Non-Governmental Organizations Committee Recommends Special Consultative Status for 15 Entities, Postpones Action on 53, in Fourth Day of Session

ECOSOC/6730-NGO/821
28 January 2016
Committee on NGOs, 7th & 8th Meetings (AM & PM)

Non-Governmental Organizations Committee Recommends Special Consultative Status for 15 Entities, Postpones Action on 53, in Fourth Day of Session

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 15 organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and deferred action on 53 others, as it continued its session.

The 19-member Committee considers applications for consultative status and requests for reclassification submitted by non-governmental organizations.  Once an application has been reviewed and approved by the Committee it is considered recommended for consultative status.  Organizations which are granted 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 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.

Following lengthy discussions on 27 January (Press Release ECOSOC/6729), the Committee today decided to appeal the Chair’s ruling to invite Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Foundation to participate in the question-and-answer session.  It took that action by a recorded vote of 13 in favour (Azerbaijan, Burundi, China, Cuba, India, Iran, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela) to 4 against (Greece, Israel, United States, Uruguay), with 1 abstention (Russian Federation) and 1 absent member.

After the vote, members explained their positions in a debate that centred on freedom of speech, with some of the view that the decision was a “chilling” message that that principle was threatened in the United Nations.  Others argued that the Committee was both a symbol and a protector of freedom of speech, but that the group in question was not respecting the United Nations Charter.  The vote was not about freedom of expression, asserted another speaker, agreeing that the Charter superseded all else and must be respected.

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 29 January, to continue its work.

Special Consultative Status

The Committee recommended that the Economic and Social Council grant special consultative status to the following 14 organizations:

Initiative Féministe Européenne (France);

Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya (Spain);

Institute for Human Rights & Business Limited (United Kingdom);

Intersections International Initiative, Inc. (United States);

Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions (MIN-IREN) (Japan);

Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Menschenrechte - Forschungsverein (BIM-FV) (Austria);

Stichting Basug (Bangladesh Support Group) (Netherlands);

STUF United Fund, Inc. (United States);

Sukyo Mahikari (United States);

The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (UK) (United Kingdom);

The Leadership Foundation (United States);

US-Africa Synergy, Inc. (United States);

USC Canada (Canada);

and Women for Water Partnership (Netherlands).

The Committee postponed consideration of the following 53 organizations:

Institute for Multi-track Diplomacy (United States) — as the representative of South Africa asked for further information about the outcomes of training.  He also asked for clarification on how the organization would contribute to the work of the Economic and Social Council.

International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc. (United States) — as the representative of India requested the organization to provide the Committee with the sources of income.  He also asked for clarification on donations.

James Madison University (United States) — as the representative of Iran asked for clarification on activities undertaken by the organization.

Kirkon Ulkomaanavun Säätiö (Finland) — as the representative of China noted that “Taiwan” was listed as a country on the organization’s website.

Let's Breakthrough, Inc. (United States) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked whether the organization had undertaken any activities in Central and South America.  China’s delegate asked for clarification on the organization’s activities in Asia.  India’s representative asked for further information about projects and programmes initiated and implemented in India.  South Africa’s delegate asked for clarification on the organization’s name.

Luxembourg Income Study (Luxembourg) — as the representative of China noted that “Taiwan” was listed as a country on the organization’s website.  South Africa’s delegate asked for clarification on the organization’s aim and purposes.

Mouvement de la Paix (France) — as the representative of China asked whether the Secretariat could translate the documents provided by the organization.  A member of the Secretariat noted that they were not in a position to provide translation services.  China’s delegate, taking the floor a second time, asked for clarification on the organization’s position on Tibet.

Muslim Aid (United Kingdom) — as the representative of the United States asked whether the organization provided services to marginalized groups, including disabled, indigenous, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

Muslim Hands (United Kingdom) — as the representative of Israel asked for the list of public institutions that funded the organization.

National Secular Society (United Kingdom) — as the representative of Nicaragua requested the organization to provide the meaning of “religious privilege”.  China’s delegate asked why the organization had an income surplus.

Oromia Support Group in Australia, Inc. (Australia) — as the representative of South Africa asked for clarification on activities undertaken by the organization in Ethiopia.  He also asked whether the organization worked with the African Union.

Plan International (UK) (United Kingdom) — as the representative of China noted that “Taiwan” was listed as a country on the organization’s website.  South Africa’s delegate asked for further information about the organization’s ongoing project in Africa.  In addition, she asked about the organization’s budget deficit.

Population Matters (United Kingdom) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked for clarification on where the organization operated.  China’s delegate asked for further information about activities undertaken by the organization.

Public Interest Advocacy Centre Ltd. (Australia) — as the representative of China requested the organization provide further information on activities undertaken in the past year.

Rural Development Institute (United States) — as the representative of South Africa asked whether the organization worked with the African Union.  China’s delegate asked for clarification on the organization’s position on “Taiwan”.  India’s representative asked for the meaning of “Landesa”.

Stichting HealthNet International — Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (Netherlands) — as the representative of South Africa asked how the organization would contribute to the Council’s work.

Stichting Samenwerkingsverband IKV — Pax Christi (Netherlands) — as the representative of China asked for clarification on the organization’s position on “Taiwan”.

Stichting Soham Baba Mission (Netherlands) — as the representative of China asked for clarification on the organization’s position on “Tibet”.

Stichting War Child (Netherlands) — as the representative of Iran asked for clarification about the sources of funding and inquired how the organization dealt with the question of “independence”.

The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty (United States) — as the representative of China asked whether the organization had made any contribution to the United Nations work in the area of poverty reduction.

The Aspen Institute, Inc. (United States) — as the representative of China inquired how the organization selected “tomorrow's leaders”.

The Simons Foundation (Canada) — as the representative of China noted that the organization listed “Hong Kong” as a country.  South Africa’s delegate asked how the organization would contribute to the Council’s work.  Canada’s representative noted that the Government fully supported the organization’s application and asked the Committee to grant special consultative status.

The World Academy of Art and Science (United States) — as the representative of China asked for clarification on the organization’s position on “Taiwan”.

WEConnect International, Inc. (United States) — as the representative of South Africa asked for further information about projects and activities undertaken in Africa.

Women's Freedom Forum, Inc. (United States) — as the representative of Iran asked in which countries the organization had engaged in activities.

Work In Progress (France) — as the representative of Sudan asked for clarification on activities undertaken by the organization in Africa.

Youth Service America (United States) — as the representative of China said the website mentioned “Hong Kong” and “Taiwan” as countries.

World Without Genocide (United States) — as the representative of Sudan asked for details on the scope of activities in Africa.

Africa Unite (South Africa) — as South Africa’s representative said a funding question was asked in 2015 and the group had identified the Government as a funder and not a collaborator.  She also asked if the organization had any projects that dealt with the Government’s development plan, and if so, she requested details.  She also wanted to know which grass roots groups the organization was working with in rural South Africa.

Afrikaanse Forum vir Burgerregte (South Africa) — as South Africa’s representative said she was concerned about the organization’s responses to previous numerous questions that had been asked since 2011.  She wanted to see disaggregated data on donations and sponsorships.  She asked for clarification on the large legal fees in the budget and whether social cohesion projects were included in their activities.  Given that the organization had indicated that it had more than 22,000 members in addition to associate members, she asked about the financial statement of over $1 million, which amounted to an elitist club with membership dues of over $20,000 per member.  She sought clarification on the group’s mandate to address the structural causes of poverty.  She also wanted to know if the group had any standing relationship with the Council of Europe.

Al-Marsad, the Arab Centre for Human Rights in the Golan Heights (R.A.) (Occupied Syrian Golan) — as the representative of Israel asked for details of the breakdown of funds they had received from Governments and which projects were involved.

Ambedkar Center for Justice and Peace (India) — as India’s representative asked for further details on the group’s definition of indigenous peoples and marginalized communities.  South Africa’s representative asked for details on their deficit.

Conselho Indigenista Missionário CIMI (Brazil) — as South Africa’s representative asked for more precise details on the group’s description of its mandate, and the group had indicated it had been “defined by the General Assembly”.

Diplomatic Mission Peace And Prosperity (Albania) — as China’s representative, noting that the group’s website mentions Tibet, sought clarification on the issue.  The representative of the Russian Federation said one of the group’s stated main objectives included assisting the pan-Albanian union and he wanted more information on what that meant.

Egyptian Centre for Human Rights (Egypt) — as Sudan’s representative asked for clarification of the group’s plan for 2016 and of the budget deficit.

Egyptian Judges’ Club (Egypt) — as South Africa’s representative asked for details on income generated through contracts.

Heavenly Shower of Peace Church of God (Nigeria) — as South Africa’s representative asked for clarification of the group’s aims and purposes.  The group had indicated that it collected permanent voters’ cards, she said, asking for exact definitions of the organization’s mandate.

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office (Armenia) — as the representative of Azerbaijan asked for details on the group’s work with human rights defenders and lawyers in the South Caucasus region.  South Africa’s representative said the goals were broad, and he asked for details.

International Association of Genocide Scholars, Inc. (Argentina) — as the representative of China asked for details on the group’s work, particularly since 2010, and its most recent activities.

International Human Rights Commission Relief Fund Trust (Pakistan) — as India’s representative sought further details about the group’s relationship with the Islamic Human Rights Organization.  South Africa’s representative asked for details on the group’s budget.

Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA) — as the representative of the United States asked for details on funding amounts received for each United Nations agency and how the group partnered with those entities.

Legal Resources Centre (South Africa) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked for details about the group’s activities in Latin America.  South Africa’s representative sought details on the anonymous donations, as the country did not allow for money to move in and out of the nation anonymously.  She also asked for details of the group’s budget and whether or not it could provide a non-profit certificate for its pro bono work.

National Development Youth Club, Jaran Wali Gali Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir) — as India’s representative asked for details of relationships with three organizations mentioned in the application.  Cuba’s representative sought more information on its recent activities.

New Era Educational and Charitable Support Initiative (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa asked for clarification on the group’s aims and purposes and how it would benefit the work of the Economic and Social Council.  She asked for aggregated data on donations per donor and for details on its activities and examples of its success.

Nigerian Diaspora Youths Movement for Peace and Development International Organization (Cameroon) — as South Africa’s representative asked for a list of international projects and for details about the group’s mandate.

Sheikh Eid Bin Mohammad Al Thani Charitable Association (Qatar) — as Iran’s representative asked for details on financial assistance that might be involved with groups fighting in Syria, including Al Nusrah and Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS).

Social Services Trust (India) — as India’s representative asked for details about the project on youth and climate change.  He also requested a list of its programme, activities or plan and how the group could benefit the work of the Council.  South Africa’s representative asked for details on the deficit.

Swadhikar (India) — as India’s representative asked for details on its activities.

The F W de Klerk Foundation Trust (South Africa) — as South Africa’s representative said the group had done its best to respond to previous questions.  However, he sought more information on current practices.  The South African Government had viewed the Foundation Trust and had noted that it had maintained close relationships with the right-wing element of the country.  As such, he asked for details on activities and its mandate of maintaining social cohesion and of its work with minorities.  The group’s chairperson, who had been the former leader of South Africa, had ubiquitous powers and hired and fired individuals.  As such, he wanted to know about the Chairperson’s role.  China’s representative asked for clarification on the mention of Tibet on the group’s website.

Treatment & Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (State of Palestine) — as Israel’s representative asked for details on donations and the relationship the group had with Governments. 

VOICE (Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment) (Philippines) — as Iran’s representative asked for details on activities on science and charity.  She also asked about how many volunteers were involved with the group.  Sudan’s representative asked why United States currency was used when the group was located in the Philippines.

V‐Day Karama (Egypt) — as Sudan’s representative asked for details on the group’s activities and on its relationships with Governments.

Women’s Initiative for Self-Actualization (Nigeria) — as South Africa’s representative asked for further details on funding received from corporations and how the group would contribute to the work of the Council. 

Access Now (United States) — as Cuba’s representative asked for details on recent conferences and events in which the organization had participated as well as the impact of its involvement.

Following a discussion on 27 January (Press Release ECOSOC/6729), a vote was held today with regard to allowing the organization Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Foundation to participate in a question-and-answer session with the Committee.

The representatives of the Cuba, United States and South Africa asked for clarification.

The Chair said that voting “yes” would be in favour of cancelling his ruling, made yesterday, to allow that organization to participate.

The representative of Azerbaijan asked if it was possible for the question to be re-worded.

The Chair said the question would remain as it was, due to legal reasons.

Following lengthy discussions on 27 January (Press Release ECOSOC/6729), the Committee today decided to appeal the Chair’s ruling to invite Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Foundation to participate in the question-and-answer session.  It took that action by a recorded vote of 13 in favour (Azerbaijan, Burundi, China, Cuba, India, Iran, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela) to 4 against (Greece, Israel, United States, Uruguay), with 1 abstention (Russian Federation) and 1 absent member.

The representative of the United States said the Committee had chosen not to listen to responses made by the organization.  Freedom of speech was important.  That decision was a chilling message that freedom of speech was threatened in this house.

India’s representative said that in the past the organization’s application had been rejected by Economic and Social Council.  The voting had taken place at Viet Nam’s request.  He said his delegation was not against freedom of expression.

The Chair reminded members that the time being used to debate the matter was taking up the period allotted for discussions with non-governmental organizations.

Cuba’s representative expressed his support for India’s statement.  The organization in question had already visited the Committee.  It was an organization that was not in keeping with the United Nations Charter.  The Committee was both a symbol and a protector of the freedom of speech.

Iran’s representative said she supported the United Nations Charter and its principles.

Greece’s representative said the action had sent a grim message to civil society.

Azerbaijan’s representative said his country was suffering from violations on territorial integrity.  No country or organization should be allowed to violate the United Nations Charter.

Nicaragua’s representative said the vote was not for freedom of expression, but about the question of respecting the sovereignty of a nation, which could not be tampered with.

South Africa’s representative said it was not about freedom of opinion.  He said the Charter superseded everything else and must be respected.

Venezuela’s representative said her delegation supported the United Nations.

Turkey’s representative said the delegation supported the work of non-governmental organizations and that the vote was not a matter of freedom of speech.

Sudan’s representative expressed support for the Charter.

Interactive Discussion

During a question-and-answer session this afternoon, a representative of the organization Sheikh Eid Bin Mohammad Al Thani Charitable Association (Qatar) said the group had never funded those mentioned by the representative of Iran.

India’s representative asked for details on activities, particularly in Syria and Iraq.

The group’s representative said his organization had provided an activity report.  It was working in more than 50 countries with local partners and efforts were being made in refugee camps in Jordan, but not in Syria or Iraq.  Four clinics had been set up to serve refugee camps, he added.

India’s representative asked for written answers from the organization.

Iran’s representative thanked the group for the answers.

The Committee then decided to postpone its consideration of the organization.

A representative of the Rural Development Institute (United States) said the group supported an African Union–led effort on land.  Turning to the group’s relationship with “Taiwan”, the Institute did not recognize it as a country.  She had contacted the group’s communications department to ensure that “Taiwan” did not appear as a country.

To another query, the speaker said the Institute had rebranded and added “Landesa” to its official name.

China’s representative said she hoped the organization would continue to follow the above-mentioned policy in the future.  India’s representative asked about activities in his country.  South Africa’s representative asked whether the group had accredited status with African institutions and if it would in the future.  He also asked about the deficit.  Cuba’s representative asked for details on the legal nature of the group.

To those questions, the Institute’s representative said the group did not have a deficit.  Grants went through the India trust to fund various projects there, including legal aid and land allocation programmes in Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, working with state governments through local revenue offices.  It worked with the Government to help them find solutions to bottlenecks in programmes already being implemented.  The group had no official accreditation with African institutions, but was trying to establish its first office on the continent in the United Republic of Tanzania.

The Committee then decided to postpone its consideration of the organization.

A representative of the Luxembourg Income Study (Luxembourg) said the website inconsistencies about “Taiwan” had been corrected.  He thanked China for its support for the Study’s work.  He went on to provide details on disaggregated data and the methods used by the group.

China’s representative thanked the organization for its efforts.

South Africa’s representative said his country used census data and not data collected by academic institutions.

The Committee then granted special consultative status to the Luxembourg Income Study.

A representative of the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention, Inc. (United States) said her group operated in a number of regions.

Turkey’s representative asked if the group had relations with Governments.  She also asked for details of its small budget of roughly $1,000.

The group’s representative said it had non-profit status and its operation depended on volunteers.

The representative of South Africa asked for further details on projects, particularly on the prevention of genocide.

Burundi’s representative asked about details of its work in his country.

The group’s representative said it had worked in 2014 in Burundi.  The group worked with 3,000 people directly and 30,000 indirectly, including on projects to promote the work of the United Nations in schools.

The Committee then decided to postpone its consideration of the organization.

Cuba’s representative asked when the Committee would be expected to consider the organization Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.

The Chair said the vote would be held tomorrow at 4:45 p.m.

For information media. Not an official record.