The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to promote and develop constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society organizations.
A Short History
The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) was established in 1975 by several UN agencies to serve as a UN System-civil society interface. Since its creation, the UN General Assembly has recognized the value of UN-NGLS’s work on several occasions, in 1982 and again, in 1993.
The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) promotes constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society through dynamic partnerships to foster greater coherence around cross-cutting and emerging issues on the UN’s agenda and by facilitating meaningful civil society engagement in UN processes.
Drawing on its inter-agency nature and UN system-wide perspective, UN-NGLS provides strategic information, analysis and support to a wide range of constituencies, using its unique convening and networking capacity to strengthen multi-stakeholder dialogue and alliance-building on core UN issues.
To fulfill its mandate, UN-NGLS carries out the following activities:
Providing information within reach. UN-NGLS closely monitors and reports on ongoing deliberations at the UN on its broad economic and social development, human rights, environment, peace and security agenda. It produces accessible and concise information, which is widely circulated among civil society actors, as well as UN and diplomatic circles through a database of more than 20,000 entries. Its communication and information programme includes an e-magazine, The 2015 Post, policy briefs and a series of Primers that explain post-Rio+20 and post-2015 intergovernmental processes.
Facilitating civil society participation in UN processes and deliberations.
UN-NGLS offers its expertise and support to civil society organizations (CSO) in their work with the UN. UN-NGLS advises organizations on opportunities to engage with the UN and facilitates their participation in various UN processes and events (conferences, hearings, workshops, etc.). UN-NGLS has a specific commitment to enhance the participation of southern and underrepresented civil society actors.
Supporting the UN System in developing productive relationships with civil society.
With system-wide experience and expertise on civil society engagement, UN-NGLS assists UN bodies and agencies in the implementation of their civil society strategies and helps address gaps and fill needs as they arise on the UN System-civil society interface. Upon request, it facilitates the coordination of civil society’s participation in inter-agency projects and initiatives. UN-NGLS also organizes the annual CSO focal point meetings, bringing together all the staff responsible for external relations in the organizations of the multilateral system. These meetings provide an opportunity to build a strong community of practice for multi-stakeholder involvement in global affairs through the sharing of best practices and lessons learnt.
Providing strategic analysis on emerging trends in UN-civil society relations.
UN-NGLS promotes debates and provides analysis on emerging trends in UN-civil society relations, tracking the political dynamics, as well as the evolution of global civil society. UN-NGLS is continuously exploring new ways of interaction between the UN and civil society. It regularly engages in participatory research projects to examine the UN System’s engagement with new and emerging actors of global governance, (such as grassroots organizations, social movements and indigenous peoples’ organizations), with the view of showcasing best practices, stimulating debate within UN circles and between the UN and civil society actors.
Since 2010, UN-NGLS has accelerated its pace in providing services for both the UN System and its civil society constituents by providing substantial input to all of the major UN events involving civil society, including the Rio+20 process and its outcomes, and the post-2015 development agenda discussions. During these processes, UN-NGLS has organized and conducted briefings, orientation sessions and workshops, and has co-hosted civil society consultations to raise awareness around substantive themes under discussion, and to provide an exchange of views.
In 2013, UN-NGLS embarked for the first time on regional outreach efforts. The regional consultation, held from June to August 2013, gathered critical analysis from civil society on the UN post-2015 development agenda through teleconference dialogues with regional civil society networks, in four languages (Arabic, English, French and Spanish). The synthesis report, presenting recommendations from these networks, was delivered to the UN Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, Heads of State and Government attending the General Assembly Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals on 25 September 2013, and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG on SDGs).
At the request of the President of the General Assembly (PGA), UN-NGLS designed a civil society nomination process for civil society speakers in the six events that the PGA hosted on “setting the stage for the post-2015 development agenda.” This open and transparent process has enabled greater civil society participation from all regions of the world in these post-2015 events. In light of the success of the process, the Office of the President of the General Assembly has requested NGLS to lead the civil society nomination process for many General Assembly-mandated events, as well as other events within the UN system, including the Sustainable Energy for All Forum and the Small Island Developing States Conference.
At the request of UN-DESA, UN-NGLS was asked to support and facilitate the work of the steering committee of non-state actors in its interface role with the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF). This work entails structuring the multi-stakeholder dialogues held within the formal sessions of the ICESDF and assisting in the selection process of civil society participants in the regional/global outreach meetings; these efforts have resulted in the ability of civil society to contribute more directly and substantively to the Committee of Experts’ work.
At the request of UNDG, UN-NGLS is one of the co-leads in the UNDG Phase II consultations for the “partnerships with civil society” component of the “Dialogues on Implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.” UN-NGLS organized a meeting in May 2014 with civil society to hear their priorities for this exercise, which aims to enhance civil society influence in shaping Member States positions on the post-2015 process as well as their contribution towards shaping key policies related to Means of Implementation.
UN-NGLS’s programme of work encompasses a wide range of activities, spanning the UN system’s broad development agenda.