Consultative Status is a phrase whose use can be traced to the founding of the United Nations and is used within the UN community to refer to "Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council." Also some international organizations could grant Consultative Status to NGOs (for example - Council of Europe; the rules for Consultative Status for INGOs are appended to the resolution (93)38 "On relations between the Council of Europe and international non-governmental organisations", adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 18 October 1993 at the 500th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies). Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) could grand Consultative Status in the form of "Researcher-in-residence programme" (run by the Prague Office of the OSCE Secretariat): accredited representatives of national and international NGOs are granted access to all records and to numerous topical compilations related to OSCE field activities.
Consultative Status has its foundation in Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter:
In 1948, shortly after the founding of the United Nations, there were 45 NGOs in Consultative Status, mostly large international organizations. Currently there are 2719 NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and some 400 NGOs accredited to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).
ECOSOC Resolution 1296 (XLIV) in 1968 had defined the criteria and rights associated with Consultative Status for almost forty years, during which time there was a substantial growth in the number of NGOs.
The primary impetus for the 1996 revision of the arrangements was the unprecedented level of NGO participation, especially from national NGOs, in the preparations for UNCED - the 1993 Earth Summit. The use of ICT - mostly in the form of electronic conferences on the Institute for Global Communications network, and electronic mail - had played a major role.]
The criteria for NGO accreditation to Consultative Status have been revised several times, most recently in 1996 in ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31, following an extensive United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on the Review of Arrangements for Consultation with Non-Government Organizations.
A significant section of 1996/31 was the following paragraph:
There are three classes of Consultative Status defined by 1996/31, General, Special & Roster. These classes were the equivalent of Category I, Category II & Roster status that were defined in 1296 (XLIV). Below are the current definitions - paragraph numbers are from 1996/31.
1996/31 grants different rights for participation in ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies - principally ECOSOC's Functional Commissions - including rights to United Nations passes, to speak at designated meetings, and to have documents translated and circulated as official UN documents - e.g. Information Technology, Public Participation & Global Agreements submitted to the Commission on Social Development in 1998.
The three sub-categories of Roster Status - see below - have been supplemented by a fourth category, the definition of whose rights remains somewhat fuzzy, namely "NGOs accredited to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)":
The primary form of Roster Status, for NGOs with a focus on one or two of the areas of competence of ECOSOC.
There are special provisions in 1996/31, and before that in 1296 (XLIV) for the UN Secretary-General to recommend NGOs for the Roster.
Although not defined in 1996/31, a fourth category of NGOs accredited to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established by ECODSOC decision 1996/302. There are currently approximately 400 NGOs in this status.
For more information see FAQs on NGO Consultative Status