On 24 May 2017: The United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Committee unanimously recommended SAE International be granted Special Consultative Status. On 12 June, the Committee adopted their report and the UN ECOSOC was scheduled to formally grant SAE’s status during their Coordination and Management Meeting, in July.
The NGO Committee is made up of 19 Member States; other UN member country representatives observe the proceedings. These state representatives vet applications submitted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), recommending general, special or roster status on the basis of such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance, and financial regime. SAE applied in 2016 for Special status so that SAE is able to participate in a variety of work programmes in the surface, air and multimodal transport, environmental and energy issues, along with cyber security and accessibility for disabled persons.
During the 22nd session, at the UN Headquarters in New York, SAE International delivered a short speech to the Committee on NGOs highlighting SAE’s global contributions to advancing the safety, environmental conservation, and productivity enhancements of all modes of transportation along with construction and agricultural equipment. In addition, SAE’s technology transfer and lifelong learning activities were discussed (click here to access a report on the meeting.)
There are three categories of status: General consultative status, Special consultative status, and Roster status.
General consultative status is reserved for large international NGOs whose area of work cover most of the issues on the agenda of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies. These tend to be fairly large, established international NGOs with a broad geographical reach.
Special consultative status is granted to NGOs which have a special competence in and are concerned specifically with, only a few of the fields of activity covered by the ECOSOC. Organisations that apply for consultative status but do not fit in any of the other categories are usually included in the Roster. These NGOs tend to have a rather narrow and/or technical focus. The roster lists NGOs that ECOSOC or the UN Secretary-General considers can make “occasional and useful contributions to the work of the Council or its subsidiary bodies.”
Organisations enjoying general and special status can attend meetings of the Council and issue statements. Organizations with roster status can only attend meetings.
SAE’s participation with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) Sustainable Transport Division will initially be with the Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (Working Party 1 / WP1) and the World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (Working Party 29 / WP29). These working parties incorporate technology and innovations into the regulatory frameworks to improve the safety and environmental performance of transport. Both have referenced SAE standards and documents in the past and achieving formal Special Consultative Status will enable SAE additional opportunities to contribute to the Working Parties and Global Technical Regulations. The “Governance of the Safety of Automated Vehicles” working group is part of WP1’s portfolio which references SAE documents. The European Union Transport Ministers adopted SAE’s J3016™ Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles in the Amsterdam Declaration of 14 April 2016.
There is a long history of Non-Governmental Organisations having a presence with the United Nations. The first venue by which non-governmental organisations took a role in formal UN deliberations was through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) when the UN was formed. The UN ECOSOC is one of four divisions of the UN: 1) Secretary-General, 2) General Assembly, 3) Security Council and 4) Economic and Social Council. Chapter X of the UN Charter, Article 71 states: The Economic and Social Council may make suitable arrangements for consultations with non-governmental organizations which are concerned with matters within its competence. Such arrangements may be made with international organizations and, where appropriate, with national organizations after consultation with the Member of the United Nations concerned.”