Summary: Working Group on Civil Society and International Organizations Cooperation
The discussion mainly focused on the World Civil Society Forum (WCSF) itself.
WCSF is considered as an important step in bringing non-governmental organisations from different part of the world together. But if such a Forum were to continue to take place, how would it be organised and recognised? What would its role be? How would it manage to bring together organisations from around the world and be representative?
Regarding the WCSF it was agreed that it would probably not be recognised at the UN level. Many forums on civil society do take place each year and this particular one has no structure, status or legitimacy yet. Participants felt that the WSCF should be representative (many organisations could not attend the Forum
due to cost or visas reasons) and should not duplicate any existing movement. It should rather act as a reinforcement body.
The idea of having a body that would allow organisations to share materials, disseminate information, exchange ideas, promote values, monitor applications of the Declaration,
and raise awareness was found appealing. But who would be responsible for this network? Who would be in charge of updating the database? One participant expressed the view that a network can only be successful if it is coherent, relevant (topics should therefore be relevant to NGOs and civil society) and sustainable (so funding sources had to be found). Another participant felt that if the Forum represented a united
movement - a global civil society network - then it would have more power on the international scene and more power to raise funds.
It was felt by some that the Forum should take place more locally or regionally to get more people together.
A delegate thought that the Forum should act as watchdog body. To him the UN is facing a crisis of neglect and civil society has surpassed UN agencies on the field. The WCSF could make sure that the UN is fulfilling its commitments, solving problems and is accountable.
The importance of civil society working with the UN was further stressed. At local level relations between the two parties are disastrous and need to improve. At global level, stronger cooperation between civil society would makes it easier to get round the UN system and be better
One participant thought that civil society should try to work with
inter-parliamentary unions. One of the panelists replied that parliamentarians have to serve at a local, constituency level and that they are not interested in global agendas. They would agree to work on specific issues
The problem of the UN lack of resources was also mentioned. The UN is asked to do more and more but on the other hand it suffers from reduction of
The need for enhanced credibility of civil society and NGOs was also discussed. It was agreed that they have to be more critical of themselves and be accountable.
Participants did not manage to formulate concrete proposals on the future role and organisation of the WCSF. They decided to meet again after the session.
here for all available presenters' documents
here for all available summaries
read about the summaries