25 May 2012
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6516
NGO/756

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

Committee on NGOs

26th & 27th Meetings (AM & PM)


Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Considers Reinstatements, Suspensions,

 

Withdrawals, Change of Name Requests, Reports of Accredited NGOs

 


Recommends Suspension of 208 Organizations, Withdrawal

Of One — Interfaith International — for Violation of Suspension


The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended four entities for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, and postponed its consideration of nine applications.


It also took note of 137 quadrennial reports submitted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the Council, while deferring consideration of 14.  In addition, it took note of 7 change-of-name requests, 75 requests for the withdrawal of consultative status, and 27 for reinstatement of consultative status.  The Committee recommended suspension of consultative status for 208 organizations that had not fulfilled their reporting duties.  Those requests and reports noted by the Committee would be included in the official report of its resumed 2012 session.


According to Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 — the framework text governing NGO participation at the United Nations — consultative status can be suspended, for up to three years, or withdrawn for a number of reasons.  These include engaging in a pattern of acts contrary to the United Nations Charter, failing to positively or effectively contribute to the work of the Organization and Council or failing to submit quadrennial reports in the allotted time period.


In that vein, measures to improve the Council’s quadrennial reporting procedures were introduced in Economic and Social Council resolution 2008/4, which lays out the procedure for suspending the consultative status of organizations that do not submit reports in a timely manner.  As outlined in that resolution, the NGO Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs wrote to the organizations with reporting obligations for the period 2007-2010, with three reminders, respectively on 24 February 2011, 1 July 2011 and 4 January 2012.  The Permanent Missions of the countries where the organizations were headquartered were then informed, on 6 March 2012, of the outstanding report(s), seeking assistance in contacting the organizations.


The 208 organizations that had not complied with the three reminders came before the Committee today, in a list to be recommended to the Economic and Social Council for immediate suspension of their consultative status for one year.


Also today, the Committee returned to its consideration of a proposal, raised by the delegate of Pakistan, to withdraw the consultative status of the organization Interfaith International, whose accreditation had first been suspended in 2010.  In that regard, the representative of Pakistan stressed that the organization had violated the terms of its suspension by continuing to engage in activities on United Nations premises and to use its consultative status insignia, despite the suspension.   “The time is now ripe” for the Committee to recommend the withdrawal of the organization’s consultative status, he declared.


The Committee decided, by consensus, to recommend withdrawal of the consultative status of Interfaith International.


Expressing that she had joined the consensus only “reluctantly”, the representative of the United States said it was imperative that non-governmental organizations — even those with views different from those of Member States — be heard at the United Nations.  Moreover, “withdrawal is a serious action that should only be taken when an organization has engaged in a pattern of acts” contrary to the principles of the United Nations, she said.  As the United States felt that the NGO had not done anything to justify the current action, the delegation would have preferred a lesser sanction to be employed.


The Geneva-based Interfaith International is self-described as a non-governmental association of individuals, with the purpose to provide a space to its members and associates to promote the rights of persons of all different religions and ethnic groups.


The Committee will reconvene again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 29 May to continue its work.


Background


The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), meeting today to continue its resumed 2012 session, had before it quadrennial reports submitted by organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.  


Also before the Committee was the list of organizations that submitted quadrennial reports late, but before 1 May 2012, pursuant to Council resolution 2008/4.  It also had before it a list of deferred quadrennial reports submitted by organizations in consultative status with the Council, as well as two related draft decisions, contained in documents E/C.2/2012/L.2 and L.3.


The Committee also had before it document E/C.2/2012/CRP.8, containing change of name requests; document E/C.2/2012/CRP.9/Rev.1, containing the list of organizations to be suspended; document E/C.2/2012/CRP.10/Rev.1, containing the list of organizations to be reinstated; and document E/C.2/2012/CRP.11/Rev.1, containing the list of organizations to be withdrawn.


Consideration of Quadrennial Reports


The Committee took note of most of the newly submitted quadrennial reports, contained in documents E/C.2/2012/2/Add. 25 through Add.29 and Add. 31 through Add. 33.  Additional quadrennial reports were also contained in documents E/C.2/2012/CRP.15 and 16.


However, no note was taken of the quadrennial report of the Ukrainian World Congress, contained in document E/C.2/2012/2/Add. 29, as the representative of the Russian Federation raised questions about the relationship of the organization with the President of the Ukraine, among others.  Those questions would be transmitted to the organization.


The Committee then considered deferred quadrennial reports submitted by non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Council, contained in document E/C.2.2012/CRP.6.  Of 15 such reports, it took note of two — those of the NGOs Human Rights First and Freedom House (for the period 2003-2006) — and further deferred consideration of 13 reports.


However, the representatives of Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Sudan disassociated their delegations from the Committee’s consensus decision to take note of the 2003-2006 report of Freedom House.  In that regard, the representative of Cuba stressed that the organization had taken a “hostile and aggressive” position towards a number of Member States, in particular developing countries.


Among the questions that would be transmitted to those organizations whose reports were further deferred, the representative of Turkey noted that the first organization on the list, Armenian Assembly of America, had not properly responded to the questions posed, and asked it to do so.


Regarding the deferred report of the NGO Human Rights Watch, the representative of China said some of its information did not line up with “basic facts”, and asked for clarification.  The representative of Sudan also asked for more information about the organization’s relationship with the International Criminal Court, and about its activities in two particular Sudanese states.


Turning to the deferred report of the organization known as France libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, the representative of China asked for clarification about the organization’s relationship with Tibet.  The representative of Morocco had questions about the organization’s sources of information on the “spoiling of natural resources” and “violations of rights” by multinational companies in the Western Sahara.


On the second deferred report of the organization Freedom House (2007-2010), the representative of China raised concerns about objectivity.  The representative of Cuba asked for more information on human rights panel discussions organized by the NGO.


Regarding the deferred report of the organization International Press Institute, the representative of China raised questions about the organization’s involvement with the Dalai Lama.


Similarly, on the deferred report of the organization Reporters without Borders, the representative of China asked for detailed information about the organization’s activities in his country.  The representative of Cuba asked for clarification on the organization’s information sources.  The representative of Sudan asked about the its regional information sources in East Africa, and whether it had any reporters working in Sudan.


The Committee then turned to two deferred reports of the organization Society for Threatened Peoples, which covered two different time periods.  On the first report (2001-2004), the representative of China wished to know more about the organization’s participation in several round table events focusing on human rights in China.  The representative of Sudan raised questions about the organization’s registration in Sudan, and its mention of genocide in the Darfur region.


Following a procedural discussion, the Committee decided to further defer its consideration of both of the Society for Threatened Peoples’ reports.


With regard to the deferred report of the organization Ukrainian World Congress, the representative of the Russian Federation raised concerns about “insufficient” responses to questions relating to Ukrainians living on the Russian Federation’s territory.


Name Change Requests


The Committee then turned to requests for name changes.


Prior to considering the seven requests for name change listed in that document, the Committee engaged in a discussion about the formal procedure required for such a change. T he representative of India raised serious concerns about whether such requests were in line with the national laws of the countries where the non-governmental organizations were located.  The representatives of China and Cuba supported those concerns, noting that proof from the States in question should be provided.


However, the representative of the United States worried that criteria to defer consideration of name changes were “being invented” with no basis.


ANDREI ABRAMOV, Chief of the NGO Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, clarified that a letter of intention to change an organization’s name was needed, as well as a request from a third party.  Those documents might be made into PDF documents for distribution to the Committee, but they would not be as “user friendly” as other documents in the database.


During the afternoon session, the Secretariat distributed hard copies of the name change documentation requested by the delegates.


After reviewing that information, the Committee decided to take note of the seven organizations seeking name changes.  Those were Aid The Children Network (Special status in 2011) to International Institute forChild Protection; International Association of Mayors of Northern Cities (Roster status in 1997) to World Winter Cities Association for Mayors; International Catholic Union of the Press (Special status in 1951) to International Catholics Organization of the Media; International Iron and Steel Institute (Roster status in 1978) to World Steel Association; Isfahan Minority Rights and Development (Special status in 2011) to Isfahan Human Rights and Development Organization; RICS Foundation (Special status in 2003) to The Royal Institution of Chartered; and Surveyors Sudan Association for Combating Landmines (Special status in 2007) to JASMAR Human Security Organization.


Withdrawal


The Committee then took up the request for the withdrawal of the consultative status of the organization Interfaith International.


The representative of Pakistan said that the organization had violated the terms of its suspension by continuing to engage in activities on United Nations premises and to use its consultative status insignia, despite suspension by the Committee in 2010.  “The time is now ripe” for the Committee to recommend the withdrawal of the organization’s consultative status, he declared.


Following the representative’s formal proposal that the Committee recommend the organization’s withdrawal, it decided, by consensus, to do so.


The representative of the United States, speaking after the decision, said it was important that the voice of civil society be heard at the United Nations, including those that were critical of Governments.  She had reluctantly joined the consensus on the decision.  Based on the facts, she had asked for a lesser sanction, but for sake of consensus, had chosen not to block the decision.  The United States did not believe that the information that had emerged from organization’s action warranted a withdrawal of its status.


The representative of Belgium said he would have preferred to extend the suspension imposed on the organization because he thought that withdrawal of its status was a disproportionate sanction, in view of what it had done.  However, the limited rules of the Committee needed to be respected, because everyone benefited from them.  That was why he had joined consensus.


Special Consultative Status


Resuming its consideration of deferred applications, the Committee recommended special consultative status to the following organizations:


Forest Stewardship Council AC — a Mexico-based international organization that promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests.


Foundation for GAIA — a United Kingdom-based international organization which calls for humankind to act in partnership with nature in protecting the complex life-support system of the planet.


Human Rights Now — an international organization based in Japan established by lawyers, former United Nations officials, scholars and other human rights activists to achieve, protect and promote the human rights of people worldwide, with a special focus on Asian countries.


Institute of Asian Culture & Development — an international organization based in the Republic of Korea which offers long-term assistance in the area of education and training, community development and medical services in its endeavour to build peaceful and fair communities.


Postponed


The Committee decided to postpone consideration of the following previously deferred applicants:


Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association — a United States-based international organization committed to serving humanity by working to relieve various forms of human suffering — physical, emotional and spiritual and to support programmes which protect the natural environment — as the representative of China wanted to know how the NGO could contribute to the Council’s work since it had not done many things yet.  He also wondered why its website could no longer be seen.


Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique — a United States-based international organization that helps Christian monastic communities to be prepared for and to become involved in interreligious dialogue, and to coordinate and communicate their interreligious activities — as the representative of China wanted it to clarify its position on the question of Tibet since the Dalai Lama was on its website.


European Humanist Federation — an international organization based in Belgium which promotes secularism and a humanist vision of cultural, social and ethical values in Europe and works for social and cultural progress — as the representative of Pakistan asked what it meant when it said some questions from the Committee were obscure.  The organization, he said, should also explain how religious and non-religious groups could promote a humanist approach.  The representative of Morocco sought “relevant” answers to the questions and wanted to know how about the organization’s possible coordination with cultural communities.


Freedom Now — a United States-based national organization that seeks to free prisoners of conscience through focused legal, political and public relations advocacy efforts — as the representative of China wanted to know what it had done to promote economic and social rights.  The representative of Cuba wanted clarification on which members could be members of its board.  The representative of Venezuela wanted to know how it could say that it was an international organization when it had a single headquarters in Washington, D.C.  The representative of Nicaragua asked for a list of countries where it was working.


Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) — a Norway-based international organization that enables institutions working in the field of development and human rights to establish international partnerships with various sectors, especially the “corporations” of the United Nations — as the representative of Israel wanted to a list of the 42 countries where it worked and to understand how it opened the branches it mentioned in its application.  She also wanted to know whether a representative of the organization had participated in the Human Rights Council after the sixteenth session.  In addition, she asked why it had sent identical replies as some other organizations even though it had stated that it did not have any relations with those organizations.


Homosexuelle Initiative Wien — a national organization based in Austria that fights for the human rights of gays and lesbians — as the representative of Morocco took issue with the organization’s claim of sexuality based on a definition emanating from scientific laboratories.  Further, it could not be said that that definition was agreed within the United Nations.


The representative of United States said it was sad that the discussion was along the same lines as that in connection with any organization dealing with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issue.  The Economic and Social Council had said clearly that such organizations met the standards for status.  She hoped that the Committee would take action on the application next time on merit and that delegations would come prepared to take action.


The representative of Belgium said the organization was active in many fields and that Austria had signalled its support for its application.  It was a victim of unfair treatment.  Belgium saw the LGBT community as an integral part of society and entitled to all the rights.  Denying it those basic rights was wrong because human rights were universal.  His country hoped that the Committee would grant the organization status at its next session.


The representative of Sudan agreed with Morocco’s representative and regretted that certain delegations wanted to pressure Committee members so as not to exercise their legitimate right within the Committee and not to pose questions regarding certain organizations.  The delegate wanted to know in detail about the organization’s activities carried out in Arab countries and in Africa, in particular East Africa, including in which countries.  He also asked whether it was registered and if he could see the certificate of registration.  He would also want to see its board membership and the representation in all geographic zones where it worked.


The representative of Israel said that discriminating attitudes and actions as well as deferral of organizations that dealt with LGBT issues applied to the present application.  The organization should receive the same treatment as any other organization, as it was in full compliance with the United Nations Charter.  As sexual orientation was used as a basis of discrimination, it was important to have such NGOs.  His country welcomed and supported the application and hoped delegations would be ready to take action next session.


The representatives of Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan and the United States made statements on procedures.


The observer of the Holy See said that the organization had made some allegations against the Vatican.


The observer of Austria expressed support for the application and said that the organization did excellent work in the field of human rights and should be granted status.


International Association for Advancement of Space Safety — a Dutch international organization that works as an independent association of experienced space safety professionals for the goal of promulgating good safety practices, harmonizing space safety regulations and standards — as the representative of Venezuela wanted it to shed light on how it might contribute to the Economic and Social Council given the activities and scope of its work.


The International Association of Genocide Scholars, Inc. — a United States-based international organization that seeks to further research and teaching about the nature, causes and consequences of genocide and advance policy studies on prevention of genocide — as the representative of Turkey asked if the election of a new executive in July 2011 had brought about a change in the administration as indicated by the organization.  He also wanted clarification of the organization’s decision-making system.  The representative of Sudan sought more details about a conference it planned to hold in Africa.


International Coalition against War Criminals (ICAWC) — NORWAY – a Norway based international organization that supports international justice by following war criminals and bringing them to court — as the representative of Israel noted that although the organization stated it had no formal relationship with several other applicants, they presented similar responses to the Committee.  She requested an explanation of that situation.


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For information media • not an official record