Opening its regular session for 2015, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 16 organizations for special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and deferred action on the status of 17 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 were postponed because Committee members requested further information from the candidates about, among other items, details of their respective organizations’ projects, partners, expenditures, sources of funding and relationship with United Nations system actors.
At the start of the meeting, the Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work (document E/C.2/2015/1.). It elected by acclamation Jorge Dotta (Uruguay), on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States as its Chair; and Farid Jabrayilov (Azerbaijan), on behalf of the Group of Eastern European States, and Forouzandeh Vadiati (Iran), on behalf of the Group of Asia-Pacific States, as Vice-Chairs. It postponed the election of its two remaining Vice-Chairs, including one to serve as Rapporteur.
Navid Hanif, Director of the Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said non-governmental organizations were increasingly sought out for their expertise and knowledge in shaping and implementing three major agreements: the post-2015 development agenda based on the sustainable development goals, a global agreement expected at the upcoming third International Conference on Financing for Development; and an agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December on measures to address climate change’s existential threat. His Office would actively promote civil society participation in such processes, as well as the third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in March.
Despite the increase in the number of non-governmental organizations with consultative status, the percentage of representatives of groups with such status that participated in United Nations events had fallen to 67 per cent in 2014, down from 69 per cent in 2013 and 73 per cent in 2012, Mr. Hanif said.
He attributed the drop to the fact that the Economic and Social Council status — a rigorous process that typically took up to two years or more — was no longer the only avenue for non-governmental organizations seeking to participate in United Nations meetings. High-level meetings, thematic debates and informal hearings of the General Assembly had their own accreditation arrangements, as did United Nations departments, funds and programmes.
The number of applications and quadrennial reports submitted by non-governmental organization for the Committee’s review had risen from 293 in 2009 to 590 in 2014, he said. The number of quadrennial reports jumped from 40 to 477 over the same period. Moreover, implementation of the post-2015 development agenda would result in an increase in multi-stakeholder partnerships.
“The Committee needs to be ready to handle any sudden surge in its workload and at the same time manage the backlog of deferred applications and quadrennial reports,” he said.
Mr. Dotta also noted the Committee’s burgeoning workload. This session would consider a total of 177 new applications and 153 applications deferred from previous sessions, as well as 175 new quadrennial reports and 35 quadrennial reports deferred from previous sessions. He called on the Committee to work more expeditiously and better manage its time, and suggested it consider 80 applications per day to exhaust the list of those pending review.
Non-governmental organizations had an essential role, both domestic and internationally, in fostering socioeconomic development and good governance, he said. The Committee had a decisive part in the Council work by identifying which organizations could help the international community implement sustainable development commitments and review their implementation.
Transparency was critical to the Committee’s work, he continued, stressing that all questions related to applications should be made during formal meetings, not after they had ended. While Committee members had the right to ask questions regarding the applications before them, they should be as brief as possible to allow sufficient time for responses and avoid making general comments and statements, which took up valuable time.
Alberto Padova, Acting Chief of the Non-Governmental Organization Branch of the Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, called for a review of the existing software applications that supported the Committee’s work. The Paperless Committee Platform, a document and record management retrieval system set up in 2008 to support the Committee’s work, must be updated to incorporate the latest technology. The Office was developing a project proposal that would aid that process. He also informed the Committee that there had been no changes in the limited balance of the trust fund for the NGO Informal Regional Network, which promoted access to information, training and capacity-building.
Before beginning its consideration of applications for consultative status, the representatives of Sudan and Cuba expressed concern that two minutes was not enough time to properly consider each organization. The representative of the United States, however, stressed the need to adhere to a schedule in order to finish the Committee’s work.
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 27 January, to continue its session.
Special Consultative Status
The Committee recommended that the Economic and Social Council grant special consultative status to the following 16 organizations:
Aid for Trade Logistics (Tanzania);
Al-Fidaa Foundation (South Africa);
Arab Forum for Environment and Development (Lebanon);
Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone);
Centre d'Encadrement et Développement des Anciens Combattants (Burundi);
Centre for Community Regeneration and Development (Cameroon);
China Society of Administrative Reform (China);
Citizens United to Promote Peace & Democracy in Liberia (Liberia);
Deaf Aid (Kenya);
Development Action for Women Network, Inc. (Philippines);
Fundación Crisálida (El Salvador);
Ganja Agribusiness Association (Azerbaijan);
Groupe d'action pour la promotion socioculturelle et l'alphabetisation: Nouvelle Energie (Democratic Republic of the Congo);
Hazrat Javad-al-Aemeh Cultural Charity Institute (Iran);
Horn of Africa Voluntary Youth Committee (HAVOYOCO) (Ethiopia);
The Committee postponed consideration of the following 17 organizations:
Akhil Bharatiya Sanskrutik Sangh (India) — as the representative of Pakistan asked for more information the organization’s monitoring, evaluation and impact, as well as why the organization had registered itself as a national organization.
Asociación para la Promoción de la Libertad y el Desarrollo Sostenible (Guatemala) — as the representative of Nicaragua wished for more budgetary information about the types of projects carried out by the organization.
Association “Paix” pour la lutte contre la Contrainte et l'injustice (Mauritania) — as the representative of Guinea wanted more details on the nature of the organization’s activities in West Africa.
Association pour la Défense des Droits de Développement Durable et du Bien-être Familial (ADBEF) (Rwanda) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked for more information on the organization’s regional work.
Beautiful Eves of Africa Organisation (Nigeria) — as the representative of the United States asked for specific information on projects carried out by the organization, for more information about its partnerships with other organizations and for additional budgetary information.
Development Generation Africa International (DGAI) (Nigeria) — as the representative of the United States asked for more details on the organization’s specific initiatives. He also questioned why its expenses exceeded its total income, requested more information on its investments and questioned when the organization was founded.
Disease Management Association of India (India) — as the representative of Pakistan asked how the organization had funded the activities listed on its application.
Environmental Degradation Organization of Nigeria (Nigeria) — as the representative of the United States requested more specific information on the organization’s projects and activities, including its use of and funding for uniforms.
Ethnic Community Development Organization (ECDO) (Bangladesh) — as the representative of China questioned whether the organization had a specific plan for its proposed participation in the United Nations annual Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The representative of Cuba also asked for details on the proposed funding and implementation of two specific projects, and requested details on the group’s financial relationship with other non-governmental organizations.
Eurasia Reiyukai (India) — as the representative of Pakistan requested details on how the organization planned to fund the activities listed on its application and raised further questions about its income statement in general.
Fundación Luz María (Argentina) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked for more information about the organization’s budget, and questioned whether it planned to work in other countries in the region in the future.
Global Community Health Foundation (Nigeria) — as the representative of the United States asked for clarification on the organization’s work with the United Nations and on which types of projects it intended to carry out in several specific countries. The representative of India seconded that question, asking which activities the organization planned to carry out in his country.
Healthy Start Initiative (Nigeria) — as the representative of the United States questioned why the organization had not listed its website on its application and whether the organization had a different name. He also queried the organization’s relationship was with the United States, as it had filed tax documents in that country.
Heavenly Shower of Peace Church of God (Nigeria) — as the representative of the United States had questions about the organization’s participation in a past United Nations meeting, and raised concerns about a typo in the application.
Human Rights Sanrakshan Sansthaa (India) — as the representative of India asked how about the role of Government officials in the functioning of the organization, asked for clarification about its number of members and questioned whether the organization was national or international.
India Water Foundation (India) — as the representative of India asked whether the organization had undertaken any activities in neighbouring countries, and if it had other offices in India.
Insan Dost Association (Pakistan) — as the representative of Pakistan raised concerns about the organization’s large operational cost and asked whether it had plans to improve its efficiency. He also had specific questions related to the group’s income statement.