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Next Step in Inter-organizational Relationships

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Part D of: Next Step in Inter-organizational Relationships. Notes on the problems associated with the current crisis in the relations between intergovernmental and nongovernmental bodies, with particular regard to the United Nations Specialized Agencies and the consultative status arrangement. Distributed by the Union of International Associations as UAI Study Papers ORG/1.

The consultative status arrangement and the conference/ bureau/secretariat/working party,mechanism is being currently debated in different ways by the

It is important to recall that the conference/bureau/secretariat/working party mechanism is entirely conceived and modifiable by NGOs, without in any way jeopardizing the consultative relationship. The following points represent different degrees of depth of inquiry from the superficial to the fundamental. None of those points affect the consultative status of individual NGOs but merely the manner in which NGOs desire to work together and organize their collective representation and joint collaboration with Agencies.

  1. internal regulation of the Conferences and Bureaux
  2. services provided by the individual agency
  3. bilateral contact with Agency officials
  4. collective representation to Agency officials
  5. need for existing Bureaux, Committees
  6. need for existing NGO Secretariats in Agencies
  7. need for an investigation into newforms of NGO-UN system relationships, using information from
    - NGOs in contact with a single Agency only
    - NGOs in contact with several Agencies
    - outside consultants.
  8. need for central NGO Secretariat (s) to act as clearing house(s) for all joint NGO-UN system interaction.
  9. need for NGO sub-secretariats
    - by geographical region (e.g., Africa)
    - by Agency location to evolve mechanism of shared representation.
    - by programme area (e.g., youth, human rights)
    - by country to coordinate international NGO activity with respect to a particulat country and to liaise with the UNDR representative.
  10. need for NGOsub-Commissions or working parties
    - by geographical area (e.g. on Africa)
    - by programme area (e.g. education, development)
    - by headquarters location (e.g. Paris NGOs, London NGOs)
    - by Agency (e.g. consultative status with Unesco)
  11. need for NGO joint Conferences
    - by geographical area (e.g. Africa)
    - by programme area (e.g. youth, literacy)
    - by Agency (e.g. consultative status with ECOSOC)
    - by headquarters location (e.g. Geneva NGOs, New York NGOs)
    - by country of location (e.g. Belgian based NGOs) by political inclination (e.g. "Eastern" NGOs, "Western" NGOs)
  12. 12. need for consideration of views of
    - those currently attending NGO Conferences
    - those who havearight to attend but do not (e.g.some UnescoCategory A)
    - those who have consultative status but no right to attend Conferences
    - those NGOs represented at two or more Conferences
    - those NGOs represented at another NGO conference only (i.e., with consultative status with another Agency only)
    - those without consultative statusbut working with the UN system.
    - those NGOs also having consultative status with non-UN IGOs (e.g. Council of Europe)
    - those NGOs without consultative status but working toward UN-programme objectives other international NGOs
    - national NGOs with international activities
    - national conferences of NGOs
    - other national NGOs
  13. need for national NGO joint activity at country level
    - use of national NGO Conferences
    - use of national NGO Secretariats
  14. need to stimulate
    - bilateral contact with UN Agencies
    - NGO joint contact with UN Agencies individually
    - NGO joint activity with UN Agencies collectively
    - NGO joint activity in line with UN objectives but not linked to UN programmes
    - NGO joint activity hot specifically mentioned in UN current programmes
    - national NGO joint activity in line with UN objectives
  15. need to consider
    - administrative problem of consultative status and recognition
    - means of improving NGO joint ability to undertake effective programmes
  16. need to consider
    - consultation with Agencies (exchange of information) participation in Agency programmes
    - collaboration with Agencies (synchronization of respective programmes)
    - collaboration with Agencies (joint WGO-Agency programmes)
    - collaboration in programme conception
  17. need for mechanisms to facilitate initiation and submission of proposals to Agencies from NGOs which do not have intimate contact with the appropriate Agency.
    - requests for introduction of new Agency programmes (i.e., the problem of speeding up the consideration of such programmes by national governmental delegations)
    - programmes which cross several departmental boundaries (i.e., multidisciplinary programmes).
    - creation by UN Agencies of an inter-agency office to promote NGO programmes and suggestions within the whole UN system, and resolve programme submission (not consultative) problems -- namely a form of inter-agency Ombudsman for NGOs

NGOs are traditionally the pioneers in the introduction of new and better approaches to the solutions of the problems of man, whether concrete or idealistic. Traditionally it is NGOs which look to the possibility of a future better world. They, or their national branches, act as the necessary pressure group to stimulate government action and to provide government with a specialized source of information.

This pioneering spirit is not yet evident in the manner in which NGOs adapt the various inter-NGO mechanisms to the new problems and possibilities - there have been no changes in this mechanism conparable to those initiated in the intergovernmental mechanism over the last 25 years. How is it that NGOs are each so imaginative and forward-looking in their own spheres and yet are possibly more conservative and politically sensitive with regard to inter-NGO action than are States with regard to intergovernmental activity?

The above list is a reminder of some of the possibilities which could be considered in preparation for the next 25 years.

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