24 May 2012
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6515
NGO/755

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

Committee on NGOs

24th & 25th Meetings (AM & PM)


Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Recommends 20 Applicants for Status,


Defers 35, Including for Discrepancy between Aims and Activities

 


The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 19 entities for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and 1 for roster status, but postponed consideration of 35 other applications as it continued consideration of applications deferred from previous sessions during its resumed 2012 session.


The non-governmental organizations recommended today were from a cross-section of regions and seized with such issues as rural women’s empowerment; post-conflict Somalia; private-sector promotion in developing countries; support for peace and tolerance education among youth; participation in civic life in the context of Jewish values and American pluralism; poverty reduction among the elderly in Nigeria; and poverty eradication among people with disabilities in the Pacific region.


Several previously deferred applications were once again postponed, including the Australian Lesbian Medical Association, a national organization aiming to advance the visibility of lesbian doctors and lesbian health.  After close scrutiny once again, several delegations, including that of Belgium, Israel, the United States and Australia, felt there was “an extreme and irrational aversion to LGBT NGOs” in the Committee.  “People are people, and they all deserve the same human rights.”  Such bias would serve the Committee no longer, they said.


Concerns were also raised about the compatibility of some organizations’ stated goals and objectives with their activities.  The representative of Israel, for instance, asked how the Al Tajdeed Cultural Social Society, a Bahrain-based international organization, which states that it promotes the human rights conventions, could do so when it had documents on its website describing the Holocaust as a “hoax”.


Similarly, the representative of Burundi took issue with the Afrikaanse Forum vir Burgerregte, a national organization based in South Africa, which says that its main objective is to advance or advocate for democracy and the protection of human rights, and in particular minority rights in South Africa.  The representative wanted to know who the minorities were that were being referred to. The Chinese delegate asked how it worked to build a united safe and stable society.  The representative of Venezuela wanted to know how its work would contribute to that of the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary organs.


With regard to the application by Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, a national organization based in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which states that it supports Palestinian prisoners and detainees, in addition to groups and individuals whose civil and political rights have been violated, within the framework of international human rights law and humanitarian law, the representative of Israel noted that one of its Board members had made statements that seemed to support violence.  She asked how the organization, which claims to support human rights, could reconcile itself with such statements.


Also today, the representative of China requested several organizations to provide the Committee with details on their relationships with the Dalai Lama and on their views on the question of Tibet.  The delegate asked the New Era Educational and Charitable Support Initiative, a Nigerian national organization that says it is committed to the revival of human values, for details of the support it received from the Dalai Lama Foundation and for its view on the question of Tibet, since the organization’s website indicated that it had received that Foundation’s support.  He similarly requested the West Africa Centre for Peace Foundation, a Ghana-based national organization that states its aim is to serve young people in schools and communities through education on human rights, leadership training and peacebuilding for social development, to clarify its position, as, he said, there were writings by the Dalai Lama on its website.


Another applicant for which the representative of China had questions was the Asia Catalyst, a United States-based international organization that aims to support and promote the development of local non-governmental organizations that advance human rights, social justice and environmental protection in Asia.  According to the representative, in the candidate’s 2011 response to questions from the Committee, the organization had said that it did not provide assistance to any non-governmental organization in China, but its website mentioned activities with non-governmental organizations in China.  The representative, therefore, requested factual information on its activities with non-governmental organizations in China.


The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 25 May, to continue its consideration of deferred applications for consultative status.


Background


The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations met today to continue its resumed 2012 session.


Special Consultative Status


Returning to its consideration of applications deferred from previous sessions, the Committee recommended special consultative status to the following organizations:


Peace Operation Training Institute Inc. — a United States-based international organization dedicated to providing globally accessible and affordable distance-learning courses on peace support, humanitarian relief and security operations to men and women working to promote peace worldwide.


Rainforest Partnership — a United States-based national organization working on preserving rainforests with the aim to create partnerships with local communities, businesses, Government and non-profit agencies to create sustainable economic development alternatives to deforestation and to ensure the integrity of the forest and its resources.


Rural Women Empowerment and Life Improvement Association — a national organization based in Japan with the aim to improve rural life and to advance status of rural women within Japan and in the international arena through international development cooperation, especially with developing nations.


Somali Women Civil War Survivors — a United States-based national organization with the aim to help post-conflict Somalia achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.


Swisscontact, Schweizerische Stiftung für technische Entwicklungs-zusammenarbeit — a Switzerland-based national private-sector independent foundation for development cooperation that promotes the private sector in developing countries and aims to contribute to the reduction of poverty in selected countries by promoting sustainable private economic development and growth.


The Peacemaker Corps Foundation — a United States-based national organization with the mission to facilitate and support peace and tolerance education among the youth of the world.


The Young Men’s Hebrew Association of the City of New York — a United States-based national organization founded to promote individual and family development and participation in civic life within the context of Jewish values and American pluralism.


Abiodun Adebayo Welfare Foundation — a national organization based in Nigeria whose main objective is to reduce poverty among its elderly members.


International Human Rights & Anti-Corruption Society — a Nigeria-based national organization whose goals are to promote democracy, defend human rights, fight against corruption and foster multidimensional approach to security.


Kerman Raad — a national organization based in Iran that seeks to foster and develop the capabilities of physical and kinetic help-seekers aged 15 and above, with the purpose of reinforcing their self-confidence, self sufficiency and self-employment.


Movement for the Protection of African Child (MOPOTAC) — a Nigerian national organization that seeks to promote, protect and defend the legal rights and liberty of children and young persons under the Constitution and in accordance with international legal instruments.


Pacific Disability Forum — a Fiji-based international organization that seeks to eliminate poverty among people with disabilities in the Pacific region.


Rural Development Organization — a Pakistan-based national organization that promotes a culture of tolerance and democratic norms.


Singapore Institute of International Affairs — an international organization that promotes interest in and public awareness of contemporary issues of international politics and regional security through international conferences, workshops, seminars and public lectures.


Unnayan Onneshan — a national organization based in Bangladesh that works as a progressive think tank that undertakes research for advancing ideas and building constituencies for social transformation.


Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights — a Philippines- and Netherlands-based international organization that aims for a world where women can enjoy their reproductive and sexual rights, free from social, political, cultural and economic oppression.


World Welfare Association — a Pakistan-based national organization that aims to establish a democratic society based on equality, tolerance and justice and where every individual has a right to basic necessities of life.


Autonomous Women’s Centre — a Serbia-based national organization aiming to empower of women in overcoming trauma caused by domestic violence, partnership violence and/or sexual violence.


British Overseas NGOs for Development (BOND) – a United Kingdom-based national organization whose purpose is to be the uniting force for the strength, influence and effectiveness of United Kingdom international development organizations.


Roster Status


The Committee recommended roster status to Widows for Peace Through Democracy — an international organization based in the United Kingdom, with the aim of promoting the status of widows in developing countries, particularly in conflict and HIV/AIDS afflicted countries.


Deferred Applications


Consideration of the following previously deferred applications was once again postponed because of questions by Committee members:


Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association — a national organization based in the Occupied Palestinian Territory whose work is focused on supporting Palestinian prisoners and detainees, in addition to groups and individuals whose civil and political rights have been violated, within the framework of international human rights law and humanitarian law — as the representative of Israel wanted clarification on how the organization, which claimed to support human rights, could reconcile itself with statements by one of its board members supporting violence.


Afrikaanse Forum vir Burgerregte — a national organization based in South Africa whose main objective is to advance or advocate for democracy and the protection of human rights, in particular minority rights in South Africa — as the representative of China wanted more information on how it worked to build a united safe and stable society.  The representative of Cuba requested clarification about the organization’s relations with the Government, since it reported that it had no affiliation with Government, but also said that it supported the Government, especially in fighting crime.  The representative of Venezuela wanted the organization to explain how its work would contribute to that of the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary organs.  The representative of India sought clarification from the United Nations Secretariat on the classification of employee costs in the applications by organizations.  The representative of Burundi noted that the organization stated in its application that it was protecting minority rights, and asked whose rights it was seeking to protect.


ANDREI ABRAMOV, Chief of the NGO Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, responding to the question by India’s delegate, said that personnel staff cost was usually included in the cost of administration in applications.


Al Tajdeed Cultural Social Society — an international organization based in Bahrain concerned with making human rights conventions, regulations and concepts more familiar and acceptable to Middle Eastern peoples — as the representative of Israel wanted to know how it could contribute to the work of the United Nations, an Organization formed to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, when it had information, repeated twice on its website, denying the Holocaust as a “hoax”.


Al-Maqdese for Society Development — a national organization based in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that works for the full enjoyment of the Palestinians of their political, social, economic, cultural and civil rights and seeks to help them maintain the Palestinian demographic in Jerusalem — as the representative of Israel wanted more details about its work in protecting women and whether it had partners in that area.


Al-Marsad, the Arab Centre for Human Rights in the Golan Heights (R.A.) — a national organization based in Israel that works on a local, regional and international platform to address the struggles of war, colonialism and occupation — as the representative of Israel wanted information on how people became members of the organization.


Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum — an India-based international organization that seeks to help create a special climate of solidarity and responsibility — as the representative of Pakistan wanted the organization to provide details on how it had been participating in sessions of the Human Rights Council in affiliation with other non-governmental organizations.  It also sought details about those other organizations.


Asociación Centro Indígena para el Desarrollo Sostenible, CINDES — a Peru-based national organization, which aims to secure the well-being of the Amazonian indigenous towns by helping to protect the environment, the ecology and the culture practiced by the people — as the representative of Peru wanted to know about the organization’s registration and details about its projects.


Business and Professional Women Voluntary Organization, Sudan — an international organization based in the Sudan that aims to empower women to rise out of poverty and works to ensure that women have a voice in policies that affect them and their families — as the representative of Sudan wanted details about its financing and on the nature and location of its activities.  He also asked if it worked in cooperation with other regional organizations.


Iranian Vegetable Oil Industries Association — an Iran-based national organization that seeks to expand private sector activities in Iran and to create more jobs and decrease country's unemployment — as the representative of Israel wanted to know if the requirement that a person must be at least 30 years to join the organization was a matter of the law or something decided by the organization and, if it was decided by the organization, why that decision was made.


Isfahan Association for Protection of Human Rights — a national organization based in Iran for the protection and promotion of human rights — as the representative of the Russian Federation wanted to know what programmes and projects it carried out based on recent events in the Middle East.  The representative of Venezuela requested clarification on its membership dues, and the representative of Cuba requested for information on its international work; it had reported that it was a national organization, but some of its responses showed that it did some international work.  The representative of Nicaragua wanted to know with which projects and alliances it associated.


Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre — a national organization based in the Occupied Palestinian Territory with the vision to establish a democratic Palestinian society free from occupation and governed by justifiable laws — as the representative of Israel said the application was not complete and requested that it should list the name and nationalities of its leadership.


New Era Educational and Charitable Support Initiative — a Nigerian national organization committed to the revival of human values that transcend religious, ethnic and cultural differences — as the representative of China wanted details on the support it received from the Dalai Lama Foundation and its view on the question of Tibet, as the organization’s website indicated that it received that Foundation’s support.


Palpung Munishasan Dharmachakra Sangh — an India-based international educational organization dedicated to the welfare of others without consideration of sect, caste, religion, race, gender or nationality — as the representative of China requested details on what it has done in the area of promotion of interreligious dialogue, as no activities were mentioned on its website.


Shikhar Chetna Sangathan — an India-based national organization registered as a movement in the interest of underprivileged and have-nots of society — as the representative of Pakistan sought details about its 13 members and clarification regarding its budget.


Skyian Welfare Organization — a Pakistan-based national organization that aims to improve the quality of life of the people — as the representative of China wanted more details about its activities and how it ensured professionalism.


TrustAfrica — a Senegal- and United States-based international organization that seeks to strengthen African initiatives that address the most difficult challenges confronting the African continent — as the representative of Sudan wanted it to specify which countries it worked with in Africa, and to state whether it had ties with other organizations, since its application talked about Africa in general.  It should also provide information about its board members and their geographic locations, the speaker said.


West Africa Centre for Peace Foundation — a Ghana-based national organization that seeks to serve young people in schools and communities through education on human rights, leadership trainings and peacebuilding for social development — as the representative of China wanted it to clarify its position concerning Tibet, as there were writings by the Dalai Lama on its website.


Al-Mahdi Institute — a United Kingdom-based international organization with the aim of providing high-level Islamic studies to students residing within Europe and to serve the needs of the Muslim communities — as the representative of Israel asked it to explain a discrepancy in the number of its members reported in its application.


Amuta for NGO Responsibility — a national organization based in Israel whose work centres around promoting the principles emphasized in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action — as the representative of Cuba noted that, although the organization reported that it had no relations with any Government, it stated that it held meetings with Government representatives and diplomats.  He sought clarification about that.  The representative of Venezuela wanted to know the criteria it used to formulate positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Asia Catalyst — a United States-based international organization that aims to support and promote the development of local non-governmental organizations that advance human rights, social justice and environmental protection in Asia — as the representative of China requested factual information on its activities with non-governmental organizations in China, noting that in its 2011 response to questions from the Committee, the organization had said that it did not provide assistance to any non-governmental organization in China.  However, its website mentioned activities with non-governmental organizations in China.


Asia Center for Human Rights (ACHR) — a national organization based in the Republic of Korea which aims to engage in cultivating human resources to engage in establishing human rights protection mechanisms and to contribute to improving the human rights situation in the Asia region — as the representative of China said that he still needed an answer to his question raised during the last question-and-answer with the organization, when he had asked for information on its activities in the economic, social and cultural areas.  It had only provided its annual report and Charter.


Assyrian National Congress — a United States-based international organization that seeks to protect the human rights of the ancient Assyrian people — as the representative of Nicaragua wanted a list of countries where it had a presence.  The representative of Venezuela also asked about that and about the projects it had in those countries; one part of its application stated that it worked in 40 countries, another indicated 13.


Asylum Access — a United States-based international organization that envisions a world where refugees are seen as people with rights, not just people with needs — as the representative of Sudan requested more information on its activities in Africa, including where it worked and whether it was registered in certain countries.  It should also indicate its relationship with other non-governmental organizations in Africa and the number of members on its Board, including how many were from Africa.


AUA Americas Chapter Inc. — a United States-based national organization working to increase public awareness and understanding of the Assyrian culture and people, to promote human rights and indigenous rights, and to provide charitable services to persons of Assyrian descent — as the representative of Turkey asked for more information about the organization’s participation in United Nations conferences.


Australian Lesbian Medical Association – a national organization aiming to provide support and advocacy for members, to advance the visibility of lesbian doctors and lesbian health, and to provide a network for lesbian doctors — as the representative of Morocco raised concerns about whether the organization was in fact national or international in nature.  The representative of the Russian Federation asked for clarification about a question posed in previous sessions, namely whether the organization received funding from pharmaceutical companies.


The representative of Israel, however, said that the organization suffered from discrimination due to its connection with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) people.  There was an “extreme and irrational aversion to LGBT NGOs” in the Committee, he said, adding that “people are people, and they all deserve the same human rights”.  Such bias would serve the Committee no longer.


The representative of Belgium agreed, noting that the application had been deferred for reasons unrelated to the criteria laid out in resolution 1996/31.  The representative of the United States echoed that sentiment, stressing that the Committee refused to accredit by consensus any “LGBT” organization, despite the guidance sent to it by the Economic and Social Council in the form of several overturned votes.  She hoped that the Committee would be prepared to accredit the organization during its next session.


The representative of Australia said it was fundamental that non-governmental organizations representing “the full diversity of voices” should be allowed to participate in the work of the United Nations.  Every application should be treated in a fair and transparent manner, and all those organizations fulfilling the required criteria should be granted consultative status.  Australia regretted that the application under consideration had not received such fair treatment in a number of sessions of the Committee.


Bridging the Gulf — an international organization based in the Netherlands working to contribute to regional cooperation in the Gulf region and to support initiatives taken in the Gulf region in the areas of human security, human rights, women’s rights and the development of civil societies — as the representative of China raised a question about the name under which the organization was registered.  The representative of Nicaragua also asked about the countries in which the organization worked, while the representative of Venezuela asked about its members.


British Columbia Civil Liberties Association — a Canada-based national organization whose mission is to preserve, defend, maintain and extend civil liberties and human rights in British Columbia and across Canada — as the representative of Pakistan was concerned that the organization had stated that the right to life was linked to the “right to a dignified death”.  It was his understanding that there was no right to death in international law, and he asked the organization to further explain its position.


Center for Global Nonkilling — a United States-based international organization established to be a creative facilitator of research, education, training and action that promotes problem-solving leadership for nonviolent global transformation — as the representative of China asked for further clarification about the organization’s activities in his country.  The representative of Morocco also asked for more information about its work in Africa.


Center for International Policy — a national United States-based organization whose stated mission is to promote a United States foreign policy based on international cooperation, demilitarization and respect for human rights — as the representative of the Russian Federation recalled that the organization intended to publish reports on illicit financial flows.  Could it clarify the methodology and sources of information used in preparing those reports?


Child Rights Information Network, CRIN — an international United Kingdom-based organization working to building a global network for children’s rights — as the representative of China raised questions about the objectivity of the information produced by the organization.


Christian Solidarity Worldwide — a United Kingdom-based national organization specializing in freedom of religion as defined in article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — as the representative of China asked a question about the methodology used by the organization to compile the reports it had submitted to the universal periodic review of the Human Rights Council.  About which countries had it submitted reports?  The representative of Cuba, examining the replies already sent by the organization, added that it had not exactly answered the questions previously posed.  The representative of Venezuela also asked about the sources of the information used in the organization’s reports.


Coalition Mondiale Contre la Peine de Mort — an international organization based in France working to reinforce international action against the death penalty — as the representative of China raised concerns about the terminology used by the organization.


Collectif des Familles de Disparu(e)s en Algerie — a France-based national organization whose principal aim is to locate victims of forced disappearances and to shed light on all the victims of forced disappearances in Algeria — as the representative of Pakistan asked for further information to questions previously posed.  He also wondered why the organization did not have a presence in the country on which it focused.


Defense Small Arms Advisory Council — a national United States-based trade organization of American military small arms manufacturers, which serves as a means of communication between its member companies and Government agencies — as the representative of Venezuela said the organization’s activities were better handled by other Committees of the United Nations, namely the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).  She also wished for more information on the scope of its activities and on how it could contribute to the work of the Economic and Social Council.


Bureau international pour le respect des droits de l'homme au Sahara Occidental — a national organization based in Switzerland which participates in the efforts of those who struggle for the respect for human rights, including by initiating campaigns and supporting the efforts of others — as the representative of Morocco reiterated the concerns he had raised at the Committee’s previous meeting, including about the context of its website and about whether or not the organization was in line with United Nations principles, which he said had not been addressed.  The website included propaganda and the organization attacked Morocco’s sovereignty, he said, expressing readiness to close the application.


The representative of the United States said her delegation was not prepared to go along with that proposal.  She did not believe there was consensus on that matter.  The United States had gone along with the original letter sent to the organization, but that had in no way intended to indicate that the United States would go along with a consensus decision to close the application.


The representative of Belgium, recalling that a letter had been sent to the organization at the last session because one delegation had had problems with it, said there were now only two possibilities: either the delegation of Morocco moved to close the application, or it sent a new set of questions.  Otherwise, it would have to be granted status.  In response, the representative of Morocco stressed the need to review the responses sent by the organization.  It was premature to ask for a vote without comments from other members of the Committee, he said.


The representative of Pakistan said there was no need to take immediate action on the matter.


The Chairperson asked the Moroccan delegation whether it was ready to move to close the application, to which the representative of Morocco replied that delegations seemed to need more time to consider the matter.  The representative of India agreed and suggested that consideration of the organization be taken up in the next session.  The Committee then agreed to postponeits consideration until the Committee’s next regular session.


Interactive session


Turning to its question-and-answer segment, the Committee heard from a representative of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, an international organization based in the United States, whose stated aims include, among other things, to establish a comprehensive and objective historical record of the human rights situation in Iran since the 1979 revolution, to make that information publically available as an archive and to promote accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iran.


Launching the discussion, the representative of Nicaragua asked the representative of the organization to explain the work presented on its website.  In response, the representative of the organization described its work undertaken on abuses against a certain minority in Iran and its commentary about the Iranian legal code.  It had also produced analysis and documentation.  Tracking and analysing executions was also a main focus of its work, she said.


The representative of Cuba noted that documents of United Nations and other organizations were published on the organization’s website, and asked how such decisions were made about which documents to publish.  Responding, the representative of the organization said that any documents related to the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights were posted.


The representative of Pakistan asked about the organization’s funding.  Was it because of its funding structure that it was only interested in one country, he asked, or would it be willing to conduct research on other countries if it was funded to do so?  The representative responded that the organization’s area of interest arose from the fact that its staff was all Iranian.


The representative of Venezuela asked if there had been any progress made in Iran in the areas of transparency, balance and political motivations.  Had it opened its doors to the United Nations at all?


In response, the organization’s representative said that her organization just dealt in facts.  However, since she had last visited the Committee, revisions to the Iranian Penal Code had been published and references to stoning and other activities that had been of great concern had been omitted.  Those could be viewed as positive developments, she said.


The representative of Israel wondered if the NGO representative could elaborate further on the issue of executions in Iran.  The representative of the organization responded that executions were permitted under international law, but should be exceptional; due process was required.  Many recent executions in Iran had been for drug-related offences, which was a major concern.  The role of her organization and those like it was to ensure that people were not summarily executed or executed on scant evidence.  The “50-plus” executions that had taken place in one two-week period, for example, were much too high.


The representative of the Russian Federation asked for more information about the recent murder of a nuclear scientist in Iran.  Further, he hoped to have an opportunity to read more comments on the organization’s website, in order to ensure that it was, in fact, conducting objective analysis.


The representative of the organization replied that those scientists faced tremendous political pressure in Iran, and that such treatment was unacceptable.  With regard to objective commentary, she asked the Committee to “stay tuned” to the organization’s website in the coming months.


Making a general comment, the observer from Iran raised questions about the organization’s membership, asking whether all were indeed Iranian.  Secondly, he said, the organization — in response to a question about its funding — had said that it worked “professionally, with no strings attached”.  However, a large percentage of its funding came from the United States Government; in that vein, he believed that strings were, in fact, attached.


Responding, the organization’s representative highlighted the distinction between its board and its staff.  All those carrying out day-to-day work were Iranian.  Moreover, she stressed, there was no political conditionality with regard to its funding.


The Committee then heard from a representative of Solicitors International Human Rights Group, a national organization based in the United Kingdom which seeks to promote awareness of international human rights within the legal profession in Britain, to mobilize solicitors into effective action in support of those rights, and to encourage human rights lawyers overseas.


Taking the floor, the representative of China sought more information about the organization’s funding, which was listed as less than $4,000.  There was a discrepancy between that amount of funding and the organization’s wide range of activities, he said.  Additionally, he asked what kind of activities the organization was carrying out in China.


The representative of the organization agreed that its budget was very small, adding that many of its members worked and travelled at their own expense.  He could not respond to the question about particular activities in China.


The representative of Burundi asked about a reference in the organization’s responses to slavery in Mali.  He also wondered which countries were involved in the organization’s mention of “persecuted” solicitors.  Providing a general answer to those questions, the NGO representative said that his organization worked through the legal framework of any country where it was active.


The representative of Pakistan raised questions about activities in support of the movement for democracy in Pakistan, among others.  Exactly which activities were carried out?  Were they undertaken in collaboration with other organizations in Pakistan?  He also wondered whether the organization was international or national in scope.


The organization’s representative said that information on activities in Pakistan could be found on the organization’s website.  The group considered itself international in scope.


The representative of Cuba then referred to courses on human rights, which were offered by the organization, and asked for more details.  The representative of the organization responded that those courses were carried out with different groups and were based on the United Nations human rights machinery and material.


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For information media • not an official record