Millennium Development Goals ‘Galvanizing but Too Narrow’ Economic and Social Council Told as Speakers Urge ‘Transformative’ Post-2015 Development Agenda
Millennium Development Goals ‘Galvanizing but Too Narrow’ Economic and Social Council Told as Speakers Urge ‘Transformative’ Post-2015 Development Agenda
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Economic and Social Council
2012 Substantive Session
40th & 41st Meetings (AM & PM)
Millennium Development Goals ‘Galvanizing but Too Narrow’ Economic and Social
Council Told as Speakers Urge ‘Transformative’ Post-2015 Development Agenda
Entering Final Week of 2012 Substantive Session, Council
Opens General Segment, Acts on Decisions Forwarded by NGO Committee
Launching the General Segment and final week of its 2012 session, the Economic and Social Council today addressed a variety of topics, including issues related to development and programme coordination — ranging from principles to guide a post-2015 development strategy to the work of United Nations-accredited non-governmental organizations.
“Business as usual will not deliver on the vision of the Millennium Declaration” in the post-2015 era, said Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, a professor at the New School University and member of the Committee on Development policy who briefed the Council in the morning.
Presenting the views of the Committee — whose role was to advise the Council on cross-sectoral development issues — she said that progress to date had been uneven, and critical issues had been left out. Indeed, the implementation of the Declaration was “seriously threatened by global crises for which the current paradigm offers no response”. A coherent development model was, therefore, required, and could be brought about by adopting a “Transformative Agenda” to development.
In that vein, the Committee had elaborated a set of principles that should guide the selection of post-2015 development priorities, which were recently mandated in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Those principles included: the multidimensional and human-centred approach to development, sustainability, social justice and equity as an overarching consideration; human security; and participation in the process of establishing the post-2015 agenda, as well as stronger accountability mechanisms in its implementation.
Saying that the existing Millennium Development Goals had been “galvanizing” but also “too narrow”, she called for post-2015 goals to include specific targets on equity and social justice — in particular, on reducing disparities across nations, genders, social groups and individuals. She also stressed the need to balance the creation of global goals with national targets that made sense at the country level. “Global goals are set collectively and it makes little sense to apply them as one-size-fits-all planning targets without adaptation to national realities”, she said in that regard.
Norman Girvan, a professor at the University of the West Indies and a second member of the Committee, agreed that national efforts were critical to the successful achievement of development goals. However, he stressed that the international environment played a critical enabling role in achieving targets in specific areas such as stable growth, trade, technology, finance and migration. International rules and agreements were needed in those areas, and a new balance must be found between international rule-setting, on one hand, and the creation of the space needed by nations to determine their own destiny, on the other.
Turning to the related issue of global governance, he said that such arrangements were currently fragmented and mechanisms for coordination were “at best weak, and at worst non-existent”. In the context of the present “quadruple crisis” — macroeconomic instability, high food and energy prices, inequality within and between nations and the environment crisis — the situation could be described as a crisis in its own right, he said. A failure to address it effectively could threaten the welfare and security of all nations.
He outlined several proposals to improve global governance, including the creation of a global economic coordination council to oversee the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. The most recent proposal — emerging from the Rio+20 outcome document — was the establishment of a high-level political forum within the United Nations system to replace the Committee on Sustainable Development, he said.
In the discussion that followed, one representative said that the discussions emerging from Rio+20, as well as the increasing focus on the road beyond 2015, were “already bearing fruit”. A number of speakers also commended the concept of the “Transformative Agenda”, but expressed concern that it should “not only promise, but also deliver”. A more coherent and effective system of global governance would be needed going forward, many stressed in that respect, questioning, in particular, the role of the United Nations in that changing world order.
In other business today, the Council discussed the periodicity and scope of future reports on coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences, and reviewed a report of the Committee for Programme Coordination which contained recommendations on the Secretary-General’s work programme and a proposed strategic framework for 2014-2015. It also reviewed the efforts of a joint United Nations Task Force on tobacco control.
Also today, the Council took up two reports of its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, which described that Committee’s work in 2011 and presented two respective sets of draft decisions relating to that work. Acting on the recommendation of the Committee, and as detailed in the first of those reports, the Council adopted two draft decisions by which it granted consultative status to 112 non-governmental organizations, as well as addressing a number of reclassifications, withdrawals of status, name changes and the submission of quadrennial reports (listed in document E/2011/32 (Part I)).
Taking up the second report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, the Council adopted all eight draft decisions contained therein. Through those decisions, the Council granted consultative status to 146 organizations, and dealt with issues including suspensions, reinstatements and the closing of several applications without prejudice. It also approved the provisional agenda for the Committee’s 2012 session (listed in document E/2011/32 (Part II)).
In final action today, the Council adopted two draft decisions dealing with specific non-governmental organizations. By the terms of the first, the Council decided to request the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to resume its consideration of the 2007-2010 quadrennial report of the organization known as the “Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement” at its regular 2013 session. The Council also requested the Committee to defer — until its regular 2013 session — consideration of the request for that group to change its name to “End Human Trafficking Now”.
Also acting on the recommendations of the NGO Committee, the Council, by a recorded vote 27 in favour to 14 against, with 10 abstentions ( Australia, Bahamas, Burkina Faso, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Qatar, Republic of Korea and Zambia), deciding not to grant special consultative status to Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.
The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 24 July, to continue its general segment.
As the Economic and Social Council convened today to begin the general segment of its annual substantive session, it had before it a number of documents on various topics.
For its discussion of the Implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits, the Council had before it a report entitled: Periodicity and scope of future reports on the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits (document A/67/82-E/2012/64), which was transmitted in a note of the Secretary-General. A second report for that item, entitled, Report on the main decisions and policy recommendations of the Committee on World Food Security (document A/67/86–E/2012/71), was also transmitted by a note of the Secretary-General.
For its discussion on Coordination, programme and other questions, the Council had before it several reports, including the Annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2011/12 (document E/2012/67), which provided an overview of major developments in inter-agency cooperation within the framework of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) covering the period 2011/12, as well as a Report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on its fifty-second session, which ran from 4 to 29 June (document A/67/16 Supp. No.16).
Also before the Council was the Proposed strategic framework for the biennium 2014-2015 (relevant parts of document A/67/16), as well as the Secretary-General’s report on the Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control (document E/2012/70), which gives an overview of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and highlights areas of collaboration among the various agencies. The report highlights three required levels of interventions for tobacco control — political, technical and operational — and the need to make the link to non-communicable disease control.
For its discussion on non-governmental organizations, the Council had before it the Report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2011 regular session ( New York, 31 January-9 February and 3 March 2011) (document E/2012/32 (Part I), which contains two draft decisions on matters calling for action by the Council. The Report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2011 resumed session ( New York, 16-24 May and 16 June 2011) (document E/2012/32 (Part II) contains seven draft decisions on matters calling for action by the Council.
The Council also had before it two draft decisions. The Quadrennial report of the non-governmental organization Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement (document E/2012/L.14) would have the Council decide to request the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to resume consideration of that group’s 2007-2010 quadrennial report at its regular 2013 session. The Council also would request the Committee to defer — until its regular 2013 session — consideration of the request for that group to change its name to “End Human Trafficking Now”.
A draft decision on the Application of the non-governmental organization Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (document E/2012/L.15) would have the Council decide not to grant special consultative status to that non-governmental organization.
Briefing by the Committee on Development Policy
Taking the floor to brief the Council on the recent work of the Committee on Development Policy — a subsidiary body of the Council mandated to provides inputs and independent advice on emerging cross-sectoral development issues — was SAKIKO FUKUDA-PARR, a professor of International Affairs at the New School University. She described the Committee’s discussions and findings related to the topic “International Development Strategy beyond 2015: Time for a Transformative Development Agenda”, noting that the theme went to the heart of the Committee’s work.
She said that among its findings on the topic, the Committee had agreed that the Millennium Development Goals had been instrumental in galvanizing international attention and support for eradicating poverty, and had forged a consensus on development as an international priority along with peace and security, democracy and human rights. Moreover, they had focused attention on people as the central aspect of development – “its ultimate end and its major driver”.
However, the Committee had also identified a number of shortcomings regarding the Goals. They were too narrow and left out many of the critical challenges of today, notably employment and growth that created decent jobs, climate change and environmental sustainability, instability in global markets and equity and inclusion in development processes. They also excluded the critical aspects of an “empowering agenda”, and there were a number of controversies in the process by which they were developed.
Concerning the post-2015 agenda, the Committee did not propose a list of priority areas, but instead a set of principles that should guide the selection of priorities. Those principles included: the multidimensional and human-centred approach to development, sustainability, social justice and equity as an overarching consideration; human security – understood in a broad sense to minimize threats posed by economic shocks, violence, armed conflicts, natural disasters, health hazards and seasonal hunger; and participation in the process of establishing the post-2015 agenda, as well as stronger accountability mechanisms in its implementation.
As for the reasons behind a “transformative agenda”, she said that the process needed to be transformative because “business as usual will not deliver on the vision of the Millennium Declaration”. Progress to date had been uneven, and critical issues had been left out. Indeed, she said, the implementation of the Declaration was “seriously threatened by global crises for which the current paradigm offers no response”. What innovation there had been had come from country initiatives, but they had been “scattered”.
A coherent development model was, therefore, required, she said, to ensure the achievement of a broad set of human objectives while at the same time responding to the challenges that afflicted the world economy, namely the need for increased food security, financial stability, reduced stability, reduced inequality and environmental sustainability. New thinking and strategies were also needed to consider how those objectives could be incorporated into a single strategy, she added.
A transformative agenda was also called for in another sense, one that would address fundamental and structural causes of poverty and other development challenges, and ensure governance that was more participatory and accountable. Another important issue moving forward was that the objective of social justice, involving increased equality and realization of human rights, were adequately reflected. There were several ways of translating that issue into a global goal and monitoring its implementation. Those included goals to reduce inequality, and to ensure more consistent application of human rights standards and norms.
Indeed, the human rights community had been a source of particularly pointed criticism of the Millennium Goals. While many of those targets overlapped with economic and social rights, they did not reflect some core principles, such as the concern for the most vulnerable and the excluded, the principles of equality and participation, and the standard of universalism. In formulating the post-2015 goals, equity and social justice would be more effectively addressed through explicit goals on reducing disparities across nations, genders, social groups and individuals.
One of the most difficult issues was the question of how to set goals at the global level that had meaning at the national level, in a world of huge diversity in the challenges and opportunities that countries faced, as well as in their financial and technical capacity. “Global goals are set collectively and it makes little sense to apply them as one-size-fits-all planning targets without adaptation to national realities”, she said in that regard. Failure to tailor goals to local conditions could distort priorities and undermine nationally driven processes: a single goal would be under-ambitious in some countries while over-ambitious in others. For those reasons, a consensus was needed that global goals identify priorities and set specific targets for achievement at the global level, while countries should adapt the targets appropriate to their contexts.
Finally, there was the question of how to apply global goals at national levels. “This cannot be left open-ended,” she stressed. There needed to be accountability mechanisms that were democratic, and the goals should be seen as commitments to people, not to donors or the international community. While a number of approaches might be practical, she said, the Committee suggested considering setting up national commissions to identify country-specific goals which would invite broad participation of stakeholders in the country.
Next, NORMAN GIRVAN, Professorial Research Fellow, Graduate Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, said internal national effort was critical to the successful achievement of development goals but the international environment played a critical enabling role in achieving targets in specific areas such as stable growth, trade, technology, finance and migration.
International rules and institutional arrangements in those areas needed to work in sync to achieve the agreed development goals, he said. Whether it was in finance, trade or technology, those arrangements needed to be explicitly aligned to the targets, with implications for mandates, programmes and policies. They should be mutually supportive and should be accepted as legitimate by the entire global community in order to have sufficient backing for them to work effectively. Alignment, coherence and legitimacy were three overachieving principles.
A new balance must be found between international rule-setting and the provisioning of global public goods, on one hand, and the creation of the space needed by nations to determine their own destiny, on the other, he said. For instance, it was important to distinguish means from ends because ends were universal but means were plural.
Turning to the issue of inadequate global governance, he said globalization had increased the interconnectedness of the world economy, interlinking the “quadruple crisis” — macroeconomic instability, food and energy, inequality within and between nations and the environment crisis. The arrangements for global governance were fragmented and mechanisms for coordination “were at best weak and at worst, non-existent”. The situation could even be described as a crisis in its own right. Failure to address it effectively could threaten the welfare and security of all nations.
Some proposals to fixing that global governance problem in a coherent and coordinated way included the creation of a global economic coordination council to oversee the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. A variant of that proposal was the creation of a United Nations economic, social and environmental council. The most recent proposal was a high-level political forum within the United Nations system to replace the Committee on Sustainable Development, which had been part of the outcome of the recent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The role of global institutions, such as World Trade Organization (WTO), Bretton Woods institutions and United Nations agencies was also important. “We are of the view that the United Nations system must be central,” he said.
On trade, Mr. Girvan said it was important to orient WTO rules more explicitly to development criteria, trade as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. The Committee for Development Policy also paid attention to the adequacy, composition, stability, distribution, conditionality and architecture of financing. For instance, significant shortfalls were seen in the delivery on commitment and private flows were skewed. On migration, it could enhance employment opportunities, augmenting the income of poor households in sending countries and augmenting foreign currency earnings, but it could also have significant negative economic and social costs, such as dislocated families and communities and brain drain in sending countries and social tensions in receiving countries.
In a brief ensuing discussion, speakers agreed that the Millennium Goals had created both opportunities and challenges — in particular for least developed countries — and that some critical targets had not been addressed. However, some said, the current discussions emerging from last month’s Rio+20 Conference, and the increasing focus on the road beyond 2015, was “already bearing fruit”. A number of speakers commended the concept of the “Transformative Agenda”, but expressed concern that it should “not only promise, but also deliver”.
A more coherent and effective system of global governance would be needed going forward, many stressed in that respect, questioning, in particular, the role of the United Nations in that changing world order. In that vein, one speaker also raised the issue of the current “parallel” system of global governance — one being driven by the United Nations and the other by the Group of Seven (G-7), the Group of Eight (G-8) and the Group of 20 (G-20) — and asked how the panellists felt the two systems could be reconciled. Other speakers raised the issue of migration in the context of the post-2015 framework; in addition, the Vice-President of the Council, LUIS ALFONSO DE ALBA, asked how it could be ensured that the post-2015 agenda could be a sustainable one.
Responding to some of those questions, Ms. FUKUDA-PARR said that one of the most remarkable achievements of the last few decades were the advent of “very participatory” United Nations development conferences, in particular with regard to civil society. Ultimately, that type of nationally based process was going to be very important on the next round of goal elaboration, she said. Responding to one speaker who asked about the role of growth going forward, she said it was “treacherous to just consider the issue of growth”. It was critical to consider whether that growth was bringing about improvements, she said, in particular in the area of employment. “We need to go beyond economic growth”, she said in that regard.
Mr. GIRVAN said that, so far, migration had not been recognized as a crucial component of the international development agenda, and that doing so would be a “first step”. Many development goals, both past and upcoming targets, were affected by the condition and treatment of migrants. The immigration rate among migrants was about 50 per cent higher among migrants that among nationals of host countries in 2010, he said in that respect. Moreover, there needed to be an acknowledgement that receiving States had an obligation to protect the human rights of all those living within their borders. The Convention on the Rights of Migrants had been signed by only 41 countries, and the resulting absence of a global framework on the issue represented a major policy gap.
On the question of global governance, he said that bodies intended for that purpose needed to meet both the tests of “legitimacy and effectiveness”. In that regard, some had suggested that the G-20, which was not universally representative, reflected an “elite multilateralism” and was not necessarily regarded as legitimate by the wider international community. Questions had also been raised about its effectiveness. In that vein, he drew the attention of the Council to a proposal made by Jose Antonio Ocampo and Joseph Stiglitz on the creation of a specialized body, within the framework of the United Nations, which could be both legitimate and effective and would focus its work on the area of global economic governance.
Introduction of Reports
NAVID NANIF, Director of the Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s note on the periodicity and scope of future reports on the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits (document A/67/82–E/2012/64).
After explaining the background of the note, he said the periodicity of reports should be flexible and should not be determined in a mechanical fashion. The major forthcoming events that would call for such a review would be the just concluded Rio+20 Conference and the review of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. Consequently, the Council may wish to request that reports be compiled on those events. The follow-up should be conducted in the most appropriate modality, he said.
Introducing the report of the Committee for Programme Coordination (document A/67/16), ERIC FRANCK SAIZONOU ( Benin) said it contained recommendations on the Secretary-General’s work programme. With regard to the 2010-2011 programme performance, the Committee recommended that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to ensure that more in-depth enterprise risk management be undertaken prior to the introduction of new management tools, include in future performance reports information on the impact of a reduction in printed documents, and explain the termination or postponement of activities owing to post vacancies funded by the regular budget.
As regards the proposed strategic framework for 2014-2015, he said the Committee recommended the approval of eight priorities for that period but also that the Assembly review the plans’ outlines at its sixty-seventh session, due to differences among States. It reiterated its recommendation that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to ensure that such frameworks fully consider the Assembly’s guidelines, so that future outlines more accurately reflect the United Nations’ long-term goals. It also stressed the need for the Secretariat to improve the formulation of expected accomplishments and qualitative aspects of achievement indicators.
He said the Committee recommended that the Assembly approve 26 of the 28 individual programme plans subject, in some cases, to modifications. The Committee recommended that the Assembly allocate Programme 20 — human rights — to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) for its review and action. The Committee also had reviewed three reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the triennial review of implementation of recommendations made at the Committee’s forty-ninth session. It recommended that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to take steps to develop a single, common definition of lessons learned and explore means to share those lessons.
With regard to the overview report of the CEB for 2011-2012, he said the Committee recommended that the Assembly bring to the Secretary-General’s attention the need for the CEB to act in line with its mandate and with the intergovernmental mandates of its member organizations. The transparency of the CEB report should be improved by summarizing the implementation status of recommendations approved by the Assembly.
As for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), he said the Committee recommended the Assembly request United Nations organizations to promote greater coherence in work to support that initiative, and called on the United Nations to continue mainstreaming Africa’s special needs into all its normative and operational activities. The United Nations also should continue coordinating with the NEPAD Development Planning and Coordinating Agency.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the activities of the United Nations Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control (document E/2012/70) was DOUGLAS BETTCHER, Director of the WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative. He recalled that the agency had established the Task Force in 1999 to intensify a joint United Nations response to and strengthen global support for tobacco control. He also recalled that a WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was adopted in 2003 as an evidence-based tool to save lives with the objective of protecting present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
He said the report reviewed the “demand-side” measures of the Convention — namely, tobacco pricing and taxation, protection from exposure to tobacco smoke, the regulation of the contents of tobacco products, packaging and labelling, education and public awareness, tobacco advertising, and demand reduction measures. It also addressed the Convention’s “supply-side” measures, including the illicit trade in tobacco products and sales to and by minors. It also described the surveillance and reporting of the implementation of the treaty, noting, in particular, that sufficient national capacity and funding for research, monitoring and evaluation was lacking.
The report also addressed broader themes regarding multisectoral assistance at the global and country levels, trade-related issues, and areas of collaboration among agencies for the implementation of the Convention. It also made a number of conclusions and recommendations. Among those, he said that inter-agency collaboration was imperative for the effective implementation of the Convention at the country level.
The Task Force could play a key role to ensure policy and programme coherence and to avoid overlap and build strategies on existing policy frameworks and tools. A United Nations-wide, multisectoral approach would be most effective for the successful implementation of the treaty, especially in the context of implementing the Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, he said.
In the discussion that followed, the delegate of El Salvador stressed the crucial role of the Council in tackling new challenges and the importance of strong political will of Member States. The discussion at the Council was timely and was intended to strengthen the follow-up mechanism for major conferences and summits. As for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, his Government had signed the instrument in 2004. Although it was not a party to the convention yet, the country was implementing a national tobacco control law.
The representative of Russian Federation described how his Government was combating tobacco consumption, including through the introduction of legislation, which would, among others, limit the number of public smoking areas. That would mark a breakthrough in public health and the fight against non-communicable diseases. He added that the upcoming Conference of States Parties to the Framework Convention in Seoul would be an important step in the fight against tobacco.
The delegate of Mexico emphasized the need for the Council to reform its working methods to be more effective and relevant in delivering its mandates. The Annual Ministerial Review must be strengthened and broadened to comprehensively implement the internationally agreed development goals. The Council should also mobilize its subsidiary bodies and integrate them in the follow-up mechanism in order to enhance the relevance of the United Nations development system.
The representative of Australia agreed on the need to rethink the Council’s working methods in a manner that would increase participation of civil society and address the issue of system-wide coherence, including country programmes, and the issue of duplication between the Council and the General Assembly. She also stressed the need for strengthening the Council’s relationship with Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO. Australia was also implementing the Framework Convention, as non-communicable diseases, including cancers, were now among the biggest killers in the developed world. Their impact was being felt in all countries and region, she added.
Cuba’s representative expressed that delegation’s concern that, when it came to the fight against tobacco, an appropriate balance should be taken into account. Tobacco farmers represented the essential base of his nation’s society and culture. Although Cuba was an active defender of public health, consideration should be given to the context in which a nation had developed. Otherwise, its large low-income population would be affected.
General Debate on Non-Governmental Organizations
CHRISTINA RAFTI (Cyprus), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that over the past few years, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations continued to use delaying tactics to defer applications, such as by asking repetitive questions that went beyond the information the organizations were required to submit under the relevant Economic and Social Council guidelines. In May of this year, the Committee deferred a total of 130 requests for consultative status. That practice left organizations in a “state of limbo” for years at a time. On any given application, the Committee should live up to its responsibility to take a decision within a reasonable time.
With regard to groups dealing with human rights, the Committee had simply balked at taking a decision during several consecutive sessions, leaving those organizations “in a void of some sort of permanent deferral”, often only because they were critical of some Committee members’ human rights records or simply held views which were different to those of Governments, she said. Of particular concern was the resistance of some Member States of the committee to grant status to organizations which promoted and defended the rights of persons based on their sexual orientation.
Another serious concern was the refusal of some Committee members to take note of the quadrennial reports of various human rights organizations which already had status with the Council. It was clear that the systematic deferral of those activity reports was used as a “form of reprisal” against human rights defenders, she said, emphasizing that the European Union regretted such unfair treatment.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN El Salvador, as a member of the Economic and Social Council, welcomed the current format of the reports on non-governmental organizations, but sought to include in future documents more information, such as geographical distribution and comparative data on gender, to improve the qualitative aspects of the reports. He also called for more attention to efficiency. With a total of more than 250 non-governmental organization applications — evidence attesting the importance of civil society involvement — the workload of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs was bound to increase.
YANERIT MORGAN Mexico acknowledged the Council’s important role in enhancing the voice of civil society, particularly because non-governmental organizations were making contributions in various fields, including on the ground in areas where the United Nations was carrying out its work. Mexico attached particular importance to non-governmental organizations and to broader efforts to ensure their voices were heard, including towards the establishment of participatory democracy. On other matters, he noted that the relevant recommendations contained in the report on global governance had not been implemented.
Introduction and Action on Draft Decisions
The Council then turned its attention to a draft decision on “Quadrennial report of the non-governmental organization Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement” (document E/2012/L.14).
Introducing the text, MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL ( Egypt) said his Government had submitted the measure, as the country had launched an investigation into the financial activities of foundations founded by or affiliated with members of the Mubarak family. An international investigation had been launched as well, related to accounts held by members of that family. Egypt had presented the draft decision in order to maintain the status quo of the organization and its report, so as not to affect the ongoing investigations. He called on the Council to support the text.
The Council then adopted the decision without a vote, requesting the NGO Committee to resume consideration of that group’s 2007-2010 quadrennial report at its regular 2013 session. By other terms, it requested the Committee to defer — until its regular 2013 session — consideration of the request for that group to change its name to “End Human Trafficking Now”.
Next, the Council took up a draft decision on application of the non-governmental organization Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (document E/2012/L.15).
Taking the floor before action, the representative of Viet Nam, the draft’s main sponsor, said the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation promoted the separation of Viet Nam’s territory. Its aims violated the United Nations Charter, including the principle of territorial integrity, and Council resolution 1996/31 (1996). The foreign-based group did not represent the ethnic Khmer people in Viet Nam. Rather, it used the Khmer people to further its illegitimate political agenda. It had slandered Viet Nam’s policies and the political, economic, social and cultural life of ethnic people in the country.
He went on to say that Viet Nam’s Constitution outlined the State’s policy of equality, solidarity and mutual support among all ethnic communities and prohibited discrimination. Viet Nam was not a member of the Committee on NGOs and thus, had not been able to provide that information to the Committee. He called on the Council to support the draft decision.
Speaking in a general statement, Cuba’s delegate reaffirmed the importance of all groups that received consultative status to act in line with the United Nations Charter, including the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Organizations with status must comply with Council resolution 1996/31 (1996), which outlined that non-governmental organizations must respect those principles and refrain from politically motivated acts against States. The group in question was carrying out “secessionist activities.” He regretted that the Committee had not received all information it had needed and he supported the draft decision.
Indonesia’s delegate said his country was deeply concerned that the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom had violated the Charter and resolution 1996/31 (1996), in promoting secession in Viet Nam’s territory. Indonesia had taken note of views that information from Viet Nam had not been made available to the Committee during its consideration of the application. He supported the draft decision.
The representative of the Philippines supported the draft decision, saying that he recognized the freedom of expression. However, it was also essential for all States to be given an opportunity to air their views on the consultative status of a group affecting their country. The goals of Khmers Kampuchea-Krom went against the principle of territorial integrity. The current case highlighted the need to review measures for consultative status.
He went on to say that civil society groups were not expected to tow a Government’s position. But, it was important for Governments to be informed when a non-governmental organization was being considered for status. That was especially true when the group was based in another country. As laudable as any group’s goals might be, the Council should not immediately grant consultative status without having the concerned State heard.
The representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic said Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation was a secessionist organization. It violated the Charter and Council resolution 1996/31 (1996). Granting consultative status to it would set a precedent for other groups to follow suit. The Council, a principal United Nations body, had the power to take final decisions on the matters approved by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. He supported the draft decision.
Nicaragua’s delegate reaffirmed the Charter principles and 1996/31 (1996). She regretted that the facts presented by Viet Nam had not been made available prior to today and supported the draft decision. The Council could not grant consultative status to a group trying to undermine States’ territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The Russian Federation’s delegate said the Council should welcome efforts by States, which were not Committee members, to elucidate the situation on non-governmental organizations. They were helping the Committee. The Russian Federation had examined Viet Nam’s arguments and determined there was no basis not to believe that country. He agreed that the group was contravening the United Nations Charter, aimed at whipping up a separatist sentiment. He supported the draft decision.
Venezuela’s delegate regretted her Government had not had the information needed to assess the organization. She was grateful for Viet Nam’s information, stressing the importance of assessments made by observer States. She reaffirmed that all groups seeking status must adhere to Council resolution 1996/31 (1996). She supported the draft decision.
Speaking in explanation of position before action, the United States’ representative said her delegation was deeply dismayed that a draft decision had been tabled to overturn a consensus decision made by the NGO Committee. The United States had called for a recorded vote and would vote “no” on the text, as civil society actors should have the right to freedom of expression and to share their views. She urged the Council to uphold the Committee’s decision to grant consultative status to the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, a peaceful advocacy organization based in the United States. It did nothing other than help marginalized Khmers people in Viet Nam and raise awareness of their situation.
She said the organization had participated in United Nations bodies for more than a decade and its principles were in line with the Charter. All concerned States had had access to the Committee, and Committee members had had ample time to review the application. All countries, including non-members, had been given a full opportunity to raise their concerns — and none had. The Committee had decided that group had met the criteria of Council resolution 1996/31 (1996). If those concerned had focused on assessing the merits of allegations raised by group, the Council would be discussing a referral back to the Committee, not a reversal of its decision. The role of civil society was to express independent views. If the Council opposed accreditation, it risked denying the whole reason the United Nations valued civil society in the first place. She urged the Council to uphold the Committee’s decision to grant consultative status to the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.
Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, concurred that information about the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation was available and there was nothing new regarding the requirements set out in the Council’s resolution 1996/31. Consequently, there was no reason for overturning the decision of the NGO Committee. The Union believed that it was not appropriate to oppose accreditation for an organization simply because it expressed views different from those of Governments represented on the Council. The member States of the European Union that were on the Council would vote against the proposed decision and invite others to do so.
By a vote of 27 in favour to 14 against, with 10 abstentions (Australia, Bahamas, Burkina Faso, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Qatar, Republic of Korea and Zambia), the Council then adopted thedecision, deciding not to grant special consultative status to Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.
Speaking in explanation of vote after action, Chile’s delegate said he had abstained from the vote. Chile supported non-governmental organizations’ contribution to the United Nations. In this case, he regretted that, in the face of legitimate concerns expressed by Viet Nam, it was not possible to send the case back to the NGO Committee for new consideration.
Japan’s representative said he had abstained from the vote, as consultative status should be granted to non-governmental organizations regardless of their beliefs. He noted that Viet Nam had not been afforded an opportunity to express its views. He believed the Council ought to have allowed the NGO Committee to review its consideration of the issue, based on information provided by concerned parties.
Speaking next, Mexico’s delegate reiterated her country’s commitment for civil society to participate in the United Nations’ work. Mexico did not have sufficient information to take a decision on the request by Khmers Kampuchea-Krom. She would have preferred to have the NGO Committee analyse the group’s application again, with all elements included. For those reasons, Mexico had abstained on the vote.
Lesotho’s delegate supported the work of non-governmental organizations while he also stressed the paramount importance of the principles of the United Nations Charter. He supported the decision, saying that it was clear that the Committee must examine its modus operandi. The need for consultation with States that were not Committee members was clear. The consensus achieved in the Committee had not been based on all the facts. His vote should not be interpreted as one against non-governmental organizations.
Making a general statement, Viet Nam’s delegate said the Council had adopted “a right and judicious decision”. He thanked the Council for its support, stressing that today’s action had upheld the principals of the Charter, as well as those outlined in resolution 1996/31 (1996). It had distinguished between genuine non-governmental organizations and those seeking to abuse consultative status. The decision was not aimed against any Member State.
Following that action, the Council then turned its attention to the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2012 regular session (document E/2012/32 (Part I)), which contained two draft resolutions.
The Council then adopted draft decision I without a vote, deciding to grant consultative status to 112 organizations; reclassify the consultative status of six organizations; note the withdrawal of the application of one non-governmental organization; and note the change of name of six non-governmental organizations.
By other terms, it decided to take note of the 212 quadrennial reports of non-governmental organizations; and close without prejudice consideration of the request for consultative status made by 23 organizations after they had failed to respond to queries over the course of two consecutive sessions.
Adopting draft decision II without a vote, the Council took note of the present report.
Next, the Council turned to Part II of the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2012 resumed session (document E/2012/32 (Part II)), which contained eight draft decisions.
The Council adopted without a vote draft decision I, by which the body granted consultative status to 129 non-governmental organizations, reclassified the consultative status of one non-governmental organization and noted that the Committee decided to take note of the change of name of seven non-governmental organizations. It also noted that the Committee had taken note of the quadrennial reports of 151 non-governmental organizations, including new and deferred reports; and closed without prejudice consideration of the request for consultative status made by 22 non-governmental organizations after the organizations had failed to respond to three reminders over the course of two consecutive sessions.
Next, the Council adopted without a vote draft decision II, by which it decided to withdraw the status of the non-governmental organization Interfaith International.
The Council then adopted without a vote draft decision III, the consultative status of 202 organizations with outstanding quadrennial reports were suspended for a period of one year.
Further, the Council adopted without a vote draft decision IV, thus deciding to reinstate the consultative status of 27 organizations that had submitted their outstanding quadrennial reports.
Also adopted without a vote was draft decision V, by which the Council decided to withdraw the consultative status of 75 organizations with continued outstanding quadrennial reports.
The Council then adopted without a vote draft decision VI, thus taking note of the withdrawal of consultative status requested by two non-governmental organizations.
The Council adopted without a vote draft decision VII, approving the provisional agenda for the 2013 session of the Committee. Finally, the Council adopted draft decision VIII without a vote, by which it took note of the present report.
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