The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) promotes constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society through dynamic partnerships to foster greater coherence around cross-cutting and emerging issues on the UN’s agenda and by facilitating meaningful civil society engagement in UN processes.
Drawing on its inter-agency nature and UN system-wide perspective, UN-NGLS provides strategic information, analysis and support to a wide range of constituencies, using its unique convening and networking capacity to strengthen multistakeholder dialogue and alliance-building on core UN issues.
Since its creation, the UN General Assembly has recognized the value of UN-NGLS’s work on several occasions.
To fulfill its mandate, UN-NGLS carries out the following activities:
Providing information within reach. UN-NGLS closely monitors and reports on ongoing deliberations at the UN on its broad economic and social development, human rights, environment, peace and security agenda. It produces accessible and concise information, which is widely circulated among civil society actors, as well as UN and diplomatic circles through a database of more than 40,000 entries. Its communication and information programme includes a number of newsletters and handbooks on the UN System through e-Roundups, The 2015 Post, as well as extensive outreach through Facebook and Twitter.
Facilitating civil society participation in UN processes and deliberations. UN-NGLS offers its expertise and support to civil society organizations (CSO) in their work with the UN. UN-NGLS advises organizations on opportunities to engage with the UN and facilitates their participation in various UN processes and events (conferences, hearings, workshops, etc.). UN-NGLS has a specific commitment to enhance the participation of southern and underrepresented civil society actors.
Supporting the UN System in developing productive relationships with civil society. With system-wide experience and expertise on civil society engagement, UN-NGLS assists UN bodies and agencies in the implementation of their civil society strategies and helps address gaps and fill needs as they arise on the UN System-civil society interface. Upon request, it facilitates the coordination of civil society’s participation in inter-agency projects and initiatives. UN-NGLS also organizes the annual CSO focal point meetings, bringing together all the staff responsible for external relations in the organizations of the multilateral system. These meetings provide an opportunity to build a strong community of practice for multi-stakeholder involvement in global affairs through the sharing of best practices and lessons learnt.
Providing strategic analysis on emerging trends in UN-civil society relations. UN-NGLS promotes debates and provides analysis on emerging trends in UN-civil society relations, tracking the political dynamics, as well as the evolution of global civil society. UN-NGLS is continuously exploring new ways of interaction between the UN and civil society. It regularly engages in participatory research projects to examine the UN System’s engagement with new and emerging actors of global governance, (such as grassroots organizations, social movements and indigenous peoples’ organizations), with the view of showcasing best practices, stimulating debate within UN circles and between the UN and civil society actors.
UN-NGLS has accelerated its pace in providing services for both the UN System and its civil society constituents by providing substantial input to all of the major UN events involving civil society organizations. During these processes, UN-NGLS has organized and conducted briefings, orientation sessions and workshops, and has co-hosted NGO consultations with a number of UN agencies, programmes and funds to raise awareness around substantive themes under discussion, and to provide an exchange of views.
Over the years UN-NGLS has pioneered many of the practices which today have become relatively mainstreamed. For example, UN-NGLS was called upon to facilitate the selection process of civil society representatives and their input in the first Interactive Hearings of the General Assembly (GA) with Civil Society, held prior to the 2005 World Summit. Since then, UN-NGLS expertise has been sought to spearhead civil society participation in the series of UNGA Hearings that focused on various issues, including international migration and development, the least developed countries, HIV/AIDS, Financing for Development, the post-2015 development agenda, and more. UN-NGLS has also facilitated:
2006: Consultations of civil society around the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN System-wide Coherence.
2008: Participation of civil society organizations in the International Review Conference on Financing for Development.
2013: Consultation for the Secretary-General, President of the General Assembly, and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, resulting in the seminal report Advancing Regional Recommendations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
2014: Civil society engagement with the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF). This work entailed structuring the multi-stakeholder dialogues held within the formal sessions of the ICESDF and assisting in the selection process of civil society participants in the regional/global outreach meetings.
Also in 2014, UN-NGLS conducted open and transparent nomination processes to identify civil society speakers for the UN Secretary-General's Climate Summit and Sustainable Energy for All Forum, the President of the General Assembly's High-level Events and Thematic Debates, several UNGA mandated events, the post-2015 development agenda negotiations, and the 2015 World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. UN-NGLS also assisted UN-DESA DSD in the design and establishment of a civil society Steering Committee for the SIDS Conference.
In addition, at the request of UNDG, UN-NGLS co-led the UNDG Phase II consultations for the “partnerships with civil society” component of the “Dialogues on Implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda,” along with UNFPA, UN Volunteers and UN Millennium Campaign. UN-NGLS organized a meeting in May 2014 with civil society to hear their priorities for this exercise, led the production of the reports for this project, and co-organized a global meeting in Cambodia that brought together civil society and government representatives from the eight countries that conducted national consultations as part of this initiative.
Since its creation, UN-NGLS has received support from a variety of UN agencies, funds and programmes, private foundations, and governments, including:
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA)
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
International Labour Office (ILO)
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (HABITAT)
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
World Food Programme (WFP)
World Health Organization (WHO)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UNOHRLLS)
The governments of Canada, Catalonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and the UK, as well as the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation