The UN Charter opens with the words ‘We the Peoples of the United Nations’, not ‘We the Governments’. The difference is being now being taken more seriously, and Kofi Annan has set in motion a process to increase the role of NGOs (or ‘civil society’) in debate and policy formation at the UN.
Yesterday the Enfield and the Barnets United Nations Association convened a meeting of over 16 local groups to take forward the idea of a local Civil Society Forum. The meeting was a great success and all the groups there were enthusiastic to take the idea forward to develop a Forum where local groups could think globally and then take local action. It was felt that a local Civil Society Forum could engage in.
- Communication and education between local groups
- Campaign on issues that are of both local and global concern and
- Lobby MPs and other decision makers about such issues
The first task they will undertake is to organise a number of Hustings in the soon expected General Election so that candidates will be able to answer questions put to them. The planning for this will start immediately.
Secondly it was felt that a number of study and campaign groups could be developed around issues such as human rights and the position of women in society. This will be developed over the next few weeks as the idea of a Civil Society Forum takes shape. The idea of a Forum is that it is not a new organisation but rather a network of existing ones with common aims and goals that can be continuously discussed and agreed.