Full letter:


To: Member States of the UN General Assembly

Cc: President of ECOSOC, President of the General Assembly, President of the Human Rights Council, UN Secretary General.


We are one year out from elections to the ECOSOC Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations for the 2023-2026 term. These elections provide states with a commitment to ensuring civil society access and participation, with the opportunity to stand as candidates for membership. They are also the moment for members of ECOSOC to vote with integrity, ensuring the new membership of its subsidiary body is fit to fulfil its mandate.

To coincide with the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, Member States recently committed to boost partnerships – to make the UN more inclusive and engage with all relevant stakeholders ‘to ensure an effective response to our common challenges’.  In recommending approval of the participation of non-governmental organisations in a range of UN bodies and processes, the Committee on NGOs plays a key role in facilitating such partnerships.  A membership of states committed to fulfilling such a task fairly and judiciously is essential.

With this in mind, we would like to make the following recommendations:

1/ States with an interest in facilitating and safeguarding civil society access to and participation in UN processes should stand for election to the Committee.

2/ Candidates should make public the reasons for their candidacy and their commitment to fulfil their responsibilities as members of the Committee, as per ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31.

3/ All regions should put up competitive slates, as the Asia-Pacific and GRULAC regions did in the last elections for the Committee in 2018.  Competitive elections are important to create buy-in to the process and encourage states to be accountable for their commitments.

4/ All regions should make public candidacies at least two months before the elections to allow for proper consideration of candidates.

5/ All ECOSOC members should vote (and be encouraged to vote) only for candidates with positive track records in regard to civil society access and participation.  Candidates could be assessed in regard to indicators such as support for relevant UN resolutions, such as those on civil society space and human rights defenders; on responses to cases of intimidation and reprisals; and on national level initiatives to safeguard civic space, press freedom – online as offline – and the right to defend human rights.

6/ ECOSOC members should consider introducing term limits for membership of the Committee on NGOs, among other reforms encouraging openness and accountability.  As with other UN bodies, states should be required to leave the Committee for a specific interval of time after serving for a maximum agreed period.  Term limits would encourage greater diversity in membership over time and encourage states to step up as candidates.

The Committee on NGOs is entrusted with an important task in opening the door of the UN to the expertise and experience of civil society partners. It requires members that are committed to fulfilling the Committee’s mandate in a fair, transparent, non-discriminatory, expeditious and apolitical manner. It falls to all member states – as potential candidates and / or electors – to ensure that the Committee membership is fit for purpose.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Access Now
  2. Alliance for Democracy in Laos
  3. Alliance for Equality and Diversity
  4. Asian Legal Resource Centre
  5. Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos
  6. Association de Solidarite Aide et Action Enfance Mali-Jiguiya Ton
  7. Association for Community Research & Action
  8. Association of War Affected Women
  9. Bahrain Center for Human Rights
  10. Botswana Watch Organization
  11. Child Rights International Network
  13. Christian Solidarity Worldwide CSW
  14. Collectif Sénégalais des Africaines pour la Promotion de l’Education Relative à l’Environnement
  15. Colonie des Pionniers du Développement CPD
  16. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  17. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  18. Digital Empowerment Foundation
  19. Edmund Rice International Ltd.
  20. Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities International, Inc.
  21. Families of the Missing
  22. FIDA Nigeria
  23. FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development
  24. Freedom Now
  25. Global Bersih
  26. Global Justice Center
  27. Global Peace and Development Organization
  28. Graduate Women International
  29. Guyana RainBow Foundation (GuyBow)
  30. Helpline Foundation for the Needy Abuja
  31. HIV Legal Network
  32. Human Rights Defenders Network-SL
  33. Human Rights House Foundation
  34. Human Rights Watch
  35. International Alliance of Women
  36. International Dalit Solidarity Network
  37. International Disability Alliance
  38. IFBPW (International Federation of Business and Professional Women)
  39. International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
  40. International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere Region (IPPFWHR)
  41. International Service for Human Rights
  42. Light Organization for Relief and Development Africa (LFORD AFRICA)
  43. Jerusalem Center for Women
  44. Journalists and Writers Foundation
  45. Jubilee Campaign
  46. KULU – Women and Development
  47. Namibia Diverse Women’s Association
  48. Network of Rural Women Producers
  49. New Future Foundation
  50. Nkomo Organization Inc.
  51. Ohaha Family Foundation
  52. Omega Research Foundation
  53. Outright Action International
  54. Pan Pacific and South-East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA)
  55. PEPA l’Humanitaire
  56. Pleaders of Children and Elderly People at Risk-PEPA/NGO
  57. Refugee Council of Australia
  58. Sahkar Social Welfare Association
  59. Servicios Ecumenicos para Reconciliacion y Recostruccion
  60. SERVITAS Cameroon
  61. Sisters of Charity Federation
  62. South Sudanese Christian Women Mission for Peace
  63. Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU)
  64. TRIAL International
  65. The Light Millennium
  66. Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights
  67. Unspoken Smiles Foundation
  68. Validity Foundation – Mental Disability Advocacy Centre
  69. Visaka Dharmadasa
  70. Women4nonviolence
  71. World Uyghur Congress
  72. Yemeni Institute for Strategic Affairs
  73. Yemen Organization for Defending Rights & Democratic Freedoms
  74. Zonta International