UNCTAD welcomes five more NGOs to the family

07 June 2018

The non-governmental organizations were granted observer status with UNCTAD during the annual meeting of its government body, the Trade and Development Board.

Five non-governmental organizations were granted observer status with UNCTAD on 7 June, bringing to 234 the total number of NGOs that have a special relationship with the UN’s trade and development agency.

The decision came during the annual meeting of UNCTAD’s governing body – the Trade and Development Board – gathering at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, from 4 to 12 June.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi has called NGOs “trusted partners", saying that, with the advent of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, their role has become even more critical than before.

"Our mandate and fidelity to the Agenda 2030 will be strengthened by finding synergies with the voices of civil society, as representatives of the majority of grass roots movements," Dr. Kituyi has said.

“We need civil society to help us follow new paths to sustainable development.”

With a swift bang of the gavel, the Trade and Development Board’s president, Ambassador Salim Baddoura of Lebanon, officially welcomed the following organizations to the UNCTAD NGO family:

  • Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), a feminist, membership-driven network of more than 230 women’s rights organizations and activists from 27 countries in the region

  • The Brussels-based Stichting Fair Trade Advocacy Office, which speaks up for marginalized producers and workers in the global South and advocates for a more equitable global trading system.

  • Terrawatt Initiative, a global non-profit organization that aims to remove the legal, political and technical barriers to clean energy, so that by 2030 there’s at least 1 terawatt of additional solar power capacity

  • The European Business Council for Africa and the Mediterranean (EBCAM), a Brussels-based association of more than 4,000 businesses that promotes trade with and investment in Africa

  • The Trade and Economic Development Council (TEDC), a Moscow-based independent, non-commercial organization promoting trade with and business development in the Russian Federation

“Firstly, we extend our appreciation for our addition into the UNCTAD NGO family,” Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development said in a written statement to the Trade and Development Board.

“Our members…have been on the receiving end of inequitable globalization and its systems,” the statement added. “We call upon UNCTAD and member states to further develop and strengthen its work and analysis on the impact of trade and investment rules on women's human rights, and to do that work with feminist and women's rights organizations.”

Maxim Chereshnev, the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council’s, also addressed UNCTAD’s member states through a written statement.

“TEDC has always stressed the importance of UNCTAD’s analytical work and policy recommendations, especially in the areas of macroeconomic policies, finance, trade and investment,” Mr. Chereshnev said.

“We underline the importance and values of the UNCTAD policy regarding engagement of non-governmental organizations,” he added, highlighting that NGO participation was key to strengthening the UN organization.

Non-governmental organizations, trade unions, business associations and other civil society organizations that want to work closely with UNCTAD on trade and development issues are encouraged to apply for observer status.

Getting status gives organizations automatic access to UNCTAD’s public meetings, including its ministerial conferences, where they can contribute to policy discussions and debates. It also means they’ll receive up-to-date information on UNCTAD’s projects and publications.

To be eligible, an organization must address issues relevant to UNCTAD’s work and satisfy the criteria set by the Trade and Development Board.

UNCTAD’s member states have the final say on whether an organization receives observer status.