NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVES ONE CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION FOR SPECIAL CONSULTATIVE STATUS WITH ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL

ECOSOC/6379-NGO/662
23 January 2009

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVES ONE CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION FOR SPECIAL CONSULTATIVE STATUS WITH ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL

23 January 2009
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6379
NGO/662
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on NGOs

9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)


NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVES ONE CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION


FOR SPECIAL CONSULTATIVE STATUS WITH ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL


Defers Two Applications; Takes Note of Quadrennial Reports from 94 Organizations


Wrapping up the first week of its session today, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) approved one civil society group for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and deferred two.  It took note of the quadrennial reports of 94 such NGOs, and considered the case of another, alleged by a Member State to have violated its responsibilities.


During the first meeting of the session, on 18 January, the Committee had been apprised of a complaint made by the Algerian delegation against the Arab Commission for Human Rights, an organization with special consultative status.  A letter from Algeria’s Permanent Mission, dated 14 January, to Committee members provided details of the complaint and, since then, the Secretariat had received communications from the United Nations NGO Liaison Office in Geneva and from the NGO itself.  (Communications on the matter can be viewed on the Committee’s website, under the item on special reports of the session’s work programme.)


Taking the floor this afternoon, the observer for Algeria said that an individual had addressed the eighth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 10 June 2008 as a representative of the Arab Human Rights Commission, an NGO with special consultative status.  However, the individual, Rachid Mesli, was not a member of that NGO but of another, “Alkarama”, which did not enjoy consultative status.  Moreover, the individual had a relationship with “GSPC/Al Qaida Bi Bilad El Maghreb Al Islami”, a terrorist organization named on the list of the Security Council Sanctions Committee created pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999), and against whom an international warrant had been issued. 


The Permanent Representative of Algeria called for a suspension or expulsion of the NGO from the United Nations.  Committee members agreed that this was indeed a very serious matter deserving serious consideration, with several indicating a readiness to act on the complaint.  China’s representative, saying the Committee had the responsibility to monitor the work of NGOs, said it must act according to the Ambassador’s request and take appropriate action to safeguard the sacred authoritative nature of the Committee.  Still, other members requested more time for careful study of the matter, and it was agreed that an informal meeting would be held on Monday at lunchtime to consider an appropriate response. 


This morning, members granted United States-based Fairleigh Dickinson University special consultative status with ECOSOC, following a debate last evening and a brief suspension of the meeting today, including over whether the applicant was or was not an NGO, as well as an institution of higher learning.  As requested, they had received from the representative today a written version of her remarks from yesterday.  (See Press Release ECOSOC/6378.)


In its application, Fairleigh Dickinson University explains that the education NGO commits to support ECOSOC in creating a replicable model for multi-programme engagement with academic institutions in support of its development agenda.  The creative dialogue, coupled with action, would include sharing the expertise of its highly acclaimed schools of business and nursing, its scientists, specialists in crime prevention, women’s issues, global education, NGOs, economics and development, as well as its Institute of Sustainable Enterprise, among others. 


Prior to granting the organization status, Egypt’s representative cited paragraphs 5, 20 and 21 of resolution 1996/31, which guided the Committee in its work.  Those provisions referred, among other things, to paying special attention to organizations with special expertise on which ECOSOC might draw, the need to ensure that arrangements made with each NGO related to their special competence, and that regard be given to the nature and scope of the NGO’s activities, and how those might be expected to contribute to ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies. 


He said that the Committee’s interaction yesterday with Fairleigh Dickinson University’s representative had indeed demonstrated that it had expertise and special input.  Generally, he welcomed the input of higher education institutions with the United Nations and the evolving relationship between the Organization and NGOs overall, as well as the need for ECOSOC to consider reviewing consultative arrangements as and when necessary to facilitate the contribution of NGOs to the United Nations work, as envisaged in resolution 1996/31. 


Egypt would join consensus to approve status for this NGO on the understanding that the same opportunity be given in future to all such institutions, particularly from developing countries, which were often sponsored by national Governments, the representative said.  Committee members from Cuba and Guinea made statements in support of that position.  The United States speaker thanked all colleagues, including Egypt, for their faithful review of the application.  He agreed that all applications should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, as in the past, and as clearly stated in resolution 1996/31. 


Prompting discussion in the afternoon on the Committee’s working methods was the member from Turkey, who had chaired the informal working group’s meeting on 12 January.  The status of outstanding quadrennial reports was a focus of review.  NGOs in general and special consultative status with ECOSOC submitted to the Committee, every fourth year, a brief report of their activities, in particular regarding their contribution to the work of the United Nations.  With so many reports outstanding for two or more consecutive periods, the working group evolved a draft decision involving non-compliant NGOs, which he presented orally for the Committee’s consideration. 


Also discussed at the informal meeting had been the need to ensure that NGOs considered for consultative status were not involved in any international criminal activities, including terrorism, as envisaged in resolution 1996/31, he reported.  The United States member had recommended that the Secretariat could check applicant NGOs against the list prepared by the Security Council counter-terrorism committee.  However, Cuba’s member had expressed concern about the list prepared by the 1267 Committee, saying that it was neither comprehensive nor representative.  Egypt’s member had voiced concern about the capacity of the NGO Section to add another layer to the applications, underlining that Member States might bring their concerns to the attention of the Committee.


He reported that the third item that had been discussed had concerned measures taken to increase the number of NGOs from developing countries seeking status.  In the January session, 60 per cent approved for status had been from developed countries, and 40 per cent from developing countries.  Although the number from the latter group was growing, the majority was still from the developed countries, and the Committee was seeking to redress that imbalance.  The working group decided to propose to the Committee that it ask the Secretariat to step up efforts through its outreach to encourage NGOs from developing countries to apply for status and, starting from its resumed session in May, to consider those applicants first, from the usual list prepared in alphabetical order.


When concern was expressed today by an observer that informal meetings were closed to them and they could not access all Committee documentation, Hanifa Mezoui, Chief of the Non-Governmental Organizations Section, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, outlined the ways in which the Secretariat had striven to ensure transparency.  For one thing, observers received from the Section information when one of its national NGOs applied, and it could consult the file.  Also, the 19 Committee members were distributed among the five regions, and observers could convey any concerns or requests to representatives of States from their region, and he or she would act on the observer’s behalf.  Observers also had the right to speak during Committee meetings, on any issue of concern.


She said that the informal setting was not about secrecy, but about setting aside precious time on a topic, however, once there was a consensus, the topic came back into the Committee as a whole.  The informal working group had the duty, with a Rapporteur, to come back to the regular session and give the full Committee at the full session a report.  There was also a summary in the press release, which goes out worldwide, about what happened in the informal meeting.  She wished to assure the observer that he was not a “lesser client” than the members. 


After only a brief exchange on working methods, the discussion was suspended to allow for time to move on to a discussion of special reports and interaction with NGO representatives. 


The Committee had the opportunity to hear today from representatives of deferred applications from two NGOs, International Federation of Liberal Youth, and Democracy Coalition Project (document E.C.2/2009/CRP.1), both of which were once again deferred today. 


Several questions were put to the representative from International Federation of Liberal Youth.  China’s member wanted to know what kind of activities the group carried out with its Asian counterpart –- Young Liberals and Democrats of Asia, to which the speaker replied that there was no official relationship between the two in terms of his organization’s decision-making.  He did not think it relevant to provide a list of members of affiliates of another organization.  He would provide, as per China’s request, a report on the meeting of his NGOs executive committee, held every six months, the last one, in the Philippines. 


Cuba’s member pressed the representative to expound on the political character of his organization and on his view of the United Nations Charter, particularly, on the non-interference into the internal affairs of States.  What was the position of this “political organization” towards the subversion of that right by foreign Powers, which, for geopolitical reasons, decided that a given nation should or should not have a particular political system?


The representative upheld his organization’s written response of 20 April indicating it had no relationship with any political party.  However, Cuba’s representative said he found it implausible, given its relationship with Liberal International, which was a political party with a political platform.  He said the answers provided today by the representative was something like coffee, but decaffeinated, which, for Cuba, as a coffee producer, did not make any sense, but it existed, like de-alcoholized beer.  It was, he suggested, like somebody saying they liked pork, but did not like the pig to bleed when it was slaughtered. 


The representative agreed to put his responses of today in writing for the Committee.


Cuba’s member focused mainly on what sources Democracy Coalition Project was using to analyze human rights situations, and whether the organization was only interested in those situations in developing countries.  China’s representative asked that she correct the NGO’s application to reflect proper United Nations terminology.


The Committee took note of the new quadrennial reports from the following organizations:


Cooperative Housing Foundation; Cross-Cultural Solutions; Focus on the Family Association ( Canada); International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists: and International Rescue Committee (document E/C.2/2008/2);


For the period 2003 to 2006, International Real Estate Federation; International Union for Land Value Taxation and Free Trade; Women’s Human Rights International Association; World Association of Industrial and Technology Research Organizations; and World Conference of Religions for Peace (document E/C.2/2009/Add.1);


For the period 2004 to 2007, Center for Victims of Torture; Mother’s Union; Shinji Shumeikai; VIVAT International; and World Youth Foundation (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.2);


Also, Academic Council on the United Nations Systems; Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession; Chabad:  International Jewish Educational and Cultural Network; Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas; and One World Trust (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.3);


Center for Justice and International Law; Institute for Interreligious Dialogue; Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice; Match International Centre; NGO Health Committee (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.4);


Al-Haq; American Civil Liberties Union; Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility; Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights; and Peaceways:  Young General Assembly (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.5);


Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development; Association Francois-Xavier Bagnoud; Endeavour Forum; International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association; and Won-Buddhism Women’s Association (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.6);


Action Canada for Population and Development; Egyptian AIDS Society; Foundation for the Social Promotion of Culture; International Presentation Association of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.7);


Antonio Restrepo Barco Foundation; Family Action Foundation; Help Handicapped International; International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity; and World Human Dimension (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.8);


All India Shah Behram Baug Society for Scientific and Educational Research; Alliance for Arab Women; Asian Women in Cooperative Development Forum; Friends Society in Social Service; and World Youth Alliance (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.9);


Assemblee Parlementaire de la Francophonie; Droit a l’Energie SOS Futur; Federacion de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos-Espana; Jeunesse Horizon; and Medecins du Monde (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.10);


Boschasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha; Cooperazione e Sviluppo; Fundacion Cultural Baur; Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group; and Hong Kong Federation of Women (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.11);


Aland Islands Peace Institute; Cooperazione Internazionale; Development Promotion Group; Sulabh International; and War Veterans Committee (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.12);


CIVICUS:  World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Indigenous Peoples Survival Foundation; International Association of Penal Law; International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development; and Partnership for Indigenous Peoples Environment (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.13);


(Note was taken of the above group of reports, with the exception of that of CIVICUS, as Cuba’s representative had some questions about the organization’s financing from foreign Powers and its political activities, perhaps running counter to the United Nations Charter.  Committee Chairman Hassan Hamid Hassan ( Sudan) said clarification would be sought from the NGO.) 


Catholic Institute for International Relations; Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy; Centro de Estudios Europeos; God Neighbors International; Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.14);


Bischofliches Hilfswerk Misereor; Gran Fraternidad Universal; IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association; Myochikai (Arigatou Foundation); and Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.15);


African Canadian Legal Clinic; International Movement of Apostolate in the Independent Social Milieus; Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped; Reach the Children; and Red de Educacion Popular Entre Mujeres (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.16);


Association of Families and Women in Rural Areas; Cooperation of Opportunity and Joint Action; Global Foundation for Democracy and Development; International Federation of Hard of Hearing People; and Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion for Reforestation and for the Protection of Natural Habitats (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.17);


Centre for Social Research; Femmes Solidaires; Global Policy Forum; Humane Society of the United States; and International Police Association (document E/C.2/2009/2/Add.18);


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 26 January, to continue its work.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.