You are here: Civil society urges Guterres to build a more inclusive UN

1 March 2017

UNA-UK is working with civil society actors from around the world to urge newly appointed UN Secretary-General António Guterres to be a champion for civil society and to take concrete steps to build a more inclusive UN.

The United Nations Association - UK, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York Office, CIVICUS and Avaaz, four of the founding members of the 1 for 7 Billion campaign, have today released a publication containing proposals from youth activists, NGO directors and policy experts. Urging Mr Guterres to implement his pledge to make cooperation with civil society "a key element in solving global problems", the series of articles offers solutions for a fairer, more inclusive UN across a range of processes and programmes.

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About the publication

Throughout seven decades of UN history, civil society organisations (CSOs) have played an instrumental role in furthering the UN’s objectives, from assisting with smallpox eradication programmes on the ground to shaping recent landmark agreements on sustainable development and climate change.

Today, the world’s seven billion people remain the Organisation’s most important stakeholders and beneficiaries. It is through their eyes that the UN’s record should be measured.

António Guterres took office as UN Secretary-General on 1 January 2017 following the most open selection process in the UN’s history, one that saw unprecedented engagement from civil society and the public. The process demonstrated – and stimulated – CSOs’ desire for deeper inclusion in the UN’s work.

But at this time of global uncertainty, the UN is stretched to the breaking point. More and more people are losing faith in institutions and political leadership, and nationalistic trends are presenting a grave challenge to the rules-based international system from which we all benefit. Public support for the UN is vital if a multilateral order is to be sustained, let alone deliver ambitious agendas on development and climate.

Deeper engagement with civil society will be essential if the UN is to deliver its ambitious agenda at a time of grave challenges to the international system.

-- Ben Donaldson, UNA-UK's Head of Campaigns

The UN must do all it can to protect, expand and in some cases, stem the shrinkage of civil society space both inside and outside the UN. Determined work on this front will help the UN earn legitimacy with the ‘peoples of the United Nations’ and strengthen public understanding and support for the Organisation.

For these reasons, the UN cannot afford to miss opportunities to deepen engagement with civil society and harness the energy and capacity of those, such as 1 for 7 Billion’s supporters, who want to work with the UN and rise to the challenge of securing a better world for us all.

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