|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
13th & 14th Meetings (AM & PM)
Committee on NGOs Recommends Consultative Status for 13 Groups, Two-Year
Suspension of Another, Postpones Consideration of 31 Applications
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) today recommended 13 entities for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, postponed its consideration of 31 applications and recommended a two-year suspension for another, Interfaith International.
General, special or roster status is granted in accordance with such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend meetings of the Economic and Social Council and circulate statements, while those with general status can, in addition, address meetings and propose agenda items. Roster-status non-governmental organizations can only attend meetings. Organizations with general and special status must also submit a report every four years.
The Committee took up a complaint lodged by the representative of Pakistan, on 25 January (see Press Release ECOSOC/6404-NGO/684) against Interfaith International, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization with special status. The delegate explained that, by its actions during Human Rights Council meetings, it had violated the United Nations Charter and Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 by trying to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. That was no minor infraction as the territorial integrity of a sovereign State could not be called into question, he said, adding that there were limits to freedom of expression.
He said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had told the organization that it had a persistent tendency to continue its violations. Even the President of the Human Rights Council had intervened at one time to stop the non-governmental organization’s speaker from continuing. The delegation of Pakistan had approached the organization for discussions, but had not received an appropriate response, he said, adding that, as a last resort, he now turned to the Committee with a request that it withdraw the group’s status. The organization had also organized events within United Nations facilities under a name other than the authorized one, and had brought in people with doubtful credentials. It should be held accountable, he stressed.
Expressing their support for the request were the representatives of Burundi, Cuba, China, Egypt, Angola, Qatar, Sudan and Guinea. Egypt’s representative said the organization was clearly involved in a pattern of activities against a Member State, which contravened resolution 1996/31 as well as the principles and provisions of the Charter. Turkey’s representative said the non-governmental organization had violated the resolution, implementation of which was the Committee’s responsibility.
However, the representative of the United States said that despite all the information provided, it was not clear what rules had been violated and what evidence there was of any violation. Before the Committee took the “very dire” sanction of withdrawal, those matters should be clear. There might be small technical violations of minor rules, warranting some sort of sanction, but no evidence had been seen that would substantiate the sanction of withdrawal of consultative status.
Emphasizing that the purpose of civil society was to provide critical assessments of Government actions, he said the non-governmental organization in question had not advocated overthrowing a Government or changing the territorial integrity of a sovereign State. Those two issues were different from the right to self-determination, which was enshrined in the Charter, he said, adding that he had not seen evidence of the group’s involvement in any violent action against any Member State.
The United Kingdom’s representative echoed that statement, stressing that non-governmental organizations had a right to express their opinions freely.
Dominica’s representative, supported by those of Romania, Peru and Switzerland, agreed that the non-governmental organization had committed some violations, which warranted not withdrawal of consultative status, but a suspension for some time. That would send a message that in order for the organization to regain its status, it must respect the territorial integrity of a sovereign State.
Following an informal meeting, the Committee considered a recommendation to suspend the organization’s consultative status for two years.
The representative of the United States said he would “reluctantly” support that sanction, although it was not commensurate with the minor violations that the non-governmental organization had committed, and on the understanding that it would be automatically reinstated after two years, without further stipulations. The representatives of the United Kingdom, Israel, Dominica and Peru expressed support for the compromise, adding, however, that they would have preferred a one-year suspension.
Egypt’s representative joined the consensus “in the spirit of compromise”, and requested the Secretariat to provide information about previous cases of suspension and the procedures for reinstatement.
The representatives of Cuba, Russian Federation, China, Sudan and Qatar also joined the consensus, although they would have preferred a withdrawal of the organization’s consultative status. The representatives of Guinea and Colombia also agreed to the proposal.
Pakistan’s representative said his priority remained the withdrawal of consultative status because there had been clear violations of the provisions and principles of the Charter, which required a greater sanction than suspension. In the spirit of compromise, however, he would reluctantly join the consensus.
The Committee then decided to recommend that the Economic and Social Council suspend Interfaith International’s consultative status for two years.
At the outset of the meeting, a representative of the NGO Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs said that since 25 January, the Committee had taken decisions on 67 of 242 applications, leaving 175 pending. It had also taken note of 170 quadrennial reports.
In reply to a question from the representative of Cuba, he said the quadrennial report of Reporters without Borders for the period 2004-2008 had been received and would be considered during the Committee’s resumed session in May.
The Committee recommended special consultative status for the following organizations:
Community Development Volunteers for Technical Assistance, a national organization in Cameroon which aims to integrate communities where elderly people can lead meaningful, satisfactory and dignified lives;
Egyptian Association for Educational Resources, a national organization and a regional leader in encouraging proactive, responsible, committed and skilled youth to make a difference and create an effective positive impact on the national, regional and global levels;
Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness, a national organization in Nepal which implements programmes to raise the quality of life through the wise use of available local resources and the application of alternate and renewable technologies;
Family Africa, a national faith-based organization in South Africa involved in the betterment and education of at-risk and vulnerable groups, and in facilitating economic empowerment through micro-business start-up grants and small-business training;
Fundacion UNITRAN, a national organization in Uruguay which seeks to promote road safety education by educating drivers, pedestrians and traffic authorities in the Latin America and Caribbean region;
Les Amis de la Terre/Togo, a national organization seeking to contribute to human development, strengthen national capacities and develop partnerships for the sustainable use of natural resources and preservation of the environment;
Organisation marocaine des droits humains, a national organization in Morocco seeking, among other things, to disseminate and increase awareness of individual and collective human rights in the social, economic, cultural, civil and political spheres;
Turkiye Kadin Girisimciler Dernegi (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey), a national organization striving to improve the social and economic position of women, with the goal of creating a world where they participate in all kinds of decision-making processes;
Fundacion Eudes, an international organization headquartered in Mexico which seeks to help people infected with HIV/AIDS recover their dignity as human beings, and to reintegrate them into society in a productive way;
Egypt’s representative, noting that the organization had indicated its difficulties in doing business through the Committee’s “paperless system” since it lacked sufficient access to computers, remarked that the use of the paperless system should not be obligatory for non-governmental organizations.
International Congo Aid-Smile African Children, a national organization in the United Kingdom which promotes the well-being of Congolese and other communities, especially in poor rural or urban zones;
Cause Première, a national organization in Senegal working in the areas of health, education and the elimination of marginalization and female poverty, while supporting women victims of armed conflict; and
Centre for Public Health, a national organization in Nigeria working in the areas of HIV/AIDS, malaria and health.
The Committee recommended roster status for:
We the Children, a France-based international organization working towards reducing poverty and hunger, improving health care and defending children’s rights;
Pending receipt of answers to delegates’ questions, the Committee postponed its consideration of applications submitted by:
Environmental Management for Livelihood Improvement Bwaise Facility -- a national organization in Uganda seeking to empower communities to implement development plans and programmes that promote sustainable development –- after additional questioning by Egypt’s representative;
Federacion International Fe y Alegria -- an international organization based in the Dominican Republic which directs its activities towards empowering the most impoverished and excluded sectors of the population in their personal development and participation in society –- following additional questioning by Cuba’s representative;
Isigodlo Trust-South African Women in Dialogue -- a national organization aiming to promote and support a conducive environment for women’s advancement, while providing an inclusive platform of dialogue for women to bridge gaps and break barriers across all social, economic, political, cultural and geographical divides –- because of additional questioning by Egypt’s representative;
Project Green Nigeria -- a national organization working with rural farmers and development partners to reduce poverty in community households through sustainable agricultural development, food security, research and development, reducing farm losses and enterprise development –- as Egypt’s representative asked additional questions;
Redeem Africa Foundation -- a national organization in Ghana supporting education and health care in remote districts, and fighting for the rights of the poor and underprivileged, while also undertaking gender-sensitive initiatives that address sexual and reproductive health issues –- after additional questioning by Egypt’s representative;
Victorious Youths Movement -- a national organization in Cameroon whose aims include fighting HIV/AIDS, conserving the environment, empowering youths and women to alleviate poverty, revitalizing agriculture and protecting human rights –- due to additional questioning by Egypt’s representative;
Youth Crime Watch of Nigeria -- a national organization aiming to provide crime-, drug- and violence-free environments conducive to learning and living; to instil positive values, foster good citizenship and build self-confidence in young people; and to enable youth to become resources for preventing crime, drug use and violence in their schools and neighbourhoods –- owing to additional questioning by Egypt’s representative;
Assemblée des premières nations du Québec et du Labrador -- a national organization in Canada seeking to affirm the rights of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, while securing governmental recognition and greater financial autonomy for them –- after additional questioning by the representatives of Burundi and Egypt;
Conseil en éducation des premières nations -- an association of First Nations in Canada with the common goal of gaining full control of their education –- following additional questioning by Egypt’s representative;
Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control – a Switzerland-based international organization aiming to protect present and future generations from tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke –- following additional questioning by Egypt’s representative;
National Native Title Council -- an Australian organization seeking to provide a national voice for native-title representative bodies and native-title service providers on matters of national significance affecting the native-title and associated rights of aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders -– after additional questioning by India’s representative;
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights -- a Palestinian national organization striving to provide a secure and long-lasting foundation for the enjoyment of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory –- as Israel’s representative asked additional questions;
Association des femmes tunisiennes pour la recherche et le développement -- a national organization in Tunisia striving to develop critical and constructive thinking on the status of women and to promote women’s rights –- following additional questioning by the representatives of Burundi, India and Egypt;
Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation -- an international organization headquartered in Saint Lucia which strives for the development of world-class electric energy services for all peoples of the Caribbean -– after additional questioning by Egypt’s representative;
Caribbean and Latin America Trade Association -- a national organization in Turkey known as Tuklad, and aiming to develop trade, industry, finance and tourism relationships and social activities, while helping the development of economic relations between Turkey and the Latin America and Caribbean region -– following questioning by Burundi’s representative;
Chinese Young Volunteers Association -- a national organization in China aiming to build up and improve a national system to mobilize and organize voluntary service and advance the establishment and improvement of market economic structures –- as the representative of the United States asked a question;
Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action -- an international organization headquartered in India which empowers women to articulate, demand and access human rights by enhancing women’s leadership and focusing on issues of sexuality, sexual and reproductive rights, violence against women, human rights and social justice –- because of questioning by Pakistan’s representative;
Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress Church of Salvation –- an organization aiming to establish dialogue with, and lobby, world Governments and organizations for freedom, redemption, international repatriation and reparation for the poor and have-nots living in the Western diaspora as a result of slavery and the slave trade –- due to questioning by the representatives of Burundi and Egypt, and an announcement by Ethiopia’s representative that the organization was not registered in his country;
Foundation for Human Horizon -- an international organization headquartered in India, which seeks to support volunteer-based, honest and experienced non-governmental organizations in serving critical needs in the fields of education, health care and welfare, regardless of religion or race –- owing to additional questioning by Pakistan’s representative;
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan -- a national organization committed to spreading awareness of human rights, as defined in international instruments, formulating proposals for legislation and policy changes aimed at strengthening human rights in Pakistan, and advocating the country’s active participation in the United Nations human rights system –- after China’s representative requested that the non-governmental organization use proper United Nations terminology in its documentation concerning references to China;
Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society -- an national organization in Iran striving to develop practical strategies for dealing with social problems associated with child felons, runaways, gamins and child labourers, as well as deprived and poor families and women heading their households, in addition to supporting victims of flooding, famine and earthquakes all over the world –- as the representative of the United States asked additional questions;
Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples North East Zone -- a national organization seeking to develop, strengthen and ensure the unity and solidarity of the institutions of all indigenous and tribal peoples without interfering with their autonomy –- as the representatives of China and India requested more information;
Indira Gandhi National Foundation -- an international organization based in India which works for the betterment of underprivileged women and the rural poor -– following questioning by Pakistan’s representative;
Indo-European Chamber of Commerce and Industry -- an India-based international organization seeking to achieve economic development in the country’s less developed regions by fostering trade relations with European countries -- because of questioning by Pakistan’s representative;
International Ecological Safety Cooperative Organization -- a Hong Kong-based international aiming to maintain ecological safety, protect the environment, address ecological crises and strive for environmental globalization –- as China’s representative requested more information;
Isfahan Minority Rights and Development -- a national organization in Somalia striving to improve the country’s human rights situation -- after additional questioning by Egypt’s representative;
Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture -- a national organization in Lebanon which focuses on documenting the activities of health, psychological and physical treatment centres, social, vocational and educational rehabilitation centres, and the establishment of such centres -- because of additional questioning by Israel’s representative;
Krityanand UNESCO Club Jamshedpur -- a national organization in India working to popularize the aims and purpose of the United Nations system, and to promote international understanding, peace and tolerance through education, science, culture and mass communication – after additional questioning by the representatives of Pakistan and Egypt;
During its interaction with non-governmental organizations, the Committee heard again from a representative of the World Igbo Congress -- a national organization in the United States striving to unify Igbo people everywhere while promoting, protecting and advancing Igbo culture and civilization –- who had addressed the Committee yesterday. Answering further questions, he said the organization’s relationship with the Ohanese was based on their close cultural links. Moreover, the Ohanese were in a position to assist Igbo efforts. The Congress believed in Nigeria’s sovereignty and had no ties to separatist groups anywhere. The Igbo had a culture of migrating and moving to different places and the Congress aimed to reach out to and assist them. The non-governmental organization was working on opening an office in Gabon.
Nigeria was a multi-religious country, he said, noting that during interreligious confrontations, the Congress provided shelter to people, in partnership with the Ohanese, and tried to resettle them. It worked with the Government to try to reduce ethnic strife and its ill effects on people. It did not have an alliance with the African Union, but was working with several organizations in Nigeria. The organization’s membership spanned a network of national affiliates of Igbo associations, comprising about 15,000 to 16,000 people worldwide. Its work was centred largely on providing free medical assistance. In the United States it held an annual conference and provided free scholarships to Igbo youth. Most of its money was raised in the United States.
A representative of the International Federation of Liberal Youth -- a Belgium-based group serving as an umbrella organization for liberal and student youth bodies worldwide -- said it cooperated with many groups in Asia while working to improve relationships and cooperation among youth across the continent. Since Islamophobia was becoming an issue in many Western nations, the Federation had held conferences on that subject with the aim of ending that trend, and on interreligious co-existence. It worked with the European Youth Forum to represent the voices of young people of different nations, but the two non-governmental organizations had separate decision-making processes. The Federation had both Palestinian and Israeli members and had created space for intercultural dialogue between them. Its policies were based on respect for international law.
A representative of the National Association of Friendship Centres –- a Canadian group trying to improve the quality of life for aboriginal peoples in urban settings -- said it would continue participating in world urban forums. It provided services to aboriginal Canadians and wished to encourage that elsewhere. The Aboriginal Friendship Centre programme was a Government-funded initiative originally started by aboriginal people, with funding from the Canadian Government and the Association administering it throughout the country. The organization had strong, supportive affiliations with the First Nations Education Council and the Assembly of First Nations, but no structural relationships with them.
In other business, the Committee appointed its Vice-Chairperson, Crispin S. Gregoire ( Dominica), as its Rapporteur.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 3 February, to conclude its session.
* *** *For information media • not an official record