Opening its resumed session for 2015, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 54 groups for special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and deferred action on the status of 34 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.
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 approved its Programme of Work and Provisional Schedule of Work, as contained in Working Paper 1. It elected by acclamation Mustafa Elhossein Elshareef (Sudan) on behalf of the Group of African States and Murat Uğurluoğlu (Turkey) on behalf of the Group of Western European and Other States to serve as Vice-Chairs.
Delivering opening remarks, Chair Jorge Dotta (Uruguay) stressed that it was essential to avoid the politicization of the Committee’s work. “We need to work to enhance transparency for all” in order to strengthen the quality of the Committee’s work and to show non-governmental organizations that they could have a fair hearing, he said.
Alberto Padova, Acting Chief of the Non-Governmental Organizations Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that the resumed session could not take place at a more meaningful time. NGO representatives were presently meeting in the General Assembly Hall ahead of the autumn adoption of the sustainable development agenda. In that connection, he said “we might again see a surge in interest” of NGOs in working with the Economic and Social Council. Since its regular session, the Committee had introduced new features to the paperless system, which would allow for expedited work.
Also at the start of the meeting, a discussion emerged about a letter the Permanent Mission of Pakistan had sent to the Committee on 19 May, which had conveyed concerns about the activities of two NGOs: African Technical Association and African Technology Development Link. Pakistan’s delegate said that those national groups had made politically motivated statements on the human rights situation in Pakistan and stressed that they were not entitled to do so because they held only roster status with the Economic and Social Council.
During that discussion, the representative of the United States said that, in line with the Committee’s past practice and rules of procedure, the NGOs in question should be given written reasons for any suspension. Allegations should be sent to the groups and they should be allowed to respond in due time, she said. Pakistan’s speaker expressed his opinion that those rules applied only to groups with special or general consultative status.
Mr. Padova said that the Committee would track down the two organizations in question for more information, clarifying that no distinction was typically made between organizations with roster, general or consultative status in their ability to make statements regarding human rights. He further stated that the subject would be taken up in due course during the Committee’s resumed session.
Special Consultative Status
The Committee recommended that the Economic and Social Council grant special consultative status to the following 54 organizations:
Action solidaire pour le développement communautaire (Burundi)
Actions pour l’environnement et le développement durable (Benin)
Agalliao Development Initiative (Nigeria)
Association des Femmes Peuples Autochtones du Tchad (Chad)
Association des Ressortissants et Amis d’Eseka (Cameroon)
Association femmes solidaires au Togo (Togo)
Association nationale de coopération pour le developpement du Cameroun (Cameroon)
Association pour les Victimes du Monde (Cameroon)
Bilie Human Rights Initiative (Nigeria)
Centre de vulgarisation de l’outil informatique (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Centre for Budget and Policy Studies (India)
Centre for Renewable Energy and Action on Climate Change (Nigeria)
Chant du Guépard dans le Désert (Iran)
Child Concern (India)
China Association of Non-Profit Organizations (China)
Coup de Pouce (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Dar Si-Hmad for Development, Education and Culture in Sidi Ifni (Morocco)
Dynamique des Groupes des Peuples Autochtones (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Elizka Relief Foundation (Ghana)
Environmental Ambassadors for Sustainable Development (Serbia)
Forum for Women in Democracy (Uganda)
Fundación Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarrollo Social (Venezuela)
Galkayo Medical Centre (Somalia)
Global Vision India Foundation (India)
Groupe d’action pour la survie, la santé et l’éducation de la mère et de l’enfant (Niger)
Integrated Youth Empowerment — Common Initiative Group (Cameroon)
Inter-Action Globale (Mali)
Isa Viswa Prajnana Trust (India)
Janaseva Foundation, Pune (India)
Kršćanski centar za pomoć i rehabilitaciju ovisnika i obitelji “Stijena” (Croatia)
La fondation de la progeniture Denis Lomela Ifangwa (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Manav Pragati Sansthan, Rajgarh (India)
Niger Talents (Niger)
NVO “Preporod” (Montenegro)
ONG Carbone Guinée (Guinea)
Organisation pour la prévention et l’intervention contre les risques et contingences (Burundi)
Parlement africain de la société civile (Togo)
Poverty Alleviation for the Poor Initiative (Nigeria)
Rede Brasileira de Redução de Danos e Direitos Humanos — REDUC (Brazil)
The Arab Anti-Corruption Organisation (Lebanon)
Trilok Youth Club and Charitable Trust, Vadodara (India)
Youth and Women Empowerment Centre (Nigeria)
Alliance for Health Promotion (A4HP) (Switzerland)
Asociación Colectivo de Víctimas del Terrorismo en el País Vasco “COVITE” (Spain)
Association d’interet regional — AIR (France)
Association PANAFRICA (France)
Associazione Carcere Territorio (Italy)
Centre international de droit comparé de l'environnement (France)
CGFNS International, Inc. (United States)
Chinese American Parent-Student Council of New York City Inc. (United States)
The Committee postponed consideration of the following 34 organizations:
Al-Ayn Social Care Foundation (Iraq) — as the representative of South Africa asked for more information about the organization’s sources of funding.
Asociación Pro-Bienestar de la Familia Colombiana “Profamilia” (Colombia) — as the representatives of Nicaragua and South Africa raised questions about the organization’s financing and sources of expenditure.
Association Concerning Sexual Violence against Women (China) — as Cuba’s delegate asked for details on the working relationship between the organization and the international organizations that funded it, and the representative of Nicaragua asked for more information about the organization’s stated national status.
Campanha Latino-Americana pelo Direito à Educação — CLADE Brasil (Brazil) — as the representative of Venezuela asked for more information regarding its regional work.
Corporación ATS Acción Técnica Social (Colombia) — as the representative of Cuba asked for more detailed information about the organization’s work in the region, specifically in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.
Education on Human Rights Public Association (Azerbaijan) — as the representative of Azerbaijan said that his delegation had received information that the organization no longer existed.
Eminence Associates for Social Development (Bangladesh) — as China’s delegate asked how the organization would contribute to the work of the Economic and Social Council and about its activities in Tibet.
Fundación Riba (Costa Rica) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked about the group’s regional work.
Global Mass Community (Jammu and Kashmir) — as India’s delegate asked for more information about the group’s funding and activities and said that he could not access the organization’s website.
O.N.G Casa de Acogida La Esperanza (Chile) — as the representative of Sudan asked for more information about the organization’s governmental support.
Palestine Sports for Life (State of Palestine) — as Israel’s representative sought more information about the entity’s activities and plan for next year.
Shah Satnam Ji Green-S Welfare Force Wing (India) — as the representative of Pakistan sought clarifications on income and expenditure, especially under “other resources” and “other expenditure”.
Sindhi Adhikar Manch (Association) (India) — as Pakistan’s representative said that the objective of the group appeared to be commercial, seeking clarification on its income and expenditure, which were each just over $100.
Social Services Trust (India) — as the representative of India asked for more information about which four countries the organization operates in and sought clarification on a grant it receives.
Sri Sri J.S.M.D. Sri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri (India) — as the representative of Pakistan asked the entity to provide more information about a contract that generated $3 million in income.
The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes Education Trust ("ACCORD Education Trust") (South Africa) — as the representative of South Africa asked the group to explain why no administrative cost was incurred despite many projects they had undertaken.
The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (Jordan) — as Israel’s representative asked the group to elaborate on which countries and regions it operates in.
Women's Initiative for Self-Actualization (Nigeria) — as the Russian Federation’s representative sought clarification about the group’s description of itself as a “State body”, which would not qualify as a non-governmental organization.
African Australian Network Limited (Australia) — as the representative of South Africa wondered why the organization incurred no administrative cost and had no project and sought more information about the organization’s link to Africa, while Sudan’s representative requested details concerning its activities in his country.
American Medical Overseas Relief (United States) — as the representative of China requested details about the organization’s activities outside Kabul.
American Society for Nutrition, Inc. (United States) — as China’s representative said Taiwan was listed as a country on the group’s website, asking it to clarify its position and make necessary corrections.
Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association (Canada) — as representatives of Sudan, South Africa and Iran questioned the group’s impartiality and independence from the Canadian Government as it carried out its activities with the Government and received substantial State funding.
Appui aux femmes démunies et enfants marginalisés au Kivu (Switzerland) — as South Africa’s representative asked if the organization has offices in Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and sought clarification about its membership and income.
Association Internationale de la Libre Pensée (France) — as the representative of Nicaragua sought more information on the group’s projects, asking if it aims to expand beyond Uruguay and Argentina.
Association Miraisme International (Switzerland) — as the representative of Venezuela sought more information on a partnering association with which the group conducted a project in Venezuela.
Australian Drug Foundation Inc. (Australia) — as the representative of China said that the group listed Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries on its website, asking for corrections based on United Nations terminologies, and India’s representative asked how its board members were elected.
Canada’s National Firearms Association (Canada) — as South Africa’s representative sought explanation about its entire budget spent as administrative costs without any projects.
Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (United Kingdom) — as Venezuela’s representative requested clarification about the distinction between income and expenditure.
Centre for Equality Ltd. (Australia) — as Sudan’s representative sought explanation on its activities and why expenditure was limited to administrative costs, India’s representative sought details about its partnerships outside Australia and Iran’s representative requested more information about a project regarding refugees in Australia.
Concepts of Truth, Inc. (United States) — as South Africa’s representative asked the group to explain how it contributed to the work of the Economic and Social Council, including about its focus on sexual and mental health and the representative of Sudan sought more information about its budget, especially funding from the Government.
The representative of Centre for Equality Ltd. (Australia) said that the group was a human rights organization focusing on advocacy, education and law reform, among other issues. Regarding Sudan’s question about expenditure, it had programme expenses. In response to South Africa’s representative, he said the organization worked with the Committee on the Status on Women, but not with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women or other United Nations structures.
The Committee deferred its application, as some delegates were not satisfied with answers.
The representative of Fondazione Rosselli Americas (United States) said it was incorporated in Virginia and worked to support science and technology in low-income countries. In response to Cuba’s representative, who asked how its small budget could fund its diverse objectives and activities, the group’s representative said it provided expertise.
The organization was recommended for the special consultative status.
The representative of Forum Européen pour les Roms et les Gens du Voyage (FERV) (France) said the group combated racial discrimination, especially against Roma, through participation in the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe and field visits.
Sudan’s representative sought more explanation about the political nature of its activities and South Africa’s representative pointed out that the group’s activities were not “international”, but “regional”.
The representative of FERV said the group provided experts from its network. Regarding the budget that came largely from the Council of Europe, he said its activities were independent. Field visits were conducted so that the group could bridge communication gaps between Rome communities and various stakeholders.
The Committee deferred its application, as delegates had more questions.
The representative of Peace Islands Institute Inc. (United States) said it promoted peace education through its branches in the east coast of the country. Its focus was sharing best practices and learning from other NGOs. In response to China’s representative, who sought details about the beneficiaries of the group’s research papers, he said the group compiled a journal on “African solution to African problems”.
Sudan’s representative sought more details about African problems and solutions, and said how the group could solve Africa’s deficit if the group was running at a deficit itself. South Africa’s representative pointed out that the group was registered as national.
The Committee deferred its application, as responses were not satisfactory to some delegations.
The representative of the Lawfare Project Inc. (United States) said the entity had addressed its deficit and was now operating in surplus. Funding mainly came from private donors and foundations mostly in the United States and a few in Canada.
Venezuela’s representative asked how it was possible to have a project if there were not many members. Iran’s representative asked about the content of its website that related to peace and security, rather than the work of the Economic and Social Council. Sudan’s representative asked about its corporate membership.
The Committee deferred its application.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 27 May, to continue its work.