Box 5.3 Report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations
Given the rapidly changing international environment—particularly the spread of social movements accompanying the information revolution—the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations called for the United Nations to become more attuned and responsive to citizens’ concerns and enlist greater public support. The report of the Panel, entitled “We the Peoples: Civil Society, the United Nations and Global Governance” (A/58/817 and Corr.1, June 2004), outlined a set of proposals for enhancing civil society engagement covering four main areas: ensuring the United Nations became an outward looking organization; connecting “the local with the global”; helping strengthen democracy in the twenty-first century; and embracing a plurality of constituencies.
The report advocated a paradigm shift in how the UN works, calling on the Organization to foster "multi-constituency" processes that incorporate into its work the perspectives and capacities of citizen groups, policy advocates, businesses, local governments and parliamentarians.
Noting that the proposals of the Panel aim to strengthen the United Nations, enrich intergovernmental debate and improve the services it provides to the world's people, the Secretary-General endorsed the report and called for greater involvement by civil society in the work of the Organization. The Secretary-General suggested that the contribution of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in intergovernmental bodies be built into the General Assembly's regular business and called for improving the UN Secretariat's dialogue with NGOs, including by giving them easier access to information and documentation.