Concluding its 2017 resumed session with the adoption of its report, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today forwarded the applications of 191 groups to the Economic and Social Council with the recommendation that they be granted special consultative status, as opinions diverged over certain elements of the text as well as the Committee’s underlying editorial practices.
The report (document E/2017/32), introduced this morning by Committee Rapporteur Farid Jabrayilov (Azerbaijan), stated that of the 385 applications for consultative status before the Committee during its resumed session it had recommended 191 for special consultative status and deferred 162 others for further consultation at its regular session in 2018. It had also taken note of four requests from organizations wishing to change their names and deferred one request to take note of a merger.
Of the 280 quadrennial reports before it, the Committee took note of 196 reports. Thirty applications were closed without prejudice after the non-governmental organizations in question had failed to respond to questions despite three reminders, and two other applications were closed.
A discussion emerged regarding paragraph 13 of Part II of the report, dealing with the non-governmental organization “Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre”. The representative of Iran drew attention to the insertion of certain new substantive elements — in particular, the addition of the word “dutifully” into the summary of one delegation’s statement regarding the centre’s responses to questions previously posed by the Committee — which had not in fact been uttered during the official meeting. He requested that the Secretariat delete that “judgmental” qualifier as it had been added to the text after the fact.
The representative of the United States, whose statement was the one in question, responded that she did not accept any such edits. During negotiations, her delegation had suggested that the section was “too political” for inclusion in the final report; however, as the representative of Iran had wished for his statements to remain in the report, the United States had opted to do the same. While the summaries in the report were not verbatim accounts of the statements as delivered, she said they nevertheless accurately captured what had been said.
Iran’s representative, emphasizing that it was not up to the representative of the United States to decide what was “politicized” and what was not, pointed out that the meeting’s webcast would reveal exactly what had been said in the formal meeting. Colleagues should refrain from lecturing others and no substantive additions should be made after the fact, he stressed.
Following a brief recess and several requests from the Chair to reach a compromise on the matter, the United States’ representative said the non—governmental organization in question had been blocked by the Committee for more than seven years and had responded “dutifully” to more than 60 questions posed by Committee members over 15 consecutive sessions. As today’s meeting was also a formal one, she wished to put on record that those questions had indeed been posed to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre, “which it had answered dutifully”. Her statement was now officially on record and should be reflected in the report, she said.
The representative of Iran responded that it was the prerogative of each Member State — not just one — to have its statements captured “wholly and fully”. It had never been the Committee’s practice to make edits to statements after the fact; if that was now the case, his delegation would also wish to make additions to the statements it had delivered throughout the resumed session.
The Committee then adopted the report, as distributed, with the word “dutifully” reflected in the summary of the United States statement in paragraph 13.
The 19-member Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations 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. However, for the first time the Committee’s meetings were broadcast via webcam, following an Economic and Social Council decision to do so.
At the outset, the Committee observed a minute of silence to mark the death of Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua), a long-time diplomat who had served as President of the sixty-third session of the General Assembly.