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1. Civil society engagement with the UN

1.1 ECOSOC accreditation

This chapter contains information on ECOSOC accreditation and how it is obtained, as well as information on when you do and don't need it to engage with each UN mechanism.

Each space within the UN has a different level of access, meaning that there are rules dictating when human rights defenders can attend meetings, deliver statements, organise events, or simply observe.

To get access to the UN, an organisation will usually obtain either:

  • Short-term accreditation for a specific UN conference, event or meeting, or
  • Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) accreditation (or ‘consultative status’) which provides for a more permanent relationship with the UN, and grants a higher level of privileges.

ECOSOC Accreditation

Consultative status with ECOSOC offers NGOs key practical benefits, such as:

  • UN grounds passes for their representatives, and the ability to physically enter conference rooms, and interact with diplomats and UN staff.
  • Ability to participate formally in UN meetings.
  • The indirect advantage of providing opportunities for NGOs to network with like-minded NGOs at critical moments, which can contribute to effective joint cross-regional advocacy positions and lobbying activities.

Having ECOSOC consultative status does not mean that an organisation enjoys a formal negotiating role or the chance to vote in UN intergovernmental processes.

It can be a very challenging process to obtain ECOSOC accreditation, as some countries try hard to ensure that NGOs working on ‘sensitive’ issues are not granted the status. The good news is that there are many ways to access the UN human rights mechanisms without having ECOSOC accreditation.

Learn more about the ECOSOC accreditation process:

ISHR's handbook: A Practical Guide to the UN Committee on NGOs

What you can do without ECOSOC accreditation

Fortunately, it is not essential that your organisation obtain ECOSOC status to engage with the UN human rights mechanisms because:

Learn more

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