ELFAC will bring the voice of large families to the work of the United Nations
The European Large Families Confederation (ELFAC) started the process to be granted consultative status at the United Nations in May 2019. The selection process for applicants takes one year. But due to the covid pandemic, the meetings of the NGO Committee that has to decide on admission or not could not take place, and the vote was delayed for the following year.
For this reason, the meetings of the UN NGO Branch Committee were held between May and June 2021. ELFAC was voted in favour of obtaining the status and, finally, the decision of the NGO Committee was taken for final approval to the plenary assembly of the UN Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC), which was held last July. ELFAC’s approval for consultative status was confirmed by the plenary.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been actively engaged with the United Nations (UN) since its inception in 1945. They work with the United Nations Secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies in various ways, including in consultation with Member States. NGOs contribute to a number of activities including information dissemination, awareness raising, development education, policy advocacy, joint operational projects, participation in intergovernmental processes and in the contribution of services and technical expertise.
Article 71 of the United Nations Charter, which established the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), states the following:
The Economic and Social Council may make suit able arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations which are concerned with matters within its competence. Such arrangements may be made with international organizations and, where appropriate, with national organizations after consultation with the Member of the United Nations concerned.
— United Nations Charter, Chapter X, Article 71
Article 71 of the UN Charter opened the door to provide suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations. The consultative relationship with ECOSOC is governed today by ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, which outlines the eligibility requirements for consultative status, rights and obligations of NGOs in consultative status, procedures for the withdrawal or suspension of consultative status, the role and functions of the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs, and the responsibilities of the UN Secretariat in supporting the consultative relationship.
The United Nations has been working to strengthen cooperation with NGOs across the entire United Nations system and in all areas of its work. As a result, United Nations entities are identifying new modalities to promote increased and more strategic participation of NGOs.
While ECOSOC has the opportunity to avail itself of valuable and expert advice from NGOs, the NGOs in turn also have the opportunity of expressing their views and influencing the work of the Council. NGOs have specialized competence, hands-on experience and flexibility that is of great value to the UN. For instance, by having consultative status, a NGO could:
- ➤ Provide expert analysis on issues directly from its experience in the field;
- ➤ Serve as an early warning agent;
- ➤ Help monitor and implement international agreements;
- ➤ Help raise public awareness of relevant issues;
- ➤ Play a major role in advancing United Nations goals and objectives; and
- ➤ Contribute with essential information at organization events.
On the other hand, ECOSOC provides NGOs the opportunity to be heard by a truly global audience and contribute to its agenda.