|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
11th & 12th Meetings (AM & PM)
NGO COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS THREE ORGANIZATIONS FOR SPECIAL
CONSULTATIVE STATUS WITH ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
Decides Not to Recommend One Organization
For Consultative Status, Defers Decisions on 19 Others
(Issued on 31 January 2007.)
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for threeorganizations, decided not to recommend Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec for consultative status after a roll-call vote and deferred decisions on the applications of 19 others.
In other action, the Committee recommended reclassification of one organization and deferred consideration of another request for reclassification. It also deferred consideration of one quadrennial report. It took note of Geneva Call’s withdrawal of its application. The Committee’s methods of work were also addressed.
A standing Committee of the Council, the 19-member body uses various criteria to recommend general, special or roster status with the Economic and Social Council, including the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. Organizations that have general and special consultative status can attend meetings of the Council and circulate statements of a certain length. Those with general status can, in addition, speak at meetings and propose items for the Council’s agenda, while non-governmental organizations (NGO) with roster status can only attend meetings.
Non-governmental organizations with general and special consultative status must submit a report to the Economic and Social Council every four years. The Committee can request a special report in certain instances, such as after receipt of a complaint from a Member State about the behaviour of an NGO during a meeting of a United Nations body to which it was accredited.
The Committee recommended that ECOSOC grant special consultative status to:
-- International Peacebuilding Alliance (Interpeace), an international organization with headquarters in Switzerland, which wants to assist societies in crisis or emerging from conflict to build lasting peace;
-- Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a national organization in the United States dedicated to addressing social, moral and ethical concerns, such as human rights, freedom of religion, poverty issues, population and the family; and
-- American Conservative Union, a national organization in the United States, aiming to effectively communicate and advance the goals and principles of conservatism through one multi-use umbrella organization, although Cuba’s representative expressed concern that an organization with consultative status was seeking to promote the interest of one single country -– something denied by the representative of the United States -– and that all organizations needed to comply with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and ECOSOC resolution 1996/31.
As a result of a vote, requested by the delegations of Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar and the Sudan, on the application of Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec -- a national organization in Canada, aiming to promote, represent and defend the rights of the homosexual community -– the Committee decided not to recommend the NGO for consultative status. Six delegations -– Colombia, Israel, Peru, Romania, United Kingdom and the United States -– voted in support of the NGO; eight -– Burundi, China, Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation and the Sudan –- voted against, while three -- Angola, India and Turkey -- abstained and Cuba and Dominica were not present.
The representative of the United Kingdom, explaining his delegation’s position, said that every NGO meeting the criteria from ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 deserved to be granted consultative status, regardless of its nature. The resolution explicitly confirmed the need to take into account the full diversity of NGOs. The Coalition obviously had fulfilled the criteria, as much of its work covered the fields of health, gender and human rights. The NGO would add an important voice to the activities of the United Nations.
The session had recommended over 100 NGOs for consultative status, some of them might espouse views that were not shared by all Governments. “We may disagree with them but that doesn’t mean we should exclude them,” he stated. The Coalition had provided frank and satisfactory responses to all questions. “No credible reason can therefore be presented for refusing them consultative status, except that of straightforward discrimination,” he said and announced that his delegation would continue to argue for the full inclusion and involvement of NGOs representing the gay and lesbian community.
After the vote, the Observer of Canada expressed her dismay at the result and her concern at the Committee’s “pattern of discrimination” in its treatment of applications from organizations dealing with issues related to sexual orientation. Her Government was familiar with the organization and supported its application.
A decision on the application of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights -- a national organization aiming to improve the situation for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people through working to end oppression and discrimination and by lobbying politicians and authorities to improve legislation –- was deferred until May’s session, as several delegates needed more time.
Addressing questions and concerns from the representatives from the United States, Pakistan, Egypt, Romania, Guinea, United Kingdom and Burundi, the NGO’s representatives stressed that they condemned all forms of sexual violence and violence against children and were against paedophilia. They explained instances where members of the organization had been voted down on such subjects. They stressed that the NGO complied with all Swedish laws and, in instances of cooperation with foreign NGOs, followed the laws of the countries where the organizations concerned were based. When addressing students in secondary education, the NGO representatives talked about the fact that two people of the same sex could love one another, not on how to have sex. The organization’s position was that adults might seek sexual pleasure, but were not allowed to harm other people involved. It had no position on seeking pleasure by harming oneself.
Expressing support for the NGO, the Observer of Sweden stressed that the organization had, since the early 1950s, advocated for the rights for all persons, regardless of sexual orientations. The Swedish Government held the organization in high regard and had regularly consulted it.
Also deferred until May, in agreement with the NGO, was the application of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a national organization in the United States that wants to share its expertise on environmental issues and collaborates with international partners to promote the global agenda of sustainable development, because the representatives of Qatar and Egypt were waiting for instructions from their capital.
The Permanent Observer of Palestine and the Observer of Syria noted that answers provided by the NGO to questions posed were incomplete and non-factual. What had to be clarified was the relationship between the JNF and JNF of America, as both organizations had the same website, president and board. Despite their denial, environmental work, such as planting trees, had taken place in illegal settlements and in the occupied Syrian Golan.
Israel’s representative expressed concern that the NGO had to go back to questions regarding borders and disputed territories. NGOs should not be expected to enter into political disputes or to draw borders. The representative of the United States expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved positively, as JNF was an organization that worked on matters of water and the environment.
The Committee further deferred the applications from:
-- Ankara Foundation of Children with Leukemia, a Turkish organization aiming to provide health services and educational and psychological support for children with leukaemia or chronic blood disorders and their families, as the NGO first needed to fulfil some national requirements;
-- Chinese Society for Corrosion and Protection, a national organization which organizes voluntarily Chinese scientists and engineers working on corrosion and protection, as that NGO also needed to fulfill national requirements. In answer to an observation by the representative of the United States, China’s representative said that NGOs applying for status should first get consent from their national Governments. Applications were vetted by the missions. In this case, the NGO’s registration information had to be updated;
-- European Centre for Law and Justice/Centre Européen pour le droit, le justice et les droits de l’homme, an international organization with headquarters in France that promotes freedom in the areas of religion and speech in the international forum through the judiciary, legislative process and international institutions, after its representative answered questions posed by the representative of the Russian Federation and Romania;
-- World Wind Energy Association, an international organization based in Germany, promoting the utilization of wind energy on the global level, as China’s representative asked for a correction in the organization’s correspondence from Hong Kong into Hong Kong, Special Administrative Zone of China;
-- People’s Life Center, an Indian organization striving for the establishment of a just social order based on human values such as love, justice, equality, brotherhood, peace and harmony, because Pakistan’s representative needed answers to questions posed;
-- Observer Research Foundation, a national organization in India which functions as a public policy think tank committed to research and study with a view to improve and influence public policies in a pointed, meaningful and unique manner, as delegates needed more time to study answers provided, because Pakistan’s representative needed more time;
-- Africa Action, a national organization in the United States, striving to change United States foreign policy and the policies of international institutions in order to support African struggles for peace and development, as Sudan’s representative had not received answers to questions posed;
-- National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, an international organization with headquarters in the United States, working to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide, as Cuba’s representative was waiting for instructions from his capital;
-- International Human Rights Observer, a national organization in Pakistan that wants to educate the masses about their fundamental freedoms and rights, as India’s representative needed more time to study the answers provided;
-- Asian Pacific Women’s Watch, an international organization based in Thailand that monitors the implementation of the United Nations Beijing Platform of Action, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Millennium Development Goals and any international and regional convention, agreement or action for the advancement of women, because China’s representative needed clarification about NGO representatives from Taiwan, Province of China;
-- Armenian Constitutional Right-Protective Centre, a national organization based in Armenia which aims to contribute to the development of the legal culture in Armenian society through scientific activity, education, information dissemination and advocacy, as Turkey’s representative needed more time to study answers.
-- American Sports Committee, Inc., an international organization based in the United States, aiming to promote many kinds of health and longevity exercises and programmes in order to improve the health standards and reduce medical expenses, because China’s representative asked for clarifications regarding the NGO’s finances, and the United Kingdom’s representative wanted to know how longevity exercises could contribute to the work of ECOSOC;
-- International Coalition for the Decade, an international organization based in France that wants to promote the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), proclaimed by the General Assembly in resolution 53/25 of 10 November 1998, as China’s representative asked for more information about the group’s relationship to the Dali Lama, as well as its position on Tibet;
-- Association Sahel Solidarité Action, a national organization in Niger, promoting the human rights of the Touareg indigenous population, because the Observer of Algeria had more questions about the organizations the NGO was working with regarding the general cause of Touaregs. Romania’s representative noted that an application could not be set aside due to objections of an observer delegation, but agreed that the questions had value;
-- Cercle de récherche sur les droits et les devoirs de la personne human, a national organization headquartered in Cameroon, which wants to promote the concept and spirit of the duties of people in the world as well as international standards of human rights, on the request of Romania’s representative;
-- Southern Organizing Cooperative, a national organization in the United States, aiming to raise the philanthropic standard for stimulating increased investment in the southern United States in order to positively impact the negative historic effects of race, class, income and environment on the people of the region, as questions had not yet been answered; and
-- Association El Houda pour l’action feminine, a national organization, headquartered in Morocco, promoting women’s cultural education, as questions had not been answered and the NGO would get a last chance to react before the file would be closed.
During last year’s ECOSOC session, the Council had referred back to the Committee the file of Geneva Call -- an international humanitarian organization with headquarters in Switzerland, dedicated to engaging armed non-State actors (such as guerrilla groups, liberation movements and militias) to respect and to adhere to humanitarian norms -- which had been recommended for special consultative status (ECOSOC decision 2006/221). The NGO had informed the Committee that it had withdrawn its application for the time being.
In that regard, Turkey’s representative said his delegation had not objected to recommending status during last year’s session on the understanding that the NGO would inform and seek consent from relevant States before contacting armed non-State actors, some of which were on the list of terrorist organizations. However, despite the NGO’s assurances to the contrary, Geneva Call had signed a “deed of commitment” with PKK/Kadek/Kongra-Gel, a terrorist organization that had caused the death of tens of thousands of citizens and featured on several lists of terrorist organizations.
He said Geneva Call might argue that it was contributing to the removal of landmines, but in practical terms, Geneva Call was helping the organization to bolster its visibility. After signing the deed, a representative of the terrorist organization had claimed a diplomatic victory, saying the group would continue its efforts for international recognition. The statement itself clearly indicated that signing such a document was not only a humanitarian deed. The organization had been awarded status, recognition and some sort of legality. Turkey would continue to oppose the NGO’s request for status with ECOSOC.
The representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom expressed the hope that the NGO would try to resolve the matter and would also continue its work with landmine-removal. The representatives of Romania and Pakistan concurred with Turkey’s statement.
The Committee postponed a decision on the quadrennial report from National Council of Women of Thailand, because China’s representative noted that the NGO had not responded in a substantive manner to questions asked.
The Committee decided to recommend reclassification from special to general consultative status of International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, an international organization based in Belgium and a coalition of 15 Catholic development agencies;
A decision for reclassification of International Human Rights Observer, a national organization in Pakistan that wants to educate the masses about their fundamental freedoms and rights was postponed as India’s representative needed more time to study the answers provided.
Committee Working Methods
As the Committee turned to the review of its methods of work, including the process of accreditation of representatives of NGOs, Hanifa Mezoui, Chief, NGO Section in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, proposed that the system of accreditation for NGO representatives be harmonized throughout the system, as every special agency had its own accreditation process.
The representative of the United States, however, said that that matter was not exactly within the mandate of the Committee, as other agencies and programmes were governed by the main bodies of the organizations, and suggested the matter could be better taken up by the Committee’s informal working group.
That proposal was supported by the representative of Romania, but Cuba’s representative noted that the matter did fall under resolution 1996/31.
After hearing a report from the representative of Turkey on the activities of the Committee’s informal working group, Ms. Mezoui and delegates made some suggestions for inclusion on the working group’s agenda, including the reluctance of some NGOs to submit required quadrennial reports; a better division of time between the first and second sessions; procedures for reclassification from roster to general consultative status; the contents of the Committee’s report to ECOSOC; simplification of the application form; and merging NGOs with consultative status.
The Committee members are Angola, Burundi, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Egypt, Guinea, India, Israel, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, the Sudan, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 31 January, at 3 p.m., to conclude this session’s work.
* *** *For information media • not an official record