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We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and global governance

- Report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations

List of proposals of the Panel of Eminent Persons

Utdrag fra rapporten We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and global governance, som ble overlvert FNs generalsekretær i juni 2004)
(for ytterligere informasjon, se Ny stortingsmelding: Felles kamp mot fattigdom, RORG-Samarbeidet 04.05.04)

Convening role of the United Nations: fostering multi-constituency processes

Proposal 1. In exercising its convening power, the United Nations should emphasize the inclusion of all constituencies relevant to the issue, recognize that the key actors are different for different issues and foster multi-stakeholder partnerships to pioneer solutions and empower a range of global policy networks to innovate and build momentum on policy options. Member States need opportunities for collective decision-making, but they should signal their preparedness to engage other actors in deliberative processes.  

Proposal 2. The United Nations should embrace an array of forums, each designed to achieve a specific outcome, with participation determined accordingly. The cycle of global debate on an issue should include: 

  • Interactive high-level round tables to survey the framework of issues

  • Global conferences to define norms and targets

  • Multi-stakeholder partnerships to put the new norms and targets into practice

  • Multi-stakeholder hearings to monitor compliance, review experience and revise strategies  

Proposal 3. The Secretariat should innovate with networked governance, bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to identify possible policy breakthroughs on emerging global priorities. It should experiment with a global Internet agora to survey public opinion and raise awareness on emerging issues. The Secretary-General should initiate multi-stakeholder advisory forums on selected emerging issues and feed their conclusions to appropriate intergovernmental forums. 

Proposal 4. The United Nations should retain the global conference mechanism but use it sparingly to address major emerging policy issues that need concerted global action, enhanced public understanding and resonance with global public opinion. The participation of civil society and other constituencies should be planned in collaboration with their networks. 

Proposal 5. The Secretariat should foster multi-constituency processes as new conduits for discussion of United Nations priorities, redirecting resources now used for single-constituency forums covering multiple issues. The Secretariat, together with other relevant bodies of the United Nations system, should convene public hearings to review progress in meeting globally agreed commitments. Being technical and concerned with implementation rather than the formulation of new global policies, such hearings could be convened by the Secretary-General on his own authority. Proceedings should be transmitted through the Secretary-General to the relevant intergovernmental forums. 

Proposal 6. The General Assembly should permit the carefully planned participation of actors besides central Governments in its processes. In particular, the Assembly should regularly invite contributions to its committees and special sessions by those offering high-quality independent input. The participation arrangements should be made in collaboration with the relevant constituency networks. The Secretariat should help to plan innovative and interactive sessions linked to but outside the formal meetings.


Investing more in partnerships 

Proposal 7. In order to mainstream partnerships, the Secretary-General should, with the approval of Member States and donor support: 

  • Establish a Partnership Development Unit headed by a high-level staff member to help incubate and decentralize the partnership approach, guide the needed management shifts, ensure sound evaluations and provide support services throughout the United Nations

  • Identify partnership focal points throughout all United Nations organs and agencies

  • Review partnership issues in such coordination forums as the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination and its High-Level Committee on Programmes

  • Ensure systematic learning from partnership efforts by creating a multi-stakeholder Partnership Assessment Forum that includes United Nations staff, Governments, civil society organizations and others

  • Provide training in partnership development to Governments, civil society and other constituencies, as well as to United Nations staff

  • Periodically review the effectiveness of those efforts  

Proposal 8. The proposed Partnership Development Unit should ensure that lessons of practice are fully internalized in operational and management approaches, conduct rigorous evaluations to learn about the full costs and impact on development of multisectoral partnerships and inform the debate about the institutional implications of the approach. 

Proposal 9. The Secretariat should strengthen its relationship with actors in the private sector by: 

  • Incorporating the Global Compact into the proposed Office of Constituency Engagement and Partnerships (see proposal 24)

  • Engaging with small and medium-sized businesses and their national associations and helping to build the capacity and competitiveness of microbusinesses and small enterprises

  • Strengthening the Global Compact’s capacity for and contribution to enhancing corporate responsibility


Focus on the country level 

Proposal 10. The United Nations Development Group should ensure that the rhetoric of country leadership, coordination and partnership is put into effective practice to open space for all constituencies to contribute to the goals of the United Nations. 

At the country level this entails: 

  • Enhancing the capacity of the United Nations resident coordinators’ offices to identify, convene and broker the partnerships needed to meet the main challenges and build consensus on country-specific goals (see proposal 11)

  • Conveying systematic messages to country staff about learning from and providing support to civil society and other actors, using the rubric of the Millennium Development Goals and other globally agreed goals as reference points

  • Ensuring that United Nations country-level staff work with the regional commissions to inject the experience of country-level actors into regional and global deliberative processes  

At the global level this entails: 

  • Identifying and rewarding participation pioneers within the United Nations system by establishing, with donor support, a global fund to support innovations in partnership development at the country level

  • Identifying and disseminating lessons learned from innovative partnerships and countries where cooperation with non-State actors is strongest

  • Assessing partnership qualities in the annual performance appraisals of resident coordinators and other country-level staff

  • Persuading donors to support the extra cost of being an effective networking organization, including the greater investment in coordination that this requires  

Proposal 11. The resident coordinators and United Nations Development Group agencies at the country level should undertake the necessary restructuring, coordination and investment to enable the United Nations to meet the networking challenges by: 

  • Initially appointing local constituency engagement specialists in 30 to 40 countries, with facilitation skills and knowledge of civil society in the country (see proposal 25)

  • Reviewing the effectiveness of current country-level information and communication resources, redirecting them to support strategies and partnerships to achieve globally agreed goals

  • Establishing civil society advisory groups as a pilot project in a range of countries to guide United Nations strategy; similar advisory groups could be considered for business and other constituencies   


Strengthening the Security Council — roles for civil society 

Proposal 12. Security Council members should further strengthen their dialogue with civil society, with the support of the Secretary-General by: 

  • Improving the planning and effectiveness of the Arria formula meetings by lengthening lead times and covering travel costs to increase the participation of actors from the field. United Nations country staff should assist in identifying civil society interlocutors

  • Ensuring that Security Council field missions meet regularly with appropriate local civil society leaders, international humanitarian NGOs and perhaps others, such as business leaders. United Nations Headquarters and field staff should facilitate the meetings

  • Installing an experimental series of Security Council seminars to discuss issues of emerging importance to the Council. Serviced by the Secretariat, these would include presentations by civil society and other constituencies as well as United Nations specialists, such as special rapporteurs

  • Convening independent commissions of inquiry after Council-mandated operations. A global public policy committee connecting national foreign affairs committees could serve as such a commission (see proposal 15)   


Engaging with elected representatives 

Proposal 13. The United Nations should routinely encourage national parliaments to hold debates on major matters coming up in the United Nations and to discuss those matters with the relevant ministers. Relevant documents, including those in progress achieved on the Millennium Development Goals and other globally agreed goals, should be made available to parliaments when they are transmitted to Governments. The Secretary-General should seek the cooperation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and parliamentarian associations. Member States should regularly consult members of Parliament on United Nations matters and debrief them after major United Nations meetings. 

Proposal 14. Member States should more regularly include members of Parliament in their delegations to major United Nations meetings, while taking care to avoid compromising their independence. The Secretariat should test opportunities for members of Parliament to contribute as parliamentarians, including in debates before a General Assembly meeting on a major topic. Members of Parliament specializing in a subject could also be invited to speak in relevant committees and special sessions of the Assembly, particularly when they are reviewing progress achieved in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and other agreed global goals. 

Proposal 15. Member States should make way for an enhanced role for parliamentarians in global governance. They should instruct the Secretariat to work with national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as appropriate, to convene one or more experimental global public policy committees to discuss emerging priorities on the global agenda. These committees would comprise parliamentarians from the most relevant functional committee in a globally representative range of countries. In an experimental five-year period, different organizational arrangements could be tested and, through periodic review, refined over time. 

Proposal 16. The Secretary-General should form a small Elected Representatives Liaison Unit: 

  • To provide a dedicated information service for parliaments and associations of parliamentarians, including a dedicated web-based information service for members of parliament

  • To encourage greater attention to United Nations processes in national parliaments

  • To help to create more effective opportunities for members of parliament to take part in United Nations forumsTo organize global public policy committees to work closely with national parliaments, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, specialized agencies and other organizations as appropriate

  • To foster debate within the United Nations system about new or improved strategies for engaging parliaments and parliamentarians  

Proposal 17. The General Assembly should debate a resolution affirming and respecting local autonomy as a universal principle. 

Proposal 18. The Elected Representative Liaison Unit (see proposal 16) should liaise with local authorities and their new world association and disseminate lessons of good practice. The United Nations should regard United Cities and Local Governments as an advisory body on governance matters. The Secretary-General should require United Nations bodies with a national presence to build close contacts with local authorities and their national and regional associations. Specifically, resident coordinators should interact regularly with local authorities to inform them of United Nations programmes and processes and to encourage partnerships with them. 


Streamlining and depoliticizing accreditation and access 

Proposal 19. The United Nations should realign accreditation with its original purpose, namely, it should be an agreement between civil society actors and Member States based on the applicants’ expertise, competence and skills. To achieve this, and to widen the access of civil society organizations beyond Economic and Social Council forums, Member States should agree to merge the current procedures at United Nations Headquarters for the Council, the Department of Public Information and conferences and their follow-up into a single United Nations accreditation process, with responsibility for accreditation assumed by an existing committee of the General Assembly. 

Proposal 20. Member States should shift the task of reviewing applications to the Secretariat so as to reduce time inefficiencies and increase the technical focus of the review. An Accreditation Unit should be established within the General Assembly secretariat, incorporating staff now responsible for accreditation in various departments (therefore it would be budget-neutral). The Unit would help to set up an advisory body that would offer guidance on whether applications should be recommended or not. A designated General Assembly committee would decide on accreditation based on that guidance. The Secretariat should ensure increased use of information technologies to manage the accreditation process. The Secretary-General should encourage the United Nations agencies, country offices and others to cooperate in the system-wide effort. 

Proposal 21. The Secretary-General should foster enhanced coordination and support for the accreditation process by: 

  • Instructing national and regional offices of the United Nations to facilitate applications

  • Using the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination processes to foster closer coordination among United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and regional commissions

  • Ensuring wider availability of information on the rights and responsibilities related to accreditation (e.g., through booklets aimed at civil society and United Nations staff)  

Proposal 22. The Secretary-General should initiate a consultative review, to be finished within three years, whereupon proposals would be submitted to the General Assembly for revising the accreditation categories to align them better with today’s practices and priorities. 

Proposal 23. The Secretariat should encourage the main constituencies that the United Nations works with to form broad networks to help it with selection and quality assurance. But the United Nations should not demand this or stipulate how it is to be done. Such networks would be encouraged to advise secretariats and bureaux on the participation of their constituencies in intergovernmental processes and to help monitor practices and revise strategies, perhaps leading to their evolution into recognized advisory groups. The Secretariat should discuss with those groups possible codes of conduct and self-policing mechanisms to heighten disciplines of quality, governance and balance.  


 What the proposals mean for staff, resources and management 

 Proposal 24. With the approval of Member States, the Secretary-General should appoint an Under-Secretary-General in charge of a new Office of Constituency Engagement and Partnerships. This office would be responsible for formulating and implementing the strategy for United Nations engagement with all constituencies beyond the formal membership of central Governments. It would monitor engagements throughout the United Nations system and provide advice and lessons of good practice. It could comprise the following: 

  • A Civil Society Unit, to absorb the Non-Governmental Liaison Service

  • A Partnership Development Unit, to absorb the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships

  • An Elected Representatives Liaison Unit

  • The Global Compact Office

  • The secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues  

Proposal 25. With the approval of Member States, the Secretary-General should initiate a programme to appoint 30 to 40 constituency engagement specialists in offices of resident coordinators to help the United Nations and the wider system enhance engagement with a diversity of constituencies. He should invite contributions from bilateral donors and foundations to a trust fund to finance those appointments for a trial period of four years. 

Proposal 26. The Secretary-General should make redressing North-South imbalances a priority in enhancing United Nations–civil society relations. He should enlist donor support for enhancing the capacity of the United Nations to identify and work with local actors, establishing a fund to build Southern civil society capacity to participate and ensuring that country-level engagement feeds into the global deliberative processes. 

Proposal 27. The United Nations should establish a fund to enhance the capacity of civil society in developing countries to engage in United Nations processes and partnerships. The Secretariat should seek contributions from Governments, foundations, United Nations sources and elsewhere, and it should establish an administrative and governance structure for the fund that puts maximum emphasis on decision-making at the country level. 

Proposal 28. The Secretary-General and other top United Nations managers should frequently take the opportunity to convey to staff the importance they ascribe to constituency engagement and partnership. These issues should feature prominently in all human resources processes, including recruitment, promotion and annual appraisal. Staff throughout the system, including managers, should be given training in such matters. 

 Providing global leadership  

 Proposal 29. The Secretary-General should use his capacity as chairman of the United Nations system coordination mechanism to encourage all agencies, including the Bretton Woods institutions, to enhance their engagement with civil society and other actors and to cooperate with one another across the system to promote this aim, with periodic progress reviews.

Proposal 30. Member States should encourage, through the forums of the United Nations, an enabling policy environment for civil society throughout the world and expanded dialogue and partnership opportunities in development processes. The Secretariat leadership, resident coordinators and governance specialists should use their dialogues with Governments to similar effect.

Redaktør: Arnfinn Nygaard
Sist oppdatert: 12. januar
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