On Becoming An NGO

Posted by:

New York, September 10, 2015 – In early 2014 we applied to the United Nations requesting that we 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.”

UN Resumed Session May 2015The 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 in the hope that 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. So I wrote the NGO Committee that I’d be there for the afternoon session on May 28.

Everything worked out well that day and we’re now an NGO. But a friend thought the story of my experience on the 28th was 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, which asked if Connecting.nyc Inc. was an international organization. I responded with some clarifying detail 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 noted that my response to question #11 had already made its way through the review process and was available for the members for 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 which began 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 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 that clearly included “Connecting.nyc.”

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 yet another desk just to the right of the dais, and felt sure my answer would be found there. But as I reached it the two occupants waved me forward. With no desks ahead I stood motionless. Then a woman just on the dais whispered that I was to “sit there” and motioned to the rightmost chair near her.

So within 30 seconds of hearing “Connecting.nyc” I found myself seated on the dais and wondering what was next.

Shortly the chair stated, in English, that I had 10 minutes to address the Committee’s 19 members. With nothing prepared I conjured an impromptu brief about our history and goals, and clarified our botched response to question #11. Q&A followed with the representative form Nicaragua asking how we expected to deliver our services to the member states. I indicated that our web presence would be primary, but that we hoped to reach nation states and their cities through our special consultative status. I then awaited another question. A few seconds passed and the chair said “Any more questions?” Receiving no response he nodded for me to leave.

As I rose and turned to depart the woman who had directed me to my seat 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 I was stopped by two others who offered their congratulations and I began to realize what a remarkable few minutes I’d spent in good old Conference Room 4.

A few months later we received official confirmation of our acceptance as an NGO with special consultative status.


About the Author:

Thomas thinks about technology and its impact on the quality of urban life.
  Related Posts
  • No related posts found.

Add a Comment