New York, September 10, 2015 – In early 2014 we submitted an application to the United Nations requesting that our organization be granted Special Consultative Status. A tad over a year later, on April 20, 2015, we received a message from the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations saying “your organization’s application for consultative status by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations will take place during its 2015 Resumed Session in New York, scheduled for 26 May – 3 June 2015.”
The email went on to say “Your presence is not mandatory and will not in any way affect the consideration of your application” and that “given the large volume of new and deferred applications for the Committee’s consideration, it is not possible to determine the exact date at which your application will be reviewed during the session.”
Despite the indefinite review date, we thought that, being located in New York, I’d attend the meeting just in case I might be available to contribute to the review process. Minimally I’d get to spend a day at the UN which always inspires me.
But I could not attend for the full 7 day session and wrote the NGO Committee that I’d be there for the afternoon session on May 28. Everything worked out well on the 28th, and we’re now an NGO. But a friend thought the story of my experience on that day amusing and suggested I share it. Here goes.
At about noon on the 28th, as I was preparing to depart for the UN, an email arrived from the NGO Committee inquiring about the response we’d submitted to question 11, asking if Connecting.nyc Inc. was an international organization. I added some clarifying detail to my original response and headed out to the UN.
At the UN I found the Committee meeting in Conference Room 4, a very impressive room (pictured above). Near the entrance I found an official and explained my situation. She checked her computer and, noting that my response to question 11 had already made its way through the review process and was available for the members consideration. I asked if there was anything further I could do to aide my application. She asked if I would be available for the Q&A beginning at 5 PM. Not clear what that was, but eager to please, I said sure. She concluded with “5 PM no earlier.”
There was another meeting nearby that interested me and I left Conference Room 4 for about 1/2 an hour. Returning a bit early, at 20 of 5, I took a seat at the rear. Seconds after settling into my seat the chair, speaking Spanish, said something that seemed to conclude with “Connecting.nyc”. Startled, I slowly stood, tried to imagine what he might have said, and listened intently a few seconds later when he repeated the statement and clearly said “Connecting.nyc” at the end.
Unclear as to what to do, I looked around for guidance. The woman at the entry desk motioned to say “Yes it is related to you” and urged me to move toward a desk closer to the front. As I approached that desk the fellow there waved me on, to continue toward the front. Looking ahead I saw another desk just to the right of the dais. But as I reached that desk the two occupants motioned me forward. With no desks ahead I stood motionless. Then a woman just behind the dais whispered that I was to “sit there” and motioned to the rightmost chair on the dais.
So within 30 seconds of hearing “Connecting.nyc” I found myself sitting on the dais. And wondering what was next.
Shortly the chair stated, in English, that I had 10 minuted to address the 19 members of the Committee. With nothing prepared I spoke for a few minutes about our general goals and about my response to question 11. I was then asked by the representative form Nicaragua how we expected to deliver our services to the member states. After answering the question I awaited another. The chair spoke in Spanish (“Any more questions?” I presumed.) With no response he motioned me to leave my seat.
As I turned to depart the woman who had directed me to sit on the dais said “Congratulations”. I must have looked perplexed, and she followed with “You’ve been approved.” And indeed, the Committee had recommended granting special consultative status to the organization. (Several weeks later Economic and Social Council formalized the approval.)
As I walked back to my seat in the rear two people stopped me to offer their congratulations and I began to realize what a remarkable few minutes I’d spent in Conference Room 4.
In July we received official confirmation of our acceptance as an NGO with special consultative status.