In late May 2011, our Society started applying for general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the UN. By about mid-October before the ARMSS 3rd Congress in Samara, that process finished and the Committee was expected to invite the ARMSS, as due, to its 2012 Regular Session on 30 January – 8 February 2012 in New York to consider our application and possibly see the ARMSS incorporated at this biggest and most influential international agency in the world.

On the first day of the session, the Committee on NGO heard ARMSS President Dr Yan Vlasov report on the ARMSS activities. Dr Vlasov was ready to answer Committee experts’ questions while considering to recommend the ARMSS for ECOSOC to grant consultative status with this UN Council. At the end of the day after Dr Yan Vlasov spoke, the UN experts were in favor and came to a positive conclusion to recommend our Society to be in consultative status with ECOSOC, UN.

On acquiring the recommendation at the January-February session, we have every reason to expect ECOSOC at the next regular session, July 2012 to grant us general consultative status.

There are at least 3,200 NGOs in the world that have consultative status with ECOSOC. The UN wants to organize and put NGOs in consultative status in a system according to working trends and activities while inviting these NGOs to UN events where NGOs can speak out and be heard. This ensures a constructive talk between the UN and leading NGOs which is of great value. NGOs in consultative status have administrative support and enjoy access to UN’s educational, informational and consulting resources.

No doubt, the UN, too, is interested to grant voluntary organizations with consultative status. As stated by resolution 1996/31: “... Consultative arrangements are to be made, on the one hand, for the purpose of enabling the Council or one of its bodies to secure expert information or advice from organizations having special competence in the subjects for which consultative arrangements are made, and, on the other hand, to enable international, regional, sub-regional and national organizations that represent important elements of public opinion to express their views”. — ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, part II, paragraph 20  (‘Working with ECOSOC. An NGOs Guide Consultative Status’, UN, NY, 2011).

It is worth mentioning that getting consultative status is not easy, and the strict regulations pose hard tasks for NGOs from the application point. The session revealed that not all applying voluntary organizations deserve to be permanently represented at the UN. Besides, 190 NGOs in consultative status have deferred submitting quadrennial reports to ECOSOC at the UN to meet its expectations in achieving ECOSOC’s goals.

 Following our membership at the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation and European Multiple Sclerosis Platform, this is another achievement the ARMSS did to get international approval for its activities. Therefore, this gives me great pleasure to congratulate ARMSS staff and members on this breakthrough on the international scene within a 4-year period (the ARMSS became a member of EMSP in 2008 and MSIF – in 2009). As it is seen in practice, far from all agencies can do it. I would think that many of us feel very proud for the ARMSS indeed.

Pavel Zlobin

Vice President, ARMSS

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