In Two Recorded Votes, Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Reverses Chair’s Decision, Defers Action on Youth Group’s Application

ECOSOC/6763-NGO/833
27 May 2016
25th & 26th Meetings (AM & PM)

In Two Recorded Votes, Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Reverses Chair’s Decision, Defers Action on Youth Group’s Application

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) held a recorded vote today, by which it deferred action on the application of a youth group for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.

By 5 recorded votes in favour (Greece, Israel, Turkey, United States, Uruguay) to 6 against (China, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sudan), with 4 abstentions (Azerbaijan, India, Mauritania, Venezuela), the Committee failed to grant consultative status to the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, postponing action on its application.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States commended the excellent work carried out by the organization in promoting the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents and other young people, pointing out that it had submitted its application more than five years ago.

Prior to that, the Committee held a recorded vote on the Chair’s granting of consultative status to that NGO although Iran’s representative had indicated his wish to pose a question before the gavel.

The Committee then reversed the Chair’s decision by a recorded 10 votes in favour (China, India, Iran, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, Venezuela) to 5 against (Greece, Israel, Turkey, United States, Uruguay), with 1 abstention (Azerbaijan).

During the day-long meeting, the Committee recommended nine organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, while deferring action on the applications of 45 others.

The 19-member Committee vets applications submitted by 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.

Several NGOs saw action on their applications postponed because Committee members requested further information including, details of their respective activities, expenditures, funding sources and intended contributions to the Economic and Social Council’s work.

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 31 May, to continue its work.

Special Consultative Status

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

The International Alliance of Carer Organizations, Incorporated (United States);

The Jewish Renaissance Foundation (United States);

WE Foundation, World Education Foundation (United States);

Work In Progress (France);

Youth Service America (United States);

Africa Unite (South Africa);

African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (South Africa);

Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (Botswana);

The Committee postponed consideration of the following 45 organizations:

The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty (United States) — as the representative of China pointed out that the NGO’s website did not use the correct name for Taiwan, and sought a correction.

The Next Century Foundation (United Kingdom) — as the representative of Turkey, noting that the NGO focused on such humanitarian issues as the refugee crisis in Syria and Iraq, asked for further information about its activities.

The RINJ Foundation (Canada) — as the representative of Turkey, noting that that it operated in North America, Asia and Africa, asked for a list of specific countries in those continents and sought clarification regarding the Foundation’s substantive focus.

The Simons Foundation (Canada) — as the representative of Turkey asked for a list of the countries in which it operated.

The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania (United States) — as the representative of South Africa sought further information about the list of countries in which it planned to undertake its activities.  The representative of the United States noted that the NGO was a non-political academic institution working on a number of issues, and encouraged Committee members to do further research before asking questions.

The World Academy of Art and Science (United States) – as the representative of South Africa asked how it characterized itself as an international NGO.  The representative of Switzerland emphasized that the registration of NGOs was not a requirement in her country.  The representative of the United States said the Academy had been founded in 1960 in Geneva, Switzerland, and its headquarters had been moved to California, United States, in 2011.

We Care for Humanity (United States) — as the representative of Iran sought a list of its member organizations.

Women of Africa (United Kingdom) — as the representative of South Africa, noting that the NGO’s mandate was to bridge the gaps between Governments and civil society in Africa, asked about its relationship with the Economic, Social and Cultural Council in Africa.

World Food Logistics Organization (United States) — as the representative of Venezuela asked about the activities it had undertaken in her country.  The representatives of South Africa sought further information about the types of projects it carried out in her country.

Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (Canada) — as the representative of Canada, participating as an observer State, emphasized the importance of equal treatment.

The Chair then gavelled the decision to grant the NGO consultative status.

The representative of Iran said he had pressed the button before the gavel had fallen, and asked for further information about the organization’s partners.

The Chair said there was a possibility that he might not have seen the representative of Iran, and the only legal option was to hold a vote to appeal against the decision.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the Chair should not impose a decision on the Committee, emphasizing that decisions must be made by its 19 members.

The representative of the United States pointed out that no one had requested a vote yet.

The representative of the Russian Federation asked the United States delegation to join the consensus since a “technical error” had occurred.

The representative of Sudan said the United States delegation’s opposition was not a problem since the Chair’s decision was not valid.  However, the Committee had seen the person who wished to destabilize its work.

The representative of the United States, speaking on a point of order, said the Chair had gavelled the decision and the Committee must respect that, adding that her delegation never undermined the Committee’s work.

The representative of Israel expressed strong support for continuing the Committee’s work and for the application.

The representative of Iran noted that the NGO did not have consultative status with the Economic and Social Council because his delegation had pressed the button before the gavel.

The representative of the Russian Federation then requested a vote to appeal the Chair’s ruling to grant the NGO consultative status.

By a recorded vote of 10 in favour (China, India, Iran, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, Venezuela) to 5 against (Greece, Israel, Turkey, United States, Uruguay), with 1 abstention (Azerbaijan), the Committee reversed the Chair’s decision.

The representative of the United States, making a general statement, recalled that the NGO had submitted its application more than five years ago.  Given its excellent work in the area of sexual and reproductive health, it enjoyed the full support of the Government of Canada, she said, requesting a recorded vote to grant the NGO consultative status.

The representatives of the Russian Federation and Nicaragua expressed support for the representative of Iran, emphasizing that he had the right to pose questions.

By 5 votes in favour (Greece, Israel, Turkey, United States, Uruguay) to 6 against (China, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sudan), with 4 abstentions (Azerbaijan, India, Mauritania, Venezuela), the Committee failed to grant consultative status to the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

As the Committee resumed its work, the Chair opened the floor for general comments about its working methods.

The representative of South Africa said he was surprised by the heightened tensions, growing polarization, recriminations and acrimony permeating the Committee’s work, adding that a prominent feature had been the ability of observer States to participate in the Committee’s debates as it considered applications.  Expressing concern about the presence of “media people” with recording devices, including cameras, he said he had been shocked when the delegation of Sudan was interrupted by the United States delegation, and concerned that social media were being used to attack other Committee members, including his own delegation.

The representative of the United States said observer States had always been invited to speak before the Committee, pointing out that the proceedings were open and as such, subject to the United Nations rules governing the presence of media.

The representative of Greece said that interventions by observer States were crucial for the Committee’s work, and his delegation was concerned about the heated exchanges that had come to characterize it.

The representative of Israel endorsed the statement by the representative of Greece, expressing hope for a better working atmosphere.

Ambedkar Center for Justice and Peace (India) — as the representative of India pointed out that the Committee was still awaiting a written response to questions previously asked.

Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women (China) — as the representative of India sought information as to whether the NGO had worked with UN-Women or attended previous sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Cameroon League for Development (Cameroon) — as the representative of South Africa asked for more detailed information about the its activities.

Conglomeration of Bengal’s Hotel Owners (India) — as the representative of India sought more detailed plans for specific projects and the breakdown of donations to the NGO.

Diplomatic Mission Peace and Prosperity (Albania) — as the representative of Greece asked for more information about donations to the organization.  The representative of the Russian Federation sought detailed information about its work in Kosovo.

Eaglesworth Human Empowerment Foundation (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa asked for further information on the dates and locations of projects it had carried out.

Education, Communication and Development Trust (India) — as the representative of India voiced concern about the contact address provided by the NGO, saying his delegation been unable to confirm it.

Entrepreneurship Development and Support Initiative (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa asked for more information about the NGO’s proposal to address concerns it had voiced about the policies of the Government of Nigeria.

Global Campaign for Education (South Africa) — as the representative of South Africa requested more information about the organization’s reference to “self-governing regional and sub-regional education coalitions”, contained in its application.

Global Initiative for Positive Change (South Africa) — as the representative of South Africa sought more information about its mandate.

Heal the Land Initiative (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa asked for further information about its planned activities in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Heavenly Shower of Peace Church of God (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa asked for further information about its activities.

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office (Armenia) — as the representative of Azerbaijan asked sought further information about its visit to Nagorno-Karabakh.

International Non-Olympic Committee (India) — as the representative of South Africa pointed out that the NGO’s website did not use the correct name for Taiwan, and requested a correction.

International Non-Olympic University (India) — as the representative of India asked for the list of degree programmes it offered.

Kids & Teens Resource Centre (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa requested an updated financial statement.

Leadership Initiative for Transformation & Empowerment (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa asked about its relationship with the Government of Nigeria.

Light House (Bangladesh) — as the representative of Nicaragua requested an updated financial statement.

New Era Educational and Charitable Support Initiative (Nigeria) — as the representative of China noted that the NGO’s website did not use the correct name for Taiwan, and requested a correction.

Pan African Institute for Entrepreneurship and Community Development (Ltd/Gte) (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa sought further information about its activities in her country.

RESDAL Red de Seguridad y Defensa de América Latina Asociación Civil (Argentina) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked for clarification about its presence in Latin American countries.

Society for the Widows and Orphans (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa asked how the NGO maintained its impartiality since it received funds from the Government.

Strategy for Mentoring Initiative and Leadership Empowerment — as the representative of South Africa requested that the NGO provide the sources of income and financial expenditure in local currency.

The Chair said that was not mandatory, but the Secretariat would convey the question to the NGO.

Swadhikar (India) — as the representative of China noted that the NGO’s website did not use the correct name for Hong Kong, and requested a correction.

The F W de Klerk Foundation Trust (South Africa) — as the representative of China requested an updated financial statement.  The representative of South Africa said the NGO’s responses were not satisfactory.

Treatment & Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (State of Palestine) — as the representative of Israel noted that the NGO described itself as a politically neutral institution, yet it had taken part in various political events at the national, regional and international levels.  He requested an explanation.

Ugonma Foundation (Nigeria) — as the representative of South Africa noted that the documents provided by the NGO were not accessible, and requested more information about its activities.

V‐Day Karama (Egypt) — as the representative of China sought clarification about terms used on the NGO’s website.

Anti-Corruption Foundation (Russian Federation) — as the representative of the Russian Federation requested further information about its activities in the criminalization of “illicit enrichment”.

Asia Center for Human Rights (ACHR) (Republic of Korea) — as the representative of China noted that the NGO had not provided adequate answers to questions posed previously.

Association for Human Rights and Solidarity with Oppressed People (MAZLUMDER, Turkey) — as the representative of China sought further information about its refugee-related activities.

Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention Inc. (United States) — as the representative of Turkey requested further information about an event organized at the United Nations.  The representative of Iran asked about the NGO’s partners at the national and international levels.

Center for Constitutional Rights Inc. (United States) — as the representative of South Africa asked whether the NGO had engaged in any formal partnerships with Government institutions in his country.  The representative of the Russian Federation asked how it intended to contribute to the Economic and Social Council’s work.

Center for Democracy and Technology (United States) — as the representative of China sought further information about its activities and their outcomes.

Interactive Discussion

During the question-and-answer session, the representative of the Center of Political Analysis and Information Security (Russian Federation) said he looked forward to answering questions.

The representative of Iran asked whether the NGO had carried out any activities in the Middle East, and requested the list of NGOs funding its projects.

In response, the NGO representative said the organization planned future activities in that region.  Furthermore, it had created partnerships with the Russian Orthodox Church and Rotary International.

The Committee then decided to postpone its consideration of the NGO’s application.

Without posing any questions, the Committee granted special consultative status to Access Now (United States).

For information media. Not an official record.