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Strengthening of the United Nations UN an agenda for further change Engaging civil society There has been an exponential growth in the number of civil society actors and in the volume of transnational networks in which they are embedded The number of international non-governmental organizations grew forty-fold over the course of the twentieth century to more than 37000 in 2000 The expanding worldwide networks of non-governmental organizations embrace virtually every level of organization from the village community to global summits and almost every sector of public life from the provision of microcredit and the delivery of emergency relief supplies to environmental and human rights activism The relationship of the United Nations with civil society organizations is as old as the Charter itselfPartnership between the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations in the humanitarian and development areas has been the rule for decades Indeed the relationship is so close that in many cases non-governmental organizations participate in the planning processes of the United Nations at country level The extensive interaction of civil society actors with the intergovernmental processes is of more recent vintageIt has really blossomed with the world conferences of the past decade The formal deliberations and decisions of many such meetings are now often enriched by the debates carried out in non-governmental forums and events held in parallel with the official conferences Many United Nations treaty bodies now routinely consider alternate reports from non-governmental organizations alongside the official reports from Governments In some cases non-governmental organizations have addressed plenary sessions of conferences and participated in formalround-table discussions with governmental delegates Many Governments now include civil society representatives in their delegations to international conferences and special sessions and sometimes also to the General Assembly The Security Council has also adopted some innovative and creative measures to allow non-governmental voices to be heard by its members The Arria formula for example enables non-governmental organizations to give testimony
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