From discussions at International Civil Society Week 2016 and through the feedback from 1 for 7 billion supporter organisations, it’s clear there is a desire to better understand how candidates for the UN Secretary-General post approach their engagement with civil society.
The Secretary-General’s most important constituency is the world’s seven billion citizens. Being able to represent and engage this constituency as Secretary-General will depend on adopting a participatory and inclusive approach towards civil society.
As curated from 1 for 7 Billion website, below are brief backgrounds and candidates dispositions to the civil society.
1. Irina Bokova
In her Vision Statement, Ms Bokova emphasises the importance of dialogue with multiple stakeholders drawing on the strengths of governments along with the civil society, the private sector and academia, to forge new partnerships for innovative action. She goes on to recognise the need to work with civil society to prevent violence against women.
Ms Bokova’s biography states that “she is a founding member and Chairman of the European Policy Forum, an NGO created to promote European identity and encourage dialogue to overcome divisions in Europe”.
2. Helen Clark
In the context of responding to and anticipating crises, Ms Clark’s Vision Statement states that the UN must “convene for solutions”, adding that “strong partnerships are crucial in this effort” and further remarking that “strategic relationships with non-governmental constituencies, civil society, and the private sector can offer unique contributions”.
Helen Clark’s biography states that she “joined the movements for social justice sweeping New Zealand and the world” whilst a student at the University of Auckland, including the anti-apartheid movement.
3. Christiana Figueres
Ms Figueres in the introduction to her Vision Statement presses the need for a “new model of collaborative diplomacy”, recognising citizen participation as one of the necessary “conditions for a sustained peace”.
Christiana Figueres’ biography states that her leadership of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat was characterised by “active outreach to key stakeholders beyond national governments.”
4. Natalia Gherman
During her informal hearing at the General Assembly, when discussing raising awareness of and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, Ms Gherman spoke about engagement with a wide variety of stakeholders including private sector and civil society: “We should never forget global partnership means the private sector and the civil society”.
In his biography, a preceding letter from the Portuguese government says that “as UN High Commissioner for Refugees [Guterres] maintained excellent cooperation with Member States and developed strong partnerships with civil society and the private sector”.
5. Vuk Jeremić
During his informal dialogue, Mr Jeremić presented his ‘Platform for Action and Impact’ and promised to “work hard to achieve a consistent standard of civil society inclusion across UN bodies”.
During his informal dialogue Mr Jeremić mentioned his role as the President of the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development, an international think-tank registered in Belgrade, Serbia.
6. Srgjan Kerim
In relation to defending human rights, Dr Kerim used his Vision Statement to explain that “citizen participation [is] one of the key components in the intricate and intertwined network of building synergies for strengthening cooperation and enhancing the functionality of multiple organs within the UN system”.
Civil society is part of my understanding of the United Nations”. Dr Kerim reiterated that, as President of the General Assembly, he insisted that civil society be “part and parcel” of the UN’s work, and that he intends this to continue.
7. Miroslav Lajčák
In his Vision Statement, Mr Lajčák writes that it is “vital that the ideas and the work of the United Nations are well communicated to the general public”, and emphasises that “all opinions and all sides must be considered to determine international priorities more fairly and equitably and garner inclusive engagement and commitment”.
Miroslav Lajčák’s biography notes his Chairmanship of the Slovak Government’s Council for Human Rights, National Minorities and Gender Equality and asserts that in this role he led an “unprecedented and inclusive process” through which he was successful in “managing a consensus of minority and disadvantaged groups among various interests from human rights and minority representatives, political parties and churches.”
8. Igor Lukšić
In his Vision Statement, Dr Lukšić recognises that in order for the UN “to improve efficiency and effectiveness on the ground, we need to reinforce partnerships with Governments, civil society, NHRIs and regional organizations.
His biography states that, as Prime Minister of Montenegro (2010 – 2012), the leading principles of the reforms Dr Lukšić initiated with regard to the EU and the WTO “were related to the dialogue in the society and inclusive approach towards the civil sector”.
9. Susana Malcorra
Susana Malcorra’s Vision Statement calls for the UN to be “more inclusive and effective.” During her informal dialogue, Ms Malcorra thanked representatives of civil society for attending the session and stated that “in today’s world the only way to deliver impact is to listen carefully to people and the work in unison with local, national and international partners.”
In her Vision Statement, Ms Pusić describes herself as “a human rights activist during the Croatia and Bosnia Wars” and notes her involvement as “part of the civil society that tried to meet the needs of more than 2 million refugees who came to Croatia—a country of just 4.5 million—in the years 1991 to 1995”.
10. Danilo Türk
In his Vision Statement, Dr Türk states “the vision of the Secretary-General must encompass the legitimate expectations of civil society, the private sector and academia” and goes on to add that “traditional multilateral diplomacy is more horizontally structured, with increasing cooperation with non-governmental actors”.