ECOSOC

About the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

ECOSOC at Work

The world’s economic, social and environmental challenges are ECOSOC’s concern. A founding UN Charter body established in 1946, ECOSOC is the place where such issues are discussed and debated, and policy recommendations issued.

As such, ECOSOC has broad responsibility for some 70% of the human and financial resources of the entire UN system, including 14 specialized agencies, 9 “functional” commissions, and five regional commissions. Meetings
The Council holds regular meetings throughout the year with prominent academics, business sector representatives and 3,200+ registered non-governmental organizations. ECOSOC’s biggest gathering, however, is reserved for the summer, when it holds its annual, month-long substantive session in July.

Held in alternate years in New York and Geneva, the session is divided into 5 segments ― High-level; Coordination; Operational Activities; Humanitarian Affairs; and General ―  which cover both global issues and technical, administrative questions.

With its focus on pressing development challenges (employment, education, health, etc.), the High-level segment regularly attracts policy-makers from the top ranks of government. The segment’s Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) and biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) has been a notable success, too, focusing on select themes drawn from the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

ECOSOC and NGOs

What is Economic and Social Council accreditation?

Non-governmental, non-profit, public or voluntary organizations may formally contribute to the work of the United Nations after being granted consultative status with the Economic and Social Council under Article 71 of the Charter of the United Nations and on Economic and Social Council Resolution 1996/31. These accredited organizations may participate in meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies, including the functional commissions, in accordance with the rules of procedure of those bodies.

For information on how to apply for Economic and Social Council accreditation, please visit the website of the NGO Branch of the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs

New Functions of ECOSOC

At the 2005 World Summit, Heads of State and Government mandated the Economic and Social Council to hold Annual Ministerial Reviews (AMR) and a biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF).

Annual Ministerial Review

The objective of the AMR is to assess progress in achieving the internationally agreed development goals (IADGs) arising out of the major conferences and summits. It consists of an annual thematic review and national voluntary presentations on progress and challenges towards achieving the IADGs, including those contained in their national MDG-based development strategies. More…

Mandate of AMRMore…

Development Cooperation Forum

The objective of the DCF is to enhance the coherence and effectiveness of activities of different development partners. By reviewing trends and progress in international development cooperation, the Forum is to provide policy guidance and recommendations to improve the quality and impact of development cooperation. More…

The United Nations Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) was created by world leaders in response to the deep changes in the development cooperation landscape and the growing number of development cooperation actors. It reviews trends in international development cooperation and facilitates coherence among the various development actors. The DCF is a universal body. It is also a multistakeholder platform. It brings together decision makers from developing and developed countries, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, local governments and private philanthropic organisations. The DCF sessions and events spur debate on national policies that have succeeded to advance development goals. They reflect on how development cooperation can best help achieve development goals and identify good practice that can be fed back into policy making at the country level.

What is Economic and Social Council accreditation?

Non-governmental, non-profit, public or voluntary organizations may formally contribute to the work of the United Nations after being granted consultative status with the Economic and Social Council under Article 71 of the Charter of the United Nations and on Economic and Social Council Resolution 1996/31. These accredited organizations may participate in meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies, including the functional commissions, in accordance with the rules of procedure of those bodies.

Basic facts About ECOSOC Status

  • Consultative status provides NGOs with access to not only ECOSOC, but also to its many subsidiary bodies, to the various human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, ad-hoc processes on small arms, as well as special events organized by the President of the General Assembly. See News and Events for samples.
  • Currently 3,536 NGOs enjoy consultative status with ECOSOC.
  • ECOSOC accreditation is separate and distinct from NGOs who are associated the UN Department of Public Information (DPI). These organizations generally have far fewer privileges to participate in intergovernmental meetings of the United Nations. See list of DPI-associated NGOs as of September 2011 here. See website here.
  • You can sort and review all NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status in an online database. Access the database here.
  • There are three types of consultative status: General, Special and Roster. Most new accreditations are in the Special category.
  • General and special status NGOs are required to submit a ‘quadrennial report’ every four years. Learn more.
  • The Committee on NGOs reviews new applications for consultative status twice a year, in January (‘regular session’) and in May (‘resumed session’).
  • The Committee does not decide but recommends. These recommendations, contained in one report each of the January and May session, are reviewed by ECOSOC in July every year. See past reports here.
  • In most cases, ECOSOC decides to approve the recommendations. In very rare cases, it does not.
  • The deadline for applications is 31 May of the year before the Committee reviews the application.
  • Therefore the next deadline for new applications is 31 May 2013. The Committee will review those applications in 2014.
  • In 2011-2012 some 600 organizations applied for consultative status. On average between 100 and 150 applications are recommended by the Committee in each of its two sessions per year.
  • Roughly one-third of all new recommendations are recommended by the Committee immediately. Two-thirds are deferred to the next session of the Committee. Most applications get approved within two or three sessions of the Committee.

Choose an option in the left menu to know more, or to start the application process.

Click here to download the new booklet “Working with ECOSOC – an NGOs Guide to Consultative Status”.

For information on how to apply for Economic and Social Council accreditation, please visit the website of the NGO Branch of the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) at http://csonet.org/

The iCSO Civil Society Database developed by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

ICSO, The integrated Civil Society Organizations (iCSO) System, developed by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), facilitates interactions between civil society organizations and DESA.

It is this department and this page that ECOSOC accredited NGOs would need in order to renew information for obtaining their annual ground pass (badge). For more information on this process, please access our How to…page from here…

The system provides online registration of general profiles for civil society organizations, including address, contacts, activities and meeting participation, facilitates the application procedure for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and assists accredited NGOs in submitting quadrennial reports and in designating representatives to the United Nations.

DESA has also developed CSO Net – the Civil Society Network, a web portal devoted to non-governmental organizations in association with the United Nations, and to members of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, to promote best practices in the field of economic and social development. The portal gives users the opportunity to publish news and to engage and moderate discussion forums. It facilitates online pre-registration to UN conferences open for civil society participation and allows for submission of NGO statements to the Economic and Social Council.

Please use the simple or advanced search to find out more about civil society organizations in our large database of over 24,000 entries. The advanced search allows many combinations, including by organization name and type, region and country, consultative status, language, geographic scope, fields of activity and meeting participation. read more >>

Over 13,000 CSOs have established a relationship with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). The vast majority of these CSOs are NGOs; there are also institutions, foundations, associations and almost 1,000 Indigenous Peoples Organizations (IPOs) listed as CSOs with DESA – which maintains a database of registered CSOs.

Once registered with DESA, CSOs can also apply for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). If consultative status with ECOSOC is granted, the organization can participate in relevant international conferences convened by the United Nations and in meetings of the preparatory bodies of these conferences.