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November 22, 2003The world's NGOs employ 19 million people and have an annual budget of $1 trillion. Together, claims John Powers, they would form the world's eighth-largest economy.
Powers also offers useful background the relationship between the UN and the NGOs that lobby it on a daily basis:
"For an NGO to be recognized by the United Nations, however, there are requirements, and even two statuses for which an NGO might apply.
The DPI status is under the authority of the U.N. Department of Public Information (UNDPI), which controls U.N. archives and research facilities. To obtain it, according to Paul Hoeffel, chief of the DPI/NGO Section at the United Nations, an organization must have been in existence for at least three years and provide evidence of having worked with the United Nations in some cooperative way. The financial records of the organization must be turned over to the UNDPI for review, and the ideals and philosophy of the organization must not conflict with broad U.N. missions and policy.
'We have to be careful who we accept,' Hoeffel says. The benefit of this status, he says, is that NGOs gain access to all U.N. facilities and conferences and may gather information on their areas of interest at the U.N. library. Currently, he says, about 250 organizations apply for DPI status a year, with 40 to 50 of these being accepted. There now are 1,400 NGOs with DPI status.
The other status for which the NGOs may apply is ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) status. The U.N. Website says that to obtain ECOSOC standing an NGO must prove that its work is directly relevant to U.N. goals. With ECOSOC standing an NGO may enter into a formal consultive relationship with access to officials of U.N. member states and must provide useful or special information to the U.N. Economic and Social Council. There currently are 2,350 NGOs with ECOSOC status."