The role of civil society in international affairs has increased considerably in recent years, particularly in the context of major global conferences. A few years ago, the Governments of member States were virtually the sole players in the international process; non-governmental organizations were seen primarily as mobilizers of public opinion in favour of the goals and values of the United Nations Today, there is a need for partnerships whereby resources are combined. This is particularly true for a knowledge-based institution such as UNCTAD. As UNCTAD works to promote development through capacity and consensus building, research, analysis and technical assistance, it seeks partners to enrich this work. The complexity of development issues requires that non-governmental organizations, private-sector entities, international organizations and member States work together to find solutions. Partnership for development will therefore be one of the cross-cutting issues at UNCTAD XI.
The conference aims to be as inclusive as possible with regard to participation by civil society and intends to operate with a maximum of transparency. At the same time, non-governmental actors keep reminding UNCTAD of the role it could play in meeting the development and social needs of people affected by globalization and by changes in international trade, investment and finance.
During the preparations for UNCTAD XI, for the first time in the organization’s history, a series of civil society hearings with participation by member States was held as part of the process. The hearings took place on 16 January, 23 February and 22 April 2004 and were well attended by representatives from member States, civil society organizations (CSOs) and private-sector entities. The UNCTAD secretariat extended financial support to ensure participation by developing-country CSOs. The hearings provided opportunities for dialogue among delegations from member States and civil society representatives on priority and concrete issues under the four subthemes of the conference. The positive momentum created by the hearings bodes well for the conference in São Paulo.
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Summary of the Hearing with Civil Society and the Private Sector, 16 January 2004
Summary of the Hearing with Civil Society and the Private Sector, 23 February 2004
Lists of NGOs having observer status with UNCTAD
List of CSOs accredited to the conference
Civil Society Forum Declaration to UNCTAD XI