New York, New York
May 17, 2022
Thank you, Chairperson. Before I begin my statement, I wanted to thank the Secretariat, our outgoing and incoming Chairs, Israel and Turkey, for the kind words and moment of silence about our dear colleague Tony Bonville. Tony is already missed but will live on in our memory.
We welcome our fellow Committee members, observer states, and civil society representatives to this session and look forward to our work together in the coming days. The critical work of this committee helps elevate civil society voices in the UN and beyond, and in turn helps us do our work as member states more effectively.
As we drawdown COVID-19 measures and work towards a new normal at the UN, we must acknowledge the challenges that civil society has faced for over two years in its efforts to have their voices heard on critical issues in this body. While earlier safety measures required limited access to facilities and cancellations of important meetings, we must now move forward and actively reengage with civil society in innovative ways to ensure inclusivity. It does not make sense that while the UN is permitting visitor access, civil society organizations have yet to be given their full allotment of badges; to this end, we are encouraged to hear the Secretariat will restore their pre-COVID access to the UN as soon as possible.
We call on this Committee to reaffirm its commitment to ensuring transparent and fair NGO accreditation processes so that civil society can participate across the UN. This includes meeting the requirement set out in Resolution 1996/31, paragraph 61 (a) to “hold, before each of its sessions… consultations with organizations in consultative status…” We ask that arrangements be made for an NGO consultation to take place prior to the next session of the NGO Committee in August and to ensure that such consultations are scheduled prior to all sessions thereafter. To this end, we were pleased that Committee members decided during the informal sessions to start negotiating long-term modalities for regular consultations – my delegation suggested April and December for these consultations.
In addition, the global pandemic has showed us the need for flexibility and innovation to ensure civil society’s participation in policy decision-making, which must be this Committee’s priority. In a time when individuals all over the world have access to video conferencing, it is imperative that the NGO Committee use this technology to facilitate NGOs’ participation in the relevant portions of its sessions. We will continue to push for a hybrid option for NGOs to participate in the question and answer period. This will be especially impactful for CSOs, particularly those in the global south, who may not have the means to travel to New York; we must demonstrate that we want to hear their voices. We urge the Committee to consider this option and will be revisiting it as soon as possible.
The United States is committed to working with fellow Committee members and civil society to increase accessibility and transparency of this Committee’s work. This includes working in this Committee to amplify civil society voices and pushing back against efforts to stifle them for politically motivated reasons.
We request that this statement be reflected in the report of the Committee.
Thank you, Chairperson.