Academic journal article Journal of Global South Studies

Patterns of Development Issues and Proportional Representation in Un-Affiliated Ngos Related to the Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus

Academic journal article Journal of Global South Studies

Patterns of Development Issues and Proportional Representation in Un-Affiliated Ngos Related to the Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus

Article excerpt


This article explores the proportionality of representation of development issues in the UN's engagement with civil society. Many scholars have addressed the increasing number and expanding roles of transnational nongovernmental organizations in recent decades. (1) However, little research has been conducted to address the actual behaviors of NGOs in the international arena. The literature does not address patterns of participation regionally or topically or the degree to which NGOs are actually engaged with the UN in development-related or other initiatives. (2) At least in part, this study seeks to address the gap. Using data from the UN's Integrated Civil Society Organizations (ICSO) database, I have analyzed the patterns of international NGOs with UN affiliations regarding the degree of representation of world regions, proportional representation among developed and developing areas, and their focus on development-related policy or issue areas as defined in the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Monterrey Consensus. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs maintains the ICSO database to provide statistics concerning levels and types of interaction between the UN and transnational civil society. The database, which is searchable via name and type of organization, country or region where the organization is located, the organization's level of consultative status with the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the language the organization uses, the geographic scope and fields of activity of the organization, and level of the organization's participation in UN meetings, is the primary source of readily available statistics concerning the dynamic between the UN and civil society. As such, it is ideally suited for use in this study.

I analyzed secondary data related to the involvement of UN-affiliated NGOs with MDGs and Monterrey Consensus issues in an effort to identify macro-scale patterns related to whether the number of NGOs in a region is proportional to the region's population. The goal of the study was to determine if imbalances exist in the proportional representation of NGOs from different world regions and in developed versus developing regions and also to gauge the degree of participation of international civil society in the UN framework related to development. The study is based on three hypotheses, each related to a different dimension of plurality and diversity of representation/participation with regard to development issues.

1) Analysis of patterns of NGO participation/affiliation with the UN will reveal imbalances with regard to spatial/geographical representation and variations in focus on issue and policy areas.

2) Although many (possibly most) UN-affiliated NGOs with linkages to Millennium Development Goals or Monterrey Consensus issues will be located in less developed countries (LDCs/developing regions), those regions will not be represented proportional to their share of global population.

3) Only a small percentage of UN-affiliated NGOs that the ICSO database identifies as being linked to Millennium Development Goals or Monterrey Consensus goals will be formal participants in the ECOSOC consultative status program.

This study can be regarded as preliminary research that seeks to establish the degree of plurality/proportionality within NGOs affiliated with the UN or that seek to implement UN goals related to the MDGs and the Monterrey consensus.

The Millennium Development Goals were formulated and supported by the community of nations and many of the transnational organizations related to development. The goals ranged from halving the number of people living in extreme poverty to providing universal primary education by 2015. The MDGs helped mobilize unparalleled efforts to address many of the needs of the least developed areas. While the name of the project transitioned to "Sustainable Development Goals" in 2016, many of the original elements of the MDGs remain, and research continues into the degree to which the MDGs and Sustainable Development Goals have been realized. …

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