UN grants Sonke ECOSOC special consultative status

Sonke is pleased to announce that we have been granted Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the UN’s central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development.1

Consultative status is granted by ECOSOC upon recommendation of the Committee on NGOs, which is comprised of 19 Member States.2 It was through ECOSOC that non-governmental organisations first took a role in formal UN deliberations.

Consultative Status, depending on the level, gives NGOs a number of rights to participate in the work of the UN, to present their views and deliver testimony. Organisations enjoying general and special status can attend the Council’s meetings and circulate statements. Special consultative status is granted to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have a special competence in, and are concerned with, only a few fields of activity covered by the ECOSOC.

“In Sonke’s case, our work straddles gender and human rights, equality and HIV and AIDS. Being awarded Special Consultative Status means that Sonke’s advocacy work with the UN, and most importantly within Africa through UNECA (the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), will be a little bit easier as this will allow us access to high level sessions and facilitates easier participation within these processes,” says Itumeleng Komanyane, manager of Sonke’s International Programmes and Networks Unit.

ECOSOC serves as the central forum for formulating policy recommendations addressed to member states and the United Nations system. Fifty-four UN member states from various geographical locations are represented on the Council, including South Africa which was elected to ECOSOC in 2012, saying then that it will “pursue a global development agenda with a view to contribute to the reduction of insecurity in Africa and in the World. South Africa will utilize its membership to promote the African Agenda and the general developmental interest of Africa.”3

ECOSOC engages a wide variety of stakeholders in a productive dialogue on sustainable development through a programmatic cycle of meetings. Consultative status provides NGOs with access to not only ECOSOC, but also to its many subsidiary bodies, to the various human rights mechanisms of the UN ad-hoc processes on small arms, as well as special events organised by the President of the UN General Assembly.

The awarding of Consultative Status follows a rigorous application and thorough vetting of an organisation’s governance and financial systems, including its credibility as a leader in its field. “Sonke is very grateful for this recognition and the opportunities it presents for our global advocacy work,” says Komanyane, “We will use this Consultative Status to strengthen our work championing social justice and gender transformation in Africa and the rest of the world.”

Recognising the importance of NGOs to participate in such global processes, Sonke also is encouraging peer organisations to apply for Consultative Status before the next deadline on June 1, 2015.


Itumeleng Komanyane, International Programmes and Networks Manager – Sonke Gender Justice
Email: Itumeleng@genderjustice.org.za
Tel: 011 339 3589

Bafana Khumalo, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Co-Founder, Sonke Gender Justice
Email: bafana@genderjustice.org.za
Tel: 011 339 3589


  1. http://csonet.org/?menu=100
  2. http://csonet.org/?menu=30
  3. http://www.dirco.gov.za/docs/2012/ecosoc1109.html