Civil society organizations with observer status include development-related bodies, umbrella associations representing a wide range of national and international member organizations, chambers of commerce, trade unions, professional associations and specialized bodies in specific sectors such as trade, sustainable development, transport, banking, insurance, environment and commodities.
In accordance with Board decision 43 (VII), organizations are granted status in two different categories depending on their areas of work:
- General observer status is reserved for organizations which exercise functions and have a basic interest in most of the activities of the Board and of its subsidiary bodies. Their representatives can participate in the public meetings of all the intergovernmental bodies of UNCTAD.
Special observer status is granted to organizations which have a special competence only in specific areas of the work of UNCTAD. Their representatives are entitled to participate in public meetings on specific matters falling within the terms of reference of the Board or of one or two of its subsidiary bodies.
There are currently more than 240 non-governmental organizations and 115 intergovernmental organizations participating in the activities of UNCTAD.