|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
30th Meeting (AM)
Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Meets Briefly to Adopt Report
of ‘Very Successful’ 2013 Session
Proposes Change of Dates for 2014 Regular, Resumed Sessions
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations met briefly this morning to adopt, as orally revised, the report of its 2013 resumed session, held from 20 to 29 May, during which it recommended to the Economic and Social Council 161 such organizations for consultative status and deferred 219 for further consideration at its regular session in 2014.
Also by the report, the Committee proposed that the Council change the dates of its 2014 regular session to 21 to 30 January and 7 February, and that it hold its resumed session from 19 to 28 May and on 6 June.
The Committee’s final report contained the five draft decisions calling for action by the Economic and Social Council on granting consultative status to non-governmental organizations; reclassifying the status of one such organization; and noting the Committee’s consideration of 112 quadrennial reports, including new and deferred reports. The Committee recommended that the Council close, without prejudice, consideration of the request for consultative status made by 45 non-governmental organizations, after those had failed to respond to queries over the course of two consecutive sessions.
Following the report’s adoption, Vice-Chair Maria P. Tzotzorkova-Kaymaktchieva of Bulgaria thanked the Chair, Marghoob Saleem Butt of Pakistan, for the progress made during the highly challenging session. She underlined substantive achievements, in particular, the two landmark votes recommending special consultative status to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations, as well as status for organizations doing important human rights work. As a former Chair, she said she had worked to instil a positive spirit into the proceedings, and she thanked the Chair for reinforcing that.
Ms. Tzotzorkova-Kaymaktchieva, echoing a view expressed throughout the session, voiced concern at the growing backlog of deferred applications. Non-governmental organizations focused on freedom of expression and sexual and reproductive rights had been further postponed. She said those organizations had a right to receive a response in a reasonable timeframe and expressed concern at the high number of deferred sexual and reproductive rights groups. It was important for the Committee to approach its work in a spirit of objectivity and to strictly apply the criteria outlined in Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 without adding new requirements.
Vice Chair from Belgium Isabelle Bardijn acknowledged the Committee’s progress in recommending status to non-governmental organizations that had been deferred for a long time. She praised the special consultative status given to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations, which, she said, had sent a strong message to those committed to addressing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Those voices deserved to be heard at the United Nations, she added.
She regretted that 219 applications had been deferred, as that figure was larger than the number of organizations recommended for status. Human rights organizations had been blocked again by numerous repetitive questions, often unrelated to criteria for status. She was particularly concerned that the Committee had deferred groups working in sexual and reproductive rights; women’s rights and gender equality; and freedom of expression and protection of journalists. She regretted once again the blocking of several secular and humanist organizations for consultative status, she said, urging the Committee to take into account the full diversity of associations, as outlined in its guiding resolution.
China’s delegate said he had always opposed the idea of granting status through voting, which was not conducive to the Committee’s unity or constructive atmosphere. As for the deferred list, he stressed that not all members had blocked non-governmental groups from participating in consultations. The Committee’s mandate was to assist those groups in understanding the United Nations purpose.
The representative of Sudan, Vice Chair Hassan Hassan, said that patience with regard to diversity and questions posed was the backbone of the Committee’s work, and he expressed concern at the “hastiness” and urgency to take decisions, which he felt had characterized the session. Voting, he agreed, should be the exception and not the rule; the basis for decisions should be consensus. The United Nations was based on respect for diversity, and the Committee should work accordingly. “We come from different backgrounds and different regions” ‑ and there should be respect for all questions posed during the sessions. At the same time, he was greatly concerned at the growing backlog of deferred applications.
The representative of Israel requested that the “bold” highlight of a phrase in paragraph 20 of the report be removed.
In closing remarks, the Committee Chair commended the work of the Committee, noting that “together we have produced a very successful and one of the most productive sessions”. He expressed hope that the spirit of cooperation would continue and wished for even more productive sessions in the future, adding that he expected to hear about most positive developments in the Non-Governmental Organization Committee for years to come.
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