UN  headquarters

CIVICUS at UN Headquarters

Civil society is recognised by the United Nations as an indispensable source of ideas, solutions and expertise when it comes to developing and delivering global policies and programs. UN headquarters provides a number of entry points for civil society to engage in intergovernmental decision-making processes related to Peace and Security; Sustainable Development; Human Rights; International Law; and Humanitarian Aid. CIVICUS helps representatives from civil society in a number of ways, including:

  • Make interventions on a range of thematic and country specific issues;
  • Deliver joint statements
  • Organise panel discussions and workshops;
  • Produce advocacy letters;
    Conduct bilateral meetings with member states and representatives of UN bodies
For more information on our line of work at UN Headquarters, please contact mandeep.tiwanaATcivicus.org

CIVICUS at the UN General Assembly

Civil society has worked with the UN General Assembly since its inception. Representatives from civil society have participated in meetings of the General Assembly committees and other subsidiary bodies, as well as meetings of the GA itself. Over the years, the General Assembly´s system and procedures have evolved to provide opportunities for civil society leaders to address member states and provide input on the processes the General Assembly presides over.

We are currently in the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. For more information, please see here. | For an overview of previous sessions, see here.

CIVICUS and the Sustainable Development Goals

During the design of the universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), CIVICUS helped facilitate the engagement of civil society in the official deliberations. CIVICUS facilitated direct dialogue between stakeholders, governments and UN bodies on the details of the goals, targets and indicators.

Now that the goals have been agreed, CIVICUS is now focusing on advancing civil society´s participation in the delivery of the global goals. A primary entry point for civil society is the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which is the pre-eminent body for sustainable development within the UN system and responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. Civil society is able to engage in the following ways:

  • To attend all official meetings of the forum;
  • To have access to all official information and documents;
  • To intervene in official meetings;
  • To submit documents and present written and oral contributions;
  • To make recommendations;
  • To organize side events and round tables, in cooperation with Member States and the Secretariat

UN Major Groups

The UN Major Groups is an official mechanism to allow broad public participation in decision-making related to international sustainable development. There are currently nine stakeholder groups who are able to have a formal say in the design of sustainable development policies and programs, these constituencies include; Business and Industry; Trade Unions; Indigenous Peoples; Children and Youth; Women; Farmers; Local Government; Non-governmental Organisations; Science and Technology community. These stakeholder groups each have coordinators whose role it is to reach out to their global constituency, prepare them for UN deliberations on sustainable development, and prepare position papers and inputs. CIVICUS has been an organising partner of the NGO Major Group and works across the Major Groups on areas of joint advocacy.

Member States ultimately decide the modalities of participation of the Major Groups in the numerous concurrent processes on sustainable development. Thus, the engagement and participation of the Major Groups varies depending on the particular sustainable development topic and process being deliberated (I.e. The Sustainable Development Goals, The High Level Political Forum, The United Nations Environment Assembly, etc.) To learn more about the Major Groups and ways to get involved, please click on the constituency that aligns with your work:


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. 

CIVICUS submission to the UN Committee on NGOs
The UN Committee on NGOs invited CIVICUS and all NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC to submit written contributions on ways to improve NGO engagement with the United Nations. 

High-Level Political Forum Report: Civil Society Engagement in Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals
The HLPF provides the pre-eminent space for dialogue with the UN system on sustainable development. 2016 is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and in this context 22 countries have volunteered to undertake national reviews to be presented at the HLPF. This paper aims to provide some initial reflections on the engagement with civil society in the countries under review and to set out some recommendations on how this engagement can be further strengthened.

User Guide for the High-Level Political Forum
This user guide will answer key questions about the engagement in the High Level Political Forum and its governance of the Sustainable Development Goals.The HLPF accords NGOs the most far reaching participatory privileges and rights in the history of the UN. But how can civil society most effectively engage with this process? How does the UN enable voices to be heard from the people who are most directly affected by these policies?


CIVICUS, in collaboration with United Nations Foundation, Action for Sustainable Development, Global Action Against Poverty and Forus, organised a civil society day on the sidelines of the 2022 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to celebrate the role of civil society at the UN, discuss the importance of civil society inclusion in decision-making processes, and how to improve its engagement with the UN. 

“Rebuilding for Good’’ from the Covid-19 Pandemic: the Role of Civil Society

CIVICUS, in collaboration with the government of Australia, Globalt Fokus and Action for Sustainable Development, organised a side event in the framework of the 2022 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to discuss civil society’s role in building back better from Covid-19 pandemic, its centrality in advancing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and how states and other actors can and should sustain civil society's efforts.

Women Environmental and Land Defenders: At the Frontlines of Climate Justice

In a joint effort with Gobalt Fokus and the governments of Costa Rica, Greece, and Denmark, CIVICUS – alongside the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women - brought together indigenous land and youth women human rights defenders (WHRDs), States and UN representatives to discuss not only the challenges that WHRDs - the frontline advocating to achieve climate justice globally -, but also strategies to counter these multiple intersectional layers of restrictions, and the importance of inclusion in decision-making processes.

September 11, 2023

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…
August 09, 2023

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…
September 09, 2022

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…
July 27, 2022

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…
April 11, 2022

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…


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