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The Treaties - 9 - Rio Framework Treaty on NGO Global Decision Making


1. We the signatories of this Treaty: grassroots organizations, environment and development groups, women, spiritual and youth movements, indigenous peoples, social groups, that is private, non-profit, voluntary organizations, independent of public authorities and business interests, seeing ourselves as part of or serving movements, here named non-governmental organizations (NGOs), commit ourselves to work together in the spirit of Agenda Ya Wananchi adopted at Paris in December 1991. We pledge to dedicate ourselves to strengthen our political and democratic cooperation and our monitoring and negotiating capacities through a process of mutual information gathering, dialogue, sharing of expertise and action.


2. We NGOs will strengthen existing networks and global alliances; work towards the recognition of all NGOs; secure NGO participation in decision-making processes at all levels; enhance and promote participatory democracy; seek the empowerment of all oppressed peoples, especially those who are socially and ecologically marginalized.

3. We NGOs will reinforce the recognition of all NGOs, at both national, regional and international levels as one of the key agents of sustainable development. NGOs have a specific responsibility towards the North-South relationship. We will work to build on the gains achieved in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) process for NGO participation.

4. Through this Treaty we intend to strengthen NGO rights and means of influencing the decision-making processes at international, national and local levels by using existing legal instruments and international commitments, and promoting new and more progressive ones, as follows:

5. We NGOs will work for the implementation of NGO rights, as provided for in the United Nations (UN) Charter and UN resolutions, Agenda 21, international treaties, conventions, national and local laws and codes of conduct, in order to: secure forceful NGO participation with North/South balance in the work of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) and in the monitoring of the programs and projects of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the World Bank and other development banks; participate in public enquiries and environmental impact assessments; hold public debates; monitor the implementation of Agenda 21; monitor the implementation of international treaties on the environment; monitor the implementation of existing laws and international treaties for access to information; monitor the application of codes of conduct endorsed by private corporations in terms of right of access to information.

6. We NGOs will work for positive changes in international institutions, international treaties and conventions, national legislation and company codes of conduct towards: revision of the UN Charter and institutions and of the Human Rights Declaration; democratization of the decision-making structure of international lending institutions; expansion of participatory institutions and laws at local, national and global levels; participation of NGOs and local communities in the design of programs and projects proposed for funding at the international level; development of environmental impact assessment of policies, plans and programs and implementation of the precautionary principle; recognition of NGOs' right to bring action in courts of justice in case of infringement of laws, international treaties and conventions; creation of international and regional courts of justice for the environment.

Plan of Action

7. This Plan of Action is intentionally limited to reporting and coordination mechanisms. As such, it should not conflict with mechanisms designed for specific issues and issue clusters. Moreover, we acknowledge existing mechanisms which successfully permit NGOs to work in harmony at the global level. Finally, commitment to the following provisions does not require but only enables local, national and regional organizations to be involved at the global level, if they so wish.

Reporting Process

8. We NGOs therefore initiate a reporting process to reflect: how local communities and NGOs have been able to participate in legal information and consultation procedures; how local communities and NGOs have been able to participate in the implementation of the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 at the national level and in the design of national and local plans towards sustainability; how information on the environment held by industrial companies both private and state-controlled (for example, environment reporting, eco-auditing), can be obtained; how local communities and NGO projects are or are not made eligible for funding by governments, international institutions such as the World Bank, development banks and other donors such as foundations and NGOs; how local communities and NGOs are or are not consulted in the design of projects funded by international institutions and NGOs; how the other provisions of the Rio Declaration, the Agenda 21, conventions and protocols and international environmental treaties are implemented.

9. We will build a system of information among the signatories of this Treaty, Annually, we will publish reports at the different levels: local, national, regional, bio-regional and global. These reports will summarize our findings at the respective levels. They will be made public in a format which is accessible to the reader.

Co-ordination Mechanisms

10. Since the basic unit of global NGO decision-making is at the local level, linkages must be drawn both vertically from the local to the national, regional, bio-regional and global levels and horizontally at each of the levels. With these linkages, global decision-making will serve the needs of the local communities.

11. Building on existing NGOs and networks, we signatories commit ourselves to fulfill the above objectives of this treaty by setting up a global system of communications, cooperative action and decision-making, implemented by means of:

    a. NGO Coalitions from the local to the UN Member State level, including stateless nations.

    b. Regional and/or Bioregional NGO Committees comprised of participants in the NGO Coalitions, regional NGOs and networks.

    c. A Global NGO Facilitating Committee comprised of participants in the Regional and/or Bioregional NGO Committees, global NGOs and networks.

12. We NGOs pledge to respect cultural diversity, gender balance and international participatory democracy in our organizations. We agree to devise decision-making rules for the implementation of this Treaty following the same principles. The rules will be defined, at respective levels, in protocols defined by the signatories.


13. We open this treaty for signatures by NGOs.

14. We agree to convene regional meetings, as and where possible, of the signatories during the year 1993.

15. We agree to convene the first Global NGO Facilitating Committee by the end of 1993.


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