When Peace Boat gained Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 2002, many new channels were opened for its engagement in and advocacy with the UN.
Special consultative status is granted to NGOs which have a special competence in, and are concerned specifically with, certain fields of activity covered by the ECOSOC. With this status, Peace Boat can participate in, present written contributions to and make statements at all ECOSOC subsidiary bodies, attend international conferences convened by the United Nations and organize side events. It provides access to not only ECOSOC, but also to its many subsidiary bodies, to the various human rights mechanisms of the UN, ad-hoc processes on small arms, as well as special events organized by the President of the General Assembly.
The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the UN. Today, it is at the heart of the UN system to advance economic, social and environmental development, and remains the only main UN body with a formal framework for NGO participation. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) is responsible for granting consultative status with ECOSOC to NGOs.
Dr Hanifa Mezoui, Chief of the NGO Section of DESA for many years in her long United Nations career, has played a crucial role in facilitating Peace Boat’s participation in the work of the United Nations. “The UN goals cannot be achieved without the involvement of governments and civil society working together in partnership. The role of NGOs has increased significantly over the last decade. At both national and international levels it is clear that partnerships with civil society are essential for sound development,” said Dr Hanifa Mezoui at the Forum “The Role of NGOs in Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC and civil society in peace-building in Northeast Asia”, co-organized by Peace Boat in 2004.
More recently Senior Advisor for Humanitarian Affairs and Civil Society at the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), Dr Mezoui and has strongly supported Peace Boat through all these years. In 2018, she was keynote speaker for the multi-stakeholder SDGs Forum held onboard Peace Boat when it was docked at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York.
Since achieving Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC, Peace Boat’s staff members and voyage participants have taken an active part in numerous UN conferences, forums and events related to issues including disarmament, prevention of armed conflict, human rights, sustainable development and climate change. Peace Boat also strives to assist in the work of the United Nations by actively supporting campaigns and programs. For many years, Peace Boat sailed with the logo of the UN Millennium Develoment Goals on the ship's hull and is currently campaigning for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) logo on the ship's hull.
Allison Boehm, Peace Boat US staff member who has been coordinating activities with the UN, said: “Since 2002 Peace Boat has had the opportunity through its ECOSOC status to forge incredible partnerships at the UN. With the highest access to the UN for NGOs, our ECOSOC status has also allowed for the greatest impact of our advocacy work - from disarmament issues to extensive work on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through our partnerships with UN agencies, for example, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, we have organized countless disarmament education programs and events at the UN Headquarters.
Most importantly, through Peace Boat’s ECOSOC status, we are able to bring the voices and stories of our partners from around the globe to the international stage at the UN - from sharing the struggles of our indigenous community partners in Latin America at the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, to organizing annually at the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security personal testimonies of the Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.”