VN COMMISSIE PLEIT VOOR GROTERE ROL MAATSCHAPPELIJK MIDDENVELD
Een high level panel, dat onder leiding staat van voormalig Braziliaans
president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, wil dat de VN het maatschappelijk
middenveld meer zeggenschap geeft.
of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society
Relations, 21 June 2004 (Word )
information on civil society engagement with the United Nations (Word
level panel website
Panel on civil
society relations sees a networked UN
(UNITED NATIONS NEW YORK, 21 June) People's organizations and businesses
are key actors in the world's political and social affairs, and the United
Nations needs to involve them more actively in the processes leading up
to decisions by governments, according to the report of an independent
panel released today. The panel was chaired by former Brazilian President
Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
Among the recommendations of the 12-member Panel of Eminent Persons on
UN-Civil Society Relations, appointed last year by Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, are that the General Assembly involve civil society organizations
more regularly in its affairs, that civil society dialogue with the Security
Council be extended and deepened and that civil society groups should
be more closely involved in UN field work. The Panel also suggests the
establishment of a special fund to help civil society organizations in
developing countries build up their capacity to work effectively with
In a letter transmitting the study to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General
welcomed the Panel’s “valuable contribution to the UN reform
process”, and asked Member States to give it careful consideration.
He said he himself and his staff would also consider it carefully, and
come back to the Assembly in the autumn with further comments and suggestions
on practical steps.
The major thrust of the report, entitled “We the Peoples: Civil
Society, the United Nations and Global Governance”, is to promote
a paradigm shift in how the United Nations organizes its work -- a shift,
it suggests, that is already underway.
The traditional intergovernmental process -- with governments negotiating
a global agreement that UN agencies and Member States then implement --
is being supplemented by “global policy networks” that bring
together constituencies such as local governments, civil society and business,
along with central governments, in joint initiatives for policy analysis
and action. These changes impel the UN to reach out beyond its core membership
of central governments, although remaining essentially a multilateral
intergovernmental body in decision-making.
Procedurally, networks can be involved through an array of UN-sponsored
fora: interactive high-level roundtables to survey issues; global conferences
to define norms and targets and initiate action; multi-stakeholder partnerships
to actualize norms and targets; multi-stakeholder hearings to monitor
compliance and revise strategies; and Global Public Policy Committees
to engage specialist parliamentarians.
Two-way global-national street
The report also argues for a realignment of the relationship between the
global and the local in the Organization’s work.
From an approach that is largely top-down -- global agreements transmitted
to governments for national implementation -- the Panel seeks more of
a two-way street. The United Nations, governments and a range of civil
society actors would collaborate on strategies for translating global
agreements into programmes relevant to the national context, while pushing
the lessons learned from national processes upward to inform the setting
of the global agenda.
The United Nations should be more active in tackling the “democracy
deficits” to which global governance is prone, the report says.
In 21st century democracy, the Panel says, public opinion, reverberating
globally via digital communications, is emerging as a powerful force in
shaping policies and priorities. Better incorporation of civil society
and strengthening of the role of parliamentarians in international deliberations
would address a primary inconsistency in today’s political world
– that the substance of politics is increasingly international,
while the process of politics (how decisions are agreed) remains primarily
national. The Panel also states that international organizations should
be more accountable and transparent.
The Panel also supports the idea of a central office to oversee the various
forms of interaction of civil society organizations with the UN.
Briefing Member States
Before presenting his report in person to the UN Secretary-General this
morning, President Cardoso briefed national delegations and civil society
representatives at the United Nations in New York and in Geneva, via videoconference.
“Over the years, the UN’s relationship with civil society
has strengthened greatly and multiplied,” the Panel report says.
But “difficulties and tensions have arisen, particularly in the
deliberative process. Governments do not always welcome sharing what has
traditionally been their preserve . . . At the same time, many in civil
society are becoming frustrated; they can speak in the UN but question
whether anyone is listening, or whether their participation has any impact
The panel on civil society relations was appointed in February 2003 as
part of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s comprehensive reform of the
United Nations. Along with President Cardoso, it includes 11 additional
members affiliated with governments, non-governmental organizations, academia
and/or the private sector. They are Mr. Bagher Asadi (Iran), Mr. Manuel
Castells (Spain), Ms. Birgitta Dahl (Sweden), Ms. Peggy Dulany (United
States), Mr. André Erdös (Hungary), Mr. Juan Mayr (Colombia),
Ms. Malini Mehra (India), Mr. Kumi Naidoo (South Africa), Ms. Mary Racelis
(Philippines), Mr. Prakash Ratilal (Mozambique) and Ms. Aminata Traoré
For more information, contact Tim Wall of the UN Department of Public
Information, 1-212-963-5851, email@example.com;
or John Clark, Project Director, Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil
Society Relations, 1-917-367-5089; firstname.lastname@example.org.