftly as possible. This must include an immediate cessation of hostilities against civilians and the removal of Russian military forces and weaponry from Ukraine, coupled with an agreed statement and provision of security assurances by and for all parties.

In a world that is already wracked by multiple crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating climate change, this conflict is tearing through already fragile communities and millions of individuals face war, displacement, loss of homes and livelihoods. 

A month has already passed but the longer this conflict lasts the more devastating it is likely to be for the people living in Ukraine, Russia, and all over the world. It must be stopped now.

1) Stop the war

The attack on Ukraine by the Russian army and the invasion of a sovereign country marks an unacceptable breach of international law. We call for an immediate end to the war in Ukraine, a ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian forces, and the phased removal of all sanctions according to an agreed timeline.  The devastation of many cities and the killing of innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure cannot be justified. 

We call on third parties to prevent a further military escalation of the conflict and help in facilitating peace negotiations. 

Furthermore, it is unacceptable and insufficient that so far only a handful of men have been involved in the peace negotiations. 

We call for the peace negotiations to include civil society and representatives of those who are directly affected, particularly women, especially from Ukraine and Russia.

2) Respect international human rights

We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The rights of civilians must be respected, after one month of conflict, the humanitarian impacts are leading to massive displacement of people, loss of lives and livelihoods. We are very concerned that this grave violation of international law will have an extremely adverse impact on security and democracy in Europe and the World.  

We also call for respect for human rights in Russia, many Russian people have stood up to condemn violence and their voices must be heard. Peaceful protest must be recognised as a legitimate form of expression.

We call for human rights and the rule of law to be respected.

3) Stop militarism and aggression around the world

Tragically, this is not the first time that such conflicts and wars have occurred, far from it, it is crucial to reduce militarization and authoritarianism all around the world.

The current situation in Ukraine comes in a human context where armed conflict, violence in all its forms, authoritarianism, corruption and indiscriminate repression affects the lives of millions of people around the globe and violates the human rights of people young and old in countries including: Myanmar, Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and others. 

All conflicts must be treated with the same level of concern, all lives affected by conflict are of equal value. 

We call for the same level of support to end conflicts and ensure financial support for displaced peoples and refugees from other conflicts.

4) Shift military funds to a just and sustainable future

The war in Ukraine has already had a devastating impact on the world economy, especially on the Global South. There are likely to be major disruptions and significant increases in the cost of energy and production, increased food costs and at the same time budgets are being re-directed towards military spending.

The militarism of Russia is fueled by fossil fuels and it is therefore critical to stop investment in fossil fuels and shift immediately to clean forms of energy. It is crucially important that we reduce oil and gas consumption and rapidly upscale investments in renewables in order to combat the climate crisis beginning now.

We call for a specific commitment at the UN to reduce spending on military conflicts and to re-invest this spending on social protection and clean energy. 

5) Establish a global peace fund

We call on member states to remember the founding vision of the United Nations and its Security Council, to deliver on the main reason it was created: to avoid any kind of war and the suffering of human kind. 

The 2030 Agenda sets out a path towards a peaceful, just, sustainable and prosperous world; and much more ambitious steps and actions must be undertaken to ensure that the targets and goals are met.

We call on member states to establish a global peace fund to strengthen the role of international mediators and peace-keepers, the UN must act!

191 current signatories (sign the statement)

  • Action for Sustainable Development
  • GCAP
  • SDG Watch Europe
  • SHERPA Institute
  • Vivat International
  • Academics Stand Against Poverty
  • Gaia U International, Global Ecovillage Network US
  • VIVAT International
  • International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Pax Romana, Asia Pacific.
  • Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs


  • Farmers’ Voice (Krisoker Sor), Bangladesh
  • Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights(BIHR), Bangladesh
  • JusticeMakers Bangladesh, Bangladesh
  • Circular Economy Alliance India, India
  • Kethoseno Peseyie, India
  • Independent Individual freelancer named Hitesh BHATT & MS JALPA PATEL-INDIA., India
  • Sikshasandhan, India
  • Sustainable Development Council, India
  • Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India
  • Peace in Education, India
  • International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, Indonesia
  • Sustainable agriculture and environment, Iran
  • Japan Youth Platform for Sustainability(JYPS), Japan
  • UNISC International, Japan
  • Silambam Asia, Malaysia
  • World Yoga Association, Malaysia
  • World Silambam Association (WSA), Malaysia
  • Climate Change Working Group, Myanmar
  • Sheni legal Service and Research Center, Nepal
  • SATHI SAMUHA (Friends Group), Nepal
  • Youth Advocacy Nepal (YAN), Nepal
  • Restructuring Nepal, Nepal
  • Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), Pakistan
  • Haakro Welfare Association, Pakistan
  • SSpS, Philippines
  • Lanka Fundamental Rights Organization, Sri Lanka
  • Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, Viet Nam
  • AwazCDS, Pakistan
  • Korean Advocates for Global Health, Korea
  • National Campaign For Sustainable Development (NACASUD-Nepal), Nepal
  • Tarayana Foundation, Bhutan
  • General Secretary Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, Pakistan
  • Think Centre Singapore, Singapore


  • Missionsprokur St. Gabriel International, Austria
  • Greenskills, Austria
  • Mikel Díez Sarasola, España
  • Circular Initiatives Roadmap (CIR), Estonia
  • Pekka Kuusi Ecofoundation, Finland
  • World Family Organization, France
  • ONG (Nouveau Point de vue ), France outre-mer
  • Association for Farmers Rights Defense, AFRD, Georgia
  • Global Ecovillage Network, Germany
  • Forum on Environment and Development, Germany
  • IAHV, Germany
  • Patrick Paul Walsh, Ireland
  • International Presentation Association, Ireland
  • DMDA, Ireland
  • Jan Martin Bang, Norway
  • Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment, Norway
  • Moray Carshare, Scotland
  • Salisbury centre Edinburgh, Scotland UK
  • Drustvo Soncni gric, Slovenija
  • Alfonso Flaquer, Spain
  • Centro de Transformacion del Conflicto Humano, Spain
  • Findhorn Foundation Fellows, Sweden
  • Justice for Prosperity Foundation, The Netherlands
  • British Autism Advocates, U.K.
  • Integral City Meshworks Inc., UK
  • BPWUK, Uk
  • Findhorn Fellows, UK
  • Emerson College, Forest Row, East Sussex, UK., UK
  • Barnaby Green, United Kingdom
  • Dr. Colin Thomas Barnes, United Kingdom
  • Development Alternatives, United Kingdom
  • NAWO and the Judith Trust, United Kingdom
  • Victor S Ient, United Kingdom
  • Findhorn Foundation & Park Ecovillage Trust, United Kingdom
  • InnerLinks, United Kingdom
  • Alan Watson Featherstone, United Kingdom
  • Open Circle Consulting Ltd, United Kingdom
  • Poems for Parliament, United Kingdom
  • Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform, United Kingdom
  • Ecologia Youth Trust, United Kingdom
  • Soroptimist International, United Kingdom
  • Commonwealth Medical Trust, United Kingdom
  • Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD), United Kingdom
  • SecurityWomen, United Kingdom

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Gatef, Egypt
  • Junior enterprise, Tunisia


  • Plowright Studios, Australia
  • Aaron Owen, Australia
  • PIANGO, Fiji
  • Deepti Karan Weiss, Fiji
  • The New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women, New Zealand
  • GENOA, Oceania and Asia

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • YUNIBF (Youth United for a Brighter Future), Cameroon
  • Action pour le Développement (A4D), Cameroun
  • Centre Oecuménique pour la Promotion du Monde Rural, Congo-Kinshasa
  • Save the Climat, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Locate software, Ethiopia
  • Michael Girimay Gebremedhine, Ethiopia
  • New English private school, Ethiopia
  • Taminnova, Ethiopian
  • Apostolic Ministerial International Network, Ghana
  • Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana, Ghana
  • Abundant Grace Female Foundation, Ghana
  • Elizka Relief Foundation, Ghana
  • Parlement des Jeunes Leaders de la Société Civile Guinéenne, Guinée
  • BASO, Kenya
  • The Social Justice Centers Working Group, Kenya
  • New Generation Outreach, Kenya
  • Thomas Kaydor,  Jr., LIBERIA
  • Innovations for change, Malawi
  • Action for Environmental Sustainability, Malawi
  • Peoples Federation for National Peace and Development (PEFENAP), Malawi
  • Association du Développement et de la Promotion de Droits de l’Homme, Mauritanie
  • Dieumax Ventures, Nigeria
  • Leadership Watch, Nigeria
  • Initiative For Peace And Stability ( IPAS), Nigeria
  • Environment and Development Advocates (EDA), Nigeria
  • Nouveaux Droits de l’homme Congo Brazzaville, République du Congo
  • GCAP-SENGAL, Senegal
  • Volunteers Involving Organisations Network, Sierra Leone
  • Mahawa Foundation, Sierra Leone
  • Waste For Change NPC, South Africa
  • Kadesh International, South Africa
  • African Monitor Trust, South Africa
  • Community Health Organization(CH), Tanzania
  • Espace Vie et Action-Togo (EVA-T), Togo
  • Sugur Development Agency (SDA), Uganda
  • Vision Centre Africa, Uganda
  • Human Nature Projets Uganda, Uganda
  • Step Up Youth Initiative, Uganda
  • Development Education Community Project, Zambia

The Americas

  • AidWatch Canada, Canada
  • Vision GRAM-International, Canada and  D R Congo
  • Gloria Rodríguez, Colombia
  • Movimiento Nacional Cimarrón, Colombia
  • Alianza ONG, Dominican Republic
  • Christian Acosta, Ecuador
  • CECADE, El Salvador
  • Union des Amis Socio Culturels d’Action en Developpement (UNASCAD), Haiti
  • Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council, Jamaica
  • Uso Inteligente ASV AC, México
  • MY World México, México
  • Humberto Soto, México
  • Coordinadora por los Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia de Paraguay, Paraguay
  • Consorcio Agroecológico Peruano, Perú
  • Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc, Saint Lucia
  • UNANIMA International, United States
  • Congregation of the Mission, United States
  • World Union for Progressive Judaism, United States
  • Transdiaspora Network, United States
  • Sustainably Wise, United States
  • Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights, United States
  • The GOOD Group, United States
  • Let There Be Light International, United States
  • ALICIA STAMMER, United States
  • Andrea Ruiz, United States
  • TRIPPINZ CARE INC, United States
  • Pleading for the Widows International Foundation, United States
  • Missionary Oblates of Immaculate, United States
  • Oblate Ecological Initiative, United States
  • United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, United States
  • New Future Foundation, United States
  • World Roma Federation, US
  • Kosmos Journal; Unity Earth, USA
  • NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, USA
  • Volunteer Groups Alliance, USA
  • Findhorn Foundation, USA
  • TAP Network, USA
  • Global Choices, USA/ UK
  • REDHNNA, Venezuela
  • OMEP World Organization for Early Childhood Education, Argentina
  • Fundación para la Democracia Internacional, Argentina
  • Fundacion para Estudio e investigacion de la Mujer, Argentina
  • Reaccion Climatica, Bolivia
  • Viviane Weingärtner, Brazil

President of the UN General Assembly’s Civil Society Town Hall

On 17 Novemner, Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly shared his priorities and perspectives for the 76th Session and civil society engagement during the Civil Society Townhall Meeting (see event more information).

Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer at CIVICUS delivered the first key note address.  Mandeep's recommendations on how  to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic below:

Civil society assess outcomes of UNGA76 Third Committee session

17 NGOs that closely follow and engage with the Third Committee have joined together to publish a joint statement on outcomes of this 76th session.

CIVICUS at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

The 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 76) started on the 14th of September 2021. This year’s theme, “Building resilience through hope – to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people and revitalise the United Nations” will provide an important occasion to advance recommendations on how best to address the challenges of global governance. Following the release of the Our Common Agenda report on September 10 our participation in UNGA 76 will underscore the need for people-centered multilateralism and urge greater inclusion of civil society in all UN processes to effectively address the world's most pressing issues. 


CIVICUS is supporting the following events during UNGA 76: 

Under pressure: Human rights and civic space in the digital era
When: Tuesday, 22 September 2021, 16:00-17:30 (GMT/UTC)
Who: Co-organised by CIVICUS, Forus, and CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness
What? This interactive joint panel will allow the current situation of human rights and civic space around the globe to be explored, with a specific focus on civic space in the digital era. While new technologies have helped civil society to grow, activists to mobilise, and grassroots movements to unite, panelists and participants will debate what the risks and opportunities ahead are, and how they can best be addressed.

UNmute civil society dialogue: Taking forward the recommendations to open space for meaningful civil society participation online and in-person at the UN
When: Wednesday, 22 September 2021, 14:00-15:00 (GMT/UTC)
Who: Hosted by the Governments of Denmark and Costa Rica together with organisations in the UNmute working group
What: The high-level virtual side event “UNmute Civil Society”, will focus on the next steps for the UNmute initiative in taking forward the recommendations to expand meaningful civil society participation both online and in-person at the UN, and will feature representatives from governments, civil society, UN, and the tech sector.

UN reform and advocacy: "We the Peoples" campaign
When: Thursday, 23 September 2021, 13:00-13:50 (GMT/UTC)
Who: Co-organised by CIVICUS, Democracy Without Borders, Coalition for the UN We Need, and Democracy International
What? This session will identify and discuss action to move forward with the "We The Peoples" campaign for inclusive global governance and the campaign’s three proposals: a UN World Citizens’ Initiative, a UN Parliamentary Assembly, and a UN Civil Society Envoy.

Delivering the UN Common Agenda: Action to achieve equality and inclusion
When: Thursday, 23 September 2021, 12:00-14:30 (GMT/UTC)
Who: Co-sponsored by the Leaders Network Reinforcing Multilateralism Together, and the Pathfinders for Peaceful Just and Inclusive Societies. Hosted at the New York University’s Center for International Cooperation
What? This event will highlight practical and politically viable solutions and actions to systematically address inequality and exclusion within and between countries, and practical steps that governments have instituted towards inclusive recovery from COVID-19. 


You can follow the developments at the UNGA 76 by following #UNGA, #UNGA2021, and #UNGA76 on Twitter. 


Overview of additional events we will be participating in: 

Delivering the UN Common Agenda: Action to achieve equality and inclusion
When: Wednesday, 29 September 2021, 13:00-15:00 (GMT/UTC)
Who: Organised by United Nations Human Rights Council
What? The panel discussion will focus on the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, with a particular focus on achievements and contemporary challenges. CIVICUS Secretary-General will be part of the panel of speakers alongside Clément Voule and Prof. Yuval Shany.

More must be done to ensure women in civil society are protected

CIVICUS' Chief Programmes Officer, Mandeep Tiwana, participated in the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 65) intersessional dialogue on building alliances for women's full and effective participation in public life. Watch the discussion below:

During CSW 65, 290 organisations call for protection of women's civic freedoms to enhance their role in public life


Twenty-five years since the ratification of the Beijing Platform for Action, and a year since women across the world participated in the Women's Global Strike - gender justice is still not a reality for most women. Despite mass mobilisations globally with women at the forefront, and despite numerous campaigns and policy interventions orchestrated by women civil society leaders, activists and lawyers, women across the world struggle to achieve full equality.

Fulfilling the UN75 Declaration Expert Series

Summary of insights & recommendations from mult-sectoral discussion on how take forward the UN75 Declaration and its commitments to "Leave no one behind" and "Be prepared" 

On February 18, 2021, a consortium of civil society stakeholder organizations initiated the first in a six-part “Fulfilling the UN75 Declaration Expert Series,” where thought leaders from global civil society engaged UN Missions and Secretariat officials in a candid dialogue on progress, challenges, and further measures needed to meet two of the twelve commitments presented in the UN75 Declaration. This inaugural discussion, co-sponsored by the Coalition for the UN We Need, CIVICUS, and the Stimson Center, and in collaboration with The Elders, addressed the UN75 Declaration commitments #1 on “We will leave no one behind” (focused on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) and #12 on “We will be prepared” (focused on preventing health crises). 

The series is intended to take stock of progress toward achieving the twelve UN75 Declaration commitments, introduce alternative institutional, policy, and normative measures for improving implementation, and consider steps for achieving such reforms, including a possible follow-on intergovernmental process as recommended in the Eminent Persons Open Letter signed by 49 former world leaders and UN officials. The expert series aims to contribute insights and concrete proposals for consideration in the Secretary-General's forthcoming (Our Common Agenda) report—expected to be released by September 2021, prior to UNGA High-Level Week. 

The first roundtable’s lead-off speakers included: H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia and Member of The Elders; Cristina Petcu, Research Associate, Stimson Center; Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer, CIVICUS; and (moderator) Fergus Watt, International Coordinator, Coalition for the UN We Need. 2 

Key Lead-Off Speaker Quotes 

“The pandemic has highlighted the deeply interconnected nature of our world, and the extent to which our own security is wholly dependent on the security of others. It has also laid bare the stark inequalities that exist both within and between countries. Nowhere can this inequality be more obviously seen than in the monopolisation of vaccines by the richest and most powerful countries, which risks preventing much of the Global South from having widespread access to vaccines until 2022 or 2023. This approach will not only lead to a deepening of global inequalities but will actively undermine all countries’ national efforts to bring this disease under control.” - H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 

“The current health crisis demonstrates a continued and severe lack of preparedness in our global health system. And despite various disease outbreaks over the years, we still lack a global health system that, for example, ensures global access to essential medical equipment, such as personal protective equipment, sanitation items, medicines and vaccines.” - Cristina Petcu (in presenting two Stimson Center Overviews of UN75 Declarations commitments #1 and #12) 

“To ‘be prepared’ for the next global challenge, international cooperation, coordination and solidarity through the UN are critical. Much more needs to be done to realize people-centred multilateralism in the spirit of the UN Charter. Our present approach to international cooperation remains predominantly state-centric. There are many reasons for this including the global democratic deficit and civic space challenges.” - Mandeep Tiwana 

The following summary offers key international policy insights and recommendations for the fulfillment of the two UN75 Declaration commitments explored during the roundtable: 

UN75 Declaration Commitment #1 - We will leave no one behind 

Major Insights 

  • For the UN to work effectively in a multi-sectoral way, it must extend beyond traditional paradigms and attitudes, focusing on how its pillars (Human Rights, Peace and Security, and Development) can work coherently together rather than along separate paths. The 2030 Agenda negotiations demonstrated the potential for multi-sectoral coherence, despite the difficulty in forging consensus across many UN Member States. 
  • The UN75 Declaration represents a shared roadmap to ensure that multilateralism is working, but there remains a deficit in multilateral leadership among national political representatives. A more inclusive approach to multilateralism that brings together various stakeholders is needed in light of the critical debate on public goods vs private interests. 
  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to tackle structural inequalities within and between states, but COVID-19 only underscores the lack of needed change across the board. Progress toward meeting the SDGs was off course before COVID-19, and in many cases, the pandemic has halted and even reversed progress on the 2030 Agenda. 
  • To address the myriad challenges highlighted by COVID-19 and the commitment to “build back better”, governments must feature the 2030 Agenda prominently and holistically in their recovery responses. Moreover, COVID-19 recovery must focus on green and sustainable measures. 
  • The post-COVID-19 world provides an opportunity to address unheeded structural problems, including inequality, even if the needs are great and action may be costly. 
  • COVID-19 has also shown that progressive taxation that addresses inequalities in wealth is fundamental for diminishing inequality and leaving no one behind. Civil society groups (including Indigenous Peoples and Trade Unions) should push the United Nations and its Member States to abandon austerity; fortunately, most states are stepping up and at least trying to provide some kind of stimulus to citizens. 
  • By actively engaging global civil society, the United Nation will also be encouraged to place human rights and global public goods at the center of its decision-making and programming. Given the private sector’s inherent limitations, the United Nations would be wise to not over-rely on it or to afford it undue influence. 
  • Leaving no one behind also means leaving no one offline. Digitalization needs to be stressed by governments at local and national levels. Now is the time to digitize all peoples. 
  • A fundamental question to help guide effective and equitable policy action is: “How do we involve everybody in re-setting our strategy?” Progress will be constrained in rolling out the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Paris Climate Agreement, and the Sustainable Development Goals if local and international civil society organizations are not involved directly, including organizations for women, girls, and scholars. Civil society, including academia, can, for instance, help to advance the 2030 Agenda simply by bolstering the case for science. However, civic space around the world remains highly constrained. CIVICUS Monitor statistics reveal that 87% of the world’s population live in countries with adverse civic space conditions despite the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly being an inalienable part of international and constitutional law. The absence of civic space robs the ability of the vast majority of people to shape the decisions that impact their lives and undermines progress on Agenda 2030 commitments. 

Major Recommendations: Policy, institutional, legal, normative, and operational reforms 

  • The UN’s Human Rights pillar is important to “leaving no one behind”, and in this regard, the Secretary-General’s Call to Action should be kept front and center. 
  • Effective SDGs implementation and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 require greater targeting and inclusion of marginalized groups in decision-making. 
  • Civil society (and not simply Member States) must also play an integral part in UN decision-making on assessing SDGs progress and addressing gaps in implementation. 
  • In May 2000, a Millennium People’s Forum was convened and proved to be extremely useful as diverse civil society representatives and other stakeholders debated UN policy issues and made concrete recommendations to the General Assembly. Such a major civil society and other stakeholders forum should be formalized and could occur every 2-3 years in the GA Hall and involve both the President of the General Assembly and Secretary-General. 
  • As co-facilitators of the review of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), Austria and Senegal are currently engaging UN Member States on how to make the HLPF more effective. Canada and Jamaica’s related work on improving financing for development (including matters such as debt management) are also critical to strengthening SDGs implementation. 
  • Leaving no one behind means: 1) accelerating access to equitable and affordable vaccines; 2) ensuring human rights (to combat growing infringement on civic freedoms and the spread of misinformation); and 3) strengthening the HLPF’s mandate. 
  • Changing the policy priorities of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Paris Climate Agreement, and the SDGs in silos will not help advance the goals each framework is committed to implementing. Rather, policy linkages between the three frameworks should be strengthened, public financing improved (e.g., a philanthropic institution, the Gates Foundation, should not serve as the WHO’s largest funder, although its support is appreciated), and the governance systems for implementing these frameworks should be innovated. 
  • The precursor to the HLPF, the Commission on Sustainable Development, did two things that were unique at the time: (1) reported on progress in implementing the 1992 Rio Earth Summit conventions and Agenda 21, and (2) tracked related public expenditure. The HLPF should fulfill similar functions, with the support of relevant stakeholders from civil society and other stakeholders, including the business community. An inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach is critical because diverse state and non-state actors are needed to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals on the ground; HLPF discussions, therefore, need to help facilitate and connect local and sub-national level actions with national, regional, and global-level policy discussions. 
  • To better deliver on Agenda 2030 the private sector needs to discharge its social responsibilities in upholding key commitments by, for example, supporting measures to address inequality, sustainable consumption and production, and respecting rule of law. To better deliver on the 2030 Agenda, the private sector needs more accountable platforms to report on issues and advances in support of the SDGs. 

UN75 Declaration Commitment #12 - We will be prepared 

Major Insights 

  • Today’s greatest moral test of multilateral cooperation is ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. Disagreements are widespread as to how to best curb excessive “vaccine nationalism” and improve equitable access to life-saving vaccines. 
  • Vaccines should be viewed as a global public good, and the upcoming World Health Assembly in Geneva should prioritize expanding access globally to COVID-19 vaccines, including through the ACT Accelerator initiative. The pandemic cannot be defeated without resilient health systems worldwide. 
  • During the present COVID-19 crisis, more traditional financing for development models has proven slow and insufficient to meet development needs around the world. 
  • To more efficiently link global public goods and development assistance financing models, better coordination across major socio-economic sectors is required globally. Moreover, to better fight future health pandemics, their prevention must be addressed simultaneously and in a multi-sectoral fashion at both national and global levels. 
  • The current pandemic reveals the need for more data (easily accessible at national/local levels) and closer collaboration among those engaged in vaccine production. 
  • More effort is also needed to mobilize and share global vaccine manufacturing and distribution capabilities worldwide. Some plurilateral agreements exist that, in effect, contribute to fragmented Research & Development and unequal access to vaccines in many parts of the globe. 
  • Debates continue about responsibility for the protection of intellectual property across borders but given what is at stake with respect to pandemic preparedness and broader health security measures, intellectual property and, for example, Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) need to be reconceptualized in order to bring about more equitable production and distribution of vaccines around the world. 
  • Scientists’ warning of new zoonotic diseases has not been incorporated into a global preparedness system that can then support regional and national institutions and operate as a kind of first line of defense against the spread of future deadly diseases. 
  • Local and international civil society organizations represent (though not exclusively) the voices of the people, and when they are encouraged to support multi-stakeholder partnerships with governments and the UN Secretariat, progressive coalitions for change can be forged in response to a particular global problem-set, such as health insecurity. 
  • Promoting effective health security goes hand-in-hand with building trust, and trust must be continuously nurtured to prepare for future health crises, especially if it is to help to combat widespread misinformation that can exacerbate health insecurity. 

Major Recommendations: Policy, institutional, legal, normative, and operational reforms 

  • Investing in health-security preparedness should remain a policy priority and entail steps to improve TRIPS agreement implementation through the World Trade Organization. 
  • A strong and supportive international financial architecture is needed to help developing countries invest in health-security and to treat pandemic preparedness as a global public good for the benefit of all countries and peoples. 
  • Not everything can be left to the United Nations, which depends on health security interventions by the G20, WTO, and regional and sub-regional bodies. The global vaccination plan led by a combination of the G20, WHO, GAVI, CEPI, and the private sector is essential in R&D, distributing, and administering vaccines. Pharmaceuticals need to be mobilized, and the private sector has to play its part with full transparency to ensure proper and equitable vaccine distribution. The WHO-GAVI-CEPI and other partners COVAX facility needs to be funded fully and given other capabilities and the authorities to fulfill its central mission of building the manufacturing capabilities and purchasing vaccines, ahead of time so that some 2 billion doses of proven safe vaccines can be fairly distributed by the end of 2021. 
  • The pandemic’s economic repercussions have been felt most severely in developing countries. In order to prevent the present global public health crisis from precipitating a sustained global economic crisis, post-vaccine economic recovery must be managed carefully, coordinated across countries and regions, and include a mix of economic tools, including strategic investments and debt forgiveness. 
  • Many developing countries facing knock-on socioeconomic effects from the COVID-19 pandemic became even more dependent on (relatively scarce and slow) international development assistance. More reliable public financing (especially for financing at scale) is needed urgently. Moreover, to respond more quickly to health and broader socioeconomic emergencies, a faster release of funds is necessary. 
  • In terms of one possible new and major source of development financing, the IMF argues that a carbon tax could generate much-needed public revenue equivalent to 2 percent of a country’s GDP. However, at the same time, one cannot ignore that some countries are spending upwards of 5 percent of GDP to subsidize energy. In short, much more could be done in both poor and rich countries alike within existing national resources. 

Participant List 

  • Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia and Co-Chair, The Elders 
  • Tom Brookes, Policy Advisor, The Elders 
  • Sara Burke, Senior Policy Analyst, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York 
  • Erich Cripton, Principal Advisor to the Representative, Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations 
  • Ambassador María Bassols Delgado, Deputy Permanent Representative of Spain, Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations 
  • Felix Dodds, Adjunct Professor, University of North Carolina 
  • Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor of International Affairs, The New School 
  • Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations 
  • Nick Hartmann, Director of the Partnerships Group, United Nations Development Program 
  • Aditi Haté, Project Manager for Our Common Agenda, Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations 
  • Oli Henman, Global Coordinator, Action for Sustainable Development 
  • Ambassador Samson Itegboje, Former Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations 
  • Vincent Jechoux, Head of Climate and Development Unit, Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations 7 
  • Ambassador Inga Rhonda King, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations 
  • Keisuke Kodama, Counsellor at the Economic Section, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations 
  • Augusto Lopez-Claros, Chair, Global Governance Forum 
  • Nuno Mathias, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations 
  • Ambassador Michal Mlynár, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Slovakia to the United Nations 
  • Daisy Owomugasho, Regional Director for East Africa, The Hunger Project 
  • Cristina Petcu, Research Analyst, Stimson Center 
  • Marcel Pieper, Senior Advisor, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations 
  • Richard Ponzio, Director and Senior Fellow, Stimson Center 
  • Ambassador Adela Raz, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations 
  • Megan Roberts, Director of Policy Planning, United Nations Foundation 
  • Edna Ramirez Robles, Professor of International Law, Unversidad de Guadalajara 
  • Marlene D. Ramirez, Secretary General, Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas 
  • Amélie Rioux, Technical Officer, Secretariat of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board at the World Health Organization 
  • Julia Sanchez, Secretary General, Action Aid International 
  • María Antonieta Socorro Jáquez Huacuja, Political Coordinator, Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations 
  • Alexandre Stutzmann, Special Adviser on UN75 Strategy and Implementation, General Assembly of the United Nations 
  • Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer, CIVICUS 
  • Marilou Uy, Director of the Secretariat, Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four on International Monetary Affairs and Development 
  • Jukka Välimaa, First Secretary of the Fifth Committee, Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations 
  • Zach Vertin, Senior Advisor, Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations 
  • Fergus Watt, Executive Director, World Federalists Movement—Canada 

CIVICUS at the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

CIVICUS at UN65 Banner2

Women civil society leaders, activists, protesters and human right lawyers are central to shaping public life - through campaigns, protests and policy interventions. Across the world, women and girls are at the forefront of mobilising - for equality, meaningful democratic processes, their freedom to express themselves, safer spaces, and a protected environment, to name just a few. The theme of this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), running from 15 to 26 March 2021, is Women in Public Life: Equal Participation in Decision-Making.

Recognising the important work of women activists worldwide, CIVICUS, working together with members and partners, will:

  • Profile women in mobilisation, protest and civil society, and their role in public life;
  • Make recommendations to multilateral bodies and governments to help realise SDG5 and SDG16 - reflecting and based on women’s lived realities;
  • Renew calls for meaningful participation, resourcing, care work and visibility for women working in civil society.


Building on our 16 Days of Activism campaign, CIVICUS will showcase inspirational stories, amplify member voices, draw attention to women human rights defenders at risk, and find out more about how Covid-19 is impacting women’s rights to protest.

We invite you to:

  1. During CSW65, from 15 - 26 March 2021, talk about your work on social media - as a women human rights defender, activist, protester - using any of these hashtags: #Wedefend #SheDefends #CSW65
  2. Follow and tag CIVICUS Alliance (Facebook|Twitter) when posting during CSW65. We will promote and share as many of your activities as we can.
  3. Share stories of arbitrarily detained women human rights defenders as part of our #StandAsMyWitness campaign by filling out this form to share documented cases of currently detained women human rights defenders.
  4. Add your signature to our Global Statement calling for support and protection of women in civil society


Powerful personal stories from women activists and journalists who are facing online harassment.  CIVICUS has partnered with Global Voices to produce this article series:

How Women Human Rights Defenders face greater risks because of their Gender by Masana Ndinga-Kanga\

REPORT: In Defence of Humanity: Women Human Rights Defenders and the struggle against silencing




Joint Call for a Global Arms Embargo on Myanmar

Over 130 Organisations write an open letter to the UN Security Council and individual UN Member States to urgently institute a coordinated global arms embargo on Myanmar in response to the military coup.

We, the undersigned organizations, call on the United Nations Security Council and UN member states to urgently institute a coordinated, global arms embargo on Myanmar in response to the February 1, 2021 military coup that has deprived the people of Myanmar of the right to democratically elect their government. Our concerns are heightened by ongoing violations of human rights and the security forces’ history of grave abuses against peaceful critics of military rule, as well as against the Rohingya and other ethnic minority groups.

Under the commander-in-chief, Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the Myanmar military has detained the elected civilian leaders of the country, nullified the results of the November 2020 democratic elections, and installed a junta, the State Administration Council, under a manufactured “state of emergency.” Since February 1, the junta has increasingly used excessive and at times lethal force at demonstrations; threatened and arbitrarily detained activists, journalists, students, and civil servants; and imposed rolling internet shutdowns that put lives at risk.

Days after the coup, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “We will do everything we can to mobilize all the key actors and international community to put enough pressure on Myanmar to make sure that this coup fails.” The UN special rapporteur on Myanmar has called for targeted UN sanctions on the military and an arms embargo, while the deputy high commissioner for human rights has voiced support for targeted UN sanctions on the coup leaders.

In that spirit, we urge the Security Council to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar. Such a resolution should bar the direct and indirect supply, sale, or transfer of all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment, including dual-use goods such as vehicles and communications and surveillance equipment, as well as the provision of training, intelligence, and other military assistance. The embargo should be accompanied by robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.

Any sale or transfer of military-related equipment to Myanmar could provide the means to further repress the people of Myanmar in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Until the Council acts, individual UN member states should adopt measures at the national and regional levels to block sales and other transfers of weapons and materiel to Myanmar, with the goal of extending an arms embargo to as close to a global scale as possible. 

For decades, the Security Council’s response to crimes by the Myanmar security forces has been inadequate, emboldening the military to continue committing abuses without fear of serious consequences. The current crisis demands a change in course.

On February 4, the Security Council spoke with a single voice to demand the release of all those arbitrarily detained and the protection of the country’s democratic institutions. Council members should use that newfound consensus to take swift and substantive action. An arms embargo would be the centerpiece of a global effort to shield the people of Myanmar from a return to abusive and autocratic rule.

The time to act is now.


Access Now
Advocacy Forum-Nepal
All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
Arakan Information Center 
Arakan Rivers Network
Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs
Asia Democracy Network
Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asian Human Rights Commission
Asian Migrant Centre
Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
Asian Resource Foundation
Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM)
Australian Centre for International Justice
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
BALAOD Mindanaw
Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan
Brotherhood For Democracy (BFD)
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan
Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia
Bytes For All
Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
Cambodian Food And Service Workers Federation (CFSWF)
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative
Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL)
Center for Peace Education, Miriam College
Center for Social Integrity
Centre for Human Rights and Development
Centre for Peace and Justice, Brac University
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Climate Change Working Group-Myanmar
Colorful Girls
Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC)
Cross Cultural Foundation 
Dawei Pro Bono Lawyer Network 
Democracy, Peace and Women Organization
DHEWA (Development for Health, Education, Work, and Awareness) Welfare Society
Equality Myanmar
Equitable Cambodia
European Rohingya Council
Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany
Fortify Rights
Free Rohingya Coalition
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Global Justice Center
Global Witness
Htoi Gender and Development Foundation
Human Rights First
Human Rights Foundation of Monland 
Human Rights Law Centre
Human Rights Office-Sri Lanka
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Info Birmanie
Innovation for Change Network 
Institute for Asian Democracy
Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion
International Campaign for the Rohingya
International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS), Asia Pacific
International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID)
International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma
Jubilee Australia
Justice for All/Burma Task Force
Justice for Myanmar
Kachin State Women’s Network
Karapatan Alliance Philippines
Karen Human Rights Group
KontraS Aceh
Loka Ahlinn Social Development Organization 
Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN)
MAP Foundation
Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)
Mekong Migration Network
Mennonite Central Committee
Mother Nature Cambodia
Myanmar Human Rights Alliances Network (MHRAN)
National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal
Never Again Coalition
New School for Democracy
No Business With Genocide
Nonviolence International
Olof Palme International Center
OutRight Action International
Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand
Pax Christi Australia
Pax Christi International
Pax Christi Korea
Pax Christi Philippines
People’s Empowerment Foundation
People’s Watch
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Progressive Voice
Prosecute; don’t perpetrate
Public Association “Dignity”
Refugees International
Restless Beings
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Rohingya Association of Canada
Rohingya Human Rights Initiative
Rohingya Today
Rohingya Women Education Initiative
Rohingya Youth for Legal Action 
Smile Foundation
Swedish Burma Committee
Taiwan Association for Human Rights
Taiwan Forever Association (台灣永社)
Tampadipa Institute
The Arakan Project
The May 18 Memorial Foundation
The PLAN: Public Legal Aid Network
The Swedish Rohingya Association 
Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
US Campaign for Burma
Viet Tan
Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
Voice of Rohingya 
Win Without War
World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
YMCA Mandalay
Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)

Civic space in Myanmar is rated "Repressed" by the CIVCICUS Monitor


The UN Charter: Past, Present and Future

On 26 June 1945, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, the Charter of the United Nations was signed in San Francisco. It came into force on October 24 of that year. As the foundational document of the post-World War international legal order, the Charter sets out the high purposes of the United Nations:  the maintenance of international peace and security, promoting social progress and better standards of life for all, strengthening international law, and promoting human rights.

The United Nations at 75 - recommendations presented to Secretary General

As the United Nations turns 75, concrete changes are needed. Recommendations from CIVICUS presented at anniversary event with UN Secretary General and leaders from across sectors.

On 17 July, the Chair of the CIVICUS Board, Julia Sanchez, joined a multi-sectoral panel on the state of government cooperation as the United Nations turns 75 years old. The high-level event provided an opportunity to present recommendations on how to improve multilateralism in the face of COVD-19 and the other borderless challenges of our time. Opening remarks provided by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres (see event more information). Julia's recommendations on how to build a more inclusive UN below:



Question for Julia's invervention: From the perspective of civil society organizations, what would an “ideal United Nations” look like and how could we get there?

Thank you excellencies, Secretary General, friends and champions of the UN:

  • The UN Charter begins with the words ‘We the Peoples…’. In this 75th year our emphasis should be on making the UN more ‘people centric’ 
  • In the post-COVID world, opportunistic multilateralism is just not good enough. Holistic and inclusive multilateralism at the UN is a vital component of a people centric approach whereby international norms in relation to fair trade, sustainable development and human rights are given equal precedence to other global priorities. Multilateralism is also vital to our joint response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the quest for a ‘people’s vaccine’ and to ‘build back better’.
  • Civil Society plays a key role in making people’s voices count and in ensuring no one is left behind. Enabling environments for Civil Society, where civic freedoms are respected, are crucial to realising the promise of the UN Charter. We look to the UN to protect and promote the rights of Civil Society to maximise our contributions to peace, security and development.  
  • In  relation to the above and to promote and bolster people’s participation in this 75th year, civil society coalitions and organisations around the world are calling for three concrete measures that I want to highlight today: (i) the creation of a high level champion or envoy to empower, support and convene Civil Society inside the UN, (ii) a UN World Citizen’s Initiative that will provide a vehicle for people to come together and submit proposals for placement on the agenda of the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, and (iii) the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly or citizens’ panels to directly represent people’s voices at the UN. 

Our vulnerabilities as a global system stand exposed by COVID-19. Multilateralism lost its focus on ‘we the people’ along the way. On this 75th anniversary, it is now time to make the UN more-people centred. 

Joint letter to UN Member States: Ensure meaningful virtual participation in 2020 review of the SDGs

Joint letter to United Nations Member States: Ensure meaningful civil society participation in the 2020 virtual High Level Political Forum

Civil society participation in the United Nations cannot be lost as the world fights COVID-19. This July, 48 Member States are reviewing national progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Dear Excellencies, 

We, the undersigned 460 civil society organisations (CSOs) from 115 countries, write to seek your support in ensuring the effective participation of civil society during the upcoming UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) scheduled for 7-16 July 2020. As the preeminent multistakeholder body responsible for the review and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), HLPF processes derive strength from the engagement of diverse actors including a broad range of civil society organisations (CSOs) working at various levels. As the HLPF transitions to virtual communication and convening for its July 2020 session due to the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that all relevant actors, including States and UN agencies, support and devise clear modalities to enable robust virtual civil society participation.

In response to disruptions caused by COVID-19, a number of Inter-governmental bodies have taken concerted efforts to facilitate extensive virtual participation in official meetings. Inclusive virtual modalities are crucial to supporting international cooperation in the spirit of multilateralism. An enabling environment for all stakeholders to participate that takes into account digital divides is thus crucial. 

In his “We are all in this Together” statement of 23 April 2020, UN Secretary General António Guterres underlined the importance of promoting and protecting civic space in response to COVID-19. With respect to the SDGs, Secretary General Guterres unequivocally stated that, “Looking ahead, we need to build back better.  The Sustainable Development Goals — which are underpinned by human rights — provide the framework for more inclusive and sustainable economies and societies”. Civil society is key to implementing the SDGs and we must take united action to ensure that the virtual HLPF reflects the broad spectrum of stakeholders who are committed to creating The World We Want. 

To this end, we urge all states and UN agencies to support the following measures: 

  • Provide an opportunity for at least three Major Group and Other stakeholders to respond to each Voluntary National Review (VNR), one of which should be from civil society.
  • Representatives from national civil society groups voices should be prioritized for inclusion during the HLPF, with adequate representation from regional and international civil society organisations.
  • Written questions should also be presented and answered within a month of the HLPF for those who are unable to ask their question within the given time of the VNR session.
  • All civil society shadow VNR reports should be published on the UN’s official HLPF website. 
  • Ensure side events are inclusive of stakeholder participation, including a wide range of civil society led side online events to be shared in the official programme.
  • Identify more participatory approaches to engage with stakeholders on an ongoing basis, including best practice on use of online meeting technology to provide inputs, to ensure a more inclusive process before, during and after the main HLPF sessions

We thank you in advance for your consideration.


A Toda Voz AC 
Aakash Welfare Society Hyderabad 
Access Now 
Acción Solidaria 
ACCIONA Transformando Caminospara SER y HACER A.C.
Accountability Lab
Achtung labs private limited 
ACT Alliance
ActionAid Denmark
ActionAid International
Action for Sustainable Develpment
ADAB (Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh)
ADD International
Adivasi Women's Network
Adivasi-Koordination, Germany
Advocacy, Research, Training and Services (ARTS) Foundation 
Afghan NGOs Coordination Bureau (ANCB)
Ageing Nepal
Agenda Cero A.C. 
Aid Organization
AIDS-Fondet - The Danish AIDS 
AidWatch Canada
Al Dua welfare organization
Al Falah Organization Islampur Swat
Alberta Council for Global 
Alfalah Tanzeem Swat
Alimentos de México a Compartir, A. C.
Alkhidmat Foundation GB
Allai Developement Organization
American Civil Liberties Union 
Amnesty International
Amnistia Inernacional, Portugal
Animis Philanthropic Ventures Inc.
Arab Youth Platform for Sustainable Development - League of Arab States
ARCADIA - Romanian Association for International Cooperation and 
Argentine Network for International Cooperation - RACI
Asia Dalit Rights Forum
Asia Development Alliance
Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center
Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC)
Asociación de Organismos No Gubernamentales (ASONOG)
Asociación Mexicana de Amigos Metabólicos, A.C. A.C.
Asociación Nacional de Síndrome de Williams AC
Association femmes leadership et développement durable 
Association for Farmers Rights Defense, AFRD
Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
Association For Promotion Sustainable Development
Association Nationale des Partenaires Migrants
Associations 21
Augustinians International (Curia Generalizia Agostiniana)
Avoid Accident
Awaz Foundation Pakistan
Azat Foundation
Bai Indigenous Womens Network in the Philippines
Bangladesh Indigenous Women's Network
Bangladesh Nari Progati Shangha (BNPS)
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio & Communication
Born Free Foundation
Bright Star Development Society Balochistan (BSDSB)
British Columbia Council For International Cooperation
Bulgarian Platform for International Development (BPID)
Burundi Child Rights Coalition (BCRC)
CAFSO-WRAG for Development
Canadian Council for International Co-operation 
Cancer Aid Society
Caribbean Coalition for Development and the Reduction of Armed Violence (CDRAV)
Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) 
Center for Civil Liberties
Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines
Center for National and International Studies
Centre for Environmental Justice
Centre for Human Rights and Development 
Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur
Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion (CSEI)
Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
Centro de Arte y Cultura Popular Tonalteca A.C.
Centro de Justicia y Paz - Cepaz
Centros de cuidado, Atencion y educación integral coralitos AC
ChildHelp Sierra Leone
Christian Blind Mission
Church of Sweden
Church Women United Washington DC Unit
Civic Initiatives
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development
Civil Society SDGs Campaign/GCAP Zambia
CIVILIS Derechos Humanos
Colectivo Ollin, Alternativas para la Comunicaciòn, la Sexualidad y el Desarrollo Comunitario AC
Colectivo pro Inclusión e Igualdad Jalisco, A. C.
Colores del Rincón A.C. - MY World México 
Commons Cluster of the UN NGO Major Group
Commons for EcoJustice
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
Commonwealth Medical Trust
Community Advancement through Research & Development CARD 
Community Initiatives for development in Pakistan
Comunidad de Organizaciones Solidarias
Concord Italia
Congrégation des soeurs de Notre Dame de Charité du Bon Pasteur
Congregation of Notre Dame de Montreal
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
Congregation of the Mission
Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca A.C:
Cooperation for Peace and Development (CPD)
CoopeSoliDar R.L
Coordinación de ONG y Cooperativas CONGCOOP
Council for NGOs in Malawi - CONGOMA
Council for Participatory Development
Crispin Swedi Bilombele
CRV & Co
D.C. Unit Church Women United
Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation
Dalit NGO Federation, Nepal
Dalit Youth Alliance (DYA)
Danish United Nations Association
Dawn Development Organization
Debasis Chowdhury Rana
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
Dehi Ijtimai Tarqyati Social Workers Council (DITSWC)
Dehi Taraqiati Tanzeem (DTT) BILLITANG KOHAT KPK
Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR)
Desértica, Soluciones Endovasculares A.C.
Despertares Derechos Humanos
Development Dynamics 
DHEWA (development for health education work & awareness) Welfare Society Chakwal Bheen
Dillu Prasad Ghimire
District Development Association
District Development Association Tharparkar (DDAT)
Dominican Leadership Conference
Dr. Tristaca McCray
DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung)
DUF - The Danish Youth Council 
Earth Community
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research
Edmund Rice International
Empresa marhnos®
Environmental Partnership Council
EOS - Association for Studies, Cooperation and Development
Equality Bahamas
Equality For All Development Organisation 
Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation
Ethiopian Human Rights Council 
European Youth Forum
Fagaras Research Institute
Federation of Environmental and Ecological Diversity for Agricultural Revampment and Human Rights
Feminist Dalit Organizations (FEDO)
FIAN Sri Lanka
Finnish Development NGOs Fingo
Fixing The World
FOKUS - Forum for Women and Development
Fondazione Proclade Internazionale - onlus
Food Security Network-PRAN
Foreign Spouses Support Group and Malaysian Campaign for Equal Citizenship
Former Commissioner, National Human Rights Commission Nepal
Forum for Women in Democracy
Forum of women's NGOs of Kyrgyzstan
Forum Syd
Foundation for Older Persons' Development (FOPDEV)
Foundation For Sustainable Development and Climate Action (FSDCA)
Freshwater Action Network Mexico (FANMex)
Friends of Angola
Fundación Dibujando un Mañana
Fundación Heinrich Böll - Ciudad de México, México y el Caribe
Fundación Mexicana de Medicina Paliativa y Alivio del Dolor en Cáncer A.C.
Fundación Mexicana para la Planeación Familiar, A. C. MEXFAM
Fundación MYWM- MY World México
Fundación Sanders AC 
Gals Forum International 
Gatef orginzation
GESIP Centro para la Gestión Integral y Participativa S.C.
Gestión Estratégica para Resultados de Desarrollo S.C.
Gestos (soropositividade, comunicação, gênero)
Global Call to Action against Poverty
Global Citizen
Global Integrity
Global NGO Executive Committee
Global Shepherds 
Globalt Fokus
Good Shepherd International Foundation- Nepal 
Good Shepherd Sisters
Gopal Kiran Samaj Sevi Sanstha 
Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative Zambia
Gram Bharati Samiti (GBS)
Groupe d'Action pour le Progrès et la Paix (G.A.P.P.-Afrique)
Groupe d'Action pour le Progrès et la Paix (G.A.P.P.-BÉNIN)
Groupe d'Action pour le Progrès et la Paix (G.A.P.P.-Mali)
Grupo Holístico para el bienestar investigación y desarrollo social Integral, A.C 
HAKI Africa
HelpAge Deutschland
Hevas Innovación 
Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP)
IMCS Pax Romana
IMS (International Media Support)
Incidencia y Gobernanza Ambiental AC
Institute for Socioeconomic Studies - INESC
Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary -Loreto Generalate
Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo (ICD)
Instituto Potosino de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica, AC
International Association for Religious Freedom Coordination Council for South Asia
International Commission of Jurists
International Federation of Business and Professional Women
International IPMSDL
International Movement for Advancement of Education Culture Social & Economic Development (IMAECSED)
International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists
International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development
International Open Network
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
International Planned Parenthood Federation 
International Service for Human Rights 
International Women's Development Agency (IWDA)
International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs 
Jaag Welfare Movement
Jairos Jiri Association
Jandran Welfare Foundation
Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs
Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC)
Jeunes Verts Togo
Julián Carrillo My Words México Kids
Juventud 2030 GTO. 
K.U.L.U. - Women and Development (KULU)
Kafka Welfare Organization
Kamal Subedi
Kanimi EcoTienda
Karapatan Alliance Philippines 
Kathak Academy 
Khpal Kore Organization
Kothowain (Vulnerable Peoples Development Organization)
Kyawkrup Foundation
La Transformación del Graffiti al Arte Pictorico, A. C.
Lanakaná Princípios Sustentáveis 
Lanka Fundamental Rights Organization
Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation
Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada
Lepaje Environmental Organization
Let There Be Light International
LGBT+ Danmark
Life Education and Development Support (LEADS)
Light for the World
LSO Sada-e-Thal Welfare Organization 
Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
Malaysian CSO SDG Alliance
Maldives NGO Federation
Maleya Foundation
Maranatha Hope
Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, Inc. 
Más Coudadanía, AC
Mechanism for Rational Change MERC 
Medical Mission Sisters 
Mihai and Maria Foundation
Mitini Nepal
MPact Global Action for Gay Men's Health & Rights
Mujer Y Salud en Uruguay - MYSU
MY World Mexico
Myanmar Youth Foundation for SDG
Nagorik Uddyog 
Natasha Dokovska
National Advocacy for Rights of Innocent-NARI Foundation 
National Campaign Against COVID-19
National Campaign for Education Nepal
National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal
National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
National CSO Platform of Sri Lanka
National Integrated Development Association (NIDA-Pakistan)
National Organization for Sustainable Development (NOSD)
National Trade Union Center (NTUC Phl)
National Youth Council of Russia
Neelab Children and Women Development council 
Neighbourhood Community Network
Nepal Development Initiative (NEDI)
Nepal Climate Change Federation
Nepal National Dalit Social Welfare Organization 
Nepal SDGs Forum
NGO Federation of Nepal
NGOCSW/NYC Women and Girls of African Descent Caucus N. America, Latin America and the Caribbean Descent N. America, 
Nigeria Network of NGOs
Noakhali Rural Development Organization 
Observatory of Vulnerable peoples' Rights (OVPR)
Okogun Odigie Safewomb International Foundation (OOSAIF)
ONAAR Development Organization
Open School of Sustainable Development (Openshkola)
Organizacion Mexicana de Enfermedades Raras
Organización por la Cooperación Ecológica A.C. 
Organization for the Marginalized And Neglected Groups OMANG
Our Fish, Denmark
Outreach Social Care Project - OSCAR
OutRight Action International
Pakistan Development Alliance (GCAP-Pakistan) 
Parliamentarians Commission for Human Rights 
Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA)
Participatory Research Action Network- PRAN
Peace Infinity 
Peace Justice Youth Organization
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
Plan International
Plataforma de ONG de Accion Social
Plataforma Portuguesa das ONGD (NGDO Portuguese Platform)
Portuguese National Youth Council
Portuguese Platform for Women's Rights
POSCO Agenda 2030/GCAP Sénégal 
Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA)
Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en DDHH (Provea)
Projonma Academy
Promotora Juvenil don Bosco AC
Proyecto Cantera Juntos por México AC
Purvanchal Rural Development and Training Institute
Radanar Ayar Association
Real Vision Development Organization
Reality of Aid - Asia Pacific (RoA-AP)
Red Agenda 2030 MX
Red Ciudadana 2030 por el Desarrollo Sostenible
Red de Educadores Ambientales de Chihuahua 
Red Nicaraguense de Comercio Comunitario (RENICC)
Regional Centre for International Development Cooperation (RCIDC)
Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL)
Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CHFED)
Réseau Centrafricain au Leadership des Jeunes Femmes en Afrique Francophone 
Réseau de Défenseurs des Droits Humains de l'Afrique Centrale (REDHAC)
Roberto ravagnani
Rozaria Memorial Trust
Rural Area Development Programme (RADP)
Rural community devlipment council Gwadar 
S.O.S. - Criança e Desenvolvimento Integrale de ANG
SAHARA Voluntary Social Welfare Agency
Sahara Welfare Foundation 
Saif Khan
Sami Foundation
Saudi Green Building Forum
Save the Children International
School of International Futures
SDG Action Alliance Bangladesh
SDGs National Network Nepal
SDSN Youth Mexico
Semillas para la Democracia
SEND-GHANA/Ghana CSOs Platform on the SDGs
SERR Servicios Ecumenicos para Reconciliacion y Reconstruccion 
Sex & Samfund / The Danish Family Planning Association
Shaur Taraqiyati Tanzeem
Shirley Ann Sullivan Educational Foundation
Shivi Development Society
Sindh Desert Development Organization 
Sindh Rural Development Organization
Sistemico, Regeneración Socioambiental AC
SLOGA Slovene NGO Platform for Development, Global Education and Humanitarian Aid
Slum Child Empowerment and Development Initiative
Smile Myanmar
Social and Economic Develepment Associares (SEDA)
Social Economic and Governance Promotion Centre
Society for Access to Quality Education 
Society for Education and Development
Society for Indigenous Women's Progress
Society for Sustainable Development 
Society for the Empowerment of the People
Soka Gakkai International
Soñando y Construyendo por un México Mejor a.c
Soroptimist International
Spektro Asociación para el Desarrollo Social 
Sri Lanka Nature Group
Sudan SDGs Platform
Sukaar Welfare Organization
Sustainable Agriculture and Environment.
Sustainable Development Organization (SDO)
Taiwan AID
Takhleeq Foundation 
Taraqee Foundation
Teerath Kumar
Temple of Understanding
Teresa Kotturan 
The Inclusivity Project
The National Civic Forum - Sudan
The National Council of NGOs/Action on Sustainable Development Goals Kenya Coalition
The Nationwide Movement Yuksalish
The Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment
Think Centre
Tirtha Biswokarma 
Toktli Educación Ambiental 
Uganda National NGO Forum
Uganda Network of Young People living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA)
UNA Sweden
Unanima International
UNANIMA International
Union de l'Action Féministe
Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social - UNITAS
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Disabled Person of Kenya 
United Global Organization of Development (UGOOD)
United Nations Association of Fiji 
Universidad Anáhuac Mayab
Universidad Tecnológica de los Valles Centrales de Oaxaca
Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights
Vabieka Fest, Festival Internacional de Payasas.
Validity Foundation - Mental Disability Advocacy Centre
Varieties of Democracy Institute 
VIER PFOTEN International
Village Development Organization (VDO) 
Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (DBA- Women First International Fund)
Vision GRAM-International
Voces de Cambio, Agenda para el Desarrollo
Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE)
Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)
Wada Na Todo Abhiyan
Water, Environment & Sanitation Society (WESS)
Women & Child Welfare Society
Women Deliver
Women's Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness 
Women's Rights and Democracy Centre (WORD Centre)
WomenShade Pak
World Animal Net
World Federalist Movement - Canada
Youth Action Hub Guinea - CNUCED
Youth For Environment Education And Development Foundation (YFEED Foundation)
Youth Inter-Active 
Yuma Inzolia
YZ Proyectos de Desarrollo a.C. 
Zakir Hossain 
Zonta International

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
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
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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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