|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
17th & 18th Meetings (AM & PM)
Committee on NGOs Opens 2013 Session by Recommending 40 Organizations
for Special Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council
Reviewing Record Number of Applications, Speakers Say
‘Lack of Time’, ‘Mismanagement’ a Disservice to Civil Society Groups
Opening its regular session for 2013, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, which is responsible for vetting applications seeking consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, today recommended special consultative status for 40 organizations, all but 8 of which were based in countries in the global South.
The 19-member Committee recommends to the Council general, special or roster status, in accordance with such criteria as the civil society applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend the Council’s meetings and circulate statements, while those with general status can, in addition, address meetings and propose agenda items. Roster-status non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can only attend meetings.
Committee Chair Marghoob Saleem Butt ( Pakistan), in his opening remarks, said that the current year had witnessed a record number of applications submitted to the NGO Committee for approval, with 246 new applications and 180 deferred applications. The 152 per cent increase over 2012’s total applications also exceeded projections for 2013. Looking ahead, he said that the Committee would expect up to 600 applications for 2014. One of the main issues to be addressed was the growing number of deferred applications, which were “clogging up work”.
In addition, he said that there were 43 organizations to be reinstated and 154 to be suspended for non-admission status due to their quadrennial report while 159 organizations were expected to be withdrawn. With the increase in the number of applications, the number of quadrennial reports were expected to rise as well. Therefore, it was imperative to address the issues with due diligence, speed and objectivity.
However, several committee members expressed concern on the review system, with the representative of the United States noting her dismay at the “complete mismanagement” that left members with “no time” to review applications — a disservice to all participating.
Agreeing with that, the representative of Belgium said that, with the applications just published over the weekend, she hoped that the lack of time to review them would not be at the expense of the NGOs.
The representative of Venezuela, nonetheless, welcomed the increased interest of the civil society to participate in the United Nations, which, in turn, had led to an increase in workload. Therefore, it was critical to make sure that the Secretariat had all the budgetary and human resources needed to continue the work of the Committee. Concerning the paperless system, she said she would work with the Chair to actively participate “in light of the delays”.
The representative of Israel said that work was being conducted “under very difficult circumstances”. Addressing the paperless system, she said that Committee members did not get the necessary paperwork in time.
The representative of Cuba said that the increase of work was a positive indicator of the “very serious” work carried out by the Committee. “We would have to work more, harder,” she stated, “and with great deal of care” to consider every organization. Unfortunately, “we were not prepared enough to carry out the work”, she observed, calling that a “major challenge” because “information we needed wasn’t information we were able to consider in an orderly fashion”.
The representative of China, echoing her colleague from Cuba, also said the increase in work was a testimony of the increasing importance of the Committee. No discussion on workload efficiency should jeopardize the obligation to review applications of NGOs. It was necessary to increase resources to support the Committee’s work. Given the insufficient preparation with regard to documentation, he expressed hope that it would be possible to “pace ourselves” for the benefit of the considered Organizations.
The representative of Sudan said that, bearing in mind the limited resources of the Committee and the accumulation of applications, it would be important to be patient when proceeding with the application review process.
Following members’ remarks, the Chair said he had seen an improvement over the years and, despite the workload, the Committee had done a “tremendous” job. “Together we will do whatever is needed,” he underscored. Further, paperless was not something that was given or granted. It was a creation of the NGO branch. Otherwise, the normal system would include having paper. He assured members that would not be a problem in the future.
Also prior to consideration of applications, the Committee adopted its agenda (document E/C.2/2013/1), as well as its organization of work contained in Working Paper 1. It approved its tentative schedule of work, also contained in that paper.
Andrei Abramov, Chief of Non-Governmental Organizations Branch, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said he welcomed the positive criticism, regardless of whether the Branch deserved it. He said he wanted to put into perspective the work of the NGO branch: documents came at 4 o’clock that morning and the staff completed the process at 4:45 a.m. The branch had no capacity to support the transition to the paperless. That was not news and he was sure that the Committee had noted the issue from previous meetings.
In regard to an arrangement that a post, dedicated to reviewing applications, would be converted to an IT post, he said that was not a good solution, as there would be one less person to review applications. “We are trying our best”, to solve the problem, he said.
Before proceeding with the day’s work, the Chair said due to “extraordinary” circumstances, he would not be considering applications in a “normal manner”. The Committee would look at List 1 as a whole as the Secretariat needed additional time to divide the List into North and South categories.
A number of Committee members responded, with the representative of Cuba stating that she was not ready to work on classifying North and South. She was concerned that organizations in developing countries would not be given the attention they required. As well, the representative of Turkey, echoing the comment made by his counterpart from Cuba, expressed his stance regarding the prioritizing of NGOs in the South.
China’s delegate pointed out it was worth emphasizing that the sequence was very important. He had already categorized his list into List 1 and List 2. He would now have to jump between two documents and hoped the Chair would consider that difficulty.
However, the representative of Morocco said he was left “with the feeling that we are trying to change” the process of work. He expressed flexibility so long as the work was resolved by the afternoon.
The Committee postponed consideration of the following five organizations:
DMW - Diplomaten für internationale Verbindungen von Mensch & Wirtschaft e.V. — an international Germany-based organization promoting human rights, the equal treatment of women and the protection and well-being of children — as the delegate of India asked for more information on income expenditure and surplus;
Non-Commercial Partnership on Assistance in Promoting Social Programs in the Healthcare Area “Equal Right to Life” — a national Russia-based organization working to improve access to adequate medical care and equality of rights of the Russian patients suffering from non-communicable diseases — as the representative of Senegal asked for clarification on its members and income;
Students’ Relief Society — a national India-based organization striving to foster sustainable development, mitigate social and economic problems and strengthen the bonds of community spirit — as Pakistan’s delegate asked for more information on how it was maintaining independence while receiving funds from the Government;
Association pour la santé et la prévention des maladies tropicales — a national Togo-based organization working to educate people on sexual diseases and AIDS, and create health centres — as the representative of Burundi asked for more information on the imbalance between income and expenditures; and
Ethiopia Change and Development Association — a national Ethiopia-based organization working to engage activities in the provision of clean water, participate in health issues and motivating and support youth in their education — as the delegate of Sudan requested information about the organization’s finances and Morocco’s representative requested a renewed registration certificate from 2012 moving forward.
Special Consultative Status
The Committee recommended that the Economic and Social Council grant special consultative status to the following 40 organizations:
Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee — a national Bangladesh-based organization aiming to achieving the target of Millennium Development Goals by 2015 by working in different sectors of development and trying to improve the lives of marginalized people;
Ecoforum of NGOs of Uzbekistan — a national Uzbekistan-based organization working to promote implementation of national action plans on environment conservation;
Integrated Development Services (I.D.S.) — a national Nigeria-based organization promoting the health of vulnerable women, youth, children through awareness raising, capacity-building and empowerment on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs);
Corporativa de Fundaciones AC — a national Mexico-based organization working to raise public awareness in the State of Jalisco through civil organizations, donors and strategic partners;
Lift up Care Foundation — a national Nigeria-based organization aiming to improve the lives of people living in rural areas by raising their consciousness for self-development and taking responsibility for their lives;
Asociacion Gilberto AC — a national Mexico-based organization aiming to meet natural disaster challenges and the permanent needs of the poor population in the construction, reconstruction and improvement of housing;
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Asociación Civil — a national Mexico-based organization working to improve the rule of law in Mexico by creating a culture of respect and guarantee of human rights;
Medical Emergency Relief International — an international United Kingdom-based organization aiming to be on the frontline of global emergencies, and to deliver medical aid and revive health systems in some of the world’s toughest places;
Rural Healthcare Foundation — a national India-based organization working to provide affordable primary health care to the rural poor in India through the delivery of low-cost health care;
Mothers Legacy Project — an international United States-based organization aiming to connect people to strengthen the home and community through authentic storytelling about being a mother and nurturer;
Regional Public Charitable Organization “Drug Abuse Prevention Centre” — a national Russia-based organization aiming to implement programmes and activities in the field of disease prevention and promotion of healthy lifestyles, physical culture and sports;
Somali Help-Age Association — a national Somali-based organization working to advocate and assist millions of elderly people in Somalia and alleviate their poverty and hunger;
Yogaathma Foundation — a national India-based organization working to promote higher standards of living, facilitate international cultural and educational cooperation and encourage universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
Centro Panafricano Kituo Cha Wanafrika — an international Spain-based organization working to protect African cultural heritage, promote universal education and the use of Kiswahili and African languages; as well as promote the fight against racism and all forms of discrimination;
Action Secours Ambulance (ASA) — a national Haiti-based organization working to encourage the implementation of strategies to achieve goals of equity and standardized training in order to take efficient humanitarian action;
Africa Peace Forum — a national Kenya-based organization aiming to study and research the underlying causes of human rights violations whether social, economic, political, cultural, environmental or other and recommend interventions;
African Palliative Care Association — a national Uganda-based organization working to provide palliative care to patients, their families and carers who are not fortunate enough to receive it;
Association camerounaise pour la prise en charge de la personne agée (ACAMAGE) — a national Cameroon-based organization working for the well-being of older people, specifically those troubled and abandoned, by providing them with rehabilitation and socioeconomic reintegration, as well as strengthening family ties;
Association for Protection of Refugee and Internal Displaced Women and Children — an international Iran-based organization working to empower refugee women and children, with a focus on Afghan women and children as the most vulnerable groups, to realize their potential to overcome individual and social barriers;
Association Internationale des Médecins pour la Promotion de l’Education et de la Santé en Afrique — an international Togo-based organization aiming to promote the concept of volunteering in the medical profession and ultimately form the largest network of health professionals in Africa;
Association mouvement pour la défense de l’humanité et abolition de la torture (MDHAT) — a national Cameroon-based organization working to promote human rights and provide rehabilitation to victims of torture, and assist those who need help;
Association Trait d’Union des Jeunes Burkinabé — a national Burkina Faso-based organization working for the most disadvantaged populations mainly focused in the social sphere;
Autre Vie — a national Benin-based organization aiming to promote and protect the rights of children, youth and women and to intervene when the dignity, integrity or physical well-being or moral development of children, youth and women are threatened;
Cameroon Youths and Students Forum for Peace — a national Cameroon-based organization working to educate youth and the general public on moral and traditional values with the hope that that education promotes a culture of peace;
China Soong Ching Ling Foundation — a national China-based organization working to honour the memory of Soong Ching Ling by promoting international cooperation, world peace, cross cultural exchanges and education;
Community Research and Development Centre — a national Nigeria-based organization working to provide services to ensure that people have access to safe and healthy environments and that environmental resources are managed in the most sustainable way to achieve the socioeconomic development of Nigerian communities;
Consortium Congo Development — a national Democratic Republic of the Congo-based organization working to promote integrated and sustainable development through projects in health care, education, food security and capacity–building;
Contact Base — a national India-based organization aimed at fostering pro-poor growth and sustainable development and protection of the rights of children, women and indigenous people;
Corporación Red Nacional de Mujeres Comunales, Comunitarias, Indígenas y Campesinas de la República de Colombia — a national Colombia-based organization aiming to promote adequate and effective participation of women in the processes of democratic citizenship, exercise of citizenship building, participatory planning, institutional development and social control;
Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative — a national Philippines-based organization working to serve as catalyst for the delivery of scientific, technical, and operational knowledge to users within the public and private sectors through the dissemination and implementation of best practices in reducing the risk from earthquakes and other hazards in cities and other urban environments;
Feminenza Kenya — a national Kenya-based aiming to promote new understanding between genders, and to establish an association based on respect and honour;
Nature & Life Foundation — a national Burkina Faso-based organization aiming to support initiatives that contribute significantly to the conservation of the environment and the fight against poverty, promotion of people’s health and social development;
Foundation for Responsible Media — a national India-based organization aiming to promote and support the capacity-building of professional media cadre and the development of media literacy in civil society;
Friends of the Global Fund Africa Ltd/Gte — a national Nigeria-based organization working to mobilize strategic political and financial support for the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa through four work streams: advocacy and fundraising; documentation; capacity-building; and technical assistance provision;
Global Race against Poverty and HIV/AIDS in Nigeria — an international Nigeria-based organization aiming to reduce intergenerational transfer of poverty, as well as counselling and providing sustainable means of livelihood for people (women, youths and men) living with disabilities, especially those living with HIV and AIDS;
Global Welfare Association — a national Cameroon-based organization working to combat child abuse including, but not limited to, trafficking, sexual slavery, and rape;
Non-Commercial Partnership on Assistance in Promoting Social Programs in the Healthcare Area “Equal Right to Life” — a national Russia-based organization aiming to develop social programmes in health care;
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary — an international United States-based organization, founded in 1849 in southern France and located in 14 countries, it is committed to educating women and children and providing social services to the poor;
Commission on Voluntary Service and Action Inc. — an international United States-based organization working to promote full-time voluntary service with community based non-governmental organizations throughout the United States and internationally; and
Human Life International, Inc. — an international United States-based organization aiming to support the sanctity and dignity of human life, from conception to death, by supporting projects to improve medical and social infrastructure.
When the Committee turned to its interactive segment with NGO representatives, it heard first from a member of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a United States-based organization that monitored and aimed to affect the social policy debate at the United Nations and other international institutions.
Responding to questions by Israel’s delegate, he said he was not sure why his organization had not approached the Committee earlier. It had always participated through allied organizations. His organization’s position on abortion in cases of rape or in cases where the mother was in danger was clear: rape was a horrific crime that should be severely punished, but the unborn child should not be terminated for any reason at any time. That position stemmed from an “article of faith”.
To a question by Turkey’s delegate, he said treaty bodies were a vital part of the United Nations human rights machinery. As regards to the San Jose articles, he said treaty bodies had overstepped their mandate when they re-interpreted treaties and asked that Governments accept their recommendations. Reproductive health and abortion were not included in various treaties; thus, the monitoring bodies ought not to ask Governments to change their abortion laws.
Responding to Belgium’s delegate, he said the article she referenced on the website of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute did not reflect the position of his organization. It was a “group blog” — a composite of opinions and that his organization did not agree with all of the opinions expressed. To a query on equality, he said his organization believed in equality between and among the sexes. He would also provide his organization’s response in writing.
Next, a representative of the Non-Commercial Partnership on Assistance in Promoting Social Programs in the Healthcare Area “Equal Right to Life”, said his organization had been established in 2006 in the Russian Federation with an aim to develop social programmes in health care. In response to questions regarding the Partnership’s membership, he told the Committee it had a staff of 300 people, both in-house and outsourced, as well as volunteers. Regarding inquiries about his organization’s funding, he said the majority of its funding came from the private sector — both Russian and international companies that were collaborating on socially responsible projects.
The Committee then recommended special consultative status to the Non-Commercial Partnership on Assistance in Promoting Social Programs in the Healthcare Area “Equal Right to Life”.
Moving on, the Committee also recommended special consultative status to the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary.
When the representative of the Commission on Voluntary Service and Action Inc. took the floor, she said her organization promoted full-time voluntary service with community based non-governmental organizations throughout the United States and internationally. More than 200 groups were members of the Commission.
In response to questions by China’s delegate, she said the Commission would like to expand its activities in Asia, upon invitation and in line with its ability to increase its resources. It was open to partnering and responding to requests.
China’s delegate said her Government had no objection to conferring consultative status to the organization.
The Committee then recommended that special consultative status be granted to the Commission on Voluntary Service and Action Inc.
A representative from Human Life International, Inc. responded to several questions about her organization’s work. To a query about how it could operate in a deficit, she said it had seen budget surpluses in 2008 and 2009. When the recession hit, in 2010-2011, it was forced to reduce spending and rely on its reserves. However, in the current year, it was operating with a surplus.
To a question about country names, she said Human Life International would be happy to correct terminology. It had added “ Taiwan Province of China” on its website. Human Life International operated in more than 60 countries.
To further questions by China’s delegate, she said her group focused on the dignity of the human person from conception to death, which placed it in the maternal and child health field. As for progress that developing countries had made on rights, she said such work translated into better health-care statistics. Maternal and child mortality in many countries had fallen. She would be out of her area of expertise in arguing that that progress could be attributed to her organization, but Human Life International had noted anecdotal evidence of such on its website. The organization carried out much of its work in Africa and Latin America. Projects differed from country to country and were based on offers of collaboration. She would send the statistics to China’s delegate.
In response to questions from representatives of Cuba and Venezuela, she said she could provide a general response now and follow-up later with more specific information about their respective countries. Human Life International’s work supported organizations that agreed with its views on the right to life and a life of dignity from conception to death. It also provided financial resources to other groups. It did not receive funds from Governments.
In addition, she said partnerships could take the form of going to schools, religious organizations and medical clinics to add scientific or social science research to clarify issues for people. Her organization worked in five regional areas: Asia-Pacific; Africa; Latin America; Europe; and North America. Each continent had a regional director and office, which communicated regularly with headquarters in Virginia. Affiliates supported Human Life International’s ideas and were interested in amplifying their understanding of the relevant issues.
Next, a representative of World Council for Curriculum and Instruction, a United States-based network of educators interested in developing curricula and instruction to promote a culture of peace, responded to questions from the delegate of China, saying that her organization had changed the terminology on its website to clarify that Taiwan was a province of China.
China’s delegate said organizations had to comply with the Charter, including the principle of State sovereignty and she hoped that the organization could clarify in writing its position on the “ Taiwan question” and review its website terminology.
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