18/05/2001
Press Release
GA/9865



Fifty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

100th Meeting (AM)


ASSEMBLY APPROVES NGOS FOR PARTICIPATION


IN SPECIAL ASSEMBLY SESSION ON HIV/AIDS


In connection with its review of the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in all its aspects, the Assembly this morning approved the final list of relevant civil society actors seeking approval for accreditation by Member States to the Assembly's special session on HIV/AIDS -- scheduled to the held 25 to 27 June -- at Headquarters, and its preparatory process.


That list, contained in document (HIV/AIDS/CRP.2/Add.1/Rev.1), includes organizations that do not hold consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, nor are members of the Programme Coordination Board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), to which no objection from Member States has been received by the UNAIDS Secretariat.  


While emphasizing the importance of the broad participation of civil society actors during the run-up to the special session and the session itself, several speakers expressed concern that there had been only a short time to review the document and the exclusion of several organization that had appeared on an earlier provisional list.


The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she was surprised to see that the final list had been distributed only yesterday for approval by the Assembly today.  The representative of Norway said he found it very disquieting that certain non-governmental organizations had been stricken from the list without explanation.


Also this morning the Assembly took note of the fact that two States  -- the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Gambia -- had made payments sufficient to reduce their arrears to the United Nations below the level at which they would potentially lose their vote in the General Assembly.  (Article 19 of the United Nations Charter establishes that a Member State in arrears, to the extent of the amount levied on that country for the preceding two full years, shall have no vote in the General Assembly.)


Statements


CARINA MARTENSSON (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she was surprised to see that the revised list of civil society actors -- the final list -- had been distributed only yesterday for approval by the Assembly


today.  She was also surprised to see that the list had been shortened without any explanation.  Based on previous practice and relevant Economic and Social Council resolutions, she would have expected the Secretariat to inform the Assembly of a decision not to recommend the inclusion of civil society actors and to provide an explanation for that decision.  She had no intention to block approval of the list, as it was essential that civil society actors be able to attend next weeks’ meeting.  However, the Union did not consider the list final and reserved the right to return to the matter.  The Union looked forward to prompt clarification by the Secretariat.


ARNE BIRGER HONNINGSTAD (Norway) concurred with the statement made on behalf of the European Union.  He found it very disquieting that the list had been changed from the list that had been circulated on 19 April.  He noted, in particular, that three non-governmental organizations had been stricken from the list with no explanation given from those that had a duty to explain.  Transparency should be at the heart of all the Assembly’s work, he added.  It was unacceptable that there was not at least an explanatory footnote in the document providing information about the changes.  Whether or not the changes were legitimate, the reasoning needed to be highlighted for the membership at large.  Having the document merely labeled as a “Rev.1”, was insufficient. 


Negotiations on the criteria for participation in the special session had been long and hard, and the decisions made during informals should not be broken by the presidency or anyone else. “This is a very difficult position we find ourselves in”, he said, as those non-governmental organizations removed from the list would be unable to participate in the open-ended informal consultations scheduled to start Monday.  Norway would go along with the decision, but would reserve the right to return to the issue.


JOHN VON KAUFMANN (Canada) concurred with the morning’s other speakers.  He said it was unacceptable that the list had been changed without explanation.  He looked forward to receiving more information about those changes in the near future.


The Assembly will meet again at a time to be announced.


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