|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
16th & 17th Meetings (AM & PM)
11 ORGANIZATIONS WIN APPROVAL FOR CONSULTATIVE STATUS AS NGO COMMITTEE
POSTPONES ACTION ON APPLICATIONS OF 26 OTHERS
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) today granted special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to 10 bodies and approved the application of another for general consultative status. It postponed action on 26 other applications and closed three others.
As it considered applications and reclassifications deferred from previous sessions held between 1999 and 2007, the Committee granted special status to the following organizations:
-- Al-Hakim Foundation, an international organization based in Najaf, whose goal is to help raise awareness of human rights in Iraq
-- Society for the Promotion of Youth and Masses, an Indian NGO focusing on programmes to build confidence and skills among youth, women, children and the masses at large in underprivileged and marginalized areas;
-- Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, an organization that promotes public awareness of the need to preserve natural and cultural heritage;
-- Credo-Action, a Togolese organization that promotes health, education, training, a favourable environment for social services and information for poor children;
-- Non-violent Peaceforce, a Belgian NGO of citizens working to implement proven non-violent peacekeeping techniques by sending trained, paid interns into conflict areas to cooperate with local civil society organizations seeking to prevent violence;
-- Cercle national des droits de l’homme, a Cameroon-based organization that promotes respect for human rights and dignity, conflict-prevention and resolution, good governance and democracy in Central Africa;
-- Asia Pacific Women’s Watch, an NGO in Thailand that monitors implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Millennium Development Goals and other agreements, conventions or plans for women’s advancement;
-- Armenian Constitutional Right-Protective Centre, an organization that contributes to the development of legal culture through scientific activities, education, information dissemination and advocacy;
-- Ankara Foundation of Children with Leukaemia, a non-profit organization providing health services, education, psychological support and financial assistance for children with leukaemia or chronic blood disorders, as well as their families; and
-- European Centre for Law and Justice, an NGO in France that promotes freedom of religion and speech through international human rights law;
The Committee also granted general consultative status to the International Trade Union Confederation, an organization in Belgium that promotes and defends workers rights and interest by advocating at the United Nations and internationally for human and trade union rights, and decent working and living conditions.
The Committee decided to close the applications of the Southern Organizing Cooperative, Association El Houda pour l’action feminine and the Global Ecolabelling Network.
During an interactive dialogue with NGOs, the representatives of Pakistan, United States, the Sudan, Peru and Dominica supported the Al-Hakim Foundation’s application, as did Iraq’s representative, who noted that it was well-regarded in that country, where it had worked hard at peacemaking. The Committee then granted the Foundation special consultative status.
Several representatives questioned and expressed concern about the application of the Jewish National Fund United States. The United Kingdom’s representative asked about its affiliation with the Jewish National Fund KKL (Keren Kayameth LeIsrael), founded in 1901, and requested it to submit a written reply to the Committee during the current session.
In response, a representative of the Jewish National Fund United States said it was part of the Jewish National Fund family of foundations based in 38 countries, and each of which had its own constitution, board and website. Regarding the legitimacy of its fundraising, it had raised $52 million last year and was recognized by the United States Better Business Bureau. Fully donor-driven, the organization did not participate in political activities, but was involved in water, environmental and development projects in the Middle East. Established in 1926 as an independent organization, the Fund did not sponsor programmes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and owned no land in Israel.
Israel’s representative said the Committee should base its discussion on the clarification provided by the NGO in question and not on the contrary claims made by observers in the room. The representative of the United States added that the Fund was deeply involved in sustainable development issues and he supported its work.
Egypt’s representative noted that the description of the Fund’s programmes, provided in its income tax exemption form, described its work in tree planting, reservoir conservation, dam construction, river rehabilitation and recycling, all of which were critical to Israel’s survival. The form also spoke of the Fund’s achievements since 1901, including the fact that, for more than a century, it had fulfilled its mandate of providing Zionist education to children around the world. That was very ambiguous and contradicted what the Fund had just told the Committee to the effect that it was an independent part of the Jewish National Fund global network. Was it independent in terms of organizational structure and adherence to the laws of the country in which it operated, or was it independent in policymaking? If it was independent of the Jewish National Fund founded in 1901, why did they share the same name?
The observer for Palestine expressed dissatisfaction with the NGO’s response to questions, saying that its attempt to separate itself from the Jewish National Fund KKL founded in 1901 only complicated the issue. It was dangerous for the Committee to overlook that fact. Why was the Fund trying to make a distinction when it had the same name and same mission, according to its website, as those of the Fund founded in 1901? The Palestine Observer Mission was concerned about the Fund’s website, which pointed to a project in Gilo Park, an illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Syria’s representative asked why the Fund was not called the “National Environmental Fund for the Jews” if it was, in fact, only involved in environmental issues. What was its relationship with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and how was it complying with United Nations principles?
Responding to the Egyptian representative’s question, a representative of the Fund said its tax form also verified that it was, in fact, not a lobbying, political organization and received no funds from the Government. Concerning its affiliation with the Jewish National Fund KKL, it was part of the Jewish National Fund global network and took credit for planting trees in Israel over many years. Although it had no formal structure with the Jewish National Fund KKL in Israel, it was proud to have worked with the Israeli organization on projects. It adhered to all national laws and requirements of the United States Government and made independent policy decisions.
Concerning the Syrian representative’s question, he said the Fund had been founded in 1926 and was part of the Zionist mission of the Jews to return to Israel. It was proud to have drained swamps and planted trees for the benefit of all citizens there. The Fund had participated in UNEP activities, albeit with limited involvement, which it hoped to expand in the future. The Fund was proud of its work in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the International Lands Consortium. It complied with United Nations principles and was deeply dedicated to the Millennium Development Goals.
Asked by the observer for Palestine’s why the Fund had a document on its website about Gilo Park if it had nothing to do with the Jewish National Fund KKL, the NGO’s representative said it took no responsibility for construction of the park, which had been built by the Jewish National Fund KKL. That posting was merely one of a list of parks built in various places.
Egypt’s representative asked whether there was overall coordination among the different branches of the Jewish National Fund network in terms of policymaking, and if they were, in fact, independent. What was the English-language translation of “Keren Kayameth LeIsrael” in the name of the Jewish National Fund KKL? Romania’s representative asked the Fund to elaborate on how it chose projects and made other decisions.
Sudan’s representative said those clarifications had, in fact, made things more ambiguous, adding that he was confused by the Fund’s response that it did not have any activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, whereas it shared the same name as the Fund started in 1901. Did the Fund represent that original organization? Did the two organizations work together? The Fund should provide written clarification.
In response, the Fund’s representative reiterated that each Jewish National Fund was independent, but they often collaborated on projects. Concerning the Romanian representative’s question, the Fund often received project proposals from donors. For example, the Jewish National Fund KKL had proposed certain and reservoir projects in line with Israel’s peace agreement with Jordan. Regarding the Sudanese representative’s question, the Fund had worked on projects with the Jewish National Fund KKL to benefit all citizen of Israel according to its own standards.
Sudan’s representative asked whether the Fund and the Jewish National Fund KKL had separate boards or if they worked together on projects.
Responding, the NGO’s representative said each Jewish National Fund worldwide had a separate board, constitution and governance, but, at times, they worked together on various projects.
The Committee decided to defer its consideration of the application by the Jewish National Fund United States until a later date.
Concerning the application of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, a representative of that NGO said it carried out various projects to combat discrimination and promote empowerment in such countries as Slovenia, France, Lithuania and the Netherlands. It had recently held a conference in South Africa and received support from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Egypt’s representative, requesting the Federation’s revised, updated budget, asked what actual percentage of it was provided by the Swedish Government. If that figure was more than 50 per cent, how was the Federation independent from the Swedish Government? The United Kingdom’s representatives also sought clarification of the financial statement listed on the NGO’s application.
Sudan’s representative asked the Federation to elaborate on its conference in South Africa. What other African groups had participated in that event?
In response, the Federation’s representative said it was customary in Sweden for the Government to support various NGO projects without strings attached. For example, the Federation was involved in many Government-supported HIV/AIDS treatment projects. Regarding the South Africa conference, African groups had participated in the event.
The Committee on NGOs will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday 16 May, to review quadrennial reports submitted by non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Council, resume consideration of special reports and complaints by Member States, and to take up deferred quadrennial reports.
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