Having Recommended Status for Nearly 150 Non-Governmental Organizations, Committee Adjourns Resumed Session amid Praise It Was ‘One of Most Successful Since 1990s’

24 May 2011
ECOSOC/6483-NGO/726

Having Recommended Status for Nearly 150 Non-Governmental Organizations, Committee Adjourns Resumed Session amid Praise It Was ‘One of Most Successful Since 1990s’

24 May 2011
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6483 NGO/726
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on NGOs

30th & 31st Meetings (AM & PM)

Having Recommended Status for Nearly 150 Non-Governmental Organizations, Committee

Adjourns Resumed Session amid Praise It Was ‘One of Most Successful Since 1990s’

Decides Dates for 2012 Session:  30 January – 8 February; 21 – 30 May

Wrapping up what the United Nations Secretariat called one of its “most successful sessions” since the 1990s, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) adjourned its resumed 2011 session today, having taken note of its draft report, to be adopted at a later date.

Chief of the NGO Branch, Andrei Abramov, said he could not recall another session with as many approvals as this one, with some 150 NGO candidates recommended for status with the Economic and Social Council.

In closing remarks, Committee Chair Aydan Karamanoglu of Turkey thanked delegates for the “good mood” that had prevailed in the room throughout the session and commended the Committee on it success.

During the course of the day, the Committee recommended 11 entities for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, postponed consideration of 32 applications, and closed 32 others.  For the entire 2011 resumed session, that brought the total number of entities recommended for special consultative status to 146.  Today, one was upgraded today from special consultative status to general consultative status, and three more were reclassified from roster to special consultative status.  A total of 185 entities were postponed during the session, and one was rejected.

Also today, the Committee suspended 103 organizations, which failed to complete reporting requirements, postponed consideration of one quadrennial report, and deferred consideration of an additional two reclassification requests.  Over the course of the resumed session, the Committee took note of a total of 153 quadrennial reports and postponed consideration of two.

During the morning segment of the Committee’s consideration, the representative of the United States moved to close the debate on the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, under procedural rule 51.  She called for the Committee to vote finally on whether or not to recommend status, saying it had answered more than 40 questions.

[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 suppressed by a no-action vote put forward according to rule 50 by the delegation of Sudan.  It was passed by a vote of 10 in favour ( Burundi, China, Cuba, India, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sudan, Venezuela), to 6 against ( Belgium, Bulgaria, Israel, Peru, Turkey, United States,), with 3 abstentions ( Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Senegal), meaning that consideration of that NGO was postponed further.

[By the terms 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 other business, the Committee then approved the dates of 30 January to 8 February and 21 to 30 May its 2012 session, as well as the provisional agenda for that session, as orally revised (document E/C.2/2011/L.3).

The Committee would reconvene at a later date to adopt its draft report and hear closing remarks from delegations.

Background

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) met this morning to conclude its resumed session, begun on Monday, 16 May.

The Committee today recommended special consultative status for the following organizations:

International Reading Association, a United States-based international organization, promoting high levels of literacy for all by improving the quality of reading instruction, disseminating research and information about reading, and encouraging the lifetime reading habit.

IOGT International, a worldwide community of NGOs aimed at promoting a lifestyle free of alcohol and other drugs, and leading people to a richer, freer and more rewarding life.

Human Rights House Foundation, discussed on 20 May, when a representative of the NGO answered questions posed by Committee members.  (For details about the NGO, see Press Release ECOSOC/6481-NGO/724).

The representative of China said had the NGO had ceased cooperation with certain “splittist” organizations, and had revised and clarified materials as necessary.  That delegation urged the NGO to abide by its commitment and refrain from participating in any “splittist” organizations.  She hoped the NGO would refrain from misusing or transferring its consultative status to others.  At the same time, her delegation did not object to recommending status for it.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan said the revised application was satisfactory and should be recommended.

Cuba’s representative said the organization had cooperated and clarified all concerns.

The representative of Morocco said the NGO had shown itself to be open to cooperative with the Committee and had set a good example.  It was important to protect human rights, but such activities or claims must be conducted with respect to sovereign States, he said.

International Campaign to Ban Landmines, an international organization based in Switzerland, working towards a worldwide ban on anti-personnel landmines, cluster munitions and indiscriminate weapons that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.  It was deferred yesterday, 23 May.  (For details, see Press Release ECOSOC/6482-NGO/725).

Overseas Development Institute, an international organization based in the United Kingdom, is an independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues, which aims to inform policy and practice, leading to the reduction of poverty, the alleviation of suffering and the achievement of sustainable livelihoods in developing countries.

Real Medicine Foundation, a United States-based international organization that provides humanitarian support to people living in disaster, post-war and poverty-stricken areas, and continues to help communities long after the world’s spotlight has faded by providing medical, emotional, economic and social support.

National Committee for UNIFEM in Finland supports the work and goals of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and promotes both women’s empowerment and gender equality.  Consideration of this NGO was postponed on 19 May.  (For further details, see Press Release ECOSOC/6480-NGO/723).

Pakistan’s representative said there had been an issue regarding the need to change the NGO’s name due to the creation of UN Women, but his delegation could now support recommending status.

Global Aid Network, an international organization based in Canada, working to relieve poverty throughout the world as an extension of the Biblical imperative to meet the needs of the less fortunate through the provision of development aid and assistance to relieve human suffering, hunger and need.

Gulf Research Center Foundation, an international organization based in Switzerland, working to conduct scholarly research on political, economic, social and security issues, as they relate to the GCC Gulf Cooperation Council members (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) and the other countries of the Gulf region (notably Iran, Iraq and Yemen).

Red ACTIVAS, a national organization based in Spain, working to prompt dialogue with the main institutional, political and social agents connected with development cooperation to foster a greater contribution by the Spanish government to international cooperation on health, sexual and reproductive rights and gender equity issues.

The Committee recommended that review of the following applications be postponed, pending replies to previous or additional questions posed:

International Organization for Victim Assistance, a United States-based organization, working to promote policy change for victims and provide training on victim assistance, crisis response and rights, restorative justice, and violence prevention.

The representative of Venezuela asked the organization to provide a list of which NGOs, if any, the organization was working in Venezuela.

International Prison Chaplains' Association, an organization based in Sweden, working to promote Human Rights, especially freedom of religion, for prisoners worldwide.

China’s representative asked if the NGO was legally registered in all countries in which it worked.

International Senior Lawyers Project, a United States-based national organization that enlists the resources of highly skilled and experienced attorneys and law firms from around the world to advance the rule of law, human rights and equitable economic development.

China’s representative asked the NGO to change its terminology for Hong Kong to reflect the correct United Nations terminology.

Kashmiri American Council, a United States-based national organization that promotes the principles of human rights and human dignity, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, self-determination and fundamental freedoms for all, irrespective of their racial, religious, linguistic or sexual preferences.

India’s representative noted that the NGO had not yet answered questions, as it had asked for more time.

Kita Chosen Nanmin Kyuen Kikin, a national organization based in Japan that defends the human rights of and advocates on behalf of refugees from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; supports refugees from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and assists those resettling in Japan; and cooperates with other organizations domestically and internationally that defend human rights.

Korean Bar Association, a national organization based in Republic of Korea, working to protect and ensure human rights and establish a foundation for democratic order.

The representative of China asked the NGO to clarify its accreditation.

Venezuela’s representative asked the NGO to clarify its “apportionment” in the context of its budget, and asked for a detailed breakdown of expenses.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the delegation was concerned with language used by NGO members regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which seemed politically motivated.  If it was said that citizens of the country were actually citizens of Republic of Korea, as this NGO did, then that violated the rights and territorial integrity of a United Nations Member State.

Law Council of Australia, a national organization based in Australia, working to promote and defend the rule of law and the administration of justice in the public interest.

The representative of China asked the NGO to use the correct United Nations terminology for the regions of China.

Lawyers for Lawyers, an international organization based in the Netherlands, has committed itself to enable lawyers worldwide to practise law in freedom and independence and to actively support lawyers who are hindered or threatened in practising law.

China’s representative asked the NGO to elaborate on its seminar, which had been held in association with a Chinese human rights lawyer, as well as on its participation in side events at the Human Rights Council.

The representative of Cuba asked the NGO why its monitoring group consisted of lawyers from the Netherlands, and whether the monitoring it carried out in Europe was done by lawyers of other regions.  The delegate also asked what organizations the NGO cooperated with, if any, in Latin America.

The representative of Belgium said the NGO was well-known in that country, and had the support of the Belgian delegation.

Venezuela’s representative asked the NGO to specify in which countries in Latin America it carried out or planned to carry out activities.  The delegate also asked why the NGO did not examine cases in its own region, as well as how it “plans” to improve the legal status of the role played by lawyers.

Mediators Beyond Borders, a United States-based international organization that brings together experienced mediators to volunteer their skills worldwide, in collaboration with local, indigenous and global partners, to improve conflict resolution capacity, and support alternative approaches to expressing, negotiating and resolving interpersonal, political, economic, social, ethnic and religious differences.

The representative of Venezuela asked the NGO what criteria it used to decide in which countries it would carry out activities.

The representative of Cuba asked the NGO to supply proof of registration, as that was not available in a working language, adding that there must be more substantial documentation available than what had been supplied.

The Secretariat said that it was, in fact, more complicated than that.

The representative of Cuba asked for a translation into English, so that it could be checked.

Mouvement des entreprises de taille humaine industrielles et commerciales, a national organization based in France that aims to defend the freedom of those who want to start a business.

Mundo Sin Guerras, an international organization based in Spain that promotes all kinds of ideas and actions leading to the elimination of wars through a methodology of active non-violence.

The representative of China asked who the NGO’s main donors were in 2010 for its “world march”, as well as for more detailed information of donors in general.  She also asked for clarification on the NGO’s plans for future “world marches”.

The representative of Venezuela asked for clarification about the name, as it was indicated elsewhere that it was called “World Without Wars and Violence”.  She asked if different projects were carried out under different names.

Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, a United States-based international organization of family members of victims of homicide, state execution, extra-judicial assassinations, and disappearances, who oppose the death penalty in all cases.

The representative of China asked for more detail on the NGO’s participation in side events at the Human Rights Council.

The Peacebuilders, an organization based in Japan that aims to make contributions to peacebuilding through working with people in conflict-affected countries and complementing international diplomacy through working with people at the grass-roots level through a “bottom-up” approach to building peace.

Scholars at Risk Network, a United States-based international network of universities and colleges, dedicated to defending threatened scholars and scholarly communities worldwide, and to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion and expression without fear, discrimination, censorship, intimidation or violence.

The Chair said the NGO had participated in an interactive session, and had supplied written responses to answers posed during that session.

China’s representative asked the NGO to correct its terminology for provinces and regions of China.

Belgium’s and Bulgaria’s representatives expressed support for the application.

Second Amendment Foundation, a United States-based national organization, has been a pioneer in innovative defence of the right to keep and bear arms, through its publications, public education programmes and legal action projects.

The representative of Venezuela posed further questions to the NGO, particularly how it carried out work to combat illicit trafficking of arms, as well as how it felt that its work benefited development.

Cuba’s representative said her delegation had a number of misgivings about how the NGO could benefit the work of Economic and Social Council.  The NGO had pointed to a woman’s right to bear arms as a protective measure, and she expressed misgivings about what possible contribution the NGO could make.

The representative of Peru asked for a detailed explanation of the contribution the NGO planned to make to the Economic and Social Council’s work.

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States has served as the national voice for sexuality education, sexual health and sexual rights for over 40 years, affirming that sexuality is a fundamental part of being human and advocating for the right of all people to accurate information, comprehensive education about sexuality and sexual health services.

The representative of Burundi asked the NGO to provide scientific evidence proving that sexual education could reduce the number of cases of venereal disease.  The delegate also asked for copies of the mode of examination that the NGO advocated and for evidence regarding the impact and reduction of sexual disease among teenagers and young people.

The representative of Israel said that the organization had first submitted its application in January 2010 and that her delegation was pleased with the NGO as it was carrying out important work.  She hoped that it could provide the requested information and that the Committee could consider it positively at the next session.

Society for Research in Child Development, an international organization based in Sweden that promotes interdisciplinary research on infant, child and adolescent development in diverse contexts and across a life-long trajectory; fosters the exchange of information among scientists and research consumers worldwide; and fosters applications of research-based knowledge.

The representative of China asked the NGO to correct its terminology regarding provinces and regions of China.

Solicitors International Human Rights Group, a national organization based in the United Kingdom that promotes awareness of international human rights within the legal profession in Britain, mobilizes solicitors into effective action in support of those rights, encourages human rights lawyers overseas, and conducts related missions, research, campaigns and training.

The representative of China said the NGO itself was part of FIDH [International Federation for Human Rights] and asked it to clarify the relationship between the two, specifically whether they influenced each other in decision-making.

Soroptimist International of the Americas, a United States-based organization of nearly 40,000 business and professional women that works in 19 countries and territories to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world.

China’s representative asked the NGO to correct its terminology with regards to provinces and regions of China, and to clarify the functioning and establishment of the NGO’s clubs where they were said to be active.

Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council, an international humanitarian and charitable organization based in Austria that directs, coordinates and implements activities for the betterment of humanity welfare and advances unity and peace by disseminating messages of Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Swami Madhavanandaji.

The representative of China asked what relationship the NGO had to Hungarian NGOs, and for clarifications about its religious programmes.

Bulgaria’s representative asked the NGO to further clarify its activities.

Speaking as an observer to the Committee, the representative of Austria expressed support for the NGO and said it fulfilled the necessary criteria, and hoped status would be recommended soon.

Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, a national organization working to spread the culture and awareness of freedom of opinion and expression, belief, variety and tolerance inside Syrian society by cooperating with governmental and civil society organizations.

The representative of Venezuela asked the NGO to document whether it was authorized to function in Syria, as that did not appear to be the case.

Similarly, the representative of China expressed concern that the NGO had not shown adequate evidence that it was legally registered in Syria, and asked it to submit answers to all outstanding questions.

The representative of Sudan said consideration of this NGO raised similar concerns to those expressed for Sudanese Mothers for Peace, and said there were a number of strange or unusual organizations allegedly monitoring issues of freedom in Sudan, which, in fact, were based in London.  Similarly, this NGO was based in Paris, but operated in Syria, a very sensitive domain.  It did not have legal status in that country, and was, in fact, carrying out political activities.  The Committee must look objectively and seriously at matters related to the respect for the sovereignty of countries where such organizations were active.

The representative of India noted that the NGO had not responded to previous questions.

The representative of the United States said the NGO sought to spread the culture of freedom of expression, but that it had been deferred for more than two years, despite supplying much documentation and answering more than 40 questions, many of them repetitive.  Her delegation expressed a strong interest in the value of the press, especially as some paid with their lives for their work and their attachment to their profession.  It was ironic, therefore, that delegations were seeking to silence an NGO working towards freedom of press and expression.

She said further, that there was persistent misunderstanding within the Committee on what it was supposed to do.  There were NGOs, and the “N” was important to recall, as the voices of civil society must not be silenced or censored, but rather should be celebrated.

She then called for immediate action under rule 51 to close the debate on the NGO.

[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.]

Sudan’s representative then called for the adjournment of debate on the NGO, under the Council’s rule 50.  He said such motions, as that put forward by the United States, harmed NGOS and had lead to the closure of applications, as had been seen yesterday.

[By the terms 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.]

Before the Committee began the vote, the representatives of Cuba and Nicaragua spoke in support of the motion by Sudan to adjourn the debate.  Cuba’s representative said that doubts about the NGO had not yet been fully allayed.  Nicaragua’s delegate said she was surprised by the prevailing trend wherein members of the Committee were exerting pressure on other Committee members to make hasty decisions while doubts still lingered.  She supported the motion based on members’ right to ask questions and receive appropriate replies.

Speaking against the motion were the representatives of Belgium and Bulgaria.  The representative of Belgium said all of the NGO’s documents were in order and it was carrying out good work.  While some delegates might have questions, it was also their responsibility to form an opinion on a application’s validity within a reasonable timeframe, which, in this case, had extended for more than five rounds of questions.  Bulgaria’s representative said that many of the questions put to the NGO were repetitive, and that it had supplied clear answers, particularly as to why it was not registered in Syria.  While not all Committee members might support the NGO, the time had come to make a decision.

The motion tabled by Sudan’s delegation was passed by a vote of 10 in favour ( Burundi, China, Cuba, India, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sudan, Venezuela), to 6 against ( Belgium, Bulgaria, Israel, Peru, Turkey, United States,), with 3 abstentions ( Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Senegal).

Making a general statement, the representative of Turkey said the NGO had been on the agenda for some time, and that action should be taken on all NGOs whose applications had been on the agenda for more than two years, in order to prevent endless discussions and further polarization of the Committee.

Explaining his position after the vote, Sudan’s representative stressed that any NGO working in Syria must be respectful of Syrian national integrity.

The delegate of Burundi emphasized that all Committee members had the right to ask questions and receive answers.

The United States’ representative said her delegation was deeply disappointed by the outcome of the vote and regretted that some members had again resorted to procedural tactics.  The United States’ delegation would continue to make sure that the voices of civil society were heard and not silenced.

Venezuela’s representative said Committee members should be able to pose all questions they found necessary.  The delegate categorically rejected any actions in the Committee that negatively impacted its work.  Members should not apply selective criteria, but strictly adhere to the rules of procedure.  Some Member States had informally said that granting status to this NGO was related to political circumstances in Syria.

The observer for France said the NGO had been founded in accordance with regular procedures in 1988, and from the standpoint of his delegation, its activities were in accordance the criteria of Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 (1996).  The organization fostered tolerance and freedom of religion, opinion and expression, and status should be accorded.

The observer for Syria said that the sovereignty of her country must be upheld, as that was the legitimate right of all Member States.  Syria had not and would not accept any intervention by any State, whatsoever.   Syria had its own reform process, and its citizens had faith in that process, which would be continued.  She did not understand, if the NGO was registered in Paris, why it was active in Syria.

Further consideration of that NGO was then postponed.

The representative of Sudan then commented on an NGO considered earlier, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, noting that his delegation wished to acknowledge its great work in Sudan.

Thin and High, a United States-based international organization that contributes to the improvement of Sino-American relationships, as well as protects the environment.

The representative of China asked for further information about which local organizations had invited the NGO to work in China, as well as whether the NGO planned to enlarge its scope to other countries, and how it thought it could make a contribution to the Economic and Social Council.

The representative of Sudan asked for a breakdown of the NGO’s budget.

Widows for Peace Through Democracy, an international organization based in the United Kingdom that promotes the status of widows in developing countries, particularly in conflict and HIV/AIDS-afflicted countries; provides information, training and capacity-building to monitor implementation of their rights; channels their voices and articulates their needs on the international level; and encourages the establishment of federations of widows’ associations in countries where there are none.

The representative of Turkey asked for details of the NGO’s activities in Sri Lanka and Nepal, as well as whether it had registration certificates in those countries.  The representative also asked whether the NGO had any relationship with the Kurdish Human Rights Project, which had previously failed to receive status.

The representative of Sudan also asked whether the NGO had any connection to an organization called the Sudanese Mothers for Peace.

WITNESS, a United States-based international organization that uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations, and empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.

The representative of China asked for further clarification about the NGO’s partnership with other human rights groups providing training, as well as a list of the NGO’s campaign work since 2010, and whether it had certain criteria regarding how it founded its partners.

The representative of Belgium said that the NGO had been under consideration since May 2008, and that her delegation was very satisfied with its answers.  The delegation, thus, hoped that the Committee would be able to make a decision regarding consultative status shortly.

World Buddhist Supreme Tathagata Followers Peace Foundation, an international organization based in the Republic of Korea that provides welfare facilities for the handicapped and aged, as well as cremation house and pagodas, in addition to promoting friendship among world Buddhists through international exchanges and scholarships to those interested in religious culture.

The representative of China asked the NGO to provide its registration certificate and to clarify whether it had registration in China, as well as to supply additional information about its relationship with other organizations listed in its application.

World Council of Press, a national organization based in Cyprus that promotes freedom of the press and media in the world, defending journalists, writers, poets, intellectuals and all those involved in written press and broadcast coverage without fear of intimidation or harassment.

World Igbo Congress, a United States-based national organization that provides direction and guidance for the Igboland (in the southeast zone of Nigeria), helps to diversify and strengthen the zone's economic base, improve the overall quality of life, and revive its position as Nigeria's educational, commercial, medical, cultural, and employment centre.

The representative of China asked the NGO to correct its terminology regarding the Taiwan Province of China.

Yoga in Daily Life USA, a United States-based organization, devoted exclusively to charitable and educational activity, promoting physical, mental, social and spiritual health of humankind, as well as spiritual development and God realization, world peace, humanitarian aid, human rights, protection of all living beings and protection of the environment.

The representative of China asked for information about the NGO’s work providing analytical information regarding world peace and human rights.

Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, an international organization based in the Philippines that aims for a world where women can enjoy their reproductive and sexual rights, free from social, political, cultural and economic oppression, in keeping with their personally-held values, in dignity and in good health. Consideration of this NGO was postponed from 20 May.  (For further details, see Press Release ECOSOC/6481-NGO/724).

China’s representative asked the NGO to explain what, if any, activities it had planned for China in 2011, and for an explanation of the acronym “PFA”.

The representative of Belgium expressed support for the organization, which she said did valuable work in the field.  The NGO had always responded to questions, and the Belgian delegation was ready to recommend status.

The representative of Bulgaria said the NGO carried out outstanding work and deserved to be recommended for status.  Once the NGO had responded to the questions posed by the Chinese delegation, the Committee should recommend status, she said.

The representative of China reiterated that two questions had been posed by her delegation.  She would inform the Committee when the delegation was ready.

Housing Works Inc., a United States-based international organization, working to end the twin crises of homelessness and HIV/AIDS.

The representative of China asked if the NGO carried out activities in other countries besides the United States and Haiti.

ZOA Vluchtelingenzorg, an international organization based in the Netherlands, working to support people who suffer because of armed conflict or natural disaster, in rebuilding their livelihoods.

Sudan’s representative noted that the NGO’s registration certificate dated back to 2006, but that the organization had been operating in the Sudan since the 1990s, a decade before the date of the registration certificate. He asked the NGO if it was able to supply registration certificates that dated from the start of its operations in Sudan, as well as for more details about the NGO’s activities, especially about any organizations, or Sudanese authorities or other individuals with which it had been cooperating.

Pakistan’s representative asked the NGO to explain the acronym meaning for the organization in Pakistan with which it was collaborating.

The representative of the United States asked the representative of Sudan if the registration provided by the NGO was valid under Sudanese law.

The representative of Sudan said his delegation was still awaiting a reply from the capital of Sudan regarding the validity of the registration certificate.

The representative of Cuba took the floor to say that the Committee was not behaving in an orthodox manner, as it was moving very quickly.  Pressing forward in such a hurried manner was not what the Committee needed at this point in its work.

The Chair said that if any delegations had problems with a particular NGO, they should let the Committee know.

Closure of Applications:

Turning to candidate NGOs that had not responded after three reminders, the Committee closed consideration of 32 applications.

Deferred Quadrennial Reports:

The Committee then further postponed consideration of the quadrennial report of International Network of Liberal Women (2003 — 2006), after China’s representative said that the NGO had not provided an answer to the correct question posed.

Suspension of Consultative Status:

The Committee then acted to suspend the consultative status of 103 organizations for a period of one year, pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 2008/4 (2008).

Those NGOs were included in a list contained in document E/C.2/2011/CRP.13/ Rev.1.  All but two of the 105 NGOs on that list were suspended; Uni ón de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, and Centre for Psychology and Social Change were not.

Reclassification Requests:

The Committee recommended reclassification for the following NGOs:

Covenant House, a United States-based international organization, working to identify and address the problems of the urban poor, homeless, runaways, and abandoned youth of North and Central America.

The representatives of Nicaragua and Cuba expressed support for the organization’s reclassification.

The Committee recommended that the NGO be reclassified from special consultative status to general consultative status.

The Committee postponed reclassification of the following NGOs:

When the Committee considered a request for reclassification of roster consultative status to general consultative status from the International Diabetes Federation (document E/C.2/2011/R.3/Add.1), the representative of Venezuela said that to grant general status to the NGO implied that its work reached into all areas of the United Nations, and her delegation did not know how the NGO contributed to issues, such as disarmament and other areas of the Organization.  Her delegation saw no problem in conferring special consultative status, but as for general consultative status, the NGO’s area of activity was not broad enough.

Similarly, Kyrgyzstan’s representative said his delegation did not object to the reclassification to special consultative status, but wanted to know the reasons behind a request to be granted general consultative status.

Cuba’s representative echoed the views expressed by the delegates of Venezuela and Kyrgyzstan, adding thatthe NGO did not work in broad enough areas to be classified as general consultative status.  However, her delegation also would be happy to grant it special consultative status.

Reclassification of the NGO was then postponed.

Family Health International, a United States-based national organization, working to bring lasting change to the world’s most vulnerable people through science-based programmes.  The NGO had requested to be upgraded from special to general consultative status.

In an exchange among the representatives of Pakistan and Morocco, the Committee Chair and the NGO Branch Chief, the Committee clarified that the NGO had been granted special consultative status in 2002, and that the request for reclassification had been submitted in 2011.

Raising questions regarding what qualifications were necessary for an NGO to receive general consultative status, the representative of Morocco asked whether the granting of general status depended on the number of the organization’s offices and personnel, or on the scope of its activities.

The representative of Pakistan said it remained to be determined whether or not the NGO fulfilled the criteria of paragraph 32 of resolution 1996/31.

Morocco’s representative further said that, in order for the Committee to so upgrade the NGO’s status, it must ensure that the organization could meet its obligations under the general status criteria, and that such criteria should be set, so as not to leave the door open for unsuitable reclassification.  General status should be given only to those NGOs able to address such broad issues as fighting poverty.

The United States’ representative said that the criteria was documented in resolution 1996/31, and that delegates should bear in mind that, while NGOs should be concerned with most areas covered by the Council, very few would be concerned with all areas.  She said her delegation was ready to upgrade the status of the NGO, but understood if other members wished to continue the discussion.

Morocco’s representative said that if the NGO did not focus on the other activities of the Council, then general status did not apply.

The Chair then said that the questions would be transmitted to the NGO.

The Committee then considered the International Federation of Consular Corps and Associations/Federation Internationale des Corps et Associations Consulaires, which wished to be reclassified from “roster” to “general” consultative status.  The NGO is a Brussels-based international organization, working to enhance the performance of consular service on behalf of sending States and Receiving States, and to support and improve the status, legitimacy and effectiveness of all consular officers.

Pakistan’s representative asked the Chair to convey a question to the organization on why it considered itself eligible for general status, while the representative of Belgium suggested that the NGO be informed that it could also apply for “special” consultative status.

Pakistan’s delegate reminded the Committee that it should be acting on what the organization wanted.  Venezuela’s representative agreed, but added that the request made by any organization for reclassification should be based on the requirements set out in the Committee’s founding documents and rules of procedure.

The Chair decided that the Committee would transmit a question to the organization asking it to explain how it intended to contribute to the work of the Economic and Social Council.

Next, the Committee decided to recommend that the “special” consultative status of the Junior Chamber International be upgraded to “general” consultative status.  That NGO is a United States-based international organization, aiming to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change.

Finally, the Committee recommended that the “roster” status of The United States Trademark Association be upgraded to “special” consultative status.  Also known as the International Trademark Association, the NGO is a not-for-profit membership association of more than 5,500 trademark owners and professionals from more than 190 countries, dedicated to the support and advancement of trademarks and related intellectual property as elements of fair and effective national and international commerce.

Moving on to other business, the Committee then recommended the list of the 55 NGOs requesting to be heard at the high-level segment of the 2011 session of the Economic and Social Council (document E/C.2/2011/CRP.14).

Following that action, Committee members held its traditional question-and-answer segment, today, with a representative of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a United States-based international organization, working to provide education on the harm caused by the “war on drugs”, to involve youth in the political process, and to promote an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to drug problems in the United States.

The representative of Venezuela asked specific questions about the group’s objectives, including how it would participate in the creation of anti-drug policies; what communities it would work with; whether any of its members engaged with the United States Congress; and why the group felt that the “war on drugs” was “failing”?

Belgium’s representative asked about the group’s plans to improve student education and health.  The representative of Morocco wondered if the group had any relationships with public authorities and, if so, what was the reaction of those authorities to its work, specifically as it regarded drug addicted/affected students.  After examining the group’s application, the representative of Pakistan wondered about its statement, that some of the aims of the prohibition agenda clashed with the work of the United Nations.

In response to those questions, the group’s representative said his organization carried out advocacy in the United States, though it did not work with specific members of Congress.  It was a grass-roots organization that did not conduct studies, but used relevant information and reports undertaken by, among others, United Nations bodies dealing with drug-related matters.  It neither condemned nor supported drug use, but sought to reduce the harms caused by drug abuse and certain drug policies.

The “Students” in the organization’s name referred to those at the universities and colleges where it was carrying out its advocacy and awareness-raising programmes, including in the United States and South America.  As for the group’s assertion that the so-called “war on drugs” had failed, he admitted that that was a matter of opinion.  At the same time, research had shown that drugs continued to have a negative impact on high school and college students.  In any case, the group aimed to open a discussion on such matters, leading to reduced drug consumption and drug-related problems.  Further, it aimed for a world where drug abuse was treated as a health issue rather than criminal justice matter.

As for specific initiatives, he said the group had implemented “good Samaritan laws” at some 13 universities to help drug-affected students.  The group had a “sometimes difficult” relationship with law enforcement agencies or other public authorities.  Yet, with dialogue and awareness-raising, it had been able to impress upon those authorities that, rather than chasing a few students who used drugs, perhaps they had more pressing matters with which to concern themselves.  While the group had no formal relationships with authorities in the United States, it did have an informal partnership with law enforcement authorities in Bogota, Colombia, where drug trafficking on campuses had become serious problem.

As for human rights and United Nations objectives, he said it was the view of his organization that traditional drug polices did not necessarily protect the rights of individuals.  Indeed, the very real harms of drug abuse were not adequately addressed by current policies.  Individuals must ultimately be allowed to make decisions for themselves, as long as their actions do not infringe upon anyone else’s freedoms or safety.  Harsh prohibitionist drug polices, which infringed on individual rights, should be replaced by sensible alternatives.  “We know this is a contentious issue and we feel that the Students for Sensible Drug Policy can be helpful in reigning [in the matter] here at the United Nations.”

Following that discussion, the Students for Sensible Drug Policy was granted special consultative status.

* *** *

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