Economic and Social Council Denies Consultative Status to Non-governmental Group with Alleged Terrorism Ties, Fills Vancancies in Subsidary Bodies

ECOSOC/6867
26 July 2017
2017 Session, 51st Meeting (AM)

Economic and Social Council Denies Consultative Status to Non-governmental Group with Alleged Terrorism Ties, Fills Vancancies in Subsidary Bodies

The Economic and Social Council concluded the third round of Coordination and Management meetings of its 2017 session today, adopting eight decisions on civil society’s participation within the United Nations and filling vacancies on several of its subsidiary bodies.

In its most debated action, the Council decided against granting consultative status to Fondation Alkarama, following objections by the representative of the United Arab Emirates, who introduced the draft, over the group’s alleged ties to terrorism.  His country had designated Fondation Alkarama a terrorist group, he said, and the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee set up pursuant to Security Council resolution 1267 (1999) had designated its founder as a financier and facilitator of such behaviour.

Those concerns resonated with several speakers, including India’s representative who said her country took such claims seriously.  The situation called for introspection on the Committee’s functioning.  “We need a much higher scrutiny of applications,” she said.  Algeria’s delegate asked how the Council could extend consultative status to a group whose members stood accused of being Al-Qaida members.  “We cannot accept organizations, the members of which are on terrorist lists,” he asserted.  The United States delegate likewise said that her delegation pushed to grant consultative status to all civil society organizations, except when their activities or funding were linked to terrorism or terrorist financing.

The Council also took up issues related to elections, nominations, confirmations and appointments on its subsidiary bodies, revising the office term for the 24 experts of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on a one-time basis, to three years and seven months, beginning on 1 January 2018 and ending on 31 July 2021.

Turning to the Committee for Programme and Coordination, the Council nominated Cameroon to be elected by the General Assembly for a term beginning on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2020.

The Council elected Lesotho, by acclamation, to the Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP) for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2020.  For the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the Council elected Spain, by acclamation, for a term beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2020.  Finally, the Council elected Romania, by acclamation, to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission for a term beginning on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2018.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 27 July, to begin its 2018 session with the election of the President and Vice-Presidents.

Non-governmental Organizations

The Council first turned to a draft decision titled, “application of the non-governmental organization Fondation Alkarama for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council”, contained in the report of the Committee on Non‑Governmental Organizations on its 2017 resumed session (document E/2017/32 Part II).

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), speaking also on behalf of Australia, Belgium, Canada ,Chile, Czech Republic, Mexico, Finland, France, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States, said non-governmental organizations were indispensable partners in work to strengthen peace and security, as well as implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The decision to allow the Committee’s public sessions to be webcast marked an important step towards further transparency at the United Nations and stronger civil society involvement.

However, he said, the Committee’s resumed session in May had seen politicization and backsliding, notably with extensive debate over whether to allow a non-governmental group to speak, which had resulted in it not being allowed to do so.  Recalling the Committee’s duty to fulfil its mandate, notably by holding consultations with organizations in consultative status to discuss questions of interest, he requested the Non-governmental Organizations Branch to ensure that that important requirement was satisfied before the Committee’s January 2018 session.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the Committee’s decision to accredit new and deferred applicants.  Yet, strong concerns remained that an open and fair approach was not uniformly applied to all applicants and that considerations falling outside the Committee’s purview were leading to repeated deferrals of numerous groups.  That the Committee recommended only 25 per cent of deferred applications for accreditation at its last session spoke to those concerns.  He encouraged the Committee to enhance its credibility, recalling the need to avoid the ad hoc overriding of Economic and Social Council rules for its work, and to ensure that the voices of civil society were heard during its proceedings.

AHMED ALMAHMOUD (United Arab Emirates), introducing the draft decision on Fondation Alkarama (document E/2017/L.35), proposed that the Council not grant consultative status to that group.  Noting that consultative status must come with responsibilities, not least to operate in accordance with Council resolution 1996/31 and the United Nations Charter, he expressed deep concern over Fondation Alkarama’s clear connection to terrorism.  The United Arab Emirates had designated it as terrorist organization, while the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee had designated its founder as a financier and facilitator of terrorism.  Fondation Alkarama had withdrawn a previous application following questions from the Committee about such connections, claiming they were politically motivated.  He expressed concern it had not been forthright in its recent application.  While hearing from diverse voices was important, the group’s connections to terrorism were incompatible with the Charter and he requested the Council to deny it consultative status.

MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) expressed support for the remarks by his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, noting that special consultative status was based on principles in the United Nations Charter.  Members of Fondation Alkarama were being prosecuted in court and he expressed doubts about the group’s financing.  “How can we extend consultative status when certain members of the organization appear on the list of several Security Council committees,” he asked, and stood accused of being Al-Qaida members.  “We cannot accept organizations, the members of which are on terrorist lists,” he said, advocating against according consultative status to the group.

PAULOMI TRIPATHI (India) said the United Arab Emirates had raised serious concerns about Fondation Alkarama, affirming that the group had been declared a terrorist organization and that at least one of its founders was the subject of United States and United Nations sanctions.  India would work with the international community to fight terrorism and took such concerns seriously.  She expressed support for the decision to deny consultative status, stressing that the situation called for introspection on the Committee’s functioning and need for due diligence in the consultative mechanism.  “We need a much higher scrutiny of applications,” she said, urging the Committee’s secretariat to take such due diligence, including by collaborating with sanctions committees to avoid such situations in the future.

The Council then adopted the decision.

STEFANIE AMADEO (United States) said her delegation pushed to grant consultative status to all civil society organizations, except when their activities or funding were linked to terrorism or terrorist financing.  For such reasons, the United States had joined consensus on the text.

The Council then turned to Chapter 1 of the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2017 resumed session, (document E/2017/32 Part II), adopting the seven draft decisions contained therein, the first of which was titled “applications for consultative status and requests for reclassification received from non-Governmental organizations”, as amended by the adoption of draft decision E/2017/L.35; followed by draft decision II, “withdrawal of consultative status of the non-governmental organization International Chamber of Commerce”, owing to a change of its status at the United Nations; draft decision III, “suspension of the consultative status of non-governmental organizations with outstanding quadrennial reports, pursuant to Council resolution 2008/4”; draft decision IV, “reinstatement of the consultative status of non-governmental organizations that submitted outstanding quadrennial reports, pursuant to Council resolution 2008/4”, draft decision V, “Withdrawal of the consultative status of non-governmental organizations, pursuant to Council resolution 2008/4”; draft decision VI, “dates and provisional agenda of the 2018 session of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations”; and draft decision VII, “report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2017 resumed session”.

Elections, Nominations, Confirmations and Appointments

The Council revised the term of office of the 24 experts of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on a one-time basis, to three years and seven months, beginning on 1 January 2018 and ending on 31 July 2021, on the understanding that the following term for the Committee would begin on 1 August 2021 and end on 31 July 2025.  It also approved the Secretary-General’s nomination of the 24 experts listed in documents E/2017/9/Add.9 and Add.10.

Turning to the Committee for Programme and Coordination, the Council nominated Cameroon to be elected by the General Assembly for a term beginning on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2020.  It postponed the following outstanding vacancies:  two members of the African States, one member of the Latin American and Caribbean States and three members of the Western European and other States, for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2020; and two members of the Western European and other States, both terms beginning on the date of election by the General Assembly, with one term expiring on 31 December 2017, and the second expiring on 31 December 2018.

Next, the Council elected Lesotho, by acclamation, to the Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP) for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2020.

For the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the Council elected Spain, by acclamation, for a term beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2020.  It postponed the following six vacancies on the Governing Council:  one member from the Latin American and Caribbean States, for a term beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2020; and five members from the Western European and other States for terms all beginning on the date of election and expiring as follows:  two members for terms expiring on 31 December 2018; one member for a term expiring on 31 December 2019; and two members for terms expiring on 31 December 2020.

In final action, the Council elected Romania, by acclamation, to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission for a term beginning on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2018.

For information media. Not an official record.