The Crime Commission and the two Conferences of States Parties operate in accordance with the standard Rules of Procedure, according to which there are four categories of participants: member states (/states parties), intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and UN bodies "and others". (Essentially the same Rules of Procedure apply to the quinquennial UN Crime Congresses. However, the UN Crime Congresses are exceptional – also compared to many other parts of the UN system – in that also individual "experts" may attend the Crime Congresses.)
In respect of bodies under the mandate of the two Conferences of States Parties, however, there has been a long-standing and acrimonious debate over whether or not non-governmental organizations may attend. The present status is that they may not, although the matter is supposed to be kept under review. For UNCAC bodies, a one-day briefing is held for NGOs during the June session of the Implementation Review Group.
For UNTOC bodies, the matter is currently being heavily debated in connection with the discussion on the review of implementation of the convention. Some States Parties support a model similar to that used for the review of the implementation of UNCAC, which would mean that NGOs could only attend a briefing. Others support wider NGO participation, on the grounds that several of the UNTOC protocols make specific reference to NGOs.
Even where NGOs may attend meetings, and may speak if there are no member states wanting to take the floor, there is generally little time left for NGO interventions. This has not stopped many of the NGOs, including through the NGO Alliance, being very much evidence outside the meeting rooms, for example distributing their publications and organizing quite substantive side events (ancillary meetings).
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