BY ROGERS EDOR OCHELA

For the umpteenth time, Peace Corps of Nigeria, PCN, the nation’s leading youth-based organization, has received an invitation from the United Nations to attend its 68th Annual Civil Society Conference scheduled to take place from 26th—28th August, 2019 at Uttah, USA. The Peace Corps delegation to the global meeting is expected to be led by its National Commandant, Dr Dickson A. O. Akoh.

The 3-day gathering of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), which has the theme, ‘’Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities’’ is being organized by the Department of Global Communications (hitherto DPI) in alliance with the NGO/DPI executive committees. It is expected to explore ways and means for strengthening collaborations between local communities and global institutions.

Recall that because of its pivotal role in promoting peace and outstanding commitment to giving a sense of belonging to the nation’s youths, Peace Corps of Nigeria was granted consultative status by the United Nations and African Union and consequently affiliated to the Economic and Social Councils (ECOSOC) of both bodies. It is on this note that the world body has consistently been inviting the Corps to attend its annual general assembly from 2013 to date.

According to the United Nations Charter, Article 17, ‘’the Economic and Social Council makes suitable arrangements for consulting 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.’’
That the global body found Peace Corps worthy of this recognition did not come as a surprise to those who have been following the trajectory of its history. Over the years, the Founder/National Commandant, Dr Akoh has established an unbeatable reputation as a believer and respecter of rule of law. As a believer in constitutionality and respecter of due process, each time the fundamental rights of Akoh and by extension, Peace Corps, is violated or abridged, he resorts to the Courts to seek legal redress.

No doubt, it is this rare quality that the world body spotted in Akoh cum PCN that actually informed its decision to grant the Corps the enviable Special Consultative Status.
And because of their increasing relevance in national development, several NGOs like Peace Corps and CSOs today participate in the major UN conferences and several other UN activities, increasingly as active participants, not just observers.

Organizations such as PCN usually give speeches at the special sessions and committees of the General Assembly.
Today, Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are more involved than ever before in global policy-making. The nature of their involvement will most likely broaden and evolve in terms of substance. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can participate in the work of the UN either through consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), or association with the UN Department of Global Communications (DGC)(formerly DPI).
Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council provides NGOs with access not only to ECOSOC, but also to its many subsidiary bodies, to the various human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, ad-hoc processes on small arms, as well as special events organized by the President of the General Assembly.

At this juncture, it is very necessary to emphasize that the annual participation of Peace Corps in UN sessions has brought out in bold relief some fundamental issues namely:
• It is an indication that the world body appreciates the role of Dr Akoh as an ambassador of peace par excellence and his deep fidelity to the rule of law, the achievements of the Corps, that it holds the Organization in very high esteem.
• Through its participatory role in UN sessions, the Corps today enjoys high global visibility, its current challenges notwithstanding.
• It shows that contrary to the myopic views of its fast-vanishing tribe of critics, there is nothing illegal, criminal or shady about the Organization and its activities.
• That the Peace Corps is the only youth-based organization in Nigeria that is accorded this recognition by the global body speaks volumes about its pre-eminent position among its peers or contemporaries.
Judging from the foregoing, it is necessary to advice those with contrary opinions to that of the UN to reappraise their stance and views on the Peace Corps of Nigeria with a view to allowing the Organization carry out its activities without let or hindrance.

Ochela, the media consultant to Peace Corps of Nigeria is based in Abuja (090-94411666—text only)