The United Nations and Civil Society

alternate textMembers of The Executive Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations Associated with the United Nations
Department of Public Information.

The principle of global interdependence has crucial implications for the development of mankind and working with like-minded organizations in order to advance the betterment of society is essential. The Baha’is of the U.S./UN Office’s participation in this endeavor includes engagement with, among others:

  • Social organizations
  • Cultural groups
  • Humanitarian agencies
  • Charitable organizations
  • Educational enterprises

U.S./UN Office Involvement

The U.S./UN Office is involved with a variety of activities to strengthen the relationship between the UN and global civil society. The annual UN Department of Public Information/NGO conference has been one of the most notable forums for doing so. The conference is designed to increase public understanding of some of the critical issues that the UN addresses, such as human rights, economic and social development, the environment, and peace building. It also provides a forum for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to share their views on global concerns with UN counterparts. The U.S./UN representatives have played leadership roles in planning this event and organizing workshops for this conference.

The Office also works closely with other civil society partners to craft joint statements that are presented to the UN on a range of global topics. For example, through its role on the NGO Committee on the Status of Women it has collaborated with NGO representatives from around the world in bringing about recommendations from civil society to inform the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

In 2003, the UN Secretary-General appointed a high-level panel to review the relationship between the UN and global civil society. The Office representatives participated in public meetings with the panel and helped to shape the responses of civil society to the challenges and opportunities confronting the UN in the broad field of peace and security.

Prior to the UN’s World Summit in 2005 — which represented the world body’s 60th anniversary — the Office hosted regular meetings, which solicited recommendations from civil society for the World Summit that dealt with various aspects of UN reform in areas such as:

  • Sustainable Development
  • Human Rights
  • Peacekeeping
  • Rule of Law

In 2007, the Office hosted successive meetings to advance NGO participation in UN General Assembly civil society hearings that were held on HIV/AIDS, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and migration.

The U.S./UN Office also supports strengthening the relationship between the UN and the United States. In this context, representatives served for over a decade in different capacities on the UN Association of the USA’s Council of Organization’s Executive Committee. This Council represents a coalition of NGOs that work to educate the American public about global issues and the U.S.-UN relationship. A member of the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. also served on the steering committee for a major 2003 conference in the nation’s capital that focused on this relationship. Over the years, representatives from both offices have attended the annual conference, which sets the agenda for continuing engagement with the UN.

Lastly, the Office encourages local Baha’i communities to commemorate annual UN days and student participation in Model UN programs. The U.S./UN Office works regularly with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to promote Baha’i participation in the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign every October.

For more information regarding the United Nations and Civil Society, view the Related Documents and Resources page of our website.