Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Civil Society, Accountability And The UN System

Kerstin Martens

University of Bremen

CSGR Working Paper 237/08

March 2008



Civil society and its associations (CSAs) are a vital part of the UN system since its estab­lishment in 1945. During Kofi Annan’s time as Secretary-General of the United Nations, existing relations with civil society were even intensified and new tights with businesses established in order to create partnerships with non-state actors. In this contribution, I seek to examine how CSAs contribute to enhance the accountability of the UN regime. I apply a simple policy-cycle model adapted for analyses on the international level and explore how CSAs are involved in the stages of policy setting, policy formulation and policy imple­mentation of political processes as they take place at UN level. I explain differences of CSA participation in and through the UN system examining (a) the degree of for­malized and systematic procedures by looking at the constitutional provisions and liaison operation to have relations with civil society associations, and (b) the resources civil society associations make available for interaction with the UN by looking at organizational provi­sions. In the conclusions I evaluate the constituencies CSAs have (not) served by civil society initiatives at UN level. My research is based on expert interviews with representatives of CSAs and UN officials.

Keywords: Civil Society; NGOs; UN; policy cycle; elite interviews.

Contact Details

Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR)

University of Warwick
CV4 7AL Coventry (UK)