How to get involved
Lobbying - contributing to and influencing the process *
Working with Government Delegates
At all UN meetings - whether international or regional - influencing the outcomes depends upon the ability of NGOs to identify government delegates who are sympathetic to their views and willing to work collaboratively. However, it is also important to identify and interact with delegates who have views very different from your own. In working with delegates, it is important to keep the following in mind:
Some delegates are highly qualified experts in their field or skilled negotiators from a country's diplomatic service, while others might be attending an international meeting for the first time. Some delegates are used to working closely with NGOs, while others have little or no experience of doing so.
The beginning and end of daily sessions are good times to interact with delegates. Delegates can be identified by noting the country sign at their seat. Some social functions, receptions, lunches, coffee breaks, etc. can provide a good opportunity to talk to delegates informally.
Delegates are often willing to use NGO proposals if these are presented in UN style. If delegates include your concerns or take up your suggested amendments in their positions, do not forget to express your appreciation.
can also be invited to speak at caucus meetings and other NGO events to
elaborate their national, regional or negotiating group priorities and
Working with Other NGOs
Working with other NGOs is one of the most important strategies for influencing an international or regional UN meeting. Even NGOs that disagree about certain approaches and priorities may find areas of common interest and be able to work together to include their concerns on the agenda. As an NGO representative at an international or regional meeting, you could consider the following:
There is frequently an NGO meeting room. Find out where this is and visit frequently to obtain up-to-date information.
Meet regularly with NGOs to exchange information. By working with others, you can cover multiple simultaneous meetings, help each other monitor government positions, and coordinate lobbying efforts.
Find NGOs from your country and organize together to hold a meeting with your government delegation. You can also arrange briefings open to all NGOs to attend.
Share official conference documents, which are frequently in short supply or less readily available to NGOs.
Circulate useful NGO statements and materials widely to the conference Secretariat, Member State delegations, and other NGOs.
Organize with NGOs from your region into regional caucuses or organize around specific issues or thematic areas. You can develop common strategies, prepare statements, and suggest amendments to government negotiating texts.
At UN world
conferences and preparatory meetings, NGOs often organize to produce a daily
newspaper. This is usually an excellent source of information and opinions.
You might contribute an article to it or have your position paper printed.
Working through a Caucus
At many UN meetings, NGOs form caucuses or groups
of organizations and individuals interested in similar issues. Caucuses meet
regularly (often daily) to exchange information, hold briefings, and formulate
positions or statements relevant to the proceedings. A caucus can also meet with
policy-makers who will be responsible for implementing the program of action
produced by the Special Session. In addition, caucuses are often formed around a
wide range of issues covered by a given meeting's agenda and on a regional
Make sure you are aware if there are any rules or procedures, as agreed by the NGOs themselves, on how to set up a caucus. For the sake of transparency, inclusiveness and democracy, NGOs are sometimes have given themselves rules of operation and collaboration.
Working with the Secretariat
The Secretariat plays an important role in the review process: it prepares the background documents for a review, drafts programs, and may be involved in implementing the results of the review. The Secretariat also handles accreditation, registration, and space for activities during the PrepCom and the Special Session. In addition, the Secretariat usually assigns at least one officer to work with NGOs. This person will answer enquiries from NGOs and keep them informed about recent developments. Check the Information for NGOs section for details.
Working with the Secretariat can include the following:
Establishing contact with the Secretariat staff responsible for information dissemination and liaison with NGOs: In the case of WSSD+5, this is Mr Yao Ngoran, Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, Room DC2-1360, New York, NY 10017, USA. Tel. +1 212 963 3175, fax +1 212 963 3062. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secretariat staff who are writing reports on substantive issues, and
enquiring about how to submit useful and relevant information.
NGOs accredited to participate in the Special Session have some limited opportunities for making statements by requesting a place on the speakers' list, which is handled by the Secretariat. If you are going to make a statement:
Keep it brief and to the point. Be polite, but make your points clearly. If the meeting has interpretation, speak slowly enough for the interpreters to keep up with you.
If there is a time limit for statements, keep within it.
Avoid general statements. Be relevant to the agenda item. Aim for concrete proposals for action.
Have written copies of your statement available for delegates, interpreters, and the Secretariat.
Think about the pros and cons of making a statement. You can often approach delegates individually.
NGOs often present joint statements at meetings or circulate joint position papers, for example regional or issue caucus papers. These can have an influence on the negotiations and are a way for NGOs to express their solidarity.
When presenting any statement, joint or
otherwise, do not say that you are speaking on behalf of all the NGOs at the
meeting unless you are sure that every NGO at the meeting supports your
Working with the Media
Journalists from nationally and internationally circulated newspapers, television, and radio, as well as representatives from the alternative media, attend major UN meetings. Media work (press releases, contacts with journalists) could be integrated into your organization's overall strategy for attending the review and mobilizing public support for your position.
The United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI):
UN meetings, DPI coordinates the UN relationship with the press (newspapers,
radio, television, etc.). This involves organizing a press room, holding daily
briefings, distributing press releases, and sponsoring press conferences and
other events. For additional information about media accreditation, contact the
Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit at telephone +1-212-963-4642 (fax). For
information about NGO activities, contact the NGO Section at telephone
* based on:
NGO Steering Committee to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, 1999. Guide to the 7th Session.
UNIFEM, 2000: Gender on the Agenda. A Guide to Participating in Beijing+5.
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