Proposal Rejected in Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to Close Application for Status of Group Alleged to Have Terrorist Ties

23 May 2012
ECOSOC/6514-NGO/754

Proposal Rejected in Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to Close Application for Status of Group Alleged to Have Terrorist Ties

23 May 2012
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6514
NGO/754
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on NGOs

22nd & 23rd Meetings (AM & PM)


Proposal Rejected in Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to Close

 

Application for Status of Group Alleged to Have Terrorist Ties

 


Vote Required to Defer Consideration

Of Sudan-Based Islamic African Relief Agency


The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today voted to block the proposed closure of the application for consultative status of an organization alleged to have terrorist ties — including financial links to Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaida network — as delegates felt the organization should be given a chance to respond to those allegations before such “abrupt” action was taken.


Continuing its resumed session, which began 21 May, the Committee — now considering applications deferred from previous sessions — recommended 25 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and one organization for roster status, while it further postponed consideration of 17 applications, including that of the Islamic African Relief Agency, the focus of today’s vote and lengthy debate.


The Sudan-based “IARA” had first had its consultative status withdrawn in 2006, recalled the representative of the United States, who raised the initial motion to formally close that organization’s application.  He said the NGO, which was known to have financed terrorist groups, had violated the most basic tenets of the United Nations Charter.  Moreover, while his delegation had grave concerns about the organization’s present activities, the Committee could not view its previous actions as having a “statute of limitations”.  Those very serious accusations could permanently bar the group from being granted status, he said.


To block the United States’ proposal, the representative of Sudan tabled a “no action” motion, stressing that there was “not even a thread” of evidence to justify the accusations levied.  When the 19-member Committee took action on that proposal — which would effectively adjourn the debate and keep the IARA on the list of applications deferred to future sessions — the vote was 9 in favour (China, Cuba, Morocco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, Venezuela) to 5 against (Belgium, Bulgaria, Israel, Peru, United States), with 2 abstentions (India, Kyrgyzstan).  Three Committee members were absent for the vote.


Speaking in favour of Sudan’s no-action motion prior to the vote, the representative of Venezuela expressed her belief that it was premature to take action on the closure of the organization’s application, as proposed by the United States.  More information was needed on the serious allegations raised, added the representative of Cuba, who also spoke in favour of the motion.  The organization should be given an opportunity to respond to the accusations raised against it, she said.


Also prior to the vote, the representatives of the United State and Belgium spoke against the motion.


In other business today, the Committee considered a single application for reclassification of status, that of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences, which was seeking to upgrade its classification from special to general consultative status.


During that discussion, several delegates expressed concern over the Committee’s procedure for evaluating applications for upgrades, with the representative of Pakistan noting that an organization seeking general consultative status had a higher burden of justification than those seeking special status. He stressed that the onus was on the organization to prove that special status was not enough for it to accomplish its stated aims.


The Committee’s Chairperson, Maria Pavlova Tzotzorkova, agreed with the delegates who had made “good proposals” about the format of applications for reclassification.  The Committee would continue working on the format informally, with an eye to improving it, she said.  Meanwhile, however, the delegate from Belgium warned against raising the Committee’s expectations of any NGO without first informing the organization of those changes.


In that context, the Committee decided to defer its consideration of the application for reclassification of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences, pending responses to additional questions.


The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 24 May, to continue its consideration of deferred applications for consultative status.


Background


The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations met today to continue its resumed 2012 session.


New Application for Reclassification


The Committee returned this morning to its consideration of one organization whose application for reclassification of status had been postponed yesterday.  International Institute of Administrative Sciences — an international organization based in Belgium working to improve the organization and operation of public administration — was seeking an upgrade of status from special to general consultative status.


Chairperson MARIA PAVLOVA TZOTZORKOVA recalled that, yesterday, the representative of India had made good proposals about the format of applications for reclassification — namely, that more detailed information about the scope of an organization’s activities, and a stronger justification for its need for upgraded status, be provided.  The Committee would continue working on the format informally, with an eye to improving it, she said.


Meanwhile, the Committee proceeded with its discussion of the NGO, with the representative of Pakistan stressing that his delegation had no personal concerns with the organization’s upgrade.  When it raised a query, it was to better understand the situation, and not just to “push the papers out of our way”.  However, “there’s a need to justify”, he said, explaining that an organization seeking general consultative status had a higher burden of justification than those seeking special status. Questions remained, he noted.  Foremost among those, was whether an organization whose members were States could truly be considered a “non-governmental”.


The representative of Belgium said that, if the Committee’s expectations were raised, NGOs must be better informed about those expectations.  The application format should be modified and the system should be improved.  An informal debate could be held on those changes this week, he suggested.


The Committee then decided to defer its consideration of the organization’s request for upgraded status, pending responses to the additional questions.


Special Consultative Status


Turning its attention to applications deferred from previous sessions, the Committee recommended special consultative status to the following organizations:


All India Christian Council — a national India-based organization working to proactively protect and serve the interests of the Christian community, minorities and oppressed castes.


Apne Aap Women World Wide (India) Trust — a national organization based in India working to empower trafficked and at-risk women and children to organize against the demand for purchased sex and the injustice in their own lives, and assert their right to dignified lives and livelihoods.


Asabe Shehu Yar’Adua Foundation — a Nigerian national organization aiming to campaign and conduct research on HIV/AIDS, combat sexual harassment, protect child rights, reduce poverty and other related goals.


Association for Social and Environmental Development — a national organization based in India working, among other things, to achieve biodiversity enhancement through public awareness, action research and people’s participation.


Corporación Excelencia en la Justicia — a Colombia-based national organization aiming to promote excellence in justice through leadership and the promotion of fundamental cultural and institutional change.


Corporación para la Investigación, el Desarrollo Sostenible y la Promoción Social CORPROGRESO — a Colombia-based national organization working to improve the quality of life and well-being of vulnerable communities.


Human Rights Association for Community Development in Assiut — a national organization based in Egypt working to enhance and protect human rights, and to enable people, particularly women and youth, to develop their leadership potential.


Initiative for Environment, Health and Social Development — a national Nigeria-based organization involved in community development, and providing related consultancy services.


International Circle of Faith Chaplaincy Corps Ltd/Gte — an international organization based in Nigeria aiming to creating an atmosphere for long life through rescue operation, combat against hunger, diseases and HIV/AIDS, among other goals.


Roster Status


The Committee recommended Hands of Love Group System Inc. for roster status.


The United States-based international organization aims to be an assist vehicle by providing in-print input to other NGOs and world Governments, as well as other relevant parties on issues of the poor, sustainability, conflict resolution, culture conflict and better understanding of important world issues.


Deferred Applications


Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights — a Ghana-based national organization seeking to promote rights-based advocacy to sexual and reproductive health through advocacy and inclusive policymaking in the interest of under-served communities, the poor and the marginalized, as the representative of Pakistan requested more information about the organization’s financial data and its work with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.


Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism — an Iranian national organization, which aims to disclose the terrorist and cultic nature of terrorist groups and to give a voice to the terror victims of the world, as the representative of Israel asked the organization to provide its definition of “terrorism” and what it considered to be a “terrorist organization”, and raised questions about its understanding of the link between terrorism and racism.


Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir Córdoba – a national Argentina-based organization whose purpose is to foster discussion and action on issues such as reproductive rights, sexuality, health and citizenship of women, and their relations with religious elements, as the representative of Pakistan said that a question on the NGO’s registered name, put forward in previous sessions, had not yet been properly answered.


The observer for the Holy See said that legal reservations in Argentina on the use of the term “Católicas” were the source of the confusion.  The representative of India said that all NGOs should apply for consultative status with the same name as that under which they are registered.  To avoid confusion, only applications following that procedure should be considered by the Committee.


The representative of Belgium agreed, but said that, in the case of a name change, an NGO should not be required to provide the Committee with a new certificate if that was not required by its national laws.  The representative of India responded that, in such a case, registration information should be cross-checked, while the representative of Pakistan recalled that a Committee procedure already existed for such a scenario.  It was only necessary for an organization changing its name to submit a letter to the Committee, he said.


Ilitha Labantu — a South African national organization aiming, among other things, to provide immediate access to support and education services around violence against women and children and to provide counselling to survivors of violence, as the representatives of India and Cuba raised questions about the organization’s financial statement.


The representative of Belgium said that such detailed information was available in the audit report provided by the organization, but agreed that additional questions be sent to the organization.


The representative of Sudan raised an unrelated question about how the NGO designated “survivors of violence”.


International Council for the Day of Vesak (ICDV) — an international organization based in Thailand aiming to use the occasion of Vesak Day to mobilize the Buddhist community worldwide to address challenges facing humanity, including climate change, sustainable and social development, education and peacebuilding, as the representative of Venezuela asked for more details about expenditures.


International Services Association — a national India-based organization whose aim is sustainable health and development for vulnerable communities through highly committed and equipped personnel and organizations, as the representative of Pakistan raised questions about the organization’s registration.


Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA) — an international organization based in Sudan whose stated goals include humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and development, conflict resolution, peacebuilding and human security, as the representative of the United States raised serious concerns about its activities.


That organization did not come close to meeting the basic criteria of the Committee, he said, and violated the most basic tenets of the United Nations Charter.  Research showed that the group supported Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, and provided funds to terrorist networks.  In 2006, the Committee had withdrawn the organization’s application; there had then been a procedural vote raised by Sudan, which was defeated.


The representative of Sudan replied that the fight against terrorism was the only field in which there was open, direct cooperation between Sudan and the United States.  If there had been evidence of such misuse of funds, Sudan would have known about it and acted upon it.  Moreover, it was highly unacceptable for one party to accuse another of terrorism.  The accusation against the organization being considered had been levied by the United States as an individual party, not by the Committee.


When consultative status was withdrawn from the NGO, Sudan had not objected, as it endeavoured not to have any dubious activities taking place in Sudan, the representative said.  However, it had later realized that the decision had been taken “very hastily”.  The opinions of the Committee had been extremely divided on the matter.  Today, there was no new information available on the case, he noted, asking whether the Committee was “punishing the organization three times” for false allegations.  There was “not even a thread” that justified the accusations of the United States, and he asked that delegation for “proof, and not provocations”.  If no new questions were directed to the NGO, he asked the Committee to take a decision on granting it consultative status.


The representative of the United States reiterated that the organization had had its consultative status revoked in 2006.  While there were, indeed, concerns about its present activities, the Committee could not view its previous actions — such as supporting Osama bin Laden — as having a “statute of limitations”.  Those very serious accusations could permanently bar the organization from being granted status, he said.


The representative of Sudan responded that the organization in question existed in Sudan, and that the country was in charge of ensuring that the NGO was responsible.  He asked whether the rules of the Committee would allow an organization from being deprived, once and for all, of consultative status.


The representative of the United States then raised a formal motion to close the organization’s application.  In response, the representative of Sudan read aloud from the rules of procedure that an NGO applying for consultative status “shall have the opportunity to respond to any objections being raised in the Committee before the Committee takes its decision”.


Basing her remarks on the opinion provided by the Office of Legal Affairs, Chairperson Tzotzorkova said that a precedent did in fact exist to close the application, despite the objections of some delegations.  The representative of the United States reiterated that once a motion was tabled, it was imperative that it be acted upon, and he urged the Committee to move forward with the motion to close the application.  However, the representative of Pakistan warned against any “abrupt” actions, and requested more time to consider the matter.


The representative of Sudan then raised a formal “no action” motion, which would effectively adjourn the debate.


The Chair reminded the Committee that, according to the rules of procedure, that motion had precedence over all other motions before the meeting and that two could speak in its favour ahead of the vote and two against.  The Committee then proceeded to consider Sudan’s motion.


Speaking in favour of the motion was the representative of Cuba, who said that more information was needed on the serious allegations raised in regard to the Islamic African Relief Agency.  The organization should be given an opportunity to respond, she stressed.  Also speaking in favour of the motion was the representative of Venezuela, who said it was premature to take action on the matter.


Speaking against the motion tabled by Sudan was the representative of the United States.  He said that the decision was one of utmost importance for the Committee and the United Nations as a whole; it defined whether the Organization would, or would not, tolerate terrorism.  The NGO being considered was clearly associated with terrorist financing.  A vote in favour of the no-action motion was a vote against efforts to prevent organizations with ties to terrorism from being accredited.  Further, the organization had had sufficient due process and time to respond to all allegations being made.  The representative of Belgium also spoke briefly against the no-action motion.


By a vote of 9 in favour to 5 against with 2 abstentions, the Committee then adopted the motion for the adjournment of the debate.


The Chairman said the Committee’s concerns would be transmitted to the organization, which would remain on the deferred list.


The representative of the United States said the result of the voting was disappointing.  The NGO had no reason to be accredited.  It had strong and convincing ties to terrorism, and his country would use every means at its disposal to prevent it from being accredited again.


The representative of Cuba said that she had supported the motion because Cuba believed that procedures needed to be followed.  Cuba condemned terrorism in all its forms.  It had suffered from that scourge and would not support any terrorist organization, which wanted status with the United Nations.  It was prepared to assess any information that was brought forward on the organization so as to clarify any link with any terrorist organization.


The representative of Nicaragua said that the request from the organization should not be analysed on any single piece of information.  If just one State had a doubt about it, that information needed to be put forward.  There had not been sufficient proof in this case.  Her country did not support terrorism or terrorist members, but there had been no sufficient proof in this case to make an informed decision.


The representative of the Russian Federation said that his country was committed to combating terrorism.  Accusing persons of participating in terrorism, however, was a very serious matter.  If there was clear proof of the NGO’s involvement in terrorism, it should not have been granted status with the Economic and Social Council.  With regard to the organization’s current application, a number of Committee members would like to have additional information before making a decision.  That was why his country had voted in favour of the motion.


The representative of Venezuela said that she supported the no-action motion because her country rejected the idea of anyone forcing a decision when there was not enough information to make that decision.  Venezuela would not support any organization linked to terrorism.  It was up to the international community to ensure appropriate punishment for whoever was practicing terrorism.  Her country had taken note of the sensitive allegations against the organization, but had not received the information to support the allegations.


The representative of Morocco said that terrorism must be combated and eradicated and that any organization that supported or practised it must be targeted.  The NGO under consideration had been the subject of allegations of committing terrorism in the past.  Morocco had also been a victim of terrorism, but before denying an organization accreditation, it should be given the opportunity to defend itself.  If it turned out to be involved in terrorism, then appropriate measures should be taken.


The Committee then continued with its consideration of deferred applications and recommended special consultative status to the following organizations:


Kejibaus — a Nigerian national organization that talks to youths about how to be self-developed persons, to be useful to the development of society at large and care for the elderly by showing them love.


Krityanand UNESCO Club Jamshedpur — a national organization based in India that aims to popularize the objectives and purpose of the United Nations and its system and to promote its programmes and activities among the mass of society within India.


Manavata — an India-based international organization that promotes a simple lifestyle and best practices to build “3H” families, thus building a better society.


Programme on Women’s Economic Social and Cultural Rights — an India-based international organization that promotes women’s human rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights by bringing a gender framework to policy, law and practice at local, national, regional and international levels in both conceptual and practical realms.


Tabitha Cumi Foundation — a Nigeria-based national organization that aims to improve systems and structures put in place for women and children in society.


Afghan Poverty Relief — an international organization based in the United Kingdom, which seeks to build a sustainable and strong Afghanistan where all the basic needs of life are available to all sections of society.


Architects for Peace Inc. — an Australia-based international organization that describes itself as an independent multidisciplinary forum of planners, architects, urban designers, landscape architects, engineers, environmentalists and artists working in the public domain, seeking sustainable urban development based on social justice, solidarity, respect and peace.


Eagle Eyes Association for Afghan Displaced Youth — a United Kingdom-based national organization that works for the relief of poverty, sickness and for such other charitable purposes as the trustees may from time to time decide in Afghanistan and elsewhere.


Earth Child Institute, Inc. — a United States-based international organization dedicated to all issues relating to children, environment and education for sustainable development and which hopes to engage and empower the world’s 2.2 billion people under the age of 18 to develop increasingly sustainable lifestyles to combat and adapt to climate change and environmental degradation.


Education for Employment Foundation (EFE) — a United States-based international organization, which seeks to create economic and social opportunity through constructive solutions to the problem of massive and growing unemployment.


ICT for Peace Foundation — a national organization based in Switzerland, which aims to enhance the performance of the international community in crisis management through the application of information and communications technology that can facilitate effective and sustained communication.


Le Conseil des Jeunes Congolais de l’Etranger (CJCE) — a Switzerland-based international organization that seeks to defend the interest of Swiss-Congolese and Congolese visitors, especially before national authorities and institutions, as well as before international institutions.


Mundo Sin Guerras — an international organization based in Spain, which promotes all kinds of ideas and actions leading to the elimination of wars through active non-violence, its social doctrine and its commitment to action in the world.


National Forum “Alternatives, Practice, Initiatives” — a Bulgaria-based international organization, which aims to assist and support the Bulgarian society on social development, democratization and civil integration, reinforcement of efforts for peace, human rights, economic prosperity, stability and promotion of civil and human values.


Noble Institution for Environmental Peace Inc. — a Canada-based international organization with the aim of benefitting all humanity through developing an understanding of and applying the principles of environmental peace through the recognition of the mutual interaction of human behaviour with the behaviours of the social, biological and physical environments.


Kuchlak Welfare Society — A Pakistan-based national organization that undertakes projects and activities for the development of the poor communities living in the far-flung areas of Balochistan and works to improve their living conditions and quality of life through providing them quality educational environment and bringing change in their thinking and attitudes, as the representative of China wanted to know how it carried out so many projects when it had reported that it had only seven members.


New World Hope Organization (NWHO) — a Pakistan-based international organization that creates awareness of education among the deprived communities in order to develop respectable and better living standards, as the representative of India wanted to know why the expenditure information on its website was different from the one provided in its application and to also understand the activities it carried out outside Pakistan.


Sairam Population Research Trust — an India-based national organization that works on the country’s population control and family welfare activities on a regional basis, especially in the State of Andhra Pradesh, as the representative of Pakistan wanted clarification on why that the organization had reported that it was established 2008 but its registration showed 2010.  He also wanted clarification of the difference between the financial figures it submitted and the ones on its website.


South Asia Partnership Pakistan — a Pakistan-based international organization that strives to empower marginalized sections of society and works to influence policies in favour of people, as the representative of China wanted it to clarify why it reported that it was a lobby organization, when its main activities appeared to be focused on projects.


World Shelter Organisation — an India-based international organization that provides shelter to the homeless people in developing and underdeveloped countries, as the representative of Pakistan requested more details on projects and activities and on its finances.


The Kuki Organization for Human Rights Trust — an India-based international organization that organizes village level committees to protect the human right to life, as the representative of India said that he needed some more information about how the organization functioned.


Zeitgeist — the Spirit of the Times — a national organization based in India which strives to herald a new era of environmental, socioeconomic, health and cultural development, with a special emphasis on tourism, as the representative of Pakistan wanted substantive answers to about its finances and more clarity on its registration.


Living Bread International Church Inc. — an international organization based in Israel which provides a vehicle for the operation of a church and for the initiation and administration of a wide range of charitable, educational, religious scientific and literary projects, as the representative of Sudan wanted to know why it only provided a “P.O. Box” and not a physical address.  He also wanted to know more about its activities.


Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights — a national organization based in the Republic of Korea which seeks to promote North Korean human rights and democracy and raise awareness internationally, as the representative of China wanted to know how it could promote human rights in North Korea when it was not actually in North Korea.  He also wanted further elaboration on how it obtained the information on North Korea, which it submitted with its application, and how it could be sure that it was accurate and objective.


Interactive Debate


The Committee began an interactive discussion with NGO representatives, hearing first from a representative of the International Partnership for Human Rights, who said that her organization developed publications with other NGOs, which were useful at the international level.  The organization was involved in capacity-building and worked mainly in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) region.  More recently, it had been working in Central Asia, where it was developing a project on racism and xenophobia.


The representative of China noted that the name of the NGO included the word “international”, but that it was focused on Europe and China, and asked if it had any specific projects in China and any plans to include East Asia in future work.


The NGO representative said that the organization was international because part of its work involved explaining international law and providing advice.  It did not currently work in China and did not plan to do so because it did not have sufficient knowledge to do so.


The representative of Russian Federation noted that lot of activities focused on the former Soviet Union region and said that many national minorities in those areas were deprived of many civil rights.  That situation had been continuing for about 20 years.  Could the organization focus on that issue which affected some 500,000 people, and analyse and publish its views on it?


The NGO representative said that the racism and xenophobia project was an aspect of the organization’s work now being developed.  It was aware of the situation and was interested in such issues, but could not say that it would be put on its website tomorrow.


The representative of Sudan asked if the organization carried out activities in Africa or worked with any organizations working in Africa.


The NGO representative said that it was not working in Africa and did not have contacts or partner organizations in that region, nor was Africa in its work plan for the next five years.


The representative of China, noting that the representative had told the Committee that her organization did not know China and did not carry out activity there, pointed out that on its home page, it had claimed to have aided or supported some human rights organizations to carry out some activities in China and other countries.  There was an obvious discrepancy, and the Chinese delegation was keen to know more about those activities.


The NGO representative said that, early on, the organization had assisted another in preparing a project proposal on China.  Its role had been to help develop a concept note, and the topic was China.  The organization had provided advice, but had not carried out any project.


The representative of China requested some written information on the discrepancy.


The representative of Venezuela noted that in its application, the organization reported in one section that it had received funding from Governments, but in another, said that it had not.  The delegate sought an explanation for that discrepancy.


The NGO representative said it had been a partner in a project funded by the European Union and had received some funding for that, but that it did not receive Government funding.


The representative of the International Legal Foundation then took the floor and said that her organization had been established 10 years ago to provide public defender services in post-conflict areas.  Its programme model was local capacity-building, while establishing a system that was cost effective for Governments.


The observer for Palestine thanked the representative for the organization’s work in Palestine, and asked what year it had been registered.


The representative of the United States noted that procedures needed to be followed with regard to participation by observers.  It had not been the practice that observer delegations could ask questions in the Committee.


The NGO representative said that the Organization had been registered in United States in 2001 and in the West Bank in 2010.


The Committee then recommended the organization for Special Consultative Status.


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