#UNmute civil society

After a two-year absence, caused by the long process of bushfire recovery and operating a business amidst a global pandemic, this week Stormbird Press tuned into the post-UN General Assembly (Third Committee) session with the hope that the civil society work of the UN was continuing apace.

We participate in the UN discussions through our parent organisation, Wild Migration, a Consultative Organisation to ECOSOC and in our own right as a Signatory to the UN Publishing Compact. One of our founders, Margi Prideaux, also brings a strong historical and academic background to civil society and land defender participation in international environment discussions.

Today’s live streamed informal UNGA meeting with the civil society organisations attracted solid in-person and virtual attendance from individuals and nongovernmental organisations across the world. However, it was disappointing to learn that a number of governments have used the global pandemic as a reason to roll back civil society access to the UN process, especially in New York. For the past two years—despite their indispensable contributions to the broad spectrum of the United Nations’ work—civil society, including UN-accredited NGOs, continue to be denied in-person access to the UN headquarters while member states, UN staff as well as resident journalists participate in-person in UN meetings. Therefore, those on the ground, those with lived experience, and those who have the most to lose have been absent from all conversations

During the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, 61 States condemned the exclusion of civil society and suggested concrete measures to address the situation in a welcome joint statement led by Costa Rica and Denmark. [insert link to the statement]

The UN may seem a world away from the business of publishing books, but in fact it is core to our being. Stormbird Press actively contributes to discussion on key Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 13: Climate Action, SDG 14: Life Below Water, SDG 15: Life on Land, and SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), on giving visibility to human rights and land defenders, and on progressing global literacy. These represent the core of our stories and the reasons we exist. Without world-wide access to stories about nature and humanity’s connection to nature we see a bleak future. Like our stories, the global discussions must be infused with diversity and lived experience.

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