17 May 2007
Economic and Social Council

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on NGOs

20th Meeting (PM)



The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) this afternoon approved the applications of 7 organizations for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, and postponed 10 others.

As it considered new applications and reclassifications, the Committee granted special consultative status to the following organizations:

-- Sahara for Life Trust, a Pakistan-based NGO that promotes health and education in remote and underdeveloped areas by establishing and maintaining hospitals, medical centres, maternity homes, first-aid centres and educational institutions;

-- Jana Utthan Pratisthan, a Nepal-based organization promoting the human, economic, social, political and environmental rights of the marginalized Dalit community;

-- Katimavik-Opean, an NGO based in Canada that fosters the personal development of young people through volunteer community work, training and group interaction;

-- Lama Gangchen World Peace Foundation, an organization based in Italy that promotes world peace through cooperation in health, education, the environment, self-sustainable development, spirituality and the preservation of indigenous cultures;

-- China Association for the Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture;

-- UNESCO Centre of Catalonia, an NGO based in Spain that promotes the work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in education, heritage, access to knowledge and environmental sustainability, in addition to promoting peace, education in human values and rights, cultural and linguistic diversity and interreligious dialogue; and

-- Centre for Interethnic Cooperation, a Russian Federation-based NGO working to protect human rights, end racism and xenophobia, defend ethnic minorities, assist civil society and promote tolerance in the Russian Federation and the former Soviet republics.

The Committee decided to return later in the session to the applications of the Foundation for Research and Support of Indigenous Peoples of Crimea; International Centre for Peace Studies; Ma Qualcuno Pensi ad Abele; Africa Action; Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, bisexual and Transgender Rights; Observer Research Foundation; American Sports Committee Incorporated; Dynamic Christian World; Trance Research Foundation; and the Institute of International Social Development.

Taking up the Committee’s agenda item on the review of its working methods, Octavian Stamate (Romania), facilitator of the informal working group, reported on that body’s activities, saying it had met on 9 May to discuss the reporting process regarding quadrennial reports and data on organizations placed on the Committee’s roster by virtue of their consultative status with other United Nations bodies or specialized agencies.

He presented the working group’s suggestions for improving the submission process for quadrennial reports, so as to eliminate the increasing backlog, and proposed the establishment of a drafting committee for that purpose.  The recommendations included simplifying the format of the quadrennial reports, sending three reminders to NGOs for responses to the Committee’s questions, and asking the Secretariat for updated statistics on the status of NGO report submissions and on information concerning the activities and contact numbers of NGOs from the United Nations organs concerned.

The Committee then decided to set up the drafting committee as proposed.

During an interactive dialogue with NGOs, China’s representative asked PeaceJam Foundation to provide written responses regarding its links to the Dalai Lama, particularly that involving one of its board members.

A PeaceJam representative said the NGO was composed of Nobel Peace laureates, of whom 10 were currently active.  Each must be actively involved with youth activities.  The PeaceJam Foundation had a 10-year action programme that called on young people to take 1 billion steps for peace over the next decade, in such areas as water access, racism, epidemics, women’s rights, children’s rights, environmental degradation, nuclear disarmament and human security.

Responding to a question from the Sudan’s representative about its work to promote a free and egalitarian society, a representative of the Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros said his NGO followed the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Working to promote economic, social and cultural rights that had often been neglected, it strove to combat HIV/AIDS and had set up working groups and training workshops for national HIV/AIDS advocacy in Latin America and in Portuguese-speaking Angola and Mozambique.  The NGO did not have a sex education programme, but it did work to combat racism and to assist disabled persons and people in marginalized communities.

Responding to a question from Egypt’s delegate about the NGO’s views on the legal age of sexual consent and about voluntary and involuntary sexual violence, the representative noted that written answers to those questions had already been submitted to the Committee.  The NGO had regulations against paedophilia and was in compliance with Brazilian law, which criminalized sex with persons under 18 years of age.  Furthermore, the NGO supported the Declaration on the Rights of the Child.

Ukraine’s representative then asked about the legal status of the Foundation for Research and Support of the Indigenous Peoples of Crimea in Ukraine and to clarify when it had registered as an NGO.

A representative for the NGO said that several of its members had begun participating in indigenous issues gatherings at the United Nations in 1995, but the organization itself had not been registered until June 1997.  It was considered a social organization, meaning a public organization under Ukrainian law, and was registered with the Ministry for Justice.  It represented national groups concerned with the rights of, and issues affecting, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities.

Egypt’s representative then asked the Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales about its sex education programmes, its affiliation with the International Lesbian and Gay Association and its views on paedophilia.

A representative of the NGO responded by saying it had received financing from the Spanish Government for projects carried out in partnership with the International Lesbian and Gay Association.  It had programmes to end homophobia in public schools and prepared educational materials for classroom use.  The NGO upheld Spanish law, which prohibited sex with people younger than 18 years of age.  Promoting sex education for students under 18 -- which was part of the ethics, health, values and sex curricula taught in public schools -– was not the same as condoning paedophilia.

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Friday 18 May, to consider all pending issues, including replies received under deferred and new applications, deferred reclassifications, deferred and new quadrennial reports, complaints by Member States and special reports.

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For information media • not an official record