05.2 Demystifying Access Passes for official CSW meetings

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Access to the United Nations is tightly controlled, even for employees of the UN. Due to the nature and number of Commissions and high level meetings held there each year, the UN requires registration to all events held on its premises.

For the purposes of CSW, where there can be up to 3,000 NGO participants and multiple events on at any one time, the UN has restricted access to specific areas of the UN. This is mainly to the North Lawn Building, a temporary building that may still be in use during UN building reconstruction and CSW in 2015. This building has limited capacity to deal with large numbers of people attending a Commission. As CSW events are gradually moving back into the General Assembly Building, there may be an ease in the access arrangements.  Please remember that a CSW pass does not mean you will gain access to an over-subscribed event.  Fire regulations and security regulations apply.

Whether the event you will be attending is held in the UN building, in the Church Center or other local venues, OH&S requirements will be enforced. In the case of the UN building, if it reaches capacity, you will not be allowed to enter the building even if you have the appropriate passes.

Therefore, there are a number of passes you will need to know about. These are:

  • Annual UN Grounds Pass
  • UN Grounds Pass for CSW
  • Secondary Access Pass
  •  Special Event Tag (SET)
  • Temporary non-photo ID passes
Annual UN Grounds Passes are issued only to the main representatives for an ECOSOC accredited organisation.
A Brown N on the pass can identify these. They hold a photo identification of the person and the expiry date of 31 December of the current year. These passes give access to the UN building. During CSW and other large Commissions, access to the North Lawn Building may be restricted. Annual Grounds Pass holders enter the building via the Visitors Entrance of the UN and swipe their passes on entering and exiting the restricted areas of the UN.
UN Grounds Pass for CSW-NGO representatives attending CSW with the Australian Government Delegation will be issued a UN Grounds Pass for CSW.
These normally have a Red designation on the pass. They hold a photo identification of the person and expire at the end of CSW. These passes allow access to all areas of the UN and all relevant CSW events. Government delegates, including non-government delegates, can enter the UN via the staff entrances and swipe their passes on entering and exiting the restricted areas of the UN.  Registration will be arranged via the Office for Women. Paperwork for passes is handed out in New York and passes are collected in New York.
UN Grounds Pass for CSW – NGOs attending CSW with ECOSOC accredited organisations
will be issued a UN Grounds Pass for CSW. These normally have the letter N on them to identify the bearer as an NGO (the colour of this varies from year to year).  They hold a photo identification of the person and expire at the end of CSW. These passes allow access to limited areas of the UN. NGOs enter the UN via the Visitor’s Entrance and are required to show their passes to the security guards on entry and exit of the public restricted areas of the UN.  Registration to CSW occurs via organisational point of contact. There is a limit of 20 participants per organisation. On completion of registration, attendees are sent a letter of invitation to CSW and registration information. Registration occurs at the UN in New York and passes are handed out to each individual on presentation of their letter of invitation, valid passport and organisational letter. On registration you will receive a UN Grounds Pass as your photo ID. This pass is valid for the period of CSW only. It allows access to most of the NGO events.
Secondary Access Pass: these passes when issued, are limited to ONE per organisation and may be issued for specific events such as the opening ceremony or for specific venues.
A CSW Advisory will be sent out to organisations registered with the information as to whether these will be necessary during CSW and where to access them if they are necessary.  The Secondary Access Pass is a laminated coloured cardboard, non-photo pass that is only valid when it is accompanied by a valid UN Grounds Pass. During CSW, they are issued to give access to specific events at  the North Lawn Building and/or the General Assembly Building. During on-site registration, one Secondary Access Pass will be given to each organisation (not to each person registered). When required, this pass is normally issued on the first day of registration near to the CSW registration area in the lobby of the UN General Assembly Building. Each organisation should decide who amongst its delegates should pick up the Secondary Access Pass. It is key to have a process to share these passes amongst organisational delegations, and to remember not to take them with you if you leave New York.  Secondary passes have also been used in the past where there have been large numbers of civil society delegates attending CSW. This is a means of controlling equal access to events and venues in the UN.
Special Event Tag (SET):
These are issued for specific Side Events, panels and meetings held in the UN. A SET varies in form, but is usually a coloured cardboard ticket with the date, time and location of the room to which it gives access (whether this be in the North Lawn Building or the main UN Building). SETs are issued at a place and location stipulated by the event organisers.
Temporary Non-Photo passes:  These are usually used by speakers.
This is a laminated cardboard ticket with the name of the bearer and the name of the specific meeting or event.  It is valid for no more than five days.

Figure 7. Reminder on NGO Access to UN CSW Sessional Events

Figure 7. Reminder on NGO Access to UN CSW Sessional Events

Different events require different passes. Figure 4 shows what kind of passes you will need to access the various meetings. This can be cumbersome, confusing and frustrating. There is discussion within the Commission currently about reviewing the number of passes required to attend some of the events. It is hoped that eventually CSW will revert to having only one access pass, with the secondary passes being used only for the larger events in the General Assembly.