"Our times demand a new definition of leadership - global leadership. They demand a new constellation of international cooperation - governments, civil society and the private sector, working together for a collective global good."
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. "
(Anthropologist and Ethnologist, 1901-1978)
All through the United Nations system, an increasingly global civil society participates in proactive and engaged ways to the work of UN offices, programmes and agencies, making the UN both a counterpart and a witness to its contribution. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society organizations (CSOs) are more and more UN system partners and constitute a valuable link for the UN to civil society and "people out there".
CSOs play a key role at major United Nations conferences, they are indispensable partners for UN efforts at the country level, and they are consulted on UN policy and programme matters. UNCCD promotes the active involvement of CSOs in the implementation of the Convention at all levels, and representatives from CSOs that are accredited
to the UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP) may directly participate in its sessions.
The UNCCD secretariat provides accredited CSOs with services aimed at enhancing their involvement in the intergovernmental process. Regular interaction with and feedback from the CSOs are essential to ensure that such services are effective and timely.
As of March 2012 and following the implementation of decision 5/COP10 184 CSOs are now accredited to the UNCCD COP and the secretariat maintains a database of accredited CSOs. The vast majority of these organizations are NGOs; there are also institutions, foundations, associations, local government bodies, trade unions, cooperatives at various levels.
Since the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties the business and industry entities would also be able to attend the sessions of the COPs and its subsidiary bodies if they express interest in participating, if they have specific expertise in matters relating to the Convention; and if they participate in the United Nations Global Compact.
Once accredited to the COP, CSOs can apply for support to attend as observers the UNCCD meetings: the Conference of the Parties sessions of the COP and its subsidiary bodies, the Committee for the Review of the Implementation (CRIC) and the Committee on Science and Technology (CST).
The Panel of Eminent Persons on Civil Society and UN Relationships produced in 2004 a set of practical recommendations on how the UN's relationship with civil society, as well as with the private sector and parliaments, could be improved. The Panel's final report can be accessed at A/58/817
and its Corrigendum.