Over the last fifteen years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of civil society organisations taking an active role in UN decision making processes. This participation has ranged from interactive dialogue sessions with ministers, to NGO hearings, to civil society advisory groups. Such initiatives represent an important step in developing processes that can underpin the inclusion of non-state actors in global policy-making, however, they have also introduced new challenges as a result of the wide range in quality of practice, outcomes and associated claims.

Funded by the Ford Foundation, Stakeholder Forum is undertaking an eighteen month review of civil society participation in UN decision making.

Taking stock of the progress already made across the UN system, the Stakeholder Empowerment Project (SEP) hopes to identify some of the most positive experiences of stakeholder engagement in the UN system.  Working with a number of UN agencies, programmes and funds the research will identify some of the more progressive instances by which civil society have participated in and impacted on UN policy-making forums.

The objectives of the Stakeholder Empowerment Project are threefold;

  • review the interface between governments and civil society in a range of UN processes, agencies and programmes,
  • critically analyse a set of case studies spanning different stated objectives,
  • develop a set of good practices and common terminology for the design of future UN civil society processes.  

The SEP website provides an information hub on all aspects of the project including updates on the status of the case study research, a dictionary of terms relating to stakeholder engagement in the UN system, and a library of journals and articles that have helped inform the project.  In addition, the site provides news on relevant current initiatives being undertaken across the world on the theory and practice of stakeholder engagement in UN processes.  As such, the SEP website hopes to provide a practical toolkit for stakeholder engagement in the UN system.

The SEP aims to generate a wider commitment to the principles of civil society engagement; share knowledge of positive experiences across the UN system, and strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to better engage in UN decision making processes.


SEP Advisory Board