The objective on the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning is to ensure the participation of NGOs in the processes of global policy making on human rights education and learning in relation to the UN institutions, principally the UN Human Rights Council. The Working Group holds regular meetings for strategy-building and activity planning, organizes public meetings at the UN, delivers civil society views and proposals jointly by member NGOs, and consults and cooperates with the OHCHR and UN Member States and experts. Recently, the Working Group participated in the joint written statement on "the UN framework for human rights education and civil society participation" with 365 signatories including those not in consultative status with the UN ECOSCO and national human rights institutions submitted to the UN Human Rights Council 10th session in March 2009, and has contributed to the drafting process of the draft UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training.
The NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief (Geneva) acts as a sub-committee of the CONGO Special Committee on Human Rights and aims to promote the fundamental freedom of religion or belief by supporting and co-ordinating NGO activities to help uphold UN standards. In particular, the committee seeks to follow and support the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. On Monday this week, in the margins of the 13th Session of the Human Rights Council, the Committee hosted a public dialogue with the current Rapporteur, Ms Asma Jahangir, which was attended by approximately 50 participants, mainly NGOs, and it is currently encouraging the efforts of its members and the wider human rights community to bring forward suitable nominations for the next mandate holder, who will be appointed in June.
Federation of American Women’s Club Overseas (FAWCO) Sara von Moos
MMM International (Mouvement Mondial des Mères/Make Mothers Matter) Valerie Bichelmeier
The Committee and its Working Groups objective is to work in partnership with the UN and its specialised agencies to influence governments to respect the commitments they have made at world conferences and through international conventions and principles, and to maintain a global momentum for mainstreaming gender equality. Through its Working Groups, the Committee shares information and provides a platform where women and men come together to show how society benefits from women’s equal access and opportunities to participate in policy and decision making; to help women build their confidence in order to gain in advancing their status. Some of the significant activities of the Committee over the last decades have included: setting up workshops and panels at the NGO Forum in Huairou China prior to and during the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995; convened a panel of UN interagency focal points to evaluate implementation of Beijing Platform for Action in 1996; organized with CONGO several panels within the theme Gender Equality at the Seoul International Conference of NGOs in Korea in 1999; organized jointly with the ECE Women’s Working Group the European preparatory regional meeting to Beijing Plus Five in January 2000 and collaborated with ECE governmental delegates in drafting the agreed conclusions; collaborated with its Working Groups to organize several panel meetings during the UN Special Session in Geneva in June 2000, on the Follow-up to the Copenhagen Summit on Social Development in 1995; organized jointly with the World Bank a presentation of its Gender Equality and Development programme; organized panels at the UNCTAD Third Conference on Least Developed Countries in Bruxelles in May 2000. Since 1997, the Committee has organized Gender/Women caucuses and panels during the Human Rights Council (and before the Commission on Human Rights as well as facilitated other gender equality meetings during important UN conferences. Reports on these activities have been published.
The Committee on Spirituality, Values & Global Concerns (CSVGC-Geneva) recognises that spirituality, universal values, justice, truth, inclusivity and peace do not belong to any one state, religion or creed but are part of the heritage that belongs to each culture and to every member of the human family. Human cultures and their underlying values are what biodiversity is to nature. Secretary General U Thant stated, "The war we have to wage today has only one goal and that is to make the world safe for diversity". The Committee encourages a spiritual and values perspective in all areas of the United Nations agenda and of public policy by contributing written and oral statements for inclusion in UN declarations and programmes of action. The importance of practical solutions and action was emphasised by Dag Hammarskjöld who wrote "in our age, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action". The Committee acknowledges that an emphasis on universal values and ethics is a key factor in providing common solutions to global concerns and organises regular events that aim to explore the links between these and human rights, the environment, development, health, science etc. CSVGC (Geneva) publishes a series of documents on seminars and meetings and presenting evidence-based knowledge so as to demonstrate the causal effect of the spiritual and value dimensions on personal and global change. Successive Secretaries-General of the United Nations have emphasised the importance of universal and spiritual values on which the whole edifice of the United Nations has been build and through which it can emerge strengthened. CSVGC (Geneva) is dedicated to contributing evermore to this.
The NGO Special Committee on HR provides space for information exchange and collective reflection among its members, in particular in relation to the recent institution building process of the UN Human Rights Council. It also organises and co-sponsors information and orientation sessions during the sessions of the Council. It finally initiated the reflection on improving NGO information sharing and strategic collaboration on substantive issues, notably through promoting an online collaboration platform (www.ngoic.org).
The NGO Committee for Disarmament facilitates and supports coordination and cooperation between civil society, NGOs, and the UN on peace and disarmament initiatives. For thirty-five years, the NGO Committee for Disarmament has played a crucial and expanding role in raising awareness in civil society and among NGOs worldwide on the status of negotiations, country positions, major obstacles and opportunities, and has helped NGOs transmit their expertise and creative proposals to appropriate decision-making fora.
The overall goals and objectives of the Geneva NGO Committee on Ageing include:
- To further the United Nations’ mission of building a society for all ages;
- To raise awareness of ageing and intergenerational issues and ensure that they are adequately addressed by the UN System;
- To advocate for a new convention on the rights of older persons;
- To influence global policy and monitor the implementation of existing commitments.
The Committee will strive to attain its objectives by:
- Strengthening relationships with NGOs and by providing a platform for strategy development;
- Bringing diverse voices from local and national levels to international platforms;
- Drawing on the experience of Committee Members to share analysis on trends, needs and good practices; and
- Maintaining regular communication with the Vienna and New York UN NGO Committees on Ageing and with the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG).
Officers and contact:
representative of the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance (ILC Global Alliance)
Kelly G. Fitzgerald
representative of the International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
representative of the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA)
The Youth Committee of CONGO is a space for information sharing among the youth NGOs based or represented in Geneva.This committee provides a nucleus for youth advocates in Geneva who are active with the UN, and a base for NGO representatives who arrive in Geneva from other areas of the world who wish to discuss issues of concern to youth.The Group meets at least one time per month in order to review and discuss the various UN and NGO processes relevant for youth. Its members include the large worldwide and regional youth movements that work closely with the United Nations.