Continuing its regular session for 2015, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 24 organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, and deferred action on the status of 31 others.
It also reclassified one organization, International Health Awareness Network, Inc., from special to general consultative status.
The 19-member Committee vets applications submitted by non-governmental organizations, 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 wanted more information from the candidates about, among other things, details of their respective organizations’ projects, partners, expenditures, sources of funding, and relationship with United Nations system actors.
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 30 January, to continue its session.
Special Consultative Status
The Committee recommended that the Economic and Social Council grant special consultative status to the following 24 organizations:
Solidarité Suisse-Guinée (Switzerland);
The HETL Association, Inc. (United States);
Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico Inc. (United States);
Villages Unis (United Villages) (Switzerland);
Viridis Institute (United States);
World Togolese Foundation, Inc. (United States);
Kids Included Together San Diego Inc. (United States);
NABU — Knowledge Transfer Beyond Boundaries (United States);
The Washington and Lee University (United States);
Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (Colombia);
Fundación Centro Latinoamericano de Derechos Humanos (Argentina);
Islamic Research and Information Artistic & Cultural Institute (Iran);
Kiyana Karaj Group (Iran);
Skyian Welfare Organization (Pakistan);
Sonke Gender Justice Network (South Africa);
Zimbabwe Women’s Resources Centre and Network (Zimbabwe);
AGE Platform Europe (Belgium);
Boy With a Ball Ministries (United States);
European Health Psychology Society (Netherlands);
Good Helpers (Republic of Korea);
International Falcon Movement — Socialist Educational International (Belgium);
Korea Green Foundation (Republic of Korea);
Korean Bar Association (Republic of Korea);
African Relief in Action (ARIA International) (United States).
The Committee postponed consideration of the following 31 organizations:
Stitching Basug (Bangladesh Support Group) (Netherlands) — as the representative of China asked about the organization’s activities in Bangladesh, and the representative of Iran asked about its work in Sri Lanka and other countries, as well about its sources of funding.
USC Canada (Canada) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked for more detailed information about the organization’s work in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Vier Pfoten International - gemeinnützige Privatstiftung (Austria) — as the representative of India asked how the group planned to continue its activities with a negative budget, as listed in its application. He also asked for more information about the group’s activities in general and how it would support the work of the Council.
WEConnect International Inc. (United States) — as the representative of Sudan queried the organization’s relationship with Governments, as well as with for-profit companies.
World Alliance of Peoples' Organisations (United Kingdom) — as the representative of Pakistan requested more information about the organization’s budget, which was listed as only $2 on its application. The representative of Sudan seconded that question, and asked the Secretariat if there was a minimum acceptable budget for an accredited organization.
The representative of the Russian Federation also shared that concern, and added that the organization could be classified as a “religious sect”.
The representative of the Secretariat clarified that there were no criteria for a minimum budget for an organization accredited with the Council, due to the wide diversity of activities and methodologies utilized by different groups. However, an organization’s budget should be in line with its stated activities and objectives.
Egyptian Judges' Club (Egypt) — as the representative of Turkey raised questions about the organization’s budget surplus, asking how it planned to make use of those funds.
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association (Egypt) — as the representative of Turkey asked for more information on activities carried out between 2008 and 2013.
PCCIIS International Inc. (Bangladesh) — as the representative of China noted that the organization had been granted consultative status with the Council in the past, and asked why it no longer enjoyed that status.
In that regard, the representative of the Secretariat explained that the organization had lost its consultative status for not having submitted its quadrennial report.
The representative of Sudan then asked the Secretariat to clarify whether the organization was once again eligible for consultative status with the Council.
The Secretariat responded that, as more than three years had gone by since the group’s consultative status had been revoked, it was once again eligible for consideration by the Committee.
The representative of China then raised another question for the organization, asking about its membership. The representative of Sudan also posed another question, namely, whether the organization was cooperating with other partner groups in Bangladesh. Written responses to those questions were requested.
The representative of Bangladesh, taking the floor as an observer, said that the organization was not registered with the national Non-Governmental Organization Bureau of Bangladesh.
The representative of Sudan then noted that the organization was, in fact, registered in another country other than Bangladesh.
The representative of the United States said that the rules of the Committee did not require a non-governmental organization to be registered nationally in order to be considered for consultative status with the Council.
The representative of China expressed his opinion that the organization in question was “fraudulent”.
World Assembly of Youth (Malaysia) — as the representative of China said that “Taiwan” had been mentioned in the group’s application, which was not in line with standard United Nations practice. He hoped that would be corrected.
International Association of Independent Journalists Inc. (Canada) — as the representative of Iran asked for a clarification on a large gap between the organization’s total income and expenditures, and asked for a list of countries in which the group was carrying out activities. The representative of Cuba also asked for clarification about the group’s relationship with the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and about how the Association is able to identify an independent journalist.
International Center for Work and Family (Spain) — as the representative of Cuba wished for more information about the organization’s planned activities, specifically those around the International Year of the Family and those to be carried out in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
New Progressive Alliance (United States) — as the representative of China noted that the organization had listed its administrative costs as zero in its application, and asked how it carried out its work and planned to contribute to the work of the Council.
Trakya Kalkinma Dernegi (Turkey) — as the representative of Greece asked for more information on the group’s regional activities and a list of its partners in neighbouring countries.
Active Help Organization (Pakistan) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked whether the organization had plans to work in other parts of the world.
Africa Unite (South Africa) — as the representative of South Africa raised questions about the organization’s funding from international organizations.
ELA-Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Género (Argentina) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked for more information on recent programmes carried out by the organization.
International Green Economy Association (China) — as the representative of Cuba noted that the organization had been engaged in a number of activities with Government entities, and requested more information about those activities and their funding.
Legal Resources Centre (South Africa) — as the representative of South Africa raised a question about funding from Government and development aid agencies.
National Development Youth Club, Jaran Wali Gali Poonch (India) — as the representative of India asked questions about the nature of the organization.
Sheikh Eid Bin Mohammad Al Thani Charitable Association (Qatar) — as the representative of Israel asked for clarification about the location of the organization’s staff members and its work in other parts of the world.
The representative of Sudan asked for clarification on Israel’s question.
The representative of Israel responded that he wished to know whether the organization carried out its international work by sending staff members from Qatar to other countries, or whether it worked with partners in those countries. He also asked where the organization’s specific activities had been carried out.
The representative of Sudan said that the exact same question had been posed to the organization in a previous session.
The representative of Israel re-clarified that his request was for a short breakdown of activities undertaken in the countries listed on the organization’s application.
Warbe Development Foundation (Bangladesh) — as the representative of Iran raised a question about the way the organization elected its members.
Advocates for International Development (United Kingdom) — as the representative of China said that the organization’s mention of “Taiwan” on its website was not in conformity with United Nations standards.
Center for Media & Peace Initiative Inc. (United States) — as the representative of Cuba asked for additional information on the group’s courses and trainings in West Africa, and about an upcoming seminar on women and the media.
Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience (France) — as the representative of China asked a question about a budgetary surplus in 2012, and requested a general update on the organization’s financial information.
Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health (Switzerland) — as the representative of Israel asked whether membership was open to other organizations or only to individuals.
Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya (Spain) — as the representative of China asked that the organization present more updated financial information, in particular with regard to funding from Government sources.
Let's Breakthrough, Inc. (United States) — as the representative of China, noting that the organization received funding from foreign Governments and organizations, asked for more information on how those funds were used.
Shia Rights Watch Inc. (United States) — as the representative of Mauritania had requested written responses to some questions.
Tripura Foundation Inc. (United States) — pending written responses to some delegates’ questions.
International Health Awareness Network, Inc. (United States) — the Committee granted a request from the organization to be reclassified from special to general consultative status.
U.S. Federation for Middle East Peace, Inc. (United States) — the Committee deferred a request to reclassify the organization from special to general consultative status, as the representative of Israel asked for clarification on the projects undertaken by the organization and on how it spent its budget.
Widows for Peace through Democracy (United Kingdom) — the Committee deferred a request to reclassify the organization from roster to special status following questions raised by the representative of Turkey.
During a question and answer session this afternoon, a representative of the organization ARIA International said that his organization was founded in Guinea in 1995 in the wake of civil wars in the region. The group identified refugees and widows and provided them with funding, and opened classrooms for street children. In 2009, the organization came to the United States as a 501(c)(3) organization. However, most of its funding still came from the founder and his wife.
The representative of Sudan asked whether the organization had contact with, or registration in, other countries. He also asked how the organization chose the people it assisted.
The representative of ARIA International responded that his organization was registered in each country in which it worked. It had written and signed partnership memorandums with groups in Sierra Leone, but had not been able to begin work there due to the Ebola crisis.
The representative of Sudan said that he and other delegates with whom he had spoken were satisfied with the organization’s responses and wished it well in its work. The Committee then decided to grant special consultative status to ARIA International.
A representative of the organization Shia Rights Watch Inc. then took the floor to describe his organization’s work. The group focused on the human rights of Shia Muslims, he said.
The representative of Sudan recalled that, earlier, the delegate of Mauritania had asked a question of the organization and had requested a written response, which had not yet been provided. To that point, the representative of Iran suggested that an oral response should be a sufficient answer.
The representative of Mauritania reiterated that he had not yet been provided with written responses as requested. Meanwhile, the representative of Sudan said that the organization in question did not work in Sudan, and that he had no problem with its work. However, he felt that delegates requesting written responses from organizations had a right to receive them.
The representative of Mauritania had no problem with the organization itself, but noted that he was accustomed to receiving written responses.
The Committee Chair then asked Mauritania’s delegate whether, as the organization’s representative was in the room, an oral response would be sufficient to answer his questions. To that, the representative of Sudan emphasized that, procedurally, a written response had been requested and should be submitted.
The Chair asked once again whether the delegate of Mauritania required a written response from the organization. Mauritania’s delegate responded that it was useful to receive such responses, and that he hoped to receive them.
The representative of the United States said that one of the purposes of the question and answer session was to help clarify questions that could be answered orally. However, if a delegation insisted on receiving a written response, there was not much to be done. Taking the floor again, the representative of Sudan emphasized that requests for information in writing needed to be respected. That was a procedural issue. The representative of China agreed that delegates had the right to receive responses in writing.
In that respect, the representative of Cuba said that freedom of expression should not be censored. When countries put forward their candidacies for membership in the Committee, they did so in their national capacity. Therefore, delegations on the Committee were within their right to request information in writing, as they were acting on instructions from their capitals.
The Committee decided to defer consideration of the organization Shia Rights Watch Inc. until a written response to the earlier questions posed was provided.
Taking the floor next was a representative of the International Association of Independent Journalists, an organization supporting the fundamental right of citizens to become journalists by posting stories online.
The representative of Venezuela asked what types of projects and activities the organization carried out in Latin America.
To that, the representative of the International Association of Independent Journalists responded that it was just beginning its work in Latin America by validating the credentials of its journalists there.
The representative of Nicaragua then asked the organization’s representative about its budget, to which he responded that, as founder and president, he personally ensured most of the budget. However, the organization also took donations.
On another matter, the delegate from the Russian Federation asked whether the organization distributed press passes, and whether those recipients were not always engaged in journalistic activities. He noted that the organization’s founder was engaged in several for-profit activities, and asked how he was able to separate those activities from those of his non-profit organization.
To those questions, the representative of the International Association of Independent Journalists responded that he did not distribute press passes, but only identification cards. In regards to his other companies, they sometimes provided logistical support, but did not provide funding to the International Association of Independent Journalists.
Reviewing a written response that had been received earlier on the organization’s activities in other countries, Pakistan’s delegate asked the Association’s representative to elaborate on the group’s activities in Pakistan.
The organization’s representative responded that the Association did not yet have an office in Pakistan, but it did have members there.
The representative of Nicaragua further requested a written response about the organization’s budget.
Pending that communication, the Committee decided to defer its consideration of the International Association of Independent Journalists.
Finally, a representative of Tripura Foundation Inc. briefed the Committee, noting that it worked in collaboration with schools and local organizations to help widows, the elderly and other vulnerable people. Among the organization’s main focuses was its “phonemic intelligence programme”, a brain exercise programme which strengthened the part of the brain associated with compassion. Thousands of students in India and Mexico, as well as elsewhere, had taken part in the programme.
Sudan’s delegate then took the floor, asking if the organization had activities for the poor in Africa. To that, the representative of Tripura Foundation Inc. responded that it did not currently have any activities in Africa, as there was no director located there.
The delegate from Sudan then said that the lack of a director in Africa was an “unacceptable” reason not to work there. While he did not object to the organization, which did noble work, he would have wished for a different answer.
The representative of India asked the organization’s representative to elaborate on its programmes for vulnerable people, and asked why its activities in countries such as the Philippines had been ceased. The representative of Tripura Foundation then further described her organization’s work, in particular with the elderly. Its programme in the Philippines, which had worked to “reclaim” slums, had ended successfully, she said.
The Committee then decided that, pending written answers, consideration of the Tripura Foundation would be deferred.