Golden rules for NGO attending international conference

If you want to attend international conferences, these guidelines may be of interest.

1 - Be a real organization having:

  1. Formal status and elected organs.
  2. Clear aims, which are not for profit.
  3. Real activities and results
  4. At least one of the following:
    1. recognized expertise in your field of activity
    2. long experience with projects and activities
    3. strong representativity
    4. important operational capacity
    5. capacity to widely disseminate information

2 - Network with other organizations:

  1. In your country, in your region and internationally
  2. Support regional and thematic networks

3 - Chose the right partner organizations:

  1. Consult our Guide on International Organizations
  2. Identify the international organizations and/or conferences which are really relevant for you.
  3. Take time to visit their websites to understand what they can help you to achieve and what you can help them to achieve.

4 – Formalize your relations

If you find a real potential of cooperation with an international organization, you can apply for the consultative status with it (more information in our Guide on International Organizations). You should contact and discuss with the NGO focal point of the selected organization.

Before to attend a conference:

  1. Check the date and criteria of access to the relevant conference.
  2. Read the agenda and the documents of the conference
  3. Register to the conference.
  4. Discuss your participation with other partner organizations that may bring you useful information and ideas to contribute to the conference.
  5. Find financial resources to cover your travel and stay expenses
  6. Check if you need a visa, and if so demand the visa as soon as possible (preferably 2 months in advance)
  7. Book your flight ticket
  8. Book your accommodation (in Geneva you can find a list of hotels here)
  9. Bring documentation with you to present your organization and its activities
  10. Define your objectives and if possible a strategy of action
  11. Check regularly the conference website to get the latest information and documents

During a conference:

  1. Come early to pick up your badge
  2. Read the rules and procedures and respect them
  3. Discuss with other organizations to benefit from their experience; caucuses are often key opportunities to consolidate positions and to contribute efficiently to the conference.
  4. Think twice before to speak and avoid:
    1. marketing speeches: a conference is an opportunity to discuss issues. When NGOs are taking this opportunity to make a show on how wonderful they are, it has a negative impact for all NGOs.
    2. empty speeches: when you just say truism or generalities
  5. Try to make joint statements with others: it has more impact
  6. Write down your speech: the interpreters will need it usually at least one hour before you speak.
  7. Make contacts and networking
  8. Consult as much as possible your headquarter and partner organizations at home
  9. Enjoy your conference

After a conference:

  1. Write down the information and contacts gathered during the conference
  2. Report to the organizations you have consulted and share the information with those who could be interested