|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
17th Meeting (AM)
Committee on NGOs Concludes Session, Adopts Report, after Having Recommended
157 Organizations for Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council
Wrapping up what its Chairperson described as “another tough and highly intense” session, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today adopted its draft 2012 report and took action on a number of outstanding matters.
“I am pleased that the session was productive and results-oriented, and I believe the record number of recommendations for consultative status speaks for itself,” said Maria Pavlova Tzotzorkova ( Bulgaria), hailing the 157 organizations recommended by the Committee during its two-week session — held at Headquarters from 30 January to 8 February — for status with the Economic and Social Council.
In its work, the 19-member Committee recommends civil society groups for general, special or roster status with the Council, based on criteria including the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend Council meetings and circulate statements, while those with general status can, in addition, address meetings and propose agenda items. Roster-status organizations can only attend meetings. Groups with general and special status must also submit a report every four years.
Ms. Tzotzorkova said that, even when tensions ran high, delegations had worked in the spirit of compromise and had been dedicated to completing the work on the 343 applications under consideration. “I believe there was an understanding that, while no one can have it all, anything can be achieved through dialogue and negotiations,” she said.
The draft report on the Committee’s 2012 regular session (document E/2012/32 Part I)), was introduced by Rapporteur Yoni Ish-Hurwitz (Israel), who highlighted specific details included to reflect decisions and discussions over the past week. He also pointed out technical corrections, and noted that, along with recommending status for 157 of the 343 applications before them, Committee members had deferred 162 others for consideration during their resumed session in May. The Committee had also talked with 21 representatives of the 32 non-governmental organizations that had attended the session.
In other action, the Committee elected by acclamation Nurbek Kasymov ( Kyrgyzstan) as one of its Vice-Chairs. Ms. Tzotzorkova encouraged delegations to swiftly conclude nominations of the Committee’s remaining officials, so the Bureau of the 2012 session could be complete.
Finally, the Committee closed its consideration of the application of Movement against Atrocities and Repression — a Zurich-based group that aims to support and cooperate with other human rights organizations — based on its responses to questions posed in a letter sent on 7 February expressing the Committee’s great concerns regarding alleged acts of terrorism committed by the organization’s leadership.
During its meeting of 6 February, the representative of India had drawn the Committee’s attention to the issue, telling members that the Secretary of the Movement against Atrocities and Repression was involved in the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane from Delhi to Amritsar on 29 September 1981. Its President and a key member of its Board were also alleged to have been involved in the hijacking of another Indian Airlines flight from Srinagar to Delhi on 5 July 1984. Judicial cases against those individuals were currently pending in India. (See Press Release ECOSOC/6497-NGO/747.)
Today, India’s representative said the group’s response to the serious questions posed by the Committee was “rather frivolous at best”. The Movement had admitted that some of its members had been involved in the hijackings, but had not explicitly rejected terrorism.
The Committee’s current session marks a decade that it has been operating under the “Paperless System” spearheaded by the NGO Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. It was created to provide the Committee with a fully electronic mode of operation to ease its heavy workload and flow of documentation, as well as facilitate the engagement of civil society. The model has proved largely successful; it is conservatively estimated that over the 10 years the paperless system has been implemented, the Committee saved 15,000,000 page impressions by obviating the need to print them — roughly 900 trees, and 2.9 million gallons (11 million litres) of water saved.
Taking the evolution a step further in 2012, the Committee’s current session was serviced by the Integrated Sustainable PaperSmart Services (ISPS) of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management. The unique features introduced at the meeting included the ISPS Print-on-Demand services and the substitution of hard copies of official documents in the room, through the use of Quick Response (QR) codes. A new poster with QR codes that could be scanned with smart phones and tablet devices was issued daily, so that documents such as the daily Journal of the United Nations, the press release of the day, both in English and French, and other key documents could be viewed on the devices themselves, or forwarded to others.
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations will meet again 21—30 May.
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