A few of the activities of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) at the United Nations include the following roles: policy advocacy, information dissemination, awareness raising, development education, joint operational projects, providing technical expertise, and collaborating with UN agencies, programs and funds. NGOs fulfill these roles individually or by networking with other like-minded groups to form committees and sub-committees on different issues such as Anti-Trafficking of Persons, Working Group on Girls, Financing for Development, Education, Social Development, Poverty Eradication, and various others. NGOs enrich the capability of the UN through providing their field experience and insights to various networks and during UN sessions and associations.
Statements (oral or written) by NGOs at UN sessions are often considered credible and valued because of their expertise and contact with people at the grassroots. According to ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31:
“Written statements relevant to the work of the Council may be submitted by organizations in general consultative status and special status on subjects in which these organizations have a special competence. Such statements shall be circulated by the Secretary General of the United Nations to the members of the council …”
Though most NGOs work with people at the grassroots, however, their presence at the UN is invaluable because this affords them the leverage to also influence policy formulation at global, regional and national levels on some of the issues which directly or indirectly impact on the lives of people these organizations work with. NGOs may not be able to directly challenge member states of the UN who have not lived up to their commitments to the conventions and treaties they have signed and ratified, but these countries are often very aware that the NGOs are watching. Therefore, this monitoring compels them to strive to honor their commitments.
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