Application Denied for United States-Based Association on ‘Illegal’ Detainees
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 15 organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, but denied that privilege to the United States-based Freedom Now — which works to free prisoners of conscience through legal, political and public relations efforts — following a request for vote by the United States.
Freedom Now’s candidacy was defeated by a vote of 4 in favour (United States, Greece, Israel and Uruguay) to 11 against, with 1 abstention (India). Freedom Now represents individuals who have been illegally detained, in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Guinea, Mauritania and Turkey did not participate in the vote. The 19-member Committee includes Azerbaijan, Burundi, China, Cuba, Greece, Guinea, India, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. China’s delegate, who voted against the candidacy, said all organizations seeking consultative status must respect United Nations values and principles. “It seems that this is not the case for this organization which, on its website, launches unfounded accusations against countries,” he said.
Several delegations, including Sudan, Cuba and the Russian Federation, said that Committee President Jorge Dotta (Uruguay) had shown a “lack of respect” by accepting the United States’ request for a vote without providing “details” of the procedure. Mr. Dotta asked the Secretariat to read the rules of procedure so as to ensure they were fully applied and respected, following which the Committee immediately moved to a vote.
The United States’ representative said she was surprised that her request had provoked such “chaos”, as the Committee had not made a decision on the group’s application, despite having had multiple opportunities to do so.
The vote had taken place before delegates had had an opportunity to pose questions to the organization, her Russian counterpart argued. Now that the vote had been held, he hoped the United States would accept the result.
The Committee can recommend that the Council grant three types of consultative status: general, special and roster. General consultative status applies to large international organizations whose interests cover most of the Council’s agenda. They are authorized to submit written communications and petitions, and propose points of order to the Council and its subsidiary bodies.
Special consultative status applies to organizations internationally recognized for their focus on certain areas of the Council’s agenda and, in that context, can submit written communications and petitions. Among the 15 organizations that obtained this status today were India-based Eurasia Reiyukai, which aims to create a better world through personal development, and Switzerland-based International-Lawyers.org, which promotes global justice.
Finally, roster status applies to organizations that occasionally contribute to the Council’s work. They are not permitted to submit written communications.
Also today, the Committee postponed a decision on 30 other requests for status, pending answers to outstanding questions.
The Committee will resume its session at 10 a.m. on Monday, 1 June.
Special Consultative Status
The Committee recommended that the Economic and Social Council grant special consultative status to the following organizations:
Feed The Children Inc. (United States)
Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute (United States)
Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services Inc. (Australia)
Segretariato Permanente dei Premi Nobel per la Pace (Italy)
Servicios Ecuménicos para Reconciliación y Reconstrucción (United States)
Sikh Human Rights Group (United Kingdom)
Stichting International Civil Society Support (Netherlands)
Trakya Kalkinma Dernegi (Turkey)
Tripura Foundation, Inc. (United States)
Vier Pfoten International — gemeinnützige Privatstiftung (Austria)
World Alliance of Peoples’ Organisations (United Kingdom)
WorldTach, Inc. (United States)
Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America (United States)
Eurasia Reiyukai (India)
The Committee postponed requests by the following organizations:
l’Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya (Spain), pending clarification on queries by China’s representative on the composition of its membership and position of each member on the question of human rights.
International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc. (United States) faced questions by Sudan’s representative on its future activities, countries in which it wished to work, notably in Africa and the Middle East, as well as about its partners and financing sources.
International Center for Work and Family (Spain) — Cuba’s representative asked about its collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
International Dalit Solidarity Network (Denmark) faced questions from India’s delegate on how it used its financing and how its work was implemented.
James Madison University (United States) — China’s representative asked about the aims of its projects, while South Africa’s delegate wanted to know more about how it intended to contribute to the Council’s work. Sudan’s representative asked about its activities in Iraq.
National Secular Society (United Kingdom) — South Africa’s representative asked for clarity about its founding objective.
Population Matters (United Kingdom) — South Africa’s delegate wanted to know more about its work on sexual and reproductive rights.
Profesionales por la Ética (Spain) — South Africa’s delegate asked about the concept of “defence and promotion of the dignity of the human embryo”.
Rural Development Institute (United States) — South Africa’s delegate asked how the group worked with rural populations and the poor.
Stichting Soham Baba Mission (Netherlands) — South Africa’s delegate asked about its activities in his country.
Stichting War Child (Netherlands) — Iran’s delegate asked how the group would maintain its independence, as it received funds from the European Union, while Sudan’s delegate asked for a list of its partners in that country.
The World Academy of Art and Science (United States) — Greece’s delegate asked the group to respect the official name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on its website. Iran’s representative asked about the link between cultural diplomacy, and peace and security.
United Sikhs (United States) — India’s representative asked about the group’s address in that country and about the reasons for its registration in Belgium and Kenya.
WEConnect International Inc. (United States) — Cuba’s delegate asked about the group’s financial links with UN-Women and whether it had a website.
Africa Unite (South Africa) — South Africa’s delegate asked about its impartiality and independence, given that it receives financing from the Government.
Afrikaanse Forum vir Burgerregte (South Africa) — South Africa’s delegate asked for details about its activities and objectives.
Al-Dameer Association for Supporting Prisoners and Human Rights (Palestine) — Israel’s delegate asked for the exact number of members in the organization.
Al-Marsad, The Arab Centre for Human Rights in the Golan Heights (R.A.) — Israel’s representative asked about the group’s contacts in Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
All-Ukrainian Association of Civil Organizations “Union of Armenians of Ukraine (Ukraine) — Turkey’s delegate asked if “AGBU” could represent Ukrainians of Europe.
Business and Professional Women Voluntary Organization (Sudan) — Sudan’s delegate asked whether the group received compensation for assistance provided to single-story houses and small women-run businesses. He also asked if it was focused only on Darfur or whether it envisioned activities in other regions of the country.
Egyptian Judges’ Club (Egypt) — Turkey’s delegate asked about the nature of its activities.
India Media Centre (India) — China’s delegate requested details about its activities carried out with the United Nations.
International Association of Genocide Scholars, Inc. (Argentina) — Turkey’s delegate requested information about its membership qualifications. China’s delegate requested details about its financing.
Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA) (Sudan) – the representative of the United States asked about the countries in which it worked.
Legal Resources Centre (South Africa) – South Africa’s delegate said the group’s mandate appeared to defend sexual rights. “What is this organization trying to do, knowing that sexual rights are duly established in the Constitution of South Africa’s constitutional democracy?” she asked.
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association (Egypt) — Turkey’s delegate said the group’s mandate stated that it did not receive funds from Governmental organizations, however, it appeared to indeed receive them.
RESDAL Red de Seguridad y Defensa de América Latina Asociación Civil (Argentina) — Venezuela’s delegate asked about the connection between the group’s activities and those of the Council. Sudan’s representative asked about its links with certain banks, especially HSBC, and whether its activities were lucrative.
Sheikh Eid Bin Mohammad Al Thani Charitable Association (Qatar) — Israel’s representative asked about the manner in which it worked, as it carried a $9 million deficit. He sought further details about the group’s financing. Likewise, the representative of Sudan said he supported the organization, while Cuba’s delegate said he was satisfied by answers to his previous questions. Israel’s representative asked for in-depth details about the group’s financing.
The Bahrain Young Ladies Association (Bahrain) — India’s delegate requested details “in English” on the group’s financing. Sudan’s representative was concerned that the group had not updated information on its financing.
The F.W. de Klerk Foundation Trust (South Africa) —South Africa’s delegate asked about the method for evaluating its assets.
Treatment & Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (West Bank Palestine) — Israel’s delegate requested details about its recent research activities.
World Taoist Association Limited (China) — with South Africa’s delegate asking for a breakdown of its activities.
Droits de l’Homme sans Frontières — Human Rights Without Frontiers (Belgium) — China’s delegate expressed concern about the limited resources at its disposal.
Earth Charter Associates Ltd. (United States) — with the representative of South Africa asking about the nature of its activities in Africa.
ECCO2 Corp (United States) — with the United States’ representative asking about the nature of its work with the United Nations.
Access Now (United States) — Venezuela’s representative asked about the name of the group’s website and how that site would foster relationships with other non-governmental organizations.
Asia Center for Human Rights (ACHR) (Republic of Korea) — Cuba’s delegate asked about its assistance to children in Nepal.
Assyrian Aid Society (United States) — faced questions by Nicaragua’s delegate about why it had neither a website nor an email address, and about the United Nations conference in which it had participated.
Center for Constitutional Rights Inc. (United States) — China’s representative asked about human rights statements made by the group at international conferences.
Centre Zagros pour les droits de l’homme (Switzerland) — with Iran’s representative asking for a list of foundations and companies that donated to the group.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (United Kingdom) — with China’s delegate asking about the group’s partners, and Sudan’s delegate requesting information about its relationship with both Sudan and South Sudan.
Collectif des familles de disparues en Algérie (France) – faced a question by South Africa’s representative about the Governments from which it received financing.
Committee to Protect Journalists (United States) — Cuba’s delegate asked whether its planned mission to Egypt had taken place, and if so, requested information on the results and contacts in that country.
Congrès National des Arméniens occidentaux (France) — Azerbaijan’s delegate asked several questions concerning a breakdown of activities for Western Armenians and Armenians from Armenia, the state of 2014 financing and the group’s contribution to the Council’s work. Armenia’s delegate noted that the group, along with another Armenian organization, had responded to such questions. He asked Azerbaijan’s delegate to engage in “constructive, impartial and flexible” cooperation, to which his counterpart responded that each delegation posed questions in an “impartial” manner. Turkey’s delegate clarified that questions had been asked on behalf of the Committee, rather than a particular Member State.
Dansk Flygtningehjaelp (Denmark) — Sudan’s delegate asked about the group’s connections with ALKARAMA Foundation, which had problems with several countries. China’s representative asked about its relationship with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.
Engineers Without Borders – USA Inc. (United States) – Nicaragua’s delegate asked about the group’s activities in that country.
European Muslims League (Switzerland) – Israel’s delegate asked about the manner in which it worked towards inter-faith rapprochement.
Federal Lezghin National and Cultural Autonomy (Russian Federation) — Azerbaijan’s representative asked whether it received funds from the Russian Government, and sought a written response to questions posed in the previous session.
Freedom Now (United States) — the United States representative asked the Committee to vote on the group’s application, with representatives of the Russian Federation, Cuba, Sudan and South Africa expressing their surprise. After the vote, China’s delegate explained his opposition, arguing that every group requesting Council status must respect the United Nations’ values and principles. It appeared that was not the case for this organization, which on its website, had multiple accusations against countries.
In a lively exchange, Sudan’s representative said the Committee President had not allowed time for delegations to explain why they opposed the vote or to engage in “technical consultations” to advance the situation.
Sudan voted against granting consultative status to Freedom Now, along with his counterparts from South Africa, Azerbaijan, Burundi, China, Cuba, Russian Federation, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan and Venezuela. Representatives of the United States, Greece, Israel and Uruguay voted in favour. India abstained.
Sudan’s delegate said the President could impose his views. “A request for technical consultations does not enter into the framework of a point of order”, the President responded. The United States’ representative expressed surprise that her request for a vote had led to such “chaos”. She regretted that the group’s request had been rejected because “this non-governmental organization meets the criteria for granting special consultative status”.
South Africa’s delegate also criticized the procedure, saying “we do not understand why we had to vote this afternoon and not this morning”. Along similar lines, the representative of the Russian Federation asked why a vote was needed when no questions had been asked of the organization. He pressed the United States’ delegate to recognize the voting results on the group’s request, which in the words of Cuba’s delegate, “lacked clarity”. Azerbaijan’s delegate said the organization refused to respond to the Committee’s questions, a point advanced by Nicaragua’s representative, who said the Committee awaited a response.
Profesionales por la Ética (Spain) — Cuba’s delegate asked for the identity of philanthropists financing the organization, with his counterpart from South Africa reiterating a question about the concept of “dignity of the human embryo” and requesting a written response.