Working with international organisations

A practical guide to working with international organizations

I. Introduction

International organizations have developed several mechanisms for cooperation with NGOs and civil society in general. This cooperation can be formal or informal, operational and field-oriented or more focused on policy-making among others. This guide will present you with the main existing mechanisms by which one can establish formal relations with international organizations. We have organized this file into three sections:

  • Cooperation with the UN itself
  • Cooperation with the rest of the UN system
  • Cooperation with other international organizations

Notice that most of the international organizations are based in Geneva or have their permanent office there. In general, NGOs interested in working with the UN or other international organizations have to identify the kind of relationship it is they seek to establish. They have to think carefully about what will be useful both to them and to the international organization. The procedure to obtain consultative status takes time and energy. The NGOs making the request will be scrutinized and will have to prove the effectiveness and consistency of their activities. If you are chosen to develop formal relations with international organizations, please be responsible and respect the rules in order not to prejudice other NGOs. We hope this guide will help you.

II. General Cooperation with the UN System

The United Nations is comprised of six main organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the UN Secretariat. Article 71 (UN Charter) of the UN Charter establishes formal relations between the UN and NGOs.

There are several types of formal relations with non-governmental organizations.

  1. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the main organs of the United Nations. ECOSOC operates under the authority of the General Assembly with the aim of coordinating the economic and social work of the UN and its specialized agencies and institutions. It covers several UN commissions, such as the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on Sustainable Development among others. The location of its main annual meeting alternates between Geneva and New York.

NGOs can apply for consultative status with ECOSOC. There are three types of consultative status: general, special and roster, that allow NGOs to take part in meetings and to share information. Interested NGOs must demonstrate their expertise, based upon their experience and constituency. Then the NGO Committee in New York reviews their application.

NGO Liaison Unit
Office of the Director-General, Room 151 to 155
Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 13 04; 917 21 78; 917 21 27
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 05 83

Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
NGO Section

One UN Plaza, Room DC1-1480
New York, NY 10017 - USA
Tél: +1 (212) 963-8652
Fax: +1 (212) 963-9248
E-Mail :

  1. NGO Liaison Office of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)

The NGO Liaison Unit, Office of the Director General, acts as the focal point within the United Nations Office at Geneva for all matters pertaining to relations between the United Nations and NGOs and in particular, consultative relationships with ECOSOC. The main objective of the NGO Liaison Unit is the development of programmes with a view to an efficient partnership between the United Nations and NGOs. It provides information, advice, guidance and assistance to NGO representatives in the context of the efficient application of their consultative status.

United Nations Office at Geneva
NGO Liaison Unit

Office of the Director-General, Room 151 to 155
Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 13 04; 917 21 78; 917 21 27
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 05 83
E-Mail :

  1. UN Department on Public Information (DPI)

The UN Department of Public Information (DPI) is a part of the UN Secretariat. Its mission is to manage and coordinate the communicational content of the organization's activities and to strategically transmitting this content, by means of the appropriate intermediary channels, in order to achieve the greatest possible impact on the public. NGOs can request to be associated with the Department of Public Information. This allows them better access to the information produced by the UN. The DPI provides services such as annual conferences and weekly briefings. NGOs associated with the DPI must be able to widely spread information about the UN.

United Nations Office at Geneva
Palais des Nations

Information Service, Room C-319
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 23 15/17
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 01 65
E-Mail :

  1. Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS)

Created in 1975 to promote and facilitate constructive engagement between the UN system and the NGO community, the NGLS is a semi-autonomous inter-agency programme office.

NGLS provides advice and guidance to the twenty or so UN agencies that sponsor its work and supports the work of NGOs active at the UN. NGLS also finances and facilitates the participation of NGO representatives from developing countries in UN conferences and other events. NGLS's information outreach and communications programme provides a wide range of publications, including newsletters and briefings, to NGOs all over the world, particularly those in developing countries.

NGLS does not provide consultative status, but NGOs can ask to receive their newsletters and to be included in their database.

NGLS Geneva office
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Tel.:+41 (0)22 917 20 76
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 04 32

NGLS New York Office
United Nations
1 UN Plaza, Room DC1-1106
New York, NY 10017
Tel.:+1 (212) 963-3125
Fax: +1 (212) 963-8712

  1. Mandat International

Mandat International is an independent organization. It aims to promote international cooperation (especially between the UN and civil society), as well as to welcome, inform and facilitate participation of non-governmental representatives in international conferences.

Mandat International manages an information service and various Internet websites (, including an information platform, a calendar of international meetings, a collection of useful links, a database of international conventions and information guides. Mandat International also develops other support activities for delegates.


III. Cooperation with the rest of the United Nations system

The United Nations organization has developed several programmes and other specialized bodies that are part of the UN system. In parallel, governments have created several other international and regional organizations. These organizations have their own membership and define their own policy. Some have developed formal coordination mechanisms with the UN and are considered as members of the UN system. Others have less formal relations with the UN and are not considered to be members of the UN system.

  1. International Labour Organization (ILO)

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is one of the oldest international organizations, having been founded in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles. Within the UN system, the ILO has a unique tripartite structure with workers' and employers' organizations participating as equal partners with governments in the work of its governing organs. The ILO aims to promote social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights. The organization formulates international labour standards in the form of conventions and recommendations setting minimum standards across the entire spectrum of work-related issues. The ILO also provides technical assistance and promotes the development of independent workers' and employers' organizations.

The ILO provides for different forms of consultative relations with NGOs and collaborates at the operational level with many civil society organizations.

International Labour Organization
Office for External Relations and Partnerships
4, route des Morillons
CH - 1211 Geneva 22
Tel.: +41 (0)22 799 72 39
Fax : +41 (0)22 799 68 72

  1. World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) aims to attain the highest possible level of health for all peoples. The WHO coordinates and directs international health works. The main activities of the organization include the elaboration of policies, technical and policy support, managing information as well as monitoring and pursuing the proper implementation of norms and standards.

The WHO has launched a "Civil Society Initiative" (CSI) with the aim of facilitating a more effective collaboration, information exchange and dialogue with NGOs and civil society. The "Principles governing relations with nongovernmental organizations" provide the policy basis for the WHO's relations with NGOs. In particular, the principles set out the procedures for admitting NGOs into official relations with the WHO.

The Civil Society Initiative
World Health Organization

Avenue Appia 20
CH - 1211 Geneva 27
Tel. : +41 (0)22 791 27 90/36 37
Fax : +41 (0)22 791 13 80

  1. World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

The main purpose of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is to facilitate international co-operation in establishing a network of stations for making meteorological, hydrological and other observations. The WMO co-ordinates global scientific activity to provide prompt and accurate weather information and other services for public, private and commercial use. The organization promotes the rapid exchange of meteorological information, the standardization of meteorological observations and the uniform publication of observations and statistics. Furthermore, it contributes to the analysis of climatic changes and the prevention of climatic disasters: cyclones, droughts, ozone depletion, etc. Through its scientific activities, the organization contributes to the protection of life and property, the socio-economic development of nations and the protection of the environment. The organization works with a number of both government and non-governmental organizations in the areas of climate research and meteorological statements.

World Meteorological Organization
7 bis Avenue de la Paix
CP 2300
CH - 1211 Geveva 2
Tel. : + 41 (0)22 730 81 11
Fax : + 41 (0)22 730 81 81

  1. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an international organization dedicated to promoting the use and protection of works of the human mind. The organization administers 24 international treaties dealing with different aspects of intellectual property protection. WIPO's chief activity is to establish international standards for intellectual property laws and practices and to provide registration services that protect patents, trademarks and designs. Furthermore, the organization provides legal and technical assistance to developing countries.

International as well as national NGOs may obtain permanent observer status with the WIPO. In order to obtain this status, certain criteria must be met (see below). At the same time, the organization is reaching out to new groups that are becoming interested in intellectual property: small businesses, farmers, practitioners of traditional knowledge, the Internet community, performers and artists.

34, chemin des Colombettes
PO Box 18
CH - 1211 Geneva 20
Tel. : +41 (0)22 338 91 11
Fax : +41 (0)22 733 54 28

  1. International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is an international organization that coordinates the operation of telecommunication networks through standard-setting and spectrum sharing, with the aim of advancing the development of communications technology and eliminating harmful interference between the radio stations of different countries. Furthermore, the ITU provides developing countries with technical assistance in the field of telecommunications.

There is little cooperation with NGOs. However, it is possibie for private organizations working in telecommunications to become sector members of the ITU with access to meetings, publications and information among others.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Place des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 20
Tel. : +41 (0)22 730 51 11
Fax : +41 (0)22 733 72 56

  1. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has a wide-ranging mandate which includes promoting the universal enjoyment of all human rights, international cooperation for human rights, universal ratification and implementation of international treaties, and assisting in the development of new norms. Its headquarters are located in Geneva, and it has an office with the UN in New York as well as numerous country and regional offices. The Office is headed by a High Commissioner with the rank of Under-Secretary-General and is divided into different organizational units. The OHCHR supports the work of the UN Human Rights Council as well as of treaty bodies. Other meetings, working groups, and Committee sessions are coordinated by the OHCHR.

OHCHR also organises several fellowship programmes for representatives of human rights organisations in the fields of indigenous peoples, minorities and contemporary forms as well as for staff of national human rights institutions..

There are several kinds of relations with NGOs:

  1. Formal relations are covered by the Consultative status with ECOSOC. This status provides access to most meetings of the Human Rights Council and its institutions. NGOs can attend meetings, submit oral and written statements as well as organise side events
  2. Some working groups and Committees are open to the participation of organizations without consultative status with ECOSOC. NGOs or Indigenous Peoples' organizations must then apply for ad hoc accreditation for the meeting. 3. The OHCHR supports and develops projects with NGOs.
  3. The OHCHR supports and develops projects with NGOs.
  4. Any individual or organization can contribute observations on the overall human rights situation in a given country by contributing a report to the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council.
  5. Any individual or organization can submit reports alleging violations of human rights:
    • To special procedures mandate holders (communications procedure)
    • To the complaints procedure of the Human Rights Council
    • To most treaty bodies by filing an individual complaint (if the concerned State has accepted this procedure)

Palais Wilson
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel. : +41 (0)22 917 92 20


  1. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) leads and coordinates international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. UNHCR has two basic and closely-related aims - to protect refugees and to seek ways to help them restart their lives in a normal environment. Furthermore, the organization promotes international refugee agreements and monitors government compliance with international refugee law.

Non-governmental organizations are crucial to the work of the UNHCR. Today, the majority of refugee programmes are implemented by NGOs. The UNHCR maintains relations with NGOs through the Inter-Agency Unit (IAU), which acts as a focal point for all issues concerning NGOs. A large part of UNHCR's partner organisations are local NGOs. Through these partnerships, NGOs often act as implementation and operational partners. Each year during July, UNHCR holds annual consultations in Geneva with interested NGOs. Participation is very much open and registration can be requested with the IAU. NGOs can also contribute to the development of UNHCR policies through participating in the Executive Committee (EXCOM) if they hold ECOSOC consultative status or are members of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies. Limited NGO participation is possible within the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale 2500
CH - 1211 Geneva 2 Dépôt
Tel. : +41 (0)22 739 81 11


  1. United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is a joint and co-sponsored programme of UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, the WHO, the World Bank, UNDCP and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Its global mission as the main advocate for worldwide action against HIV/AIDS is to lead, strengthen and support an expanded response to the epidemic in order to prevent the spread of HIV, provide infected people with care, reduce the vulnerability of individuals and communities and to alleviate the socio-economic and human impact of the epidemic.

UNAIDS includes civil society representatives in its executive board and develops many programmes in partnership with governments and NGOs.

20, avenue Appia
CH - 1211 Geneva 27
Tel. : +41 (0)22 791 36 66
Fax : +41 (0)22 791 41 87

  1. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established as a permanent organ of the UN General Assembly with the aim of promoting international trade and economic development, particularly in developing countries. UNCTAD provides a forum for discussions aimed at development strategies and policies in a globalized world economy. It has become the focal point within the United Nations for the integrated treatment of trade and development and interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development.

UNCTAD provides three categories of consultative status for NGOs: general, special and national. Consultative status is conferred by the Trade and Development Board in accordance with its rules of procedure (Rule 77, Article XV). NGOs seeking such status are required to provide information on the activities and structure of their organization by filling out a special questionnaire.

Palais des Nations
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel. : +41 (0)22 917 12 34
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 00 57

  1. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) aims to protect the environment. It promotes the sustainable use and development of the global environment by developing international and national environmental instruments, strengthening institutions for a more prudent management of the environment and facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable development.

The UNEP has established a strong link with civil society. The UNEP maintains a Civil Society and NGO Unit in order to foster a greater and more effective participation of all members of society in environmental matters. This participation is outlined in the "Strategy paper on enhancing civil society engagement in the work of UNEP." Apart from providing input and collaboration, NGOs may also be accredited as observers of the Governing Council of UNEP and its subsidiary bodies. Through its Geneva Environment Network (GEN), which brings together the main international organizations and NGOs working for the environment, UNEP's Regional Office for Europe maintains strong cooperation with the Geneva-based environmental community. GEN maintains a public environmental library and a cyber cafe and regularly organises public events to promote awareness of problems related to the environment and sustainable development.

UNEP/Regional Office for Europe
International Environment House
11-13 chemin des Anémones
CH - 1219 Châtelaine-Geneva
6th Floor A & B Blocks
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 86 19
Fax : +41 (0)22 797 34 64

Civil Society and NGO Unit
United Nations Environment Programme

United Nations Avenue, Gigiri
PO Box 30552
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. : +254 (2) 7621 234
Fax : +254 (2) 7624 489

  1. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has the mandate to coordinate UN assistance in humanitarian crises. OCHA works with operational relief agencies and it also serves as a catalyst for principled humanitarian action from the moment a crisis is anticipated until rehabilitation and reconstruction are under way.

Many actors such as governments, NGOs, UN agencies and individuals seek to respond to today's humanitarian emergencies simultaneously. OCHA works with them to ensure that there is a coherent framework within which each actor can contribute effectively and promptly to the overall effort.

OCHA's main roles are:

- Coordinating the international humanitarian response, leading assessments of humanitarian needs and conducting periodic evaluations.

- Providing the humanitarian community with support in policy development and fostering an emergency response network.

- Advocating on humanitarian issues, negotiating access to civilians, giving voice to the silent victims of crises and ensuring that the views and concerns of the broader humanitarian community are reflected in overall efforts towards recovery and peace-building.

- Sharing information with humanitarian partners, promoting authoritative analytical reports, distributing reliable information to public media, disseminating operational data through online, offline and onsite channels and coordinating information technology.

Its website also constitutes an important source of information for NGOs.

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations
United Nations
Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel. : +41 (0)22 917 44 44
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 00 23

  1. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe is one of five regional commissions of the UN Economic and Social Council. The UNEC's members include more than fifty European Member States of the UN. Its goal is to facilitate cooperation and information exchange in the areas of commerce, the environment and transportation. The UNECE consults with NGOs on specific issues, such as female entrepreneurship.

UN Economic Commission for Europe, Information Service
Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel. :+41 (0)22 917 12 34
Fax :+41 (0)22 917 05 05


  1. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the world's largest international source of funding for population and reproductive health programmes. The UNFPA works in three main areas: helping to ensure universal access to reproductive health, supporting population and development strategies that enable capacity-building in population programming and promoting awareness of population and development issues. Furthermore, the UNFPA helps governments in the world's poorest countries (as well as in other countries in need) to formulate population policies and strategies in support of sustainable development.

The UNFPA has created an NGO/Civil Society Theme Group with the aim of promoting, strengthening and facilitating UNFPA interaction and collaboration with civil society. UNFPA-NGO collaboration includes a wide range of issues, as well as a regular exchange of information. NGOs even have the possibility of becoming executing agencies of UNFPA-funded projects on an international, regional or national level.

United Nations Population Fund - UNFPA
13 Chemin des Anémones
CH - 1219 Châtelaine - Geneva
Tel. : + 41 (0)22 917 85 73
Fax: + 41 (0)22 917 80 16

Mailing address:
United Nations Population Fund - UNFPA
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10

  1. United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) aims to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations through appropriate training and research. UNITAR has two main areas of activity: training in international affairs management (multilateral diplomacy, international cooperation, etc. ) and training and capacity-building in economic and social development.

Some training sessions are open to NGOs or indigenous peoples ' representatives.

United Nations Institute for Training and Research - UNITAR
International Environment House
Chemin des Anémones 11-13
CH - 1219 Châtelaine - Geneva
Tel. : +41 (0)22 917 12 34
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 80 47
E-mail :

Mailing address:
United Nations Institute for Training and Research - UNITAR
Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10


  1. United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research's (UNIDIR) mandate is to conduct research on disarmament and security with the aim of assisting the international community with their actions and decisions related to disarmament. UNIDIR examines various issues such as tactical nuclear weapons, refugee security, computer warfare, regional confidence-building measures and small weapons. Through its research projects, publications, meetings and expert networks, the Institute promotes dialogue on disarmament and security challenges between UN members and the research community.

UNIDIR collaborates closely with other research organizations, universities and NGOs. UNIDIR has a number of formal and informal networks and collaboration mechanisms for active cooperation with other organizations, experts and research institutes. An electronic discussion on the Internet - "e-dialogue" - enables users from around the world to explore disarmament, security and arms control problems interactively.

Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 31 86
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 01 76

  1. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) carries out multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary problems affecting development. In its work, the Institute seeks to promote a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to social development. Through its research, it stimulates dialogue and contributes to policy debates on key issues of social development within and outside the United Nations system.

Recognizing the importance of civil society organizations in development work and the need to strengthen civil society as a whole, UNRISD has set up the Research Programme on Civil Society and Social Movements. This programme encourages a critical review of the concept of civil society, follows its evolution and attempts to improve understanding of the various forms of local self-organization. In May 2003, UNRISD launched a new research project on UN World Summits and Civil Society Engagement with the goal of critically assessing the impact of various UN summits on civil society activism on the global, national and local levels.


Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel. : +41 (0)22 917 30 20
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 06 50

  1. United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

The United Nations Industrial Development organization (UNIDO) aims to support the industrial development efforts of member States. It mobilizes knowledge, skills, information and technology to promote productive employment, a competitive economy and a sound environment.

UNIDO policy with regards to civil society focuses mainly on its partnership with the private sector and industry-related civil society organizations. UNIDO has set up a Business Partnership Programme whose aim is to enhance and promote partnerships with trans-national corporations and which is supported by government and civil society organizations. The partnership includes involvement in programming activities, technical cooperation, and so forth.

UNIDO Geneva Office
Palais des Nations
Le Bocage, Pavillion I
8, Rue de Pregny
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel. : +41 (0)22 917 14 23
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 00 59
E-Mail :

  1. United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat)

The United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) aims to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. Together with the World Bank, UN-Habitat runs major projects in post-war societies, as well as two major worldwide campaigns: the Global Campaign on Urban Governance and the Global Campaign for Secure Tenure.

Different civil society groups as well as NGOs collaborate actively with UN-Habitat. These organizations participate in official conferences and in the implementation of programmes and projects in the field of human settlements and in the context of the Habitat Agenda.

UN-HABITAT Office at Geneva
International Environment House
11-13 chemin des Anémones
CH - 1219 Châtelaine, Geneva
Tel. : +41 (0)22 917 86 46 or 48
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 80 46

  1. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to promote collaboration among nations in the areas of education, science, culture and communication in order to contribute to peace and security in the world and to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law and for human rights and fundamental freedoms. UNESCO provides member States with expertise in technical cooperation, prepares and adopts statutory recommendations, as well as prospective studies and promotes the advancement, transfer and sharing of knowledge.

UNESCO has a "Section of NGOs and Foundations", and outlines the relations in "Directives concerning UNESCO relations with non-governmental organizations." According to these directives, NGOs may maintain operational or formal relations with UNESCO. Formal relations are aimed at sustained cooperation and are divided into two types: consultative or associate, depending on the role and structure of the NGO itself. Requests for official status may be submitted to the Committee of NGOs of the Executive Board.

UNESCO Liaison Office in Geneva
15 route des Morillons
CH - 1218 Le Grand Saconnex
Tel. : +41 (0)22 917 78 80
Fax : +41 (0)22 917 78 05
E-mail :

Section of International Non-Governmental Organizations and Foundations
Division of Relations with International Organizations
Sector for External Relations and Cooperation
Maison de l'UNESCO
7, Place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP
Tel. : +33 1 45 68 23 16 or 14 98
Fax : +33 1 45 68 56 43

  1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) works in the area of development assistance and technical cooperation. It is the chief coordinator of technical cooperation for development programmes throughout the entire UN System. The UNDP promotes and supports efforts to alleviate poverty, to manage natural resources and to improve governance, among others. In this manner, the UNDP works to build developing countries' capacities for sustainable human development.

The UNDP works closely with Civil Society organizations at all levels. The UNDP's focal point for collaboration with NGOs is the Civil Society Division, a part of the Bureau for Development Policy (BDP). The Civil Society Division is responsible for advising and assisting different parts of the UNDP on issues such as working more closely with civil society and supporting NGOs and other Civil Society organizations by providing them with access to accurate information and the appropriate skills. Furthermore, the UNDP has adopted a policy with the aim of building a sustainable partnership with indigenous peoples and their organizations.

UNDP Office in Geneva
Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Genève 10
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 85 42
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 80 01

Civil Society Organizations Division
United Nations Development Programme
One United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017, USA
Tel. : +1 (212) 906-5906
Fax : +1 (212) 906-6814

  1. United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is the global advocate for protecting and promoting the rights of women and children. The main goal of UNICEF is to protect children from abuse, exploitation and violence, as well as to guarantee their health and adequate nutrition. UNICEF also upholds the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a multilateral treaty that provides the ethical framework for the work of the organization.

Consultative Status with the UN and its specialised agencies allows NGOs to present their views to the UNICEF Executive Board, and thus to participate in the formulating of policies. NGOs that hold consultative status with UNICEF may participate in meetings, submit written statements and make oral presentations. The NGO Committee on UNICEF, founded by nearly 200 NGOs, interacts closely with the UNICEF Secretariat and acts as a forum for a more effective interface between the organization and NGOs.

UNICEF Office in Geneva
Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel. : +41 (0)22 909 51 11
Fax : +41 (0)22 909 59 09

UNICEF Headquarters
3 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
Tel. : +1 (212) 326-7000
Fax : +1 (212) 887-7465

  1. United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) provides financial and technical assistance to programmes that promote women's rights as well as their political participation and economic security. The main concern of the organization is to promote gender equality and to enhance awareness of women's issues and concerns.

NGOs are essential partners of UNIFEM in information-sharing, networking and advocacy. Often they act as executing agencies for projects managed by UNIFEM. The Non-Governmental Committee of Organizations in Consultative Status with UNIFEM holds regular briefings on UNIFEM's activities and organizes workshops for female NGO leaders.

United Nations Development Fund for Women
304 E. 45th St., 15th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel. : +1 (212) 906-6400
Fax : +1 (212) 906-6705

  1. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) aims to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestinian refugees. Through its various relief programmes, the agency is the main provider of basic services in the areas of health, education and other social services.

The agency maintains close relations with NGOs. This UNRWA-NGO partnership is generally oriented toward medical and/or humanitarian aid, human rights or development.


UNRWA Liaison Office, Geneva
Room 92-93, Annexe Le Bocage 1
Palais des Nations
Avenue de la Paix
CH - 1211 Geneva
Tel. : + 41 (0)22 917 20 57
Fax : + 41 (0)22 917 06 56

  1. World Food Programme (WFP)

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the United Nations' frontline agency in the fight against global hunger. Its Food-for-Life programme provides fast, efficient and life-sustaining relief to millions of people in emergency situations, including refugees and displaced persons. Through its Food-for-Growth projects, the WFP tries to use food aid as preventive medicine. Finally, the WFP promotes self-reliance through Food-for-Work projects.

Partnerships with NGOs can take different forms, which are mostly the distribution of food and the monitoring and assessment of the risk of hunger. In most cases, a Memoranda of Understanding sets out the general terms of collaboration between the NGO and the WFP. The level of concrete collaboration with NGOs is determined by the local situation and is, therefore, decided mainly by the WFP's in-country office. NGOs working in humanitarian aid or development may contact WFP in-country offices to receive food assistance for a project. Furthermore, a newsletter on the latest developments at WFP is published regularly for NGO partners (contact

WFP Geneva Liaison Office
International Environment House
11-13 Chemin des Anémones
CH - 1219 Châtelaine (Geneva)
Tel.:+41 (0)22 917 85 68
Fax:+41 (0)22 917 80 18
E-Mail :

  1. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) works to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural development, improved nutrition and the pursuit of food security. Its mandate is to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations through technical assistance, government advice and the dissemination of information.

The "FAO Policy and Strategy for Cooperation with Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organizations" provides the general framework for the FAO's relations with NGOs. NGOs may obtain consultative status, specialized consultative status or liaison status with the FAO. Furthermore, the organization maintains an NGO Unit and an internal working group responsible for overall relations between the FAO and civil society.

Liaison Office with the United Nations (Geneva) (LOGE)

Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 36 83
Fax :+41 (0)22 917 00 65

  1. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was created to combat hunger and rural poverty. It finances projects and programmes to raise food security and income levels among the rural poor in developing countries, particularly the poorest developing countries. The IFAD also promotes social development, gender equality, income generation, improved nutritional status, environmental sustainability and good governance.

The organization maintains an NGO Coordination Unit which is in charge of policy development for enhancing the IFAD/NGO partnership. The IFAD works with NGOs at all levels: in the field and in areas concerning research, technical assistance, capacity-building, information sharing, advocacy and networking. IFAD/NGO consultation meetings are held regularly. These provide a forum for close interaction between select NGOs working in development and the IFAD.

Via Paolo di Dono, 44
00142 Rome
Tel. :+39-0654591
Fax: +39-065043463

IV. Cooperation with Other International Organizations

  1. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance. In carrying out its mission, the ICRC directs and coordinates international relief activities. Furthermore, the organization endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles. Although not part of the UN System, the ICRC has permanent observer status at the United Nations and benefits from specific rights and duties granted by the Geneva Convention.

The ICRC and its national societies work together with NGOs and the private sector in the areas of operations, development, research, fund-raising and public advocacy. They collaborate frequently with private companies working in the areas of humanitarian aid and relief and/or war-prone situations as well as with members of the business community who support the ICRC's humanitarian activities.

International Committee of the Red Cross
19, avenue de la Paix
CH - 1202 Geneva
Tel. : + 41 (0)22 734 60 01
Fax : + 41 (0)22 733 20 57

  1. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the headquarters for all national Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations. As the world's largest humanitarian organization, the IFRC's mission is to improve the lives of those most vulnerable, particularly victims of natural disasters, persons suffering from poverty brought about by socio-economic crises, refugees, and victims of health emergencies. The Federation carries out relief operations to assist victims of disasters and combines this with work to strengthen the capacities of its member National Societies. The Federation focuses on four core areas: promoting humanitarian values, disaster response, disaster preparedness, and health and community care. Its action is complementary to that of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which focuses more on war and conflict situations (see above).

The IFRC works mainly through its National Societies and with the ICRC, but also collaborates with many other organizations. Furthermore, the IFRC has permanent observer status at the UN General Assembly.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
PO Box 372
CH - 1211 Geneva 19
Tel. : +41 (0)22 730 42 22
Fax : +41 (0)22 733 03 95

  1. International Organization for Migration (IOM)

The International organization for Migration (IOM) provides migration assistance to governments and other international partners. It ensures orderly migration and integration. With its programmes in such areas as migrant health, reintegration of refugees and displaced persons and return to civil life projects, the IOM has become one of the main humanitarian organizations on the international level.

Although it is not a part of the United Nations, the IOM maintains close working relations with UN bodies, as well as with NGOs. Several international organizations as well as international NGOs hold observer status with the IOM.

International Organization for Migration (IOM)
17, Route des Morillons
CH - 1211 Geneva 19
Tel. : +41 (0)22 717 91 11
Fax : +41 (0)22 798 61 50

  1. The World Trade Organization (WTO)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) aims to regulate international trade. It works as a forum for multilateral trade negotiations, providing mechanisms for trade dispute settlement. It also includes an Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), as well as a General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The WTO cooperates closely with the IMF and the World Bank, with a view to achieving greater coherence in the global trading system.

The Guidelines For Arrangements on Relations with Non-Governmental organizations (WT/L/162), adopted in 1996, aim to facilitate and encourage substantive and responsible discussions with NGOs on issues falling within the WTO's mandate. Arrangements for NGOs have essentially focused on attendance at Ministerial Conferences, participation in issue-specific symposia, and day-to-day contact between the WTO Secretariat and NGOs. NGO briefings are held frequently and NGOs are invited to give presentations to member and observer governments or to participate in technical seminars.

World Trade Organization
Rue de Lausanne 154
CH - 1211 Geneva 21
Tel. : +41 (0)22 739 51 11
Fax : +41 (0)22 731 42 06

  1. The World Bank Group

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), popularly known as the World Bank, was established to promote poverty reduction and sustainable development by lending to member governments in developing countries and supporting economic investment and policy change. Through its loans, policy advice and technical assistance, the World Bank supports a broad range of programs aimed at reducing poverty and improving living standards in the developing world.

A Civil Society Team aims both to enhance coordination of the institution's civil society engagement work, as well as to provide greater civil society access to the Bank. It serves as a real focal point on civil society organizations' issues. The World Bank also provides funding for projects. Furthermore, a monthly electronic newsletter, The Civil Society Engagement eNewsletter, containing useful information, such as upcoming consultations, special events and new policy documents, is posted on the World Bank's website for CSOs. You can subscribe to this newsletter by sending an email to:

Office of the World Bank
3, chemin Louis-Dunant
Case Postale 66
CH - 1211 Geneva 20
Tel. : +41 (0)22 748 10 00
Fax : +41 (0)22 748 10 30

Civil Society Team (CST)
Tel.: +1 (202) 473-1840
Fax: +1 (202) 522-7131

  1. The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) mandate is to promote international monetary cooperation, exchange stability, foster economic growth and high levels of employment and to provide temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance of payments adjustments. The IMF provides financial and technical assistance to member States.

There is currently no NGO policy established by the IMF. However, an IMF Civil Society Newsletter is published regularly. It contains short descriptions of new developments relevant to civil society and also provides references for further reading. It lists new research and discussion papers, upcoming conferences, and other relevant information.

For further information contact:

IMF (office in Geneva)
58, Rue de Moillebeau
CH-1209 Geneva
Tel. : +41 (0)22 918 03 00
Fax : +41 (0)22 918 03 03

  1. Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)

The "Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie" (OIF) comprises 56 French-speaking nations working to establish dialogue and solidarity in a concerted effort to fulfil the aspirations of their peoples. The OIF supports respect of a variety of languages and rejects standardization, while also promoting development. The organization works on issues such as media and information, youth cooperation, development and human rights among others. The OIF develops most of its projects through the "Agence Internationale de la Francophonie."

The OIF supports projects led by NGOs and other civil society organizations. It provides consultative status with NGOs, which are invited to meet within the framework of the "Conférence des OING francophones."

Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
46 avenue Blanc
CH-1202 Geneva
Tel.: +41 (0)22 738 96 66
Fax: +41 (0)22 738 96 82