With the burgeoning numbers both of member states and NGOs active around the UN, leadership challenges abound.

If the original group of countries that gathered in San Francisco thought it was difficult to agree on what the UN should be at that time, imagine the challenges as 51 member states have expanded to 193, and NGO numbers are now over 3,000 and they are ONLY the ones in formal consultation with ECOSOC.

More and more NGOs are needing to band together to get their voices heard. But that brings with it its own challenges.

NGOs often have a very narrow focus and are not, at least in their members eyes, mandates to support the agendas of other NGOs. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

In the end the challenges of NGOs are very similar to the challenges of Member States in that they are often conflicted when faced with “how to get things done” at the international level.

The above is a VERY abbreviated rendition of the problem and both NGOs and the UN are struggling with how to deal with the sheer force of numbers, requests, need for space, time and attention that is sought by each Member State and international NGO.

At least in the area of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, there are three main coalitions that have formed:

1. The Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (there is an Alliance in NY and in Vienna.)

2. The NGO Committee on Drugs (based in Vienna, with strong international support and involvement.)

3. The Coalition Against Corruption (that has strong roots in Transparency International).

These three coalitions meet regularly and address common concerns as they endeavor to bring the perspectives of expert groupings of civil society to the relevant arenas of discussion and debate at the international levels.

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