UN-accredited Human Rights NGOs

UN NGO Accreditation: The Promises of the Charter Ignored

The UN has various processes for NGOs to become affiliated or accredited to the organization. Accreditation entitles NGOs to benefits, including the wider dissemination of their views by way of the internet, conferences or publications. In theory, in order to qualify for accreditation NGOs must operate in conformity with, or promote, the UN Charter -- namely, affirm "faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small."

Generally, UN accreditation or affiliation is done either through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) or the Department of Public Information (DPI). In the case of Israeli-related matters it can also be accomplished through the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

The qualifier for UN accreditation of an NGO is that "the aims and purposes of the organization shall be in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations" - in the case of ECOSOC accreditation, "support and respect the principles of the Charter of the United Nations" - in the case of DPI accreditation, and "support the Charter of the United Nations" - in the case of accreditation by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

There are three categories of ECOSOC accreditation available to NGOs: general consultative status, special consultative status, roster. These are the rules surrounding the process of accreditation.

For all Three Categories:

a. How to get accreditation and the process of application:

Application mainly consists of disclosing any funding from governments, submitting examples of publications, as well as a description of the aims of the organization and examples of activities pursued by the organization, as well as a statement of future contribution to ECOSOC.

"Once an application from an NGO has been reviewed and approved by the Committee [on NGOs] it is only considered recommended for consultative status. As soon as possible during its next meeting, the Economic and Social Council reviews these recommendations, takes note of the Committee's report and makes the decisions final."
b. What promises or undertakings are required to be entitled to accreditation:

Resolution 1996/31
" The following principles shall be applied in establishing consultative relations with non-governmental organizations:
...2. The aims and purposes of the organization shall be in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
3. The organization shall undertake to support the work of the United Nations and to promote knowledge of its principles and activities, in accordance with its own aims and purposes and the nature and scope of its competence and activities.
...5. Consultative relationships may be established with international, regional, subregional and national organizations, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles and criteria established under the present resolution.
57. The consultative status of non-governmental organizations with the Economic and Social Council and the listing of those on the Roster shall be suspended up to three years or withdrawn in the following cases:
(a) If an organization, either directly or through its affiliates or representatives acting on its behalf, clearly abuses its status by engaging in a pattern of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations including unsubstantiated or politically motivated acts against Member States of the United Nations incompatible with those purposes and principles;
c. Who approves the application:

Resolution 1996/31
"60. The members of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations shall be elected by the Council on the basis of equitable geographical representation, in accordance with the relevant Council resolutions and decision 1/ and rules of procedure of the Council."

"The Committee has 19 members (Council resolution 1981/50 of 20 July 1981) who are elected on the basis of equitable geographical representation: 5 members from African States; 4 members from Asian States; 2 members from Eastern European States; 4 members from Latin American and Caribbean States; and 4 members from Western European and other States. In accordance with ECOSOC decision 70 (ORG-75) of 28 January 1975, the term of office of its members is four years"

Current Members of the Committee: Azerbaijan (Vice-Chair and Rapporteur), Burundi, China, Cuba, Greece, Guinea, India, Iran, Israel, Mauritania (Vice-Chair), Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey (Vice-Chair), United States of America, Uruguay (Chair) and Venezuela.
a. What is it:

Resolution 1996/31
"22. Organizations that are concerned with most of the activities of the Council and its subsidiary bodies and can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Council that they have substantive and sustained contributions to make to the achievement of the objectives of the United Nations in fields set out in paragraph 1 above, and are closely involved with the economic and social life of the peoples of the areas they represent and whose membership, which should be considerable, is broadly representative of major segments of society in a large number of countries in different regions of the world shall be known as organizations in general consultative status."
b. To what does it entitle the organization:

Resolution 1996/31
"28. Organizations in general consultative status may propose to the Council Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations that the Committee request the Secretary-General to place items of special interest to the organizations in the provisional agenda of the Council.
29. Organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status may designate authorized representatives to sit as observers at public meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies. Those on the Roster may have representatives present at such meetings concerned with matters within their field of competence. These attendance arrangements may be supplemented to include other modalities of participation.
30. Written statements relevant to the work of the Council may be submitted by organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status on subjects in which these organizations have a special competence. Such statements shall be circulated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the members of the Council, except those statements that have become obsolete, for example, those dealing with matters already disposed of and those that had already been circulated in some other form....
Oral presentations during meetings
32. (a) The Council Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations shall make recommendations to the Council as to which organizations in general consultative status should make an oral presentation to the Council and on which items they should be heard. Such organizations shall be entitled to make one statement to the Council, subject to the approval of the Council.
(b) Whenever the Council discusses the substance of an item proposed by a non-governmental organization in general consultative status and included in the agenda of the Council, such an organization shall be entitled to present orally to the Council, as appropriate, an introductory statement of an expository nature. Such an organization may be invited by the President of the Council, with the consent of the relevant body, to make, in the course of the discussion of the item before the Council, an additional statement for purposes of clarification.
34. Organizations in general consultative status may propose items for the provisional agenda of commissions...
35. Organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status may designate authorized representatives to sit as observers at public meetings of the commissions and other subsidiary organs of the Council.
36. Written statements relevant to the work of the commissions or other subsidiary organs may be submitted by organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status on subjects for which these organizations have a special competence...
Oral presentations during meetings
38. (a) The commission or other subsidiary organs may consult with organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status either directly or through a committee or committees established for the purpose. In all cases, such consultations may be arranged upon the request of the organization;...
42. Non-governmental organizations in general consultative status, special consultative status and on the Roster, that express their wish to attend the relevant international conferences convened by the United Nations and the meetings of the preparatory bodies of the said conferences shall as a rule be accredited for participation.
61. ...(c) Organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status shall submit to the Council Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations through the Secretary-General every fourth year a brief report of their activities, specifically as regards the support they have given to the work of the United Nations. Based on findings of the Committee's examination of the report and other relevant information, the Committee may recommend to the Council any reclassification in status of the organization concerned as it deems appropriate. However, under exceptional circumstances, the Committee may ask for such a report from an individual organization in general consultative status or special consultative status or on the Roster, between the regular reporting dates;
65. All organizations in consultative relationship shall be able to consult with officers of the appropriate sections of the Secretariat on matters in which there is a mutual interest or a mutual concern. Such consultation shall be upon the request of the non-governmental organization or upon the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
66. The Secretary-General may request organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status and those on the Roster to carry out specific studies or prepare specific papers, subject to the relevant financial regulations.
67. The Secretary-General shall be authorized, within the means at his disposal, to offer to non-governmental organizations in consultative relationship facilities that include:
(a) Prompt and efficient distribution of such documents of the Council and its subsidiary bodies as shall in the judgment of the Secretary-General be appropriate;
(b) Access to the press documentation services provided by the United Nations;
(c) Arrangement of informal discussions on matters of special interest to groups or organizations;
(d) Use of the libraries of the United Nations;
(e) Provision of accommodation for conferences or smaller meetings of consultative organizations on the work of the Economic and Social Council;
(f) Appropriate seating arrangements and facilities for obtaining documents during public meetings of the General Assembly dealing with matters in the economic, social and related fields."
c. Which NGOs have it:
Full list
a.What is it:

Resolution 1996/31
"23. Organizations that have a special competence in, and are concerned specifically with, only a few of the fields of activity covered by the Council and its subsidiary bodies, and that are known within the fields for which they have or seek consultative status shall be known as organizations in special consultative status...
25. Organizations to be accorded special consultative status because of their interest in the field of human rights should pursue the goals of promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action."
b. To what does it entitle the organization:

Resolution 1996/31
"29. Organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status may designate authorized representatives to sit as observers at public meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies. Those on the Roster may have representatives present at such meetings concerned with matters within their field of competence. These attendance arrangements may be supplemented to include other modalities of participation.
30. Written statements relevant to the work of the Council may be submitted by organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status on subjects in which these organizations have a special competence. Such statements shall be circulated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the members of the Council, except those statements that have become obsolete, for example, those dealing with matters already disposed of and those that had already been circulated in some other form.
Oral presentations during meetings
32. (a)... In the absence of a subsidiary body of the Council with jurisdiction in a major field of interest to the Council and to organizations in special consultative status, the Committee may recommend that organizations in special consultative status be heard by the Council on the subject in its field of interest;
35. Organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status may designate authorized representatives to sit as observers at public meetings of the commissions and other subsidiary organs of the Council.
36. Written statements relevant to the work of the commissions or other subsidiary organs may be submitted by organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status on subjects for which these organizations have a special competence...
Oral presentations during meetings
38. (a) The commission or other subsidiary organs may consult with organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status either directly or through a committee or committees established for the purpose. In all cases, such consultations may be arranged upon the request of the organization;
42. Non-governmental organizations in general consultative status, special consultative status and on the Roster, that express their wish to attend the relevant international conferences convened by the United Nations and the meetings of the preparatory bodies of the said conferences shall as a rule be accredited for participation.
61. ...(c) Organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status shall submit to the Council Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations through the Secretary-General every fourth year a brief report of their activities, specifically as regards the support they have given to the work of the United Nations. Based on findings of the Committee's examination of the report and other relevant information, the Committee may recommend to the Council any reclassification in status of the organization concerned as it deems appropriate. However, under exceptional circumstances, the Committee may ask for such a report from an individual organization in general consultative status or special consultative status or on the Roster, between the regular reporting dates;
65. All organizations in consultative relationship shall be able to consult with officers of the appropriate sections of the Secretariat on matters in which there is a mutual interest or a mutual concern. Such consultation shall be upon the request of the non-governmental organization or upon the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
66. The Secretary-General may request organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status and those on the Roster to carry out specific studies or prepare specific papers, subject to the relevant financial regulations.
67. The Secretary-General shall be authorized, within the means at his disposal, to offer to non-governmental organizations in consultative relationship facilities that include:
(a) Prompt and efficient distribution of such documents of the Council and its subsidiary bodies as shall in the judgement of the Secretary-General be appropriate;
(b) Access to the press documentation services provided by the United Nations;
(c) Arrangement of informal discussions on matters of special interest to groups or organizations;
(d) Use of the libraries of the United Nations;
(e) Provision of accommodation for conferences or smaller meetings of consultative organizations on the work of the Economic and Social Council;
(f) Appropriate seating arrangements and facilities for obtaining documents during public meetings of the General Assembly dealing with matters in the economic, social and related fields."
c. Which NGOs have it:
Full list
a. What is it:

Resolution 1996/31
"24. Other organizations that do not have general or special consultative status but that the Council, or the Secretary-General of the United Nations in consultation with the Council or its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, considers can make occasional and useful contributions to the work of the Council or its subsidiary bodies or other United Nations bodies within their competence shall be included in a list (to be known as the Roster)."
b. To what does it entitle the organization:

Resolution 1996/31
"35...Organizations on the Roster may have representatives present at [public] meetings that are concerned with matters within their field of competence...
36...(f) The Secretary-General, in consultation with the President of the Council, or the Council or its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, may invite organizations on the Roster to submit written statements.
Oral presentations during meetings
38. (b) On the recommendation of the Secretary-General and at the request of the commission or other subsidiary organs, organizations on the Roster may also be heard by the commission or other subsidiary organs.
42. Non-governmental organizations in general consultative status, special consultative status and on the Roster, that express their wish to attend the relevant international conferences convened by the United Nations and the meetings of the preparatory bodies of the said conferences shall as a rule be accredited for participation.
61. c) Organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status shall submit to the Council Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations through the Secretary-General every fourth year a brief report of their activities, specifically as regards the support they have given to the work of the United Nations. Based on findings of the Committee's examination of the report and other relevant information, the Committee may recommend to the Council any reclassification in status of the organization concerned as it deems appropriate. However, under exceptional circumstances, the Committee may ask for such a report from an individual organization in general consultative status or special consultative status or on the Roster, between the regular reporting dates;
65. All organizations in consultative relationship shall be able to consult with officers of the appropriate sections of the Secretariat on matters in which there is a mutual interest or a mutual concern. Such consultation shall be upon the request of the non-governmental organization or upon the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
66. The Secretary-General may request organizations in general consultative status and special consultative status and those on the Roster to carry out specific studies or prepare specific papers, subject to the relevant financial regulations.
67. The Secretary-General shall be authorized, within the means at his disposal, to offer to non-governmental organizations in consultative relationship facilities that include:
(a) Prompt and efficient distribution of such documents of the Council and its subsidiary bodies as shall in the judgement of the Secretary-General be appropriate;
(b) Access to the press documentation services provided by the United Nations;
(c) Arrangement of informal discussions on matters of special interest to groups or organizations;
(d) Use of the libraries of the United Nations;
(e) Provision of accommodation for conferences or smaller meetings of consultative organizations on the work of the Economic and Social Council;
(f) Appropriate seating arrangements and facilities for obtaining documents during public meetings of the General Assembly dealing with matters in the economic, social and related fields."
c. Which NGOs have it:
Full list
a. What is it:

"While consultative status with ECOSOC may be obtained by NGOs whose work covers issues on the agenda of ECOSOC, association with DPI also requires having effective information programmes in place and the ability and means to disseminate information about the work of the United Nations."
b. How to get accreditation and the process of application:

An NGO must submit the following documents to the UN Information Centre (UNIC) covering the country where NGO is based:
  • A completed Application Form for Non-Governmental Organizations
  • A copy of the organization's constitution/charter or by-laws
  • Official proof of non-profit status, issued by public authorities, and tax exemption status (Note: The document should be on official letterhead and dated.)
  • A copy of the organization's most recent audited financial statement, conducted by a qualified and independent accountant (preferably in U.S. dollars).
  • 6 different samples of your organization's most recent information materials related to the work of the United Nations (for example: newsletters, reports, audio or video productions, blogs, promotional publications/advertisement of events, etc)
  • 2 recommendation letters from an individual/organization
  • 1 recommendation letter from a UN Information Centre/Service (UNIC/UNIS), UN Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) or a UN office with which NGO has partnered.
c. What promises or undertakings are required to be entitled to accreditation:

"NGO responsibilities
Associated NGOs through their information programmes are expected to
  • To raise public awareness particularly in grass root and rural communities about key issues on the UN agenda including the priorities of the UN Secretary-General
  • Disseminate information and promote issues of global concern such as the Millennium Development Goals, human trafficking, climate change and vulnerable communities, HIV/AIDS, sustainable energy, violence against women, the empowerment of rural women, nuclear security, disarmament and the arms trade treaty, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and issues of drugs and crime among others.
  • Design and implement public information activities and programmes including the printing and dissemination of publications promoting the work of the United Nations.
  • Collaborate with UN Information Centres or Services on advocacy campaigns or other promotional public information activities.
  • Submit yearly an online Annual Review form through the Civil Society Organizations' Network. This is the process by which DPI-associated NGOs report back to the DPI/NGO Relations Section on their work and public information activities in support of the United Nations, and are evaluated."
"Annual Review
"Associated NGOs undergo a specifically designed annual review process.
Every year the DPI Committee on NGOs evaluates associated NGOs to determine if they have fulfilled their association responsibilities.
The Annual Review form allows each NGO to (re)designate up to six representatives, and to report on their most recent activities and public information programmes."
d. Who approves the application:
It is considered and approved by the DPI Committee on NGO. The Committee is composed of the Directors of the DPI or their representatives.
e. To what does it entitle the organization:

DPI/NGO Section provides
  • grounds passes for activities or events organized by its office held at UN Headquarters in New York
  • participation in the Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference
  • participation and contribution to the weekly Thursday NGO Briefings at UN Headquarters in New York
  • access to materials, activities and events which promote the work of the United Nations
  • access to the Dag Hammarskj÷ld Library at UN Headquarters in New York
  • use of the DPI / NGO Resource Centre at UN Headquarters in New York as a meeting space to network and lobby
f. Which NGOs have it:
Full list



There are two categories of accreditation available to NGOs from the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of The Palestinian People: "accredited" and "observer." These are the rules surrounding the process of accreditation.

a. How to get accreditation and the process of application:

NGOs must submit an application form (contact information, description of current activities and programs and information on any publications of the organization) to the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, which then submits it for approval to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
b. What promises or undertakings are required to be entitled to accreditation:

"Criteria for accreditation of NGOs"
"The criteria for accreditation are as follows:

"The civil society organization should:
"(a) Be a recognized local, national or international non-profit organization;
"(b) Support the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of international law and the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily its right to self-determination;
"(c) Have demonstrated that it has concrete programmes or the serious intent to establish such programmes in support of the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

"Organizations whose mandates preclude advocacy but whose work encompasses humanitarian ends and programmes, including development, benefiting the Palestinian people, are welcome to participate.

Interested civil society organizations are requested to submit an application form to the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat, which will submit it for approval to the Committee. The form requires various information, including: contact details of NGO and principal officer, areas of activity, how its programs relate to the Question of Palestine, geographical scope and membership profile.

Organizations that, for one reason or another, feel they cannot subscribe to the accreditation criteria, but have expressed interest in the activities of the Committee can request to be recognized as observers.

Civil society organizations in observer status will be invited to attend events held under the auspices of the Committee. They may speak at civil society meetings and conferences held under the auspices of the Committee, and will be included in the mailing list of the Division. Civil society organizations in observer status have the responsibility to respect the United Nations rules of procedure, as well as the guidelines, procedures and practice established by the Committee and to report informally to the Committee (through the Division) on their planned and accomplished activities."
c. Who approves the application:

The Committee is composed of the following Member States: Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Cyprus, Guinea, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela.

The observers at the Committee meetings are: Algeria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam, Yemen, African Union, League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Palestine.

Current members of the Bureau of the Committee are: Amb. Abdou Salam Diallo (Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations), Chairman of the Committee; Amb. Zahir Tanin (Afghanistan), Vice-Chairman; Amb. Pedro N˙˝ez Mosquera (Cuba), Vice-Chairman; and Amb. Saviour Borg (Malta), Rapporteur.
d. To what does it entitle the organization:

"Accredited civil society organizations will be invited to attend all relevant international meetings and conferences held under the auspices of the Committee and participate in the discussions and to make statements, either orally or in written form. They may submit reports, written statements and other relevant documents for circulation among Committee Members and Observers. They will have the opportunity to display, after prior screening by the Secretariat, their own publications at such meetings. Accredited civil society organizations are also invited to make suggestions regarding the preparation and conduct of civil society events held under the auspices of the Committee.

Accredited civil society organizations can use these international meetings as a platform to discuss their own initiatives, campaigns, views and ideas. They can network with each other, in order to coordinate action, and meet representatives of Governments and intergovernmental organizations. They can attend panel discussions, where experts from around the world, including the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, provide information and analyses on their own work, as well as on current political and humanitarian developments.

The reports of the international meetings and conferences are issued as publications of the Division. They are widely disseminated, not only to the network of accredited civil society organizations, but also to Governments, intergovernmental and United Nations system entities, experts who have participated in these events and others interested in the issue. They are also posted on the "Question of Palestine" website administered by the Division.

Whenever appropriate, Members of the Committee and/or staff of the Division will consult with accredited civil society organizations on issues related to the question of Palestine. Civil society organizations will also receive all publications issued by the Division and other relevant information material."
e. Which NGOs have it:

The Committee on the Exercise of Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has created an "NGO Network" of NGOs accredited by the Committee. The current list can be found here. Also, in November 2013 the Committee launched a UN Platform for Palestine web-portal which lists accredited organizations and observers to the Committee here.