As part of our wider research for the SEP we have collected a selection of resources that have helped to inform our resesarch.  These include reports, journals, articles and book publications which address different aspects of engaging stakeholders in decision-making processes.  In each case we have provided a brief abstract and, wherever possible, a link to the actual publication.  


Papers and articles

Three Generations of UN-Civil Society Relations:  A Quick Sketch

Tony Hill, Coordinator, United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (April 2004)

Since the UN's creation in 1945, it has become possible to speak of two generations, and the emergence of a third generation, of UN-Civil Society relations.  This article traces the evolution of these relations from the birth of the UN until present, observing the organisation’s shift from one in which only governments spoke to governments, to one that now brings together the political power of governments, the economic power of the corporate sector, and the 'public opinion' power of civil society as participants in global policy dialogue. The author points to emergence of a post-Johannesburg (WSSD 2002) third generation of UN-Civil Society relations, in which like-minded coalitions of governments and civil society, and various forms of multi-stakeholder, public-private, public policy networks and partnerships call into question the role of the UN as a broker of partnerships, the future of multilateralism as a form of global governance and the future of UN relations with the second generation of largely advocacy NGOs. The article posits that the continued evolution of this third generation of relations cannot be predicted in advance since it will depend upon forces whose interaction will shape outcomes, not least in terms of a practical agenda for effectively managing, and benefiting from UN engagement with civil society. 


We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and global governance

Report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations (June 2004)

The United Nations recognises the rise of CSOs as “one of the landmark events of our times”, ranking them as the “prime movers” of some of the most innovative initiatives to deal with emerging global threats. In recognition of the rise of civil society participation and influence in issues of global governance, the UN set out with this report to review the guidelines and practices of civil society relations with the United Nations in order to formulate recommendations for enhancing UN ability to identify global priorities and mobilize resources to deal with them. Its analysis and the reforms proposed are based on four necessary paradigm shifts: becoming an outward-looking organization; embracing a plurality of constituencies; connecting the local with the global; and strengthening democracy for the twenty-first century. The result of a broad process of consultation and deliberation through meetings, workshops, focus groups and via the UN web site, reforms proposed include some measures the Secretary-General could act upon on his own authority, and others that would require intergovernmental approval. The report also discusses what these proposals would mean for UN staff, resources and management.


The Role of NGOs and Civil Society in Global Environmental Governance

Barbara Gemmill and Abimbola Bamidele-Izu (December 2002)

International decision making processes seek legitimacy through the involvement of civil society. Formal mechanisms for NGO participation within the UN system however remain limited, and effective civil society participation in UN processes requires a strengthened, more formalized, institutional structure for engagement. This chapter of Global Environmental Governance: Options and Opportunities (2002, Esty and Ivanova eds.) uses a case study approach to identify successful roles NGOs have played in global environmental governance: (1) collecting, disseminating, and analyzing information; (2) providing input to agenda-setting and policy development processes; (3) performing operational functions; (4) assessing environmental conditions and monitoring compliance with environmental agreements; and (5) advocating environmental justice, and offers concrete suggestions for implementing measures for formalising CSO – UN engagement.


Strategic Partnership: Challenges and Best Practices in the Management and Governance of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Involving UN and Civil Society Actors

Background paper prepared by Carmen Malena for the Multi-Stakeholder Workshop on Partnerships and UN-Civil Society Relations (February 2004)

The purpose of this paper is to review challenges and recommended practices in the management and governance of multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) involving United Nations and civil society actors. Prepared as input to a workshop on the governance implications of MSPs, the paper aims to stimulate discussion and debate by identifying key issue areas, posing critical questions and proposing some working hypotheses based on current experience.  As the ultimate purpose is to inform the work of the High Level Panel on UN-Civil Society Relations, the paper focuses on lessons and implications for UN actors. Composed of three parts, Part I, Framing Multi-Stakeholder Partnership, highlights the importance of situating MSPs within a clear conceptual, analytical and strategic framework.  Part II, Practicing Multi-Stakeholder Partnership, identifies and discusses issues and lessons learned with regard to five key elements of the effective practice of partnership: inclusion, clear definition of purpose and roles, participation/power-sharing, accountability and strategic influence.  Part III, Institutionalizing Multi-Stakeholder Partnership, briefly discusses issues and implications related to the “mainstreaming” of MSP approaches by UN organizations.


UNRISD Research and Policy Brief 6: UN World Summits and Civil Society Engagement (January 2007)

The UN recognises the importance of meeting CSO demands for a greater voice and role in development processes. This report on research conducted by the UNRISD evaluates the impacts of CSO participation in UN summits, conferences and preparatory meetings (prepcoms) on CSO structure, networking and advocacy in countries that have hosted these events, specifically Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa. The analysis focuses on impacts on 1) national political space 2) the range and quality of civil society activities and on 3) coalition building among CSOs, revealing that in spite of stimuli provided for activism and alliances among national, regional and international initiatives and networks, national CSOs eventually confronted two major problems: rigid political and institutional structures and a lack of financial sustainability. The result was horizontal divisions within civil society: between those working with the government and those choosing to operate outside; between NGOs and social movements; and between those with international connections for funding and those without. Maintaining durable linkages among CSOs and mounting long-term, large scale advocacy campaigns in areas covered by summit activities concludes the report, has proven an intricate endeavour in most countries despite initial gains. The report finishes with a number of lessons regarding the value, limitations and challenges of CSO-UN summit related engagement.




Multistakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability: Beyond Deadlock and Conflict

UNED and Minu Hemmati, 2002

Governments, businesses, international organisations, local groups and numerous other publicly engaged bodies are turning to multi-stakeholder processes (MSPs) to aid decision making as conventional politics is increasingly unable to integrate broad-based consensual policies. MSPs bring together a range of interests at stake in crucial social, economic, developmental and environmental debates, for whom finding practical solutions as well as means for implementation is essential. With this guide, the authors explain how MSPs can be organised and implemented in order to resolve complex issues in and around sustainable forms of development, whilst recognising the rights of, and risks faced by all parties. It includes detailed examples of MSPs in practice and provides functional checklists, explaining how to bypass adversarial politics and achieve positive results, with the aim of moving beyond deadlock or conflict to more equitable, participatory approaches to decision making.


Participatory Dialogue: Toward a Stable, Safe and Just Society for All

United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs (DESA) 2007

Social integration is seen as central to broad endeavours of peace, development and human rights, but key elements of social integration such as overcoming exclusion, promoting inclusive institutions and promoting participation remain to be addressed if a ‘society for all’ is to be achieved. This report by the Department of Social and Economic Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations explores dialogue as a central mechanism of social integration processes. Recognising participatory dialogue an important policy tool offering a range of practical means, this report provides an overview of social integration and related concepts, explores the role of participatory dialogue in creative socially cohesive societies and provides examples of dialogue and dialogic tools and processes (including reflective dialogue, World Café, psycho-political dialogue, reconciliation and truth telling, scenario workshops, recursive process management (RPM) and study circles). It also offers recommendations for UN entities, Member States, international donors and stakeholders within civil society and the private sector, with a view to increasing overall understanding of dialogue, promoting its use and supporting its practice at all levels.

The United Nations System: A Guide for NGOs (10TH Edition)

NGLS, January 2003

Acknowledging the upsurge of civil society involvement in the United Nations system in recent years, the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) published The United Nations System: A Guide for NGOs. Designed to assist NGOs in gaining access to the UN system by providing contact points and information on the types of materials and services available form the agencies, programmes and funds of the system, the directory focuses on development information, education and policy advocacy work. It also aims to provide northern, southern and international NGOs engaged in such work with useful entry points to the multilateral system.


NGO Involvement in International Organisations: A Legal Analysis

Ripinsky, S. and Van Den Bossche, P. British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 2007

In recognition of increased NGO participation in international governance and diplomacy in recent years, this book deals with the legal arrangements for the involvement of NGOs in the activities of international institutions. To date this participation has received considerable attention from the international community and academia, but little has been done observe the authors in the way of comprehensive description and analysis of existing legal arrangements for NGO participation in international organisations. Aspiring to fill this gap, this study looks at a number of selected international organisations (excluding those working on human rights and gender issues) in order to reveal the legal basis and practices of NGO involvement within them, concentrating on the forms of NGO involvement, existing criteria for NGO accreditation, procedures for obtaining accreditation and the subsequent monitoring of accredited NGOs.

The main focus of the study is on NGO involvement in policy deliberations and decision making processes of international institutions including the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the UN Conference on trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Bank, and others. Its intended practical use is threefold. First it means to serve as an informational tool for NGOs to learn about opportunities for engagement. Second, it can help international organisations to compare the rules and practise of NGO involvement to distil ‘best practice’ and consider improvements to their own systems. Thirdly, it may be used by specialists in political science and international relations for assessing the relative effectiveness of different modalities for engagement with NGOs.