4684th Meeting (AM)
NGO COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS ONE ORGANIZATION FOR ECOSOC CONSULTATIVE STATUS,
DEFERS ACTION ON SEVERAL OTHERS
Continuing its resumed 2002 session, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today considered two new applications for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as well as requests from three organizations already accredited with the Commission on Sustainable Development. It also took up six quadrennial reports by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) holding general and special consultative status with the Council, and explored ways to improve its methods of work.
Following a dialogue with NGOs’ representatives, the Committee left pending new applications from Youth with a Mission and Myochikai. Taking up applications from the NGOs already accredited with the Commission, it recommended granting roster status to the Communications Coordination Committee for the United Nations and deferred action on the Environmental Protection Society and Worldwatch Institute, pending clarifications.
The Committee took note of a quadrennial report submitted by Women’s International Zionist Organization (special consultative status granted in 1959). As additional questions arose, it deferred action on reports from Robert F. Kennedy Memorial (special consultative status since 1993); Society for Threatened Peoples (special status since 1993); Centrist Democrat International (special status since 1950); and International Association for Religious Freedom (general status since 1995). It was decided that the quadrennial report of the Transnational Radical Party (general status since 1995) would be considered after the Committee had taken up that organization’s special report later this week.
NGOs placed on the roster have a right to attend the meetings of ECOSOC. Those with general and special consultative status have the right to attend meetings of the Council and circulate statements of a certain length; those with general status can, in addition, speak at meetings and propose items for the Council’s agenda.
Quadrennial reports on activities in support of the United Nations are required from all organizations with general and special consultative status to the Council. In taking note of a report, the Committee agrees that it meets reporting requirements. All reports discussed today had been deferred from previous sessions.
During the debate on Youth with a Mission, several members of the Committee expressed doubts regarding the organization’s relevance from the point of view of ECOSOC. Turkey’s representative drew the Committee’s attention to the fact that,
according to the NGO’s web site, it was “an international movement of Christians from many denominations dedicated to presenting Jesus personally to this generation, to mobilizing as many as possible to help in this task, and to the training and equipping of believers for their part in fulfilling the Great Commission”.
Germany’s representative stressed that, as the Committee was also considering a number of organizations representing other religions, including the Muslim World League, “dedicated to disseminating Islamic Dawah and expounding the teaching of Islam”, it was important not to favour one faith over another, working out a consistent approach to such NGOs. The Youth with a Mission representatives said that, while it was true that their organization was based on Christian values, in its relations with the United Nations, its main goal was not evangelism or proselytizing, but women’s and gender questions, as well as issues related to refugees.
Regarding Japan-based Myochikai, the NGO’s representative explained that the organization worked to contribute to world peace by practicing the love and mercy taught by the Buddha.
The decision to hold a resumed session was made at the conclusion of the regular session last May in order to allow the Committee to cope with its large volume of work and reduce the backlog dating as far back as its 1998 session. The 19-member Committee makes recommendations on NGOs’ status and reclassification to the Economic and Social Council. Among the criteria used in its work are the applicant’s mandates, relevance, governance and financial regimes.
Seeking to improve its work methods, the Committee took up the issues on the agenda of an informal working group, which had been established to address the problems encountered in the Committee's work, as well as regulations governing of NGOs’ accreditation, reporting and representation. Speakers in the debate pointed out that quadrennial reports presented by organizations with general and special consultative status provided a good indication of whether those NGOs complied with the requirements established by ECOSOC. New guidelines were being prepared for the submission of such reports.
Also addressed in the discussion were the procedures for dealing with organizations placed on ECOSOC roster based on their consultative status with other “umbrella” bodies, and handling complaints against certain NGOs. High on the agenda was a review of NGOs whose characteristics were not in strict conformity with relevant ECOSOC resolutions. Since its 1999 session, the Committee had been trying to find an acceptable approach to such “gray area” bodies, including commercial, professional, research, educational and government-funded organizations. As some of those organizations had already been granted status, the question was whether the Committee should follow that precedent in the future.
Speakers made proposals aimed at increasing the Committee's effectiveness, streamlining the review of deferred applications and reducing the backlog. It was indicated that one way of avoiding repeated review of deferred applications was to limit the discussions to previously asked questions, and to refrain from
revisiting aspects of the original debate. A speaker suggested that increasing media exposure of the Committee's work would greatly contribute to its success. It was also important to keep the NGOs informed about the requirements for accreditation.
The reports and applications considered today are contained in documents E/C.2/2002/CRP.6, E/C.2/2002/R.2/Add.7 and 8 and E/C.2/2002/R.4 and Add.1 and 2.
The Committee will continue its work at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 15 January.
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