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03 April 2019

Strauss Distinguished Scholar Rana Siu Inboden investigates the role of authoritarian countries in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) NGO Committee and finds that the Like-Minded Group (LMG), a coalition of largely authoritarian nations, have often blocked non-governmental organizations (NGO) from gaining consultative status in the United Nations. Her findings are presented in the Strauss Center Report, Authoritarian States: Blocking Civil Society Participation in the United Nations. She provides background on the origins, composition and evolution of the Like-Minded Group (LMG), which first emerged in the UN Commission on Human Rights in the late 1990s. Although not formally active under the LMG banner in the United Nation's New York-based bodies, a number of these countries sit on the UN ECOSOC NGO Committee, which is responsible for reviewing NGO applications for UN consultative status. She presents original research showing that LMG countries were responsible for deferred applications 94 percent of the time and that LMG member countries often do each other's bidding on the Committee. These actions limit the ability of NGOs to access and contribute the work of the United Nations, especially civil society organizations working on human rights-related issues. It also underscores the threat that authoritarian countries present beyond their borders. Dr. Inboden concludes this report with recommendations to improve the UN's process for reviewing NGO applications for consultative status, including urging countries with a commitment to civil society to stand for election to the NGO Committee and advance reform proposals.

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