Public participation and decision-making in global governance spaces: reports

Published:
July 2019
Issued by:
The Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order
Presented:
To the HRC at its 42nd session, and the GA at its 74th session

Background

The mandate holder decided to devote both his 2019 reports to the intersectional topic of public participation and decision-making in such global governance spaces and its impact on a democratic and equitable international order.

To prepare, the Independent Expert conducted a visit to Geneva, Paris and Washington, D.C., from 21 to 30 May 2019, during which he held a series of meetings with representatives of States members of intergovernmental groupings and representatives of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, IMF and the World Economic Forum.

He also convened two expert consultations with civil society representatives in Geneva and Washington, D.C., and held several teleconferences with various stakeholders who could not attend the consultations. In addition, he benefited from submissions by civil society actors and Member States in response to two tailored questionnaires issued in April 2019.

 

Summary

The mandate holder decided to devote these reports to the intersectional topic of public participation and decision-making in global governance spaces and its impact on a democratic and equitable international order.

The report to the Human Rights Council deals primarily with issues of structural and practical obstacles to access, inclusivity and the ability to influence the decision-making processes, while the report to the General Assembly mirrors a number of findings and expands on a number of issues, in particular the history and purposes of the global governance spaces and the importance of public outreach by these spaces to enhance public participation.

Intergovernmental, multisectoral and private groupings, such as the G7, G20 and BRICS, have gained significant importance at the geopolitical, economic and financial levels as they play a considerable role in developing the framework and function of the international order, in parallel to the United Nations system. The configurations and methods of decision-making differ according to group. However, in each case, their meetings and policies invite intense public scrutiny, and even protests, exemplifying the scope of their influence on global governance and the major positions that they occupy as convenors of the world's leaders and global thinkers.

However, these groupings remain largely inaccessible to the public, in particular to those whose lives and livelihoods are affected by the decisions taken, hence contributing to the democratic deficit in the global decision-making process. As global governance forums, and as much as traditional multilateral institutions such as the United Nations in general, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), they have an obligation to make decisions in accordance with such basic principles of democratic governance as transparency, inclusivity, responsiveness and accountability.

 

Inputs received

The Independent Expert requested inputs relating to the issue of participation and decision-making in global governance spaces. He invited submissions to the following questionnaires regarding the extent to which such international groupings and spaces are accessible, inclusive and responsive to the voices of people and groups previously excluded from international decision-making bodies, but whose lives and livelihoods are impacted by the decisions taken. The deadline for these contributions was 14 June 2019.

Questionnaire from the Independent Expert to Member States of the G7, G20, BRICS, G77/G24 and NAM
Questionnaire from the Independent Expert to Civil Society Organisations

Member States

Civil Society