At a recent meeting of the Liaison Committee, it was agreed to establish a Working Group on Strengthening Cooperation with UNESCO National Commissions with a specific brief and timeline for action, based on Recommendation No.1 from the Advisory Group of Presidents, and call for action at the earliest opportunity.
Note from the Report:
“Over the years, it has been difficult for partner NGOs to interact effectively with the National Commissions, in some cases aggravated by a climate of mistrust or prejudice towards NGOs in general, in certain regions or countries. When the Forums were organised outside Paris, they enabled the Liaison Committee and
certain partner NGOs to have close and unhindered exchanges with the host country and in particular with its National Commission. However, these situations are rare and limited in time, and only in exceptional cases, such as in Côte d'Ivoire, has there been a continuation of the dialogue and follow-up with the State concerned.
It is therefore important for the Liaison Committee to seize as many relevant opportunities as possible to advocate for a closer partnership with NGOs with the National Commissions, by meeting with them and, if possible, intervening in their meetings. The Committee could play a dual role, explaining and sharing its own work while making the National Commissions aware of the actions and expertise of NGOs on the ground.
Further reflection by partner NGOs or the Liaison Committee could be undertaken on the reasons behind the current lack of interaction of partner NGOs with National Commissions, as well as on possible ways to support and promote this important partnership.
…In view of the in-depth global reflections undertaken in the past (in particular by the 2019-2020 working group on strengthening the partnership) and in order not to duplicate this work, it would be useful to launch a more targeted reflection on the causes of the lack of interaction, bilateral or collective, of partner NGOs with the National Commissions for UNESCO. This is an approach that, in our opinion, deserves to be further developed and could help to identify possible ways of strengthening and promoting this important partnership. A working group could be set up on this subject.
It goes without saying that we nevertheless recommend that the Committee endeavour, as far as possible and where applicable, to ensure the most inclusive and diverse participation of NGO partners, taking advantage in particular of current technological means, to encourage and give an opportunity to every NGO that wishes to express itself.”
Mandate for the Working Group
The mandate for this Working Group is to establish recommendations for the benefit of NGOs in Official Partnership with UNESCO on how best to strengthen partnership with National Commissions, and to better understand the reasons behind the current lack of interaction between NGOs and the National Commissions.
With the current mandate of the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee in mind, it is intended for this Working Group to work on a strict timeline, as laid out below:
Wednesday 27 July 2022
This first meeting of the Working Group went ahead, with 110 representatives having registered interest (including those who stated they were unable to attend but wished to be involved in future). 61 participants attended the meeting, with very strong geographical diversity. Very constructive input was received, with 20 NGOs taking the floor.
Volunteers were received for the Text Group in the meeting by voice and chat, and several emails were received. After the meeting, the Co-Chairs agreed the participation of the following Text Group, considering geographic diversity, NGO representation, gender balance, and linguistic options:
Claire Rozier - Clowns Without Borders International (France)
Cyril Noirtin - Rotary International (France)
Evelyn Para - Soroptimist International (France)
Nadine Shilli – World Organization of the Scout Movement (Tunisia) (Co-Chair)
Nick Newland - Associated Country Women of the World (UK) (Co-Chair)
Olga Legacka - International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (Poland)
Pat McKann - Comité mondial pour les apprentissages tout au long de la vie (France) (WG Secretary)
Ramon Tuazon - Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (Philippines)
Stacy Dry Lara – Graduate Women International (Switzerland)
The first meeting of the Text Group was held on 4 August 2022 at 15.00h Paris time
August 2022 – the Text Group shall prepare an initial draft based on feedback from all who participated in the initial meeting of the Working Group. Additionally, they will contact National Commissions from a variety of countries to ask for their feedback and thoughts on the issue of cooperation with NGOs. This will help inform the recommendations and draft.
Early September 2022 – Second meeting of the Working Group – all participants will have be sent the initial draft from the Text Group for feedback and additional thoughts in the meeting.
Mid-September 2022 – the Text Group will incorporate feedback and information from the Working Group to create a revised draft of the Recommendations.
Late September 2022 – Third and final Meeting of the Working Group, to discuss and confirm the Recommendations document. This document, if approved, to be signed by participants and sent for endorsement to the International Conference of NGOs in Official Partnership in December 2022.
The Working Group meetings will be held in French and English, with simultaneous interpretation to ensure broad and diverse representation and participation. The Text Group shall work in French and English for the same reason. All documents will be prepared in French and English and circulated simultaneously.