Continuing its 2014 session, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 17 organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, representative of a broad regional reach, and deferred action on 55 others.
The 19-member Committee vets applications submitted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), recommending general, special or roster status on the basis of such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend meetings of the Council and issue statements, while those with general status can also speak during meetings and propose agenda items. Organizations with roster status can only attend meetings.
Action on several applications was postponed because Committee members wanted more information from the candidates about, among other things, details of their respective organizations’ projects, partners, expenditures, sources of funding,and possible links to terrorist organizations.
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 28 January, to continue its session.
Special Consultative Status
The Committee recommended that the Economic and Social Council grant special consultative status to the following organizations:
Korea Center for United Nations Human Rights Policy (Republic of Korea);
Observatoire International pour la Non Violence - Communes des Nations pour la Paix (France);
Stichting Global Forest Coalition (Netherlands);
Structural Analysis of Cultural Systems (Germany);
The Children's Project, Inc. (United States);
Un Ponte Per… (Italy);
Young Women's Christian Association of Australia (Australia);
Al-Maqdese for Society Development (Occupied Palestinian Territory);
Asocijacija za Demokratsku Inicijativu (Bosnia and Herzegovina);
Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism (Iran);
Nehru Foundation for Development — Centre for Environment Education Society (India);
Non-Governmental Organization Federation of Nepal (Nepal);
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (Pakistan);
Berlin Civil Society Center — convening-capacity building-research gGmbH (Germany);
Centre pour les Droits Civils et Politiques — Centre CCPR (Switzerland);
Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA (United States).
The Committee postponed consideration of the following 55 organizations:
Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (United States) — as the Committee was awaiting a response to questions about why the organization had stopped publishing its activities in 2010 and how the elections in Iran had impacted its work;
Let's Breakthrough, Inc. (United States) — as China’s representative asked for clarification as to whether the organization had conducted projects in China;
National Secular Society (United Kingdom) — as the representative of China questioned how the organization was functioning given the wide gap between resources and expenditures;
Peace and Hope International (United States) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked for more information regarding its projects in Latin America. The representative of Cuba asked for more information about the specific projects the organization has undertaken in Bolivia and Equator;
Population Matters (United Kingdom) — as the representative of China asked for a list of NGOs that provided financial assistance to the organization and if its work was influenced by those donations;
Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH) (Switzerland) — as the representative of Venezuela asked which countries in Latin America and Caribbean the organization had undertake projects. The representative of Switzerland spoke on behalf of the organization saying that its work was well known and its application had been pending for almost two years, during which time the organization had answered many questions. The representative of Nicaragua said it is still waiting for information about the activities the organization carries out in her country;
The Institute of Development Studies (United Kingdom) — as the representative of Cuba requested more detailed information on any plans for projects in Latin America and asked for clarification on its financial statement;
The International Coalition of Historic Site Museums of Conscience (United States) as the representative of Cuba asked for more information on a project the organization had undertaken in Cuba;
The Jewish Renaissance Foundation (United States) — as the representative of Cuba asked for more detailed information about how the organization funds its activities;
United Hatzalah (NP) (Israel) — as the representative of Cuba asked the organization to provide a list of countries in Central and South America where it conducts activities. The representative of Sudan asked if the organization conducted any activities in Israel;
Youth of European Nationalities (Germany) — as Cuba’s delegate, noting that 70 per cent of the organization’s expenditures were administrative, asked if such spending was justified;
Zaka Rescue and Recovery (Israel) — as the representative of Venezuela asked whether the organization carried out activities or works with other organizations that operate in settlements in the State of Palestine. The representative of Nicaragua asked for more information on how the organization carried out its activities given its financial deficit and which countries it operates within;
African Rights Initiative International (Ghana) — as the representative of China asked for more details about the organization’s activities in China;
Afrikaanse Forum vir Burgerregte (South Africa) — as the representative of Mozambique asked for clarification on the organization’s financial statement, how it works on behalf of minorities, as well as which activities it had undertaken outside of South Africa;
Al-Dameer Association for Supporting Prisoners and Human Rights (Occupied Palestinian Territory) — as the representative of Israel asked for clarification on the organization’s financial statement. The representative of China requested that the organization follow the United Nations’ rules for conducting international activities;
Al-Marsad, The Arab Centre for Human Rights in the Golan Heights (R.A.) (Occupied Syrian Golan) — as the representative of Israel questioned whether the organization planned to report its allegations of human rights abuses in Syria to any international bodies;
All India Dhanak Organisation (India) — as the representative of India asked the organization to clarify its financial statements;
Fundación Interamericana para el Desarrollo de la Gestión Social (Venezuela) — as the representative of Cuba questioned whether the organization had begun to carry out projects in Latin America in 2014;
Himalayan Consensus Institute Limited (Hong Kong) — as the representative of China asked for additional details on the NGO’s activities;
Hokok Coalición Internacional Contra la Impunidad (Lebanon) — as the representative of Israel questioned which country hosted the organization’s headquarters;
India Media Centre (India) — as the representative of China requested clarification on the NGO’s website address;
Initiative for Change-IFC (Pakistan) — as the representative of India asked for clarification on the organization’s financial statement;
International Association of Genocide Scholars, Inc. (United States) — as the representative of China asked for clarification on some aspects of the organization’s website, including references to Falun Gong and Tibet;
International Human Rights Commission Relief Fund Trust (Pakistan) — as the representative of India asked for specific information on the activities the organization had undertaken in the last three years;
Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA) (Sudan) — as the United States’ representative questioned why the organization had not submitted information regarding its classification as a terrorist organization by the United States Government. The representative of Sudan said there was no evidence that this organization supported terrorist activities and indicated that the application should move forward since the issues posed by the United States had been previously addressed. The representative of Pakistan said that the questions posed by the United States were of a bilateral nature and did not have a place in the Committee’s discussion. The representative of the United States said the issue of the organization’s possible ties to terrorist organizations was highly relevant to the Committee’s proceedings. The representative of Israel stated support for the question posed by the United States and said the organization deserved the opportunity to respond;
Islamic Research and Information Artistic & Cultural Institute (Iran) — as the representative of Israel asked for clarification on the organization’s concerns regarding human rights in Bahrain;
New Era Educational and Charitable Support Initiative (Nigeria) — as the representative of China requested clarification on the organization’s financial statement regarding donations it receives;
New World Hope Organization (NWHO) (Pakistan) — as the representative of India requested clarification regarding its membership;
Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil Conselho Federal (Brazil) — as the representative of China requested that the organization use proper United Nations terminology;
Palpung Munishasan Dharmachakra Sangh (India) — as the representative of China requested more information about the organization’s membership. The representative of Cuba requested clarification on the NGO’s relationship with one of its donors;
Ray of Hope (Pakistan) — as the representative of India asked for clarification on inconsistencies between the NGO’s application and its website;
Rehabilitators (Pakistan) — as Pakistan’s delegate asked for clarification on a previously asked question;
Sheikh Eid Bin Mohammad Al Thani Charitable Association (Qatar) — the United States’ representative sought more information about its income generated from contracts and about its funding sources;
Skyian Welfare Organization (Pakistan) — as Pakistan’s representative asked for clarification on its annual membership fees and financial statements;
The Akshaya Patra Foundation (India) — as China’s representative asked the organization to clarify its position on Tibet;
The Kuki Organization For Human Rights Trust (India) — as India’s representative sought more information on its work in Bangladesh and Myanmar;
The World Association for al-Azhar Graduates (WAAG) (Egypt) — as Israel’s representative asked why the organization’s income was double its expenditure, and about funding from other organizations;
Vivegam Godfrey (India) — as China’s representative asked the organization to use the correct United Nations terminology for Taiwan on its website;
West Africa Centre for Peace Foundation (Ghana) — as China’s representative, noting that all of the organization’s funding came from Board member donations, asked for a list of those members;
Advocates for International Development (United Kingdom) — as China’s representative asked the organization to use the correct United Nations terminology for Taiwan on its website;
AFD International Belgium (Belgium) — as China’s representative objected to certain information on its website and links to terrorist organizations, and as Morocco’s representative asked about its intent to establish official representation in Casablanca;
Asia Catalyst (United States) — as China’s representative asked about its work with grass roots organization to fight and prevent HIV/AIDS in China;
Asia Center for Human Rights (ACHR) (India) — as China’s representative asked for information on its human rights activities in 2013;
Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos AEDIDH (Spain) — as Morocco’s representative asked it to clarify what it meant by codifying the human right to peace, in what countries it had activities and with what organizations it intended to carry them out;
Asociación Internacional de Juristas por el Sáhara Occidental (Spain) — as Morocco’s representative said the organization’s title was not in line with its stated objectives, and it used the term “occupation” when referring to the Western Sahara. He asked if the organization planned to end its propaganda against Morocco, as well as where its Morocco office was located and what activities it was involved in;
Association des Populations des Montagnes du Monde (France) — as China’s representative sought clarification on the organization’s position on Tibet;
Assyrian National Congress (United States) — as Cuba’s representative said the organization had yet to respond to the Committee’s request for an official copy of its most recent financial report;
Avocats Sans Frontières (Belgium) — as Cuba’s representative sought clarification on a previous question about what countries it planned to launch activities;
Bureau international pour le respect des droits de l'homme au Sahara Occidental (Switzerland) — as Morocco’s representative said that, while the organization claimed to protect human rights, it continued to attack and obstruct Morocco’s territorial integrity, Constitution and Government, despite having received a letter of objection from the Committee. The organization’s responses had diverged from the substance of previous questions. He reiterated his previous request for the Committee to close the application. The United States’ representative, however, expressed support for the applicant;
Casa Generalizia della Societa' del Sacro Cuore (Italy) — as Nicaragua’s delegate asked if it planned to carry out activities in Central America;
Center for Global Nonkilling (United States) — as China’s representative sought further clarification on the organization’s position on Tibet. The representative of Morocco asked about its planned activities in Sahara;
Center for Military Human Rights, KOREA (Republic of Korea) — as the representative of China requested further information on financing;
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (United Kingdom) — as China’s representative requested further information regarding the organization’s work in his country. The Cuban representative asked about the NGO’s funding sources and whether any of the organizations had previously gained consultative status. The representative of Sudan asked about its activities and partner organizations;
Congres National des Armeniens Occidentaux (France);
Global Network for Rights and Development (Norway).
Following the regular portion of the session, the representative of Belgium pointed out several instances during the day in which representatives had asked questions that were not relevant or within the purview of the Committee.
The representative of Morocco said that members of the Committee were permitted to ask questions covering a broad range of topics.
The representative of Sudan said that it was within the right of any Committee member to ask whatever questions they saw fit, particularly in cases where they believed the NGO had submitted erroneous information.
A representative of the Congres National des Armeniens Occidentaux (France) said the organization’s main interest was the defence of the 7 million western Armenians who lived as minorities in various countries worldwide. The organization worked to promote Armenian culture and heritage and contribute towards enhancing peace through dialogue. The NGO also focused on promoting a dialogue with Turkey on confidence-building measures aimed at reconciliation. Representatives of the NGO had visited Turkey a number of times in 2013 to meet with key leaders and convene an informal exchange of views. The protection of the human rights of western Armenians was of critical interest for the group.
The representative of Turkey asked for more information about the specific registration requirements in France, where the organization was based. He also asked how the organization intended to support the United Nations’ key principles through its effort to meet its stated goal regarding the return of western Armenians to their homeland. The representative of Turkey said that a past question regarding the NGO’s planned activities for 2014-2015 had gone unanswered. He also pointed out that only certain religious groups were classified as “minorities” in Turkey, while all others were treated equally.
The NGO representative said that organizations such as his were protected through freedom-of-expression laws in France. The speaker noted that his group’s full registration information was available on its website. The NGO, he added, focused solely on the issue of minority and human rights. He said he did not refer to minorities specifically in Turkey or any other country, for that matter.
The representative of Armenia said that in recent years, civil society had become increasingly active in international activities. However, some Committee members had demonstrated narrow-mindedness and seemed to be purposely impeding certain applications. The NGO in question had been more than responsive during the application process and should be granted consultative status.
The Committee Chair asked the organization to submit its responses in writing, adding that the Committee would take up the application in the morning.
A representative of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA (United States) said the Church, founded in 1846, had expanded to some 16 countries and had increased its global issues. It aimed to share its expertise with the United Nations and help serve the needs of the world. Sudan’s representative asked for more information on the organization’s establishment, its budget and its expansion into Africa, and specifically which countries it was targeting.
In response, the NGO’s representative said much of its expansion was carried out by missionaries; it had set up dioceses in the 16 countries in which it now was present. Anglican Africans were part of the Church, which had relationships with most African churches related to the Anglican communion. The bulk of the Church’s funding came from the offering plate — to which Church members made donations. Sudan’s representative then showed support for the application. China’s representative added that the NGO had fully answered the Committee’s questions. Morocco’s representative also backed its application.
The Committee then granted special status to the organization.
A representative of Global Network for Rights and Development (Norway) said that her organization had offices in several countries around the world and was looking to expand in the coming years. The representative of Sudan asked for more information about its activities in his country and whether it had plans to work in other African nations. Turkey’s representative sought more information about the NGO’s planned activities for 2014-2015. The representative of Israel asked about a report posted on the organization’s website and requested more information about awards it had given out. She also asked about a letter of complaint that had been filed against some members of the NGO by the African Union.
The NGO’s representative said that the group had convened a conference on civil society in Sudan and had an office in Khartoum. The NGO had recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Union on future capacity-building and development activities. It planned to partner with the European Parliament and the African Union, as well as conduct field projects that involved, among others, providing children with clothing and the opportunity to participate in organized sports. Responding to the questions posed by the representative of Israel, the organization’s representative said that a full list of those to which it had given awards was available on its website. She noted that the NGO had a high-level delegation participating in the African Union Summit.
The representative of Morocco asked for more details about portions of the organization’s application that referenced the link between human rights and development. The representative of India asked for clarification about why responses to questions posed to the NGO seemed to represent the view of only one person, rather than the organization as a whole.
In reply, the NGO representative pointed to the organization’s socioeconomic development goals and activities in Ethiopia and Sudan. It was involved in training and capacity building, human rights, the rights of children and the right to education. It had grown substantially in the last two years.
The Committee Chair asked the organization to submit its responses in writing and said the Committee would revisit the application in the morning.