NGO COMMITTEE HEARS ARGUMENTS FOR, AGAINST FREEDOM HOUSE

25 May 2001
NGO/432

NGO COMMITTEE HEARS ARGUMENTS FOR, AGAINST FREEDOM HOUSE

25/05/2001
Press ReleaseNGO/432

Committee on NGOs

2001 Session

29th Meeting (AM)

NGO COMMITTEE HEARS ARGUMENTS FOR, AGAINST FREEDOM HOUSE

Cuba Says NGO Carries Out ‘Politically Motivated, Interventionist Activities’

Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council implied a commitment by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to respect the rules governing that relationship, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations was told this morning.  The Committee was considering special reports requested of NGOs “under exceptional circumstances”, as set out in General Assembly resolution 1996/31 on the relationship between the United Nations and NGOs.

With regard to Freedom House, a United States-based NGO enjoying consultative status, the Permanent Representative of Cuba went on to say that the Committee had been dealing with that “so-called NGO” for several sessions after having received complaints from many delegations.  He had submitted proof of the politically motivated, interventionist activities the NGO carried out against his Government.  The NGO’s links with terrorist groups in Cuba as well as the fact that it was an instrument of the special services of the United States were no secret. 

He said he was fully aware of the close and proven links between Freedom House and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under which the NGO carried out destabilization missions against legitimately-established governments.  Freedom House tried to sell the image of an NGO promoting democratic values while concealing the fact that it was a tool of subversion.  While he supported the positive and constructive contributions made by NGOs, he could not allow their image to be tarnished by a tiny minority of groups such as Freedom House. 

As he had several questions to pose to the organization, he regretted that its representative was not present at the meeting, even though the NGO had been informed that its case would be discussed today.  That, he noted, represented a new lack of respect by the “so-called NGO” to the Committee.  He informed delegates that information on the links between the NGO and the CIA had been placed at the back of the conference room.   

Alleged links between Freedom House and the CIA, stated the representative of the United States, were “simply not true”.  Indeed the NGO received funds from the United States Government, which it had disclosed in its reports.  Those funds were from the United States Agency for International Development, which was not a branch of the CIA.  His country had a law prohibiting the Government from engaging in the activities of organizations seeking to change public policy, such as

Freedom House.  The NGO had been present at prior meetings of the Committee and had answered questions.  It had recently been asked to submit a special report.

His country was not immune from criticism from Freedom House, which was well documented, he said.  The organization was a human rights organization, which sought to represent those who did not have a voice.  He would continue to support NGOs who criticized his Government and those of others.

Cuba’s Permanent Representative highlighted a few examples of the links between the CIA and Freedom House, among them links between the NGO and Frank Garcon, former head of Cuba-related programmes at the CIA.  Also, the instructions given to the NGO’s emissaries to Cuba were clearly of a secret conspiratorial nature, primarily because the NGO was aware of the illegal activities it carried out.  For Cuba and for global public opinion, Freedom House was nothing but a façade for the special services of the United States. 

The representative of Germany pointed out that Freedom House had also criticized his Government’s decision to ban Nazi propaganda on the Internet, which the organization said violated the freedoms of speech and press.  That criticism, in his view, was not justified since such legislation was important in light of recent history.  At the same time, that did not lead his Government to doubt the good work being done by the organization.  

While China had not requested that Freedom House submit a new special report, it had requested that the NGO clarify certain issues, which had already been conveyed to it through the Secretariat, said China’s representative.  He wanted to clarify certain issues presented in media reports about the Committee’s consideration of the NGO.  The reports had stated that China was against granting consultative status to organizations supporting the independence of Tibet or Taiwan. 

His delegation welcomed and encouraged NGOs to participate in the activities of the Council and to make positive contributions to the work of the United Nations, he said.  At the same time, any NGO doing so should abide by the principles and purposes of the Charter as well as United Nations resolutions.  It should also respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all Member States.  He reiterated that any organization supporting separatist activities against a sovereign State should not be given consultative status.  That position would not change.  

There was a difference between criticism and specific actions taken against a government, stated the representative of Cuba, responding to the statements made by the United States and Germany.  Why was it, she asked, that the NGO’s reports did not contain criticism of a single country in the North?  It was interesting that the few select countries that had been demonized were those of particular interest to the special services of the United States.  Why did it not include the United States in its report?

While other reports, such as those of Human Rights Watch, had pointed to flagrant human rights violations in the United States, Freedom House had not referred to any.  The Committee had not yet received the special report requested

on the NGO’s activities with regard to Cuba as well as in Cuba.  As United Nations Television was taping the meeting, she requested a copy of the video.

Sudan’s representative also said that she would have liked to have held a dialogue with the representative of the NGO in order to receive clarifications.  NGOs in consultative status, when conducting their business, should abide at all times by the rules governing their participation.  Likewise, they should be held accountable for their activities as well as those of their members.  While her country was not afraid of criticism, she noted that when NGOs criticized a country, they should seek credible information from reliable sources as well as from the Governments they were criticizing. 

The video, said the representative of the Russian Federation, would be a souvenir which would allow delegates, years from now, to remember the faces of their colleagues.  He also expressed his disappointment at the fact that the representative of the NGO had not attended the meeting.  He had hoped to have an open and frank dialogue with the representative and ask him why his organization, an NGO which defended human rights, was against the creation of the International Criminal Court. 

Having read the replies submitted by Freedom House to the questions posed by the Chinese delegation, that country’s representative said the replies were not satisfactory.  The NGO had stated that it took no position on issues dealing with national sovereignty and territorial integrity.  He pointed out that Taiwan and Tibet were not territories under dispute.  They were inseparable parts of the territory of China, as publicly recognized by the international community.  He requested that the NGO provide further clarifications.

The Committee, at its tenth meeting on 11 May, had decided to request Freedom House to present a detailed special report to the Committee at its resumed 2001 session in January 2002.  It had also decided to consider the case of United Towns Agency for North South Cooperation, the Committee at its 2002 session.  At the same meeting, it decided to take note of and close the case of the World Confederation of Labour. 

The 19-member Committee considers, among other things, applications submitted by NGOs for consultative status and their requests for reclassification.  Non-governmental, non-profit voluntary organizations can be admitted into consultative status with the Council if they meet the requirements detailed in Council resolution 1996/31, regarding matters which include the organization’s activities, decision-making processes and resources.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to conclude its current session.

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For information media. Not an official record.