How We Work at The UN
Unitarian Universalists are bold leaders in action for social justice around the world. In our daily lives, we strive to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Each day at the United Nations, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) strives to affirm and promote every person’s human rights on the international stage.
Influence of the UU-UNO at the United Nations
The UU-UNO participates in meetings, conferences, and committees at the United Nations with Member State representatives and key UN bodies such as Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Department of Public Information (DPI), the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and more, to discuss with them how they can act in the interest of creating a world community that is accepting, just, and compassionate.
United Nations Consultative Status
For a non-governmental organization (NGO) to have any influence at the UN it must be accredited through the United Nations system. The UU-UNO has two types of accreditation which allow us to do our work:
- Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC): The Unitarian Universalist Association has special consultative status with ECOSOC. NGOs with ECOSOC status are those that are interested in policy issues within the UN system, and consultative status grants us the ability to contribute to the United Nations agenda, voicing issues that are of concern to Unitarian Universalists. The UU-UNO’s advocacy at the UN on human rights, climate change, disarmament, peace, and security all fit into its ECOSOC status.
- Department of Global Communications (DGC): The Unitarian Universalist Association is also formally associated with DGC (formerly DPI, Department of Public Information). As an NGO in association with DGC, we work to extend the UN Department of Global Communications's mission to explain and gain support for the UN's mission in the world. Our educational programs (Envoy program, Intergenerational Spring Seminar, UN Sunday, etc.) fit well into this mandate.
The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) facilitates the participation of Non-Governmental Organizations in the UN system. CoNGO works to ensure that NGOs have adequate access to UN meetings, conferences, special events, and documentation. The UU-UNO serves on the following CoNGO committees, with Director Bruce Knotts taking a leadership role in many:
- UN NGO Committee on Human Rights, Bruce Knotts is a co-chair
- Subcommittee on Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Human Rights
- UN NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, Bruce Knotts is the chair
- UN NGO Committee on Sustainable Development which works on climate change related issues, Bruce Knotts is on the governing board.
- UN NGO Committee on Migration which works on global migration issues.
- UN NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Other Committees and Groups
- UN Faith the Ethics Network for the International Criminal Court, which support faith and ethical engagement to promote the work of the ICC. Bruce Knotts is the chair.
- NGO Security Council Working Group which meets with all the members nations of the UN Security Council for off-the-record meetings.
- UN Commission on the Status of Women which works to empower women for a better world.
- NGO/DPI Executive Committee which coordinates the 1,400 NGOs associated with DGC. Bruce Knotts was elected the chair in 2015.