A senior staff position at Undersecretary General level can be designated to act as a Civil Society Focal Point and champion at the UN. This proposal builds upon similar calls in Erskine Childers and Brian Urquhart’s 1994 study “Renewing the United Nations System” and has formed the basis of subsequent calls from CIVICUS, UNA-UK and others.
Institutionally, there should not be any obstacles to the appointment as Civil Society as the UN has a long history of drawing on civil society expertise and commitment through the partnerships. The financial costs of appointing a focal point and setting up their office would not be very high. What is however required is political will and support of governments that are committed to the notion of civil society and public participation.
Senior UN officials have publicly and privately expressed their support for Civil Society. Presumably, within the UN the idea would have traction. While civic space conditions and civil society operating environments remain constrained in many parts of the globe, there are several states that remain committed to civil society and public participation who could extend political and financial support for the proposed post.
Some states are opposed to independent and empowered Civil Society. They may seek to use their political influence to block the creation of a Civil Society Focal Point. However, strong support from within the UN and from democratic states can help overcome potential obstacles.
By supporting and championing the work of civil society organisations engaged in mitigation strategies against climate change this proposal can have a cascading and positive impact.
By supporting and championing the work of civil society organisations engaged in peace and disarmament work this proposal can have a cascading and positive impact.
By supporting and championing the work of civil society organisations engaged in protecting fragile eco-systems and committed to environmental sustainability this proposal can have a cascading and positive impact.
By supporting and championing the work of civil society organisations engaged in protecting and promoting internationally agreed human rights standards this proposal can have a cascading and positive impact.
A dedicated Civil Society Focal Point can help create enabling environments for civil society organisations and activists engaged in promoting inclusive economic policies, exposing corruption, gender justice and labour rights.
Civil Society Organisations and activists play a key role in advancing the rights of excluded groups and in ensuring accountability of decision makers. A dedicated focal point to support the work of such organisations and activists can have a cascading impact.
Civil Society organisations and activists support actions that promote peace and justice which can help reduce conflict and reduce political violence.
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