A Letter to All UN DPI NGO Associates

By February 20, 2013No Comments

RE: A Letter to ALL UN DPI NGO Associates
Dear Friends,

A proposal from the Department of Public Information at the United Nations to meet the budget cuts requested by the Secretary-General of the UN would eliminate the position of Chief of the NGO Relations Cluster, when the present office holder retires at the end of July of this year. The NGO/DPI Executive Committee wants to make you aware of this situation.

The Chief of the NGO Relations heads a small section, which is the link between the DPI and the over 1300 NGOs associated with the Department of Public Information. To that end, (s)he manages and oversees activities and programs of the cluster building partnerships,  the Annual Review process and the Association process, the 36 weekly briefings, including the 2 Communications Workshops, the 2 Orientation Programs, the 2 websites, the social media, the NGO Resource Center, the intern and volunteer programs, the program evaluation project, trouble shooting for UNICs, Co-Chairing of the Planning Committee of the Annual Conference, and participating in the formulation of DPI policy regarding NGOs including attendance at official meetings of the Organization.

Recently you received an e-mail from the Director of the Outreach Division of DPI indicating that he felt that there would not be any appreciable loss of services to the NGO community with the elimination of this position. The NGO Relations Cluster would be folded into the Advocacy and Special Events Cluster headed by a new hire, whom we have not yet met but whose resume indicates that he has had some NGO experiences. The position of Information Officer for the NGOs will become vacant at the end of May when the current person retires. (S)he would report to the Chief of the Advocacy and Special Events Cluster who would then report to the Director of the Outreach Division. It is the contention of the Director of the Outreach Department that the new hire will assume most of the duties outlined above as well as those presently assigned to the position. We have not seen any of these plans on paper as yet.

The following is taken from the DPI page on-line in reference to NGOs: “The United Nations is both a participant and witness to an increasing global civil society.” It is of concern to us that this new reporting process might well compromise the effective of NGOs affiliated with DPI.

In 2006, Kofi Annan spoke the following words in his address “The Emerging Powers of Civil Society: “A strong civil society promotes responsible citizenship and makes democratic forms of government work. A weak civil society supports authoritarian rule, which keeps society weak.”

I write to you at this moment in history, because we are being asked to act on this proposal without any prior input or consultation.

Sincerely,                                                                                  Supported by,
Charles Hitchcock                                                                 Cyril Ritchie
Chair of the NGO/DPI Executive Committee                President of CoNGO

P.S. The following lists the actions of the Executive Committee on your behalf.

1. Planning and coordination of the Annual Conference.
2. Networking opportunities for NGOs in the metropolitan New York area.
3. Having college and university students to be the eyes and ears of NGOs outside the metropolitan New York area.
4. Disseminating material from the weekly DPI briefings
5. A website and a face book page which conveys the work of the Executive Committee.
6. The NGO Reporter which carries the news of the Executive Committee, both past and future.
7. Regional representatives who report to NGOs in their region.
8. Fundraisers to carry out the work of the Committee.
9. Collaboration in the planning of weekly briefings at the UN