Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Denies Status to International Lesbian and Gay Association, ‘Closing Doors’ on Applicant after 10 Years
Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Denies Status to International Lesbian and Gay Association, ‘Closing Doors’ on Applicant after 10 Years
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
28th & 29th Meetings (AM & PM)
Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Denies Status to International
Lesbian and Gay Association, ‘Closing Doors’ on Applicant after 10 Years
Recommends 8 Entities for Consultative Status, Postpones Consideration
Of 25 More, Including United States-based Group on Strengthening Democracies
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today voted to deny the granting of consultative status for the International Lesbian and Gay Association, thus closing its application after 10 years of repeated deferral.
Continuing its resumed session, which began on 16 May, the Committee recommended 8 entities for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, and postponed consideration of 25 applications.
The vote on the Belgium-based “ILGA”, as it is known, was taken after that country’s representative moved to bring consideration of the NGO to a close, under the Economic and Social Council’s procedural rule 51. Noting that it was the organization’s third request for consultative status, he said it had been harassed by individuals in the Committee because of its lesbian and gay identity. Committee members might hold different views, he asserted, but the NGO should finally be given a reply that was “adult enough” to acknowledge that difference of opinion.
When the 19-member Committee took action on whether to recommend status for the organization — after much procedural wrangling over the application — the vote was 7 in favour (Turkey, United States, Belgium, Bulgaria, India, Israel, Peru) to 8 against (Sudan, Burundi, China, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Senegal), with 3 abstentions (Venezuela, Mozambique, Nicaragua). The delegation of Cuba did not participate in the voting.
Several delegations offered explanations of vote, stating that they had voted against granting status out of the belief that Committee members must be allowed to ask questions of NGOs. Speaking along those lines, Venezuela’s representative said the Committee had seen a failure on the part of some delegations to force the granting of status through suppression of questions.
Belgium’s representative, however, said it was with a feeling of bitterness and shame that he observed Committee members hiding behind procedural issues instead of focusing on the true substance of the issue at hand. Sharing that view, the representative of the United States said it was time for the Committee to stop judging NGOs based on “who they love”; it should conduct its consideration based on the letter of the law. The Economic and Social Council had sent a message that it was unacceptable to close its doors to groups like the International Lesbian and Gay Association, and her delegation would again call on the Council so that justice could be done for this NGO.
The Committee was also given pause during its consideration of the United States-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Inc. (IFES), when Peru’s representative put forward a motion to suppress further debate on the NGO on the grounds that its application was satisfactory and that enough time had passed — more than two years — for its consideration.
That motion was stopped by an action put forward by the representative of Cuba, who had previously raised concerns that the NGO had issued reports “inappropriately calling for regime change in Cuba”.
Among other deferred NGO candidates considered during the course of the meeting were those dealing with such issues as protecting the rights of children, regulating small arms and mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 24 May, to continue its consideration of deferred applications for consultative status.
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), met today in its resumed 2011 session to continue its consideration of deferred applications for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. A list of those applicants is contained in document E/C.2/2011/1.
Consideration of Applications
The Committee today recommended special consultative status for the following organizations:
Child Helpline International, an international organization based in the Netherlands that responds to children in need of care and protection, voicing their concerns to policy- and decision-makers by establishing a global network of children’s help lines and providing support to individual children’s help lines.
Council for International Development, a New Zealand-based national organization that works to achieve effective high-quality international development programmes focusing on the alleviation and eradication of poverty and to enhance the capacity and participation of member agencies, the New Zealand Government and other sectors of the New Zealand community.
Crowley Children’s Fund, a United States-based national organization that aims to enhance the education, nutrition and overall health of the global community.
Give to Colombia, a United States-based international organization working to create, promote and facilitate alliances between international donors and the private, public and social sectors, in order to provide solutions to vulnerable populations in Colombia.
Human Rights Law Resource Centre, a national organization based in Australia that is a leading community legal centre, protects human rights in the country, contributes to the alleviation of poverty and disadvantage, and promotes equality and fair treatment.
International Action Network on Small Arms, an organization based in the United Kingdom that aims to reduce gun violence by raising awareness among policymakers, the public and the media about the global threat to health and human rights created by the proliferation of small arms; promoting civil society efforts to reduce arms availability and demand through policy development, public education and research; fostering international cooperation on measures to reduce the threat posed by weapons; and promoting the voices of survivors of armed violence.
International Confederation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a France-based organization, self-described as the largest lay charity organization in the world, with 700,000 volunteers in 141 countries fighting for poverty alleviation and social change while enhancing local development capacities.
The Committee recommended that review of the following applications be postponed, pending replies to previous or additional questions posed:
Center for Global Nonkilling, a United States-based international organization that promotes the goal of a “killing-free world by means open to infinite human creativity”, by globally advancing non-killing knowledge and skills, incorporating them into education and training, and applying them in individual and social decisions for the well-being of all.
The representative of China requested an explanation as to why the organization’s financial statements indicated that 75 per cent of its expenditure is allocated to administration.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a national human rights organization based in the United Kingdom that specializes in freedom of religion and aims to be a voice for justice, pursuing freedom of religion for all.
The representative of China asked what kind of fact-finding assignments the organization conducted in other countries.
The representative of Sudan asked for documentation attesting that the NGO was not related to another organization by the same name. Additionally, the representative asked for further clarification, in writing, about the organization’s work and information-sharing with other organizations registered in the Sudan, as well as how the NGO could be registered in a different country, yet work inside the Sudan, albeit through other groups.
The representative of Cuba, stating that the organization’s website contained some errors, asked how the NGO could guarantee the reliability of its sources. Also, the delegate asked how the organization distinguished between common crimes and religious practices.
The representative of Belgium stated that his delegation was prepared to grant the NGO consultative status and believed that the NGO had provided enough clarification about its name; however he understood that delegates had asked other questions and, therefore, hoped that the organization would be favourably considered at the next session.
Collectif des Familles de Disparu(e)s en Algérie, a national organization based in France that aims to find the missing and to shed light on the fate of all victims of enforced disappearances in Algeria.
The representative of Sudan asked for further information regarding the organization’s budget, particularly its funding from Governments and the private sector, as well as for the names of the organizations with which the NGO cooperated in Africa, specifically Northern Africa.
The representative of Pakistan asked for further clarification about whether the French regional council that had contributed funding to the NGO was a Government agency or not, as well as why the NGO was not registered in Algeria, given that its aims were focused on that country.
The representative of Morocco asked that the information requested from the NGO be provided in the appropriate framework.
Defense Small Arms Advisory Council, a United States-based national organization that communicates between its member companies and Government agencies. It also works with international organizations, such as the United Nations, to see that the legitimate commerce in small arms is both effectively regulated and facilitated.
The representative of Venezuela asked for further information regarding the organization’s advisory activities, as well as what Governments it had been advising. The delegate also sought additional information about the organization’s projects concerning disarmament and combating illicit arms trafficking.
Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association, a United States-based international organization that is committed to serving humanity by working to relieve various forms of human suffering, including physical, emotional and spiritual, and to supporting programmes that protect the natural environment.
The representative of China asked for further clarification about the relationship with affiliates with which the NGO stated it was loosely associated in Hong Kong.
e8, an international organization based in Canada that plays an active role in global electricity issues and promotes sustainable development worldwide.
The representative of Venezuela asked how the organization’s scholarship programmes were financed, as well as how its work, which was commercial in nature, related to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans, an international organization based in Greece that aims to strengthen relations, the exchange of ideas and solidarity between all world Greek Constantinopolitans, particularly those living in the diaspora, with their fellow countrymen in Istanbul; promotes human rights and the rights of Greek Constantinopolitans; and studies problems faced by the Greek community of Istanbul and records cases of violations.
The representative of Turkey asked for further clarification about the organization’s advisory role with the Greek Ministry of Education and the Turkish Ministry of National Education.
Erevna International Peace Center Inc., an organization based in Cyprus that promotes conflict resolution, the training of mediators and research in conflict-resolution methodology.
The representative of Turkey asked for information regarding the geographical areas in which the NGO conducted its activities.
European Humanist Federation, an international organization based in France, working to promote secularism and a humanist vision of cultural, social and ethical values in Europe, and for social and cultural progress.
The representative of China asked for clarification on the number and nationality of the organization’s individual members.
Pakistan’s representative asked the NGO to explain what it was doing to realize its goal of a migrant-inclusive Europe, as well as to clarify what was meant by stating that current drug legislation was discriminatory, since it applied to all segments of society. He also asked the NGO to supply scientific evidence that legalizing narcotics would benefit society.
Foundation for GAIA, an international organization based in Switzerland, working to promote human partnership with nature to protect the complex life-support system of the planet, to develop clean energy sciences and to move towards a new, wholesome ecological economic and social system.
China’s representative asked for elaboration on what types of “non-official affiliations” the NGO had with the organizations on that list.
Freedom Now, a United States-based national organization working to free “prisoners of conscience” through focused legal, political and public relations advocacy efforts.
China’s representative asked for clarification on the organization’s relationship to any other organizations, and for it to re-answer a question regarding whether its membership was open to both individuals and organizations.
The representative of Cuba asked for clarification on any activities and programmes carried out in other countries, and for a list of those countries, programmes and activities, as well as any financing received from individuals from other countries.
Venezuela’s representative asked for an updated budget which specified all current and planned expenses, particularly with regard to its sizable budget for disbursable scholarships and donations.
Freemuse — The World Forum on Music and Censorship, an international organization based in Denmark working to advocate freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide.
China’s representative asked the NGO to correct its terminology with regard to the listed autonomous regions of China, namely the Tibet autonomous region and the Uyghurs Xinjiang autonomous region, as well as the Taiwan Province of China.
Global AIDS Alliance, a United States-based national organization working to halt global HIV/AIDS and mitigate its impacts on poor countries hardest hit by the pandemic, as well as to address the epidemic’s fundamental links to social justice issues such as poverty, gender inequality and lack of education.
Global Family for Love and Peace, another United States-based national organization, created to encourage a harmonious world through promoting values-based education, organizing and directing activities for young people in the field of social service, and sponsoring interfaith dialogue.
Pakistan’s representative asked the Secretariat to check on whether the NGO had closed, as was indicated in its materials.
The Committee Chair said that all candidates that had not sent replies to questions after three reminders, as was the case with this NGO, would be closed at the end of the current session.
The representatives of Morocco and Sudan asked questions about that procedure.
China’s representative asked that the Global Family for Love and Peace to elaborate on its recruitment process for volunteers.
Great Tao Foundation of America, a United States-based national organization created to promote the ethical principles of Tao in order to improve the lives of individuals, promote harmony and peace, and assist in the reduction and elimination of suffering through humanitarian services through cooperation with national, regional and international organizations and agencies.
Happy Hearts Fund, a United States-based national organization working to improve children’s lives through educational and sustainable programs in natural disaster areas.
Homosexuelle Initiative Wien, an Austria-based national organization working to promote the human rights of gays and lesbians, combat all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation, dismantle prejudices in the general public and raise awareness, among other support activities.
Pakistan’s representative asked the NGO to explain to which “internationally recognized legal definition” of sexual orientation it was referring. He further asked if there were any age limits to the target groups for educational programmes which the NGO stated were “open to all ages and groups”, as well as for more specific information on its poverty-fighting projects.
Morocco’s representative asked for clarification on the NGOs “political campaigns” and lobbying activities.
The representative of Sudan asked what was meant by the organization’s membership being “open to all individuals”, regardless of sexual orientation. Clearly, the lobby campaign and the annual parade in Vienna were just limited to “homosexual supporters”, and he asked if the organization’s activities were only for homosexuals or supporters, and what was meant by “supporters”.
Israel’s representative said her delegation was ready to recommend the NGO now, and looked forward to doing so as soon as the NGO supplied its answers.
The representative of Austria, speaking as an observer delegation, said the NGO was very well known within Austria, was of excellent standing and had the full support of the Austrian Government for its valuable work to move the country towards a more inclusive society, where discrimination had no place.
Human Rights House Foundation, an international organization based in Norway that works to strengthen human rights organizations worldwide through the establishment of human rights houses.
The representative of Morocco stated that he had not had a chance to review the documents that had been uploaded for the delegates, so the representatives of China and Sudan both suggested that the Committee temporarily move on and revisit the consideration of that NGO by the end of the session.
Human Rights Now, an international human rights NGO based in Tokyo that protects and promotes the human rights of people worldwide, with a special focus on Asian countries, taking action through research, advocacy and education, contributing to the development of international human rights standards and norms through the United Nations human rights bodies, and promoting the incorporation of international human rights standards within the domestic framework in Japan.
The representative of China asked for further information regarding the resources that the organization used to compile reports on various countries on its website, as well as for further elaboration regarding the several seminars that the organization held related to United Nations activities.
International Campaign to Ban Landmines, based in Switzerland, works for a worldwide ban on anti-personnel landmines, cluster munitions and indiscriminate weapons that cause unacceptable harm to civilians, and bolsters support for the needs and rights of landmine and cluster munitions survivors, clearance of landmines and cluster munitions, and risk-reduction education to safeguard lives and livelihoods.
The representative of Turkey asked if the NGO worked with the organization Geneva Call and to explain any cooperation.
The representative of Sudan also asked for more information about the organization’s relationship to the international Convention banning landmines, noting that his delegation looked positively upon and was relying upon that NGO.
The representative of Belgium said that the international campaign to ban landmines was very well known and that her delegation supported the NGO and hoped that the Committee would be able to recommend consultative status during the next session.
The representative of Bulgaria also expressed support for the application and stated that her delegation stood ready to grant it consultative status.
Similarly, the representative of Australia expressed support for the organization’s application, saying the country respected its work on global landmine action.
The representative of Switzerland also commented that the work of the NGO was important and that his delegation hoped that the Committee, after three years of considering the organization’s application, would be able to confer consultative status upon the organization within a reasonable time frame.
International Council for Human Rights, an organization based in Belgium committed to assisting the United Nations and its affiliated organs in the promotion and observance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms, and to facilitating the efforts of oppressed peoples, minorities, unrepresented peoples and nations to gain access to international law and enforcement mechanisms for the promotion of their human rights.
The representative of China asked for details regarding the key contributors to the organization’s finances.
The representative of Sudan said his delegation was still awaiting a response about the relationship between the NGO and another NGO named the International Council on Human Rights Policy.
International Dalit Solidarity Network, an organization based in Denmark that contributes to the elimination of caste-based discrimination worldwide, which fundamentally challenges the most basic principle of human rights.
The representative of India indicated that the country’s own Constitution dealt with the issue of caste and, therefore, asked for clarification about the organization’s work in that regard.
International Federation of Liberal Youth, an umbrella organization based in Belgium that provides a forum for cooperation, exchange of resources and ideas, and intercultural learning between liberal youth organizations, seeking to increase the participation of youth in decision-making processes at the local, national and international levels.
The representative of Cuba asked for a detailed list of the organization’s activities from 2009 to the present.
The representative of China also asked about the organization’s recent activities in Asia from 2010 to 2011, particularly whether it had focused on specific countries.
International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Inc. (IFES), a United States-based democracy and governance assistance organization that works to give people a voice in their own governance by providing targeted expertise in strengthening developed and developing democracies, conducting projects that help citizens participate in their democracies, increasing politicians’ accountability to the electorate and strengthening Government institutions.
Expressing doubts over the application, the representative of Cuba asked why the NGO, which had no links to Cuba, was preparing a manual regarding the democratic transition in Cuba and the holding of free elections in the country. She asked what work the NGO was conducting in the United States, and if it had sent any recommendations to the United States Government regarding the country’s elections and events in Florida in 2002. She also asked if the NGO was aware of the various General Assembly resolutions establishing that electoral assistance must be provided only when Members States so requested.
Venezuela’s representative posed further questions, including if the NGO carried out work in that country and, if so, if that was done directly or with national civil associations. She further asked why the NGO had made comments on the Internet with regard to referendums in certain Latin American countries. Since the NGO was only focused on Latin American countries, she asked what “discriminatory criteria” it was using.
Peru’s representative, supported by Israel, the United States, Bulgaria, Belgium and Turkey, put forward a motion under rule 51 of the Economic and Social Council’s rules of procedure, to suppress further debate on the NGO on the grounds that its application was satisfactory and that enough time had passed — more than two years — for its consideration.
[Under rule 51, a representative may at any time move the closure of the debate on the item under discussion, whether or not any other representative has signified his wish to speak. Permission to speak on the motion shall be accorded only to two representatives opposing the closure, after which the motion shall be put to the vote immediately.]
That motion was met with swift opposition in a proposal put forward by Cuba’s representative under rule 50 to, in effect, defer consideration of the NGO. He said that IFES had issued reports inappropriately calling for regime change in Cuba.
[Under the Council’s rule 50, a representative may at any time move the adjournment of a debate on the item under discussion. Permission to speak on the motion shall be accorded only to two representatives favouring and to two opposing the adjournment, after which the motion shall be put to the vote immediately.]
In support of the motion by the Cuban delegation, Sudan’s representative said that while the NGO had played a positive role in his country’s last election, it was premature to rush forward without clarifying any outstanding Committee questions.
Speaking before the vote, the representatives of China and the Russian Federation expressed support for the Cuban motion, stressing that action should only be taken when all Committee members were ready to do so.
Speaking against the no-action motion before the vote, the representative of Bulgaria said IFES was promoting democratic institution-building, good governance and the rule of law. It had already gone through five rounds of questions and supplied thorough replies, she said, and clearly met the criteria. However, the application had been systematically deferred without reasons.
The representative of the United States said some Committee members had resorted to a procedural tactic instead of allowing members to vote on whether or not the NGO met the criteria set out in Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31. She said the NGO did not impose international practices on others, but rather strengthened local capacities of Governments to conduct their own affairs; it carried out work such as the two-year programme to increase access to elections for persons with disabilities. Consultative status, she added, was often readily bestowed on NGOs working in limited areas and regions, while those with international scope and the ability to offer the greatest help to the Economic and Social Council ended up in endless cycles of questioning and deferrals.
Next, the Committee decided to adjourn the debate by a vote of 8 in favour (Sudan, Venezuela, Burundi, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation) to 6 against (Peru, Israel, United States, Bulgaria, Belgium, Turkey), with 4 abstentions (India, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Senegal).
Speaking after the vote, the representative of Venezuela said all members of the Committee had the full right to ask the necessary questions of applicants, in order to see whether or not it was appropriate to confer consultative status. Any action violating that right was a transgression of the rights enshrined in the Economic and Social Council rules of procedure. Delegations were discriminated against by being forced to take action before they were ready — to recommend NGOs using only selective criteria. It was reprehensible for an NGO to interfere in the internal affairs of States and it went against the letter and sprit of the United Nations Charter. It was “suspicious” that there were representatives in the room who were promoting the premature admission of such organizations, she added.
Also speaking in explanation of vote was the representative of Turkey, who said the Committee should take action on all applications before it for an extended period. However, he shared the concern that the Committee should not act arbitrarily, but must adopt objective criteria, and also seek to take imminent action on applications which had been deferred for more than four sessions or more than two years.
Also speaking after the vote was Pakistan’s representative, who said that voting “yes” on the no-action motion was not a judgement on the substance of the NGO or its activities, but rather an affirmation of the principle that each Committee member had a right to ask questions of any NGO in order to get necessary responses.
The representative of the United States said it was sad that some Committee members were able to hide behind a procedural no-action motion, as a motion to vote would have resulted in granting consultative status. It was unacceptable that the NGO, which engaged in such reputable activities around the world, had the doors of the United Nations closed to it today.
The representative of Peru expressed the hope that the Committee would recommend the NGO as soon as it was able to supply answers to the new questions.
India’s representative said his delegation’s final opinion of the substance of the application should not be ascertained through its voting on how to proceed.
The representative of the Russian Federation agreed with some previous speakers that delegates must be permitted to ask all necessary questions.
The representative of Israel expressed support for the work of the NGO and said her delegation would be ready to recommend status.
The Committee Chair said the NGO would remain on the deferred list, and that the questions would be transmitted to it.
The following application was closed:
International Lesbian and Gay Association, based in Belgium, works to promote the human rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender individuals by ensuring international norms of equality and non-discrimination, in law and in practice.
The representative of Burundi asked that the NGO cooperate with the Committee and stop refusing to answer the questions posed to it, particularly relating to previous discussions regarding how the NGO would respond to any allegations of paedophilia.
The representative of Belgium then said that the NGO was making its third request for consultative status, that the questionnaire was at the heart of the issue because the Committee members held different views of it, and that the NGO had been harassed by individuals because of its lesbian and gay identity. The representative said his delegation would like the NGO to finally be given a reply that would be “adult enough” to acknowledge that difference of opinion and for the Committee members to vote in accordance with their opinions.
The Committee Chair then asked the Committee Secretary to discuss the rules concerning voting, as Belgium wished to put forward a motion to close the debate via rule 51.
However, speaking on a point of order, the representative of Pakistan stated that he was unable to access his computer and that all of the delegates should be able to review the documents before a discussion even began.
The Committee Chair explained that he would not proceed with the vote until everyone had computer access. He said the Secretary was simply going to explain that other delegations could not have the floor because a vote had been sought. Everyone would have to wait until Pakistan’s delegation had computer access.
The representative of Morocco expressed concern that if the Secretary began proceedings, those delegations wishing to make a statement would not be able to do so before action was taken.
The Chair explained that, according to the rules of procedure, he could not give the floor to any delegates until the Secretary was able to speak.
The representative of Morocco reiterated his concern that once the Secretary began speaking, the debate would then be adjourned.
The Secretary explained that he said had no control over the procedure, and having received a request from Belgium to use rule 51 for closure of debate on a proposal to grant consultative status to an NGO, he must proceed accordingly.
Responding to further queries from Morocco’s representative, the Chair said it was not his choice whether to give the floor or not; he was bound to follow the procedure.
Speaking on a point of order, the representative of Morocco said that the Chair had known beforehand that a delegation would call for an adjournment of the debate and was “playing with procedure”.
The Chair explained that he had no idea which delegation would call for a closure of debate.
Clarifying his request, the representative of Belgium said he had indeed asked for a vote and that if any in the Committee was not ready for such a vote, then they should put forward a no-action motion.
The representative of India said it was his understanding that the proposal was to grant status, and not for the closure of the debate. He asked for clarification as to whether the Belgian delegate wished to close the debate as per rule 51.
Speaking on a point of order, the representative of Belgium said that would be along the same lines as the vote that had been taken in the morning. The debate was closed and if that did not suit a delegation, they should present a no-action motion.
The representative of Senegal said that questions posed to the organization had still not been addressed, as the NGO refused categorically and in open defiance to reply to the questionnaire. The Committee must not grant status “out of nothing”, without considering an application in depth. He proposed to adjourn the debate, as per rule 50.
The representative the Russian Federation said the NGO must answer all questions until the Committee had a full picture.
Israel’s representative said that the substantial issue raised previously with regard to the NGO had been addressed satisfactorily, as a comprehensive explanation had been provided. She said her delegation would vote against any no-action motion as needed, in order to proceed to the actual vote.
The representative of Bulgaria said the organization’s application was one of the oldest, and had been pending for more than 10 years. It had answered numerous rounds of repetitive questions. While the issues dealt with were sensitive ones, the reluctance of certain Committee members to vote on the substance of the application confirmed that a discriminatory approach was being taken by some towards the NGO, which was being treated in a different way than other organizations. Bulgaria would vote against the no-action proposed by Senegal.
Next, the no-action proposal by Senegal was defeated under rule 71 by a vote of 7 in favour (Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Senegal, Russian Federation, Burundi, China) to 7 against (United States, Belgium, Bulgaria, Israel, India, Peru, Turkey), with 4 abstentions (Venezuela, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Nicaragua).
[According to rule 71, if a vote is equally divided on a matter other than an election, the proposal or motion shall be regarded as rejected.]
The representative of Belgium then moved within rule 51 to ask for closure of debate, in order to immediately move to a vote on the application.
The Committee then moved to take action on whether or not to grant consultative status.
Responding to some confusion in the room with regard to procedural issues, the representative of Belgium said it would be helpful if the Secretariat could publish a “rules of procedure for dummies”, as even his own delegation had a hard time translating those rules into everyday language.
Venezuela’s representative said it was deplorable more than anything else that there was a delegate in the room who would behave so rudely. She said delegates might require clarification, but not because they were “dummies”.
The Committee Secretary said the Committee was moving to vote on whether or not to grant consultative status to the NGO.
Belgium’s representative took the floor to clarify that his remark was meant to be humorous, and he expressed regret if any delegations took offence. Still, he said, the more he listened to the Secretariat on how the Committee was to proceed next, the more confused he became.
Morocco’s representative said it should not be left to a representative of the Committee to explain procedure to the Secretariat.
The Secretary of the Committee said that he would contact the Office of Legal Affairs to ascertain how to proceed. He was then advised by a legal expert that there should be two separate actions — one on the closure of debate and one on the status of the organization.
Trying to clarify his delegation’s request, the representative of Belgium then asked for a vote under rule 59, which says that “a proposal or motion for decision shall be voted upon if any member so requests”.
The representative of India asked what, then, would happen to the previous motion for closure, as well as the no-action motion, stating that the Committee should be careful because every motion had a legal implication.
The Committee Chair said there had been confusion over the representative of Belgium’s previous request with regard to voting on the granting of status.
The representative of Belgium clarified that he had not asked for a vote on the closure of debate, but to have status granted.
Offering comments before the vote, the representative of Burundi stated that her delegation would not grant status, because outstanding questions regarding NGO applications should not be ignored.
The representative of Sudan, likewise, stated that outstanding questions should be answered and that status should not be granted to NGOs that had not responded to the Committee’s questions.
The representative of Russian Federation then asked for clarification as to whether anyone had specifically called for a roll-call vote with regard to the granting of consultative status.
The representative of Senegal, in response, requested the roll-call vote, noting that, should consultative status not be granted, the Committee should withdraw the application of the NGO.
Next, the Committee proceeded to vote on granting consultative status to the International Lesbian and Gay Association. The vote was 7 in favour (Turkey, United States, Belgium, Bulgaria, India, Israel, Peru) to 8 against (Sudan, Burundi, China, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Senegal), with 3 abstentions (Venezuela, Mozambique, Nicaragua). The delegation of Cuba did not participate.
The Committee Chair announced that the proposal to grant consultative status to the International Lesbian and Gay Association had been rejected.
Then, the Chief of the NGO Branch, ANDREI ABRAMOV, explained that it had been the Committee’s practice that, if the NGO did not receive status, it would be listed among the deferred applications. However, the decision was up to the Committee.
The representative of India responded that the Chair’s interpretation was not correct and that the vote meant that the application of the NGO was closed and would not remain in the Committee anymore. The motion had been defeated.
The representatives of Pakistan, Burundi, Peru, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Senegal and Morocco also agreed with the delegation from India that the application of the NGO was closed and would no longer be retained on the Committee’s list.
The United States speaker said her delegation had voted to grant status to the NGO because of its work fighting discrimination. The results of the vote were very disappointing. It was time to stop judging NGOs based on who their members loved; status should be based on the letter of the law. The Economic and Social Council had sent a message that it was unacceptable to close its doors to groups like the International Lesbian and Gay Association, and her delegation would again call on the Council so that justice could be done for this NGO.
The representative of Bulgaria said that, no matter what the procedure, her delegation was disappointed that status had not been granted to the organization. That only confirmed the disturbing conclusion made about the Committee’s discriminatory approach with regard to “LGBT” organizations. The fact remained that the Committee had not been able to recommend even one “LGBT” organization for status.
The representative of Israel also expressed sorrow that the Committee had rejected consultative status for the NGO just because it dealt with the sensitive issue of sexual orientation and gender identity, as her delegation believed it met the necessary criteria.
While Venezuela guaranteed the rights and freedoms of all individuals and the delegation did not have a problem with conferring status on the NGO, its representative said she had abstained for reasons of procedure. She noted that Committee members had the right to ask questions and, that afternoon, they had seen an attempt to force the granting of status fail. It was unfortunate that a clumsy measure had led to closing the organization’s application.
Likewise, the representative of Nicaragua said that, while the political Constitution of Nicaragua ensured that all individuals were equal before the law, her delegation had abstained because of procedural issues and the belief that delegates should be able to ask questions and receive replies.
The representative of Belgium then said that it was with a feeling of “shame and bitterness” that he observed that representatives were hiding behind procedural issues so as not to focus on substance. He emphasized that, while States could ask questions in sessions, NGOs were entitled to find out their fate in a reasonable time. He was disappointed in the result of the vote, but the vote had made things a bit clearer.
The representative of Burundi said she regretted that certain members of the Committee had previously agreed with the consensus to send questions to the NGO but now were distancing themselves from taking part in that decision.
Both the representatives of Pakistan and Morocco took the floor again to say that Committee members should not be reproached for hiding behind procedure, because they had considered both procedure and substance, and that a level of respect within the Committee should be maintained.
Finally, the Committee Chair stated that the application of the NGO was closed.
Turning to its traditional discussion segment of the meeting, the Committee recommended special consultative status for Fondazione Marista per la Solidariet Internazionale ONLUS, an international organization based in Italy working for the well-being of children, which had been deferred from the start of the resumed session.
Responding to questions from China’s delegate, a representative of Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association, an international United States-based organization, said it did not have a relationship with organizations with a similar name or with the same founder, but was based on the same form of Buddhist practice and lineage.
Responding to a question on affiliations with other Buddhist groups, she said that while the organization shared Buddhist teachers, there was no official cooperation between the groups.
Asked about the organization’s activities in Sudan, she said her group had organized a side event in its retreat centre in response to the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Summit, which included Sudanese youth.
Consideration of the NGO was postponed until written answers were received.
The Committee then posed questions to a representative from the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre, a United States-based international organization working to establish a comprehensive and objective historical record of the human rights situation in Iran since the 1979 revolution.
Asked by the representative of the Russian Federation about Government funding sources, she said they did not impact the NGO’s decision-making. Asked by China’s representative to further clarify its funding, she said all funding was project-based and not year-to-year, and that no donor could earmark any donations.
The representative of Cuba asked how the organization received evidence of human rights violations, to which she replied that, before 2009, the NGO had been given tips and sent photographs of violations.
She further said that no Government funding source approved or reviewed the NGO’s reports, and that the organization focused solely on Iran because it had been founded by three Iranian expatriates to help the Iranian people.
The Committee deferred consideration of that NGO.
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