Thursday, December 17, 2009

NGO Lockout

Yesterday, the United Nations announced that accredited observer non-governmental organizations (NGOs) would no longer have access to the United Nations climate change negotiation conference center. As a result, more than a thousand NGOs, working hard to advance issues critical to achieving an ambitious and equitable international climate change agreement, were shut out of the negotiations. The NGO lockout not only prohibits accredited observer organizations from viewing the negotiations in person; it also eliminates interface and dialogue between NGOs and party delegates and the media.

More than 5,000 chairs remained empty throughout Thursday at a designated offsite alternative location where NGOs were told they could watch the negotiations on video screens. However, no negotiation sessions were made available for viewing; instead, the arena streamed-in general party statements from a virtually empty plenary room. Indeed, protesting outside the conference center posed legitimate safety concerns, but permitting the negotiations to proceed in the absence of all its accredited participants is an extreme departure from the 15-year tradition of transparent negotiations.

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