|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
18th & 19th Meetings (AM & PM)
Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, Opening Resumed Session, Recommends
Consultative Status for 35 Applicants, Postpones Consideration of 10
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 35 entities for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, and postponed consideration of 10 applications, as it resumed its 2012 session.
General, special and roster status is granted in accordance with such criteria as the applicants’ mandate, governance and financial regime. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) enjoying general and special status can attend meetings of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and circulate statements, while those with general status can, in addition, address meetings and propose agenda items. Roster-status NGOs can only attend meetings. Organizations with general and special status must also submit a report every four years.
Today, the Committee reviewed the applications of a range of organizations for consultative status, and heard from one organization, the World Habitat Foundation, during a brief question-and-answer session, following which it granted the organization special consultative status. It also considered special reports on a number of issues, with particular attention to several organizations whose consultative status had previously been suspended.
Delegates discussed claims that one such organization, Interfaith International — whose special consultative status had been suspended in 2010 following complaints about the political motivation of its activities, and which was scheduled to be automatically reinstated — had violated the terms of its suspension. In that regard, the representative of Pakistan drew the attention of the Committee to a letter by his permanent Mission, which alleged that the organization had continued to organize events on United Nations premises and to use the consultative status insignia, despite its suspension.
Questions then arose about whether and how to sanction that organization, with delegates at odds about how to proceed with the matter. A wide range of delegations agreed with Pakistan’s representative, supporting his proposal to withdraw the organization’s consultative status. Still others, however — including the representatives of Belgium and the United States — felt that the organization should be given a chance to respond to the allegations before action was taken.
As all agreed that action should be taken on the matter as quickly as possible, the Committee’s Chairperson, Maria Pavolva Tzotzorkova, requested that a letter be sent to Interfaith International allowing the organization to respond to the allegations on an urgent basis, by 24 May. The requested letter was drafted by the Secretariat, and was distributed and discussed during the afternoon session.
Among the new applications considered today were organizations concerned with issues ranging from the defence of indigenous peoples’ rights to the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to the creation of educational opportunities for youth.
In other business today, the Committee decided to defer the election of one Vice-Chair from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States to a later date. It also decided to approve a list of organizations wishing to be heard by the Economic and Social Council at its upcoming high-level session.
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations met this morning to begin is resumed session, to run through 30 May, for which it had before it a provisional agenda contained in document E/C.2/2012/1, as well as a draft programme of work, contained in a working paper.
At its 2012 regular session, held from 30 January to 8 February and on 17 February, the Committee considered more than 340 applications for consultative status, including applications deferred from earlier sessions. Of those, the Committee recommended 157 for consultative status, closed consideration of one application and, without prejudice, of 20 applications of organizations that had failed to respond to queries over two consecutive sessions. It also deferred 162 candidates for further consideration at its resumed session.
The first venue by which non-governmental organizations took a role in formal United Nations deliberations was through the Economic and Social Council. Forty-one such organizations were granted consultative status by the Council in 1946; by 1992, more that 700 such organizations had attained consultative status; and the number has been growing steadily ever since, to 3,400 organizations today.
Article 71 of the United Nations Charter opened the door to suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations. The consultative relationship with the Council is governed today by its resolution 1996/31, which outlines the eligibility requirements for consultative status, rights and obligations of non-governmental organizations in consultative status, procedures for the withdrawal or suspension of such status, the role and functions of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations and the responsibilities of the United Nations Secretariat in supporting the consultative relationship.
Consultative status is granted by the Economic and Social Council upon recommendation of its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, which is comprised of 19 Member States. Consultative relationships may be established with international, regional, subregional and national non-governmental, non-profit public or voluntary organizations. Non-governmental organizations affiliated with an international organization already in status may be admitted provided that they can demonstrate that their programme of work is of direct relevance to the aims and purposes of the United Nations. In the case of national organizations, consultation with the Member State concerned is required.
To be eligible for consultative status, a non-governmental organization must have been in existence (officially registered with the appropriate Government authorities as an NGO/non-profit) for at least two years, must have an established headquarters, a democratically adopted constitution, authority to speak for its members, a representative structure, appropriate mechanisms of accountability and democratic and transparent decision-making processes. The basic resources of the organization must be derived in the main part from contributions of the national affiliates or other components or from individual members.
The NGO Branch is the focal point within the United Nations for non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. Organizations established by Governments or intergovernmental agreements are not considered non-governmental organizations.
Committee Chairperson MARIA PAVLOVA TZOTZORKOVA (Bulgaria) opened the meeting by announcing that the Committee, in the current resumed session, would review 120 new and 162 deferred applications. It would also review 181 quadrennial reports, five requests for reclassification and seven requests for name changes. The resumed session was the last one before the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council, she added, and the Committee, therefore, should address the backlog generated by its regular session.
Next year, it was likely that the Committee would have nearly 500 new applications to consider, representing double the number that was currently on its plate, she noted. It was up its members to address that challenge in a comprehensive manner. It should begin considering cost- and time-saving measures to help the Secretariat do its job, as well as reinvigorating efforts to increase efficiency. The Committee must act with urgency to match the growing interest of civil-society organizations wishing to take part in United Nations activities, for which she proposed the formation of an open-ended informal process to consider possible improvements in the work of the Committee.
In response, the representative of China said that the Committee should ensure the representation of non-governmental organizations from developing countries, and expressed concern about the growing gap between the developing and developed countries in that respect. China supported the strengthening of the NGO Branch, whose workload had been increasing. Given that burden, the Branch’s resources should be increased. Her delegation felt that the Committee should focus on constructive dialogue and give consultative status to more organizations.
The representative of Sudan agreed that special measures should be taken to encourage the participation of non-governmental organizations from developing countries. The representative of Israel said that his delegation planned to present a draft non-paper with proposals for practical arrangements for the work of the Committee and the NGO branch. Meanwhile, the representative of the United States added that she remained concerned about the backlog of applications and quadrennial reports, and hoped that the Committee would address those that had been outstanding for several years.
The representative of Cuba said that her delegation felt the Committee was both efficient and effective. She joined others in hoping that the NGO Branch would receive more resources.
Taking the floor, ANDREI ABRAMOV, Chief of the NGO Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that, to facilitate the work of the Committee, the Branch had provided the necessary documentation through the paperless Committee system, including proofs of existence, financial statements, constitutions, bylaws and other documents. Today, the paperless system contained the result of new classification of applications under lists 1 and 2, as agreed by the Committee members during informal meetings held earlier in the month. There was also a need to divide deferred applications into lists 1 and 2. Queries to new applicants had been sent following an initial review during the informal meetings, and responses were already being received through the paperless system. The Branch was following up to ensure that as many responses as possible were received.
He announced that the documentation summaries of new applicants and quadrennial reports had been provided in electronic format in six languages. To do justice to the workload, it would be extremely useful for the Committee to continue to review its working methods so that every possible option was considered to streamline the review process.
In response to the request at the last informal consultations for a North/South breakdown of all non-governmental organizations in consultative status, he announced that of the 3,536 such organizations, 2,433, or 68.8 per cent, were from the North, while 1,103, or 31.2 per cent, were from the South. Those numbers excluded non-governmental organizations that were already suspended.
He reiterated the Branch’s earnest desire to work with the Committee and to makes its work more focused and intrinsic as possible to that effort.
Consideration of Special Reports
Turning its attention to the special reports of several non-governmental organizations, the Committee considered a letter received from the Mission of Israel to the United Nations regarding the organization Ma’arij Foundation for Peace and Development, which had special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. The representative of Sudan requested more time to review the letter. The Committee then took note of the letter.
The representative of Pakistan then drew the Committee’s attention to a letter that his Mission had sent with regard to the organization Interfaith International, whose consultative status with the Council had been suspended in 2010 through a consensus decision of the Committee. He expressed concern that the organization had arranged side events on United Nations premises during the nineteenth session of the Human Rights Council in violation of its suspension. It had misled the United Nations system and other partners through its flagrant violation of the Committee’s decision. Requesting that the organization’s request for consultative status be withdrawn, he asked Mr. Abramov to comment on the organization’s activities.
Mr. AMBRAMOV responded that the suspension of consultative status had been for a period of two years. It was a source of concern if a suspended organization continued to utilize the Council’s consultative status insignia for its activities. That organization was indeed in breach of the Organization’s procedures, but it was up to the Committee to decide on how to handle it.
The representative of Belgium said that she preferred a suspension of the organization, rather than a withdrawal, saying it would be helpful to hear from the organization itself on the matter. Meanwhile, the representatives of China, Senegal, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Morocco, Turkey and Burundi stated that they agreed with the representative of Pakistan and supported his proposal to withdraw the organization’s request for consultative status.
The representative of the United States shared some of the concerns raised by Pakistan; however, she agreed with the representative of Belgium that it would be beneficial to hear from the organization on its justification of the alleged violations. Action should be taken on the matter during the current session, she said; however, hearing a response would aid the Committee in deciding how to proceed. The representatives of Peru and Israel agreed.
The representative of India said that the facts in the case appeared clear. However, as some delegations wished for more clarification from the organization, he supported the request for more time to consider the matter.
The representative of Cuba, taking the floor again, disagreed that the organization should be given the opportunity to explain its actions. It had made the same mistakes multiple times, she said. However, more time was indeed needed for the Committee to reach a decision on the proper course of action.
The observer from Switzerland stated that her delegation supported the right of reply.
Addressing the Committee again following that exchange, the representative of Pakistan said that the very credibility of the Committee was at stake if an organization continued to flout its decisions. Any decision in that context would represent the message that the Committee wished to send to all organizations. However, as the Committee “has nothing to hide”, he consented to the request of other delegations to allow the organization to respond to the allegations made. Action should be taken on the matter as soon as possible, he stressed.
Having heard this exchange, Chairperson TZOTZORKOVA asked Pakistan, in conjunction with other delegations, to draft a letter to Interfaith International allowing it time to respond, with a deadline of 24 May.
The Committee then turned its attention to another suspended organization, Centre Europe-Tiers Monde/Third World Centre (CETIM). The representative of Turkey said that non-governmental organizations were expected to respect the principles of the United Nations in their work; those principles called for respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Turkey and forbidding the incitement of acts of terrorism. However, the organization in question had defended terrorists and narcotics traffickers as “human rights defenders”, among other violations. Turkey would follow the situation carefully; if the organization, once reinstated, failed to follow its obligations under the United Nations principles, then Turkey would again seek the withdrawal of status or another suspension.
New Applications for Special Consultative Status
The Committee today recommended special consultative status for the following organizations:
A la Vista! Communication Sociale — a Swiss international organization working to promote, sustain and realize projects, programmes and actions in the domain of social communications, both in Switzerland and internationally.
Alliance for Africa Ltd/Gte — an international United Kingdom-based organization working to enhance and strengthen on a sustainable basis, local, national, subregional and international institutions in Africa, by being active in the monitoring, advancing, promoting and protection of human rights, peace and sustainable development initiatives.
Asociación para el Desarrollo “Foro Rural Mundial” — a Spanish international organization working, among other aims, to gain knowledge about the different realities and conflicts occurring in the rural environment, and to create a solid database in order to provide information for the analysis and monitoring of the realities, problems and policies.
Association of the Indigenous Peoples in the Ryukyus — a national Japan-based organization contributing towards advancing in Ryukyu islands’ and Ryukyu-Okinawan peoples’ international status, in particular by participating in human rights organizations in the United Nations and report about conditions in Okinawa.
Beit Issie Shapiro – Amut Avi — a national organization based in Israel, which develops and provides therapies and services for children and adults with disabilities. It strives for a society that assures children and adults with diverse abilities, the rights and opportunities for inclusion, maximal growth and development.
Bridges of Hope Project — a United States-based international organization working to create opportunities for Turkish and Turkish-American children and youth to pursue their education and realize their potential. It also unites the Turkish-American community and friends of Turkey to raise awareness and resources to support educational projects, provide scholarships and build alliances with other not-for-profit organizations.
Center for International Human Rights — a United States-based national organization located at the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University School of Law, engages in scholarly research on issues in the field of public international law with the objective of advancing the development and enforcement of human rights, international criminal law norms and related issues, and providing valuable classroom and clinical experiences for students committed to protecting and advancing human rights on a global scale.
Children of Peru Foundation — a United States-based international organization dedicated to building a better future for poor children in Peru by raising funds to make grants to a select group of non-governmental organizations working in Peru to provide better health care and education for poor children.
Climate Action Network Association — a United States-based international organization committed to combating harmful climate change, with a vision of a world striving actively towards and achieving the protection of the global climate in a manner that promotes equity and social justice between peoples, sustainable development of all communities and protection of the global environment.
Concordis International Trust — a United Kingdom-based international organization that works alongside those affected by armed conflict in selected parts of the world, building consensus on the issues that divide and enabling them to create lasting peace and hope for their shared future.
Cubraiti, Inc. — a United States-based international organization that contributes to peace and security and advances universal respect for justice, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and which seeks to promote international collaboration through education, cross-cultural projects, art residency programmes, workshops and cross-cultural performances based on dance, investigation/research and anthropology.
Deutsche Model United Nations e.V — a national organization based in Germany which educates children and youths about the United Nations and its workings in order to create an awareness of the problems the world is facing and inspire children and youths to engage in society.
Ecoagriculture International, Inc. — a United States-based international organization which aims to bring about a world where rural landscapes are managed as eco-agriculture landscapes — to simultaneously improve rural livelihoods, conserve native ecosystems and sustainably produce food and fibre, by providing training, research, policy solutions and support to farmers, communities and organizations at the local, national and international levels to create and sustain eco-agriculture landscapes worldwide.
Edmund Rice International Limited — an international organization based in Switzerland which aims to provide for the advancement of education and relief of poverty of children and young people by promoting and protect the right to education and assisting in the provision of public education on matters relating to the rights of the child, the relief of poverty, the advancement of education and the prevention of human suffering. It also assists in the eradication of poverty and HIV/AIDS and in the protection of the natural environment.
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation — a United States-based international organization which seeks to eliminate paediatric AIDS through research, advocacy and prevention and treatment programmes by extending prevention of mother-to-child transmission and care and treatment services to children and HIV-positive pregnant women so that they remain healthy and their babies are born HIV-free. It also cares for children, women and families living with and affected by HIV and advances research to enhance prevention, care and treatment of paediatric HIV/AIDS.
Federacion de Mujeres Progresistas — a national organization based in Spain that defends equal rights and opportunities for women. Its main focus is to promote and defend equal rights and opportunities for women, detect and denounce social injustice and consequently to develop programmes to improve the life conditions of women, and to achieve equality in both public and private domains. It also focused on prevention and elimination of gender violence and working for women with higher risk of being disadvantaged and socially excluded.
Federacion Espanola de Mujeres Directivas Ejeccutivas Profesionales y Empresarias FEDEPE — a Spain-based national organization that seeks to promote, make aware and maximize the access of women to managing positions or jobs positions that require decision-making in any organizational scope. It also represents and defends the general and common interests of its associates before the public powers and promotes the interest of women with regard to access to responsible job positions in the political, economic or financial sphere and in private entities, as well as in the administration of public entities.
Fondation Yves Rocher — a French national organization that contributes to the driving of local and global action on the conservation of nature and the solidarity of education and the environment in more than 50 countries around the world.
Foundation for Global Sports Development — an international organization based in the United States which supports programmes that promote sportsmanship, education, fair play and ethics among the world's youth.
Globethics.net Foundation — a Swiss international organization whose aim is to ensure that people in all regions of the world are empowered to reflect and act on ethical issues and dialogue on it with other participants around the globe.
Hindu Council of New Zealand Incorporated — a New Zealand-based national organization working to cultivate the spirit of self-respect for themselves and their Dharma as Hindus, and to bestow respect for the people of all colours, creeds, races and religions.
International Council on Clean Transportation Inc. — a United States international organization whose mission is to dramatically improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of all modes of transportation (e.g., cars, trucks, planes, ships) and the fuels they burn, in order to protect public health and address global climate change.
Islands First, Inc. — a United States national organization working to help the Pacific Islands plan and implement strategies to address the numerous threats to healthy marine ecosystems, such as climate change, ocean acidification, marine pollution and coral reef destruction.
Japanese Association for the Right to Freedom of Speech — a Japanese national organization whose goal is to establish a lasting world peace, which could be attained in Japan through the establishment of the universal fundamental human rights, especially the right to freedom of speech.
Land is Life, Inc. — an international organization based in the United States which funds indigenous-led campaigns for change and offers strategic help to indigenous organizations and works for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ human, economic, social, cultural, territorial and environmental rights.
National Engineers Week Foundation — a United States national organization dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers among young students and by promoting pre-college literacy in math and science.
Oidhaco, Bureau International des Droits Humains - Action Colombie — an international organization based in Belgium dedicated to the contact, promotion, information and accompaniment of activities of Colombian human rights organizations, European development agencies, solidarity and church organizations, and international human rights organizations.
Plataforma Portuguesa para os Direitos das Mulheres – Associação — a Portugal-based international umbrella organization, independent from political parties, religious institutions or governmental structures, whose members are women’s rights non-governmental organizations.
Promocom — a French national organization interested in the service of the citizen, notably in the domains of sanitation, socio-education and administration.
Restless Development — a United Kingdom-based international development organization that seeks to support young people to take a leadership role in addressing the most urgent issues facing their countries and the world, supported fully by their Governments, their communities, businesses and civil society institutions through civic participation, livelihoods and employment and sexual and reproductive health.
Restoration and Healing, Inc. — a national United States-based organization dedicated to helping adults with history of family violence and sexual abuse to overcome the impact of trauma on their lives. It also helps individuals with life-controlling problems restore self-control to their lives and repair relationships affected by the addictive behaviours.
Sir William Beveridge Foundation — an international United Kingdom-based organization working to identify, initiate and deliver sustainable practical projects under health and social care, empowerment and education. Through its work, it seeks to help address problems that come with pervasive and grinding poverty, particularly in least developed countries, including the impact that old age, disability, lack of education, discrimination against women and unhealthy living.
Stichting Foundation Management EEAC — a national Netherlands organization that seeks to enrich the advice that individual councils give to their national and regional governments, provide an operational framework for joint activities, profit from the experiences and work of councils in other countries and anticipate better forthcoming strategic issues at European level.
In discussing that application, the representative of Pakistan said that although the organization claimed to be national in scope, it appeared to be taking a broader role in its activities. He, therefore, requested clarification on that discrepancy. The Committee decided to send a request for clarification to the organization, but then granted it special consultative status.
The Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief — a United Kingdom-based international organization whose mission is to transform the lives of primarily, but not exclusively, vulnerable Jewish communities outside the United Kingdom and Israel by reducing poverty and enabling lasting, sustainable change. In times of major international disaster, it leads the United Kingdom’s Jewry’s response to those most affected, irrespective of their race, religion or ethnicity.
Postponed New Applications
The Committee postponed consideration of the following new applications:
African Refugee Development Centre — an international organization based in Israel working to protect and empower refugees and asylum seekers in Israel, as well as to ensure access to basic social services and to facilitate refugee and asylum seeker integration, self-sufficiency and ownership in matters affecting their lives — as the representative of India said that he did not fully understand the organization’s structure as described in the application and asked for further clarification.
Centro UNESCO di Firenze — a national organization based in Italy and committed to contributing to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information — as the representative of Venezuela requested clarification about the organization’s individual members.
Grassroots Leadership, Inc. — a United States national organization consisting of a team of organizers who help community, labour, faith and campus organizations think critically, work strategically and take direct action to end social and economic oppression, gain power and achieve justice and equity — as the representative of Pakistan requested further information on the organization’s financial statement.
International Family Forestry Alliance, Inc. — an international organization based in Belgium whose aims include communicating the values and challenges of family forestry, communicating family forest owners’ important contribution to sustainable and multifunctional forestry, and informing consumers about the natural, renewable and recyclable products from the forests — as the representatives of India and Pakistan requested clarification about the location of the organization’s registration.
Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung - Gesellschaftsanalyse und Politische Bildung e.V. — a national organization based in Germany that is one of the six political foundations in the Federal Republic of Germany — as the representatives of Turkey and India raised several questions.
Scottish Association for Mental Health — a national organization based in the United Kingdom dedicated to mental health and well-being for all, which provides rights and rights-based services, challenges stigma and discrimination and promotes inclusion — as the representative of India requested some clarifications.
Sisters Inside Inc. — an Australia-based international organization committed to changing the social structure by working towards a society which enables people to make real choices, that is, to have an equal ability to say “yes” or “no”, to make changes or to choose not to change — as the representative of India requested some clarifications.
The International Legal Foundation, Ltd. — a United States-based international organization that seeks to assist post-conflict and transitional countries establish effective and sustainable indigent defence systems — as the representative of Pakistan requested clarification.
Under The Same Sun Fund — a United States-based organization that promotes, via advocacy and education, the well-being of persons often marginalized and misunderstood, with a focus on those who are disadvantaged by disability and/or poverty; its current goal/focus is on albinism and the lives of albinos in Africa — as delegates noted that the organization had not provided some requested answers.
Vienna economic Forum — an Austria-based national organization that aims to promote economic cooperation between countries and territories from the Adriatic to the Black Sea, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and Kosovo — as the representatives of India and Pakistan requested further information.
The Committee then turned its attention to its traditional question-and-answer session.
The representative of World Habitat Foundation said that the organization had developed a low-cost water system for the poor. The organization worked in housing, with educational organizations, including several universities in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The representative of China noted that the organization had carried out many activities that were significant in China and requested elaboration in its cooperation with China in recent years.
The representative of Sudan acknowledged projects carried out in many parts of the world by the organization and sought elaboration on its activities in Africa.
The representative of the organization said that its activities in Africa and China had been limited to micro-mortgage programmes in which it created securitization funds supporting housing developments. Homes were developed and inspected and educational assistance was provided to the people who moved into those homes. In Africa, its past activities had been limited to South Africa, but the water programme could be taken to other places where there was a need.
The representative of Morocco said that only $540,000 in total income had been reported by the organization. Since its work covered several areas that required large amounts, he wondered whether that amount was not too small to carry out all its projects. Also, he wanted to know whether it had ongoing projects conducted in Africa, especially in West Africa.
The organization’s representative explained that the funds reported had been donated by his family to start the foundation. In the past, he had been able to raise additional funds through collaborative efforts. That capacity to raise huge sums still existed. In West Africa, the organization had programmes with partners that were already under way.
The representative of Pakistan said that the organization worked in an area of crucial importance and requested elaboration on specific projects it had in mind. The delegate also sought clarification on whether it was an advocacy lobbying organization or one that worked solely on the ground to execute projects.
The organization’s representative said it did no lobbying, but worked “hands on” in the field. It had presented its water system at the Copenhagen conference and the feedback had been positive — that the system would indeed have a huge impact. It was hoping to host an event at the United Nations in September to showcase it.
The representative of Pakistan said that the application needed to be corrected so that it was not presented as an advocacy organization.
The Committee then recommended the organization for special consultative status.
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