|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
11th & 12th Meetings (AM & PM)
committee on non-governmental organizations approves one application
for consultative status, defers decisions on two others
Beginning the second half of its two-week session today, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) decided to recommend one body for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.
The Committee approved the application by Romania’s Roma Centre for Social Intervention and Studies was approved after that country’s representative expressed his satisfaction that the organization had answered all his remaining questions. It deferred decisions on two organizations whose representatives testified in person as Committee members awaited written answers to their queries.
Also deferred was consideration of a request for reclassification of consultative status by the International Movement against All forms of Discrimination and Racism, an international human rights organization based in Japan, which claimed it had expanded its network and range of activities since being granted roster status in 1998.
The 19-member NGO Committee recommends general, special or roster status with the Council in accordance with such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. Organizations enjoying general and special consultative status can attend meetings of the Council and circulate statements. Those with general status can, in addition, speak at meetings and propose items for the Council’s agenda, while NGOs that have roster status can only attend meetings.
A decision on an application by the Democracy Coalition Project, an international organization based in the United States, was deferred after extensive questioning by the representatives of Cuba, China and Egypt concerning equal consideration of all United Nations Member States in its activities. The organization’s representative said the organization excluded no States or individuals. Instead, it tracked in a comprehensive and broad manner how agreements made by Member States were fulfilled, particularly those in the Community of Democracies, the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies.
Responding to questions about cultural differences, he stressed that he held no fixed idea of democracy, which could be developed in many forms. In respect of a proposed “Democracy Caucus” supported by the organization, it received its human rights information from many sources, including Member States themselves. It did not base research on human rights records on voting patterns, he said in response to questions posed by delegates, including those of the Sudan and China.
The Committee also deferred a decision on the application of the Observer Research Foundation of India, a public policy research centre, after its representative said she would provide written responses to questions posed by the representatives of Pakistan and the Russian Federation.
Also today, the Committee took note of the following changes to the names of organizations: Mercy Corps International, based in the United States, had become simply Mercy Corps; the International Women’s Rights Action Watch, based in Malaysia, had changed to the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia/Pacific; the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace, based in the United States, was now the Universal Peace Federation; Populations Communications International, based in the United States, would now be known as PCI-Media Impact; and the Elizabeth Seton Federation of the United States had become the Sisters of Charity Federation. The Committee also took note that the Switzerland-based Fondation Bertarelli had ceased to exist.
The Committee deferred action on the proposed name-change by the Transnational Radical Party, which is based in Italy and has held general consultative status since 1995. It was now referred to as the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty. The representatives of Egypt, Cuba, China, Russian Federation and the Sudan requested additional information, noting that the organization seemed to have changed its range of activities and purposes in addition to its name.
In addition, the Committee discussed measures to ensure the timely receipt of quadrennial reports required from non-governmental organizations enjoying special or general consultative status. On behalf of the working group tasked with drafting a decision on such measures, to be adopted on Wednesday, 30 January, the representative of the United Kingdom told the Committee that 170 organizations had failed to submit two or three consecutive reports and had already received reminders that they were failing to comply with their obligations. The drafting group had recommended that a final reminder be sent to those organizations with a warning that a 12-month suspension would ensue if a quadrennial report was not received by May 2008. That action would be followed by a recommendation of withdrawal of consultative status if no report was received by May 2009.
He said that, in a separate draft resolution to be submitted to the Economic and Social Council in July, the working group had drawn up specific guidelines for reporting, as well as actions to prevent future non-reporting. The representative of Egypt suggested amendments to those recommendations, while the delegates of Cuba, Sudan, Dominica and Qatar supported the draft but expressed concern over a proposed appeals process and other factors that could reduce the effectiveness of the measures. They were also concerned about the handling of the list of non-governmental organizations currently in default.
On matters of working methods, delegates discussed issues raised by Egypt’s representative, including the need to promote greater participation in the Economic and Social Council by NGOs from developing countries and the need for greater information on organizations with roster status. China’s delegate noted that much Committee activity, including the creation of an NGO network, had been devoted to eliciting the participation of NGOs from developing countries. Perhaps those countries could themselves do more.
Also with regard to working methods, the Committee decided to defer consideration of methods of screening NGOs for connections to terrorism. The representative of the United States, supported by the United Kingdom delegate, stressed the importance of checking organizations that had applied for accreditation against the sanctions list of Security Council resolution 1267 (1999). However, the representatives of Cuba, Qatar, India, Egypt and the Sudan expressed doubt that such procedures could come under the Committee’s scope of competence, with Cuba’s representative stressing that, if the subject was discussed in the informal working group, it must be broadened beyond Al-Qaida and the Taliban to cover all terrorist activities in a comprehensive manner.
Continuing with that topic, the representatives of Pakistan and China maintained that NGOs connected to criminal activities were already excluded from consultative status. The representative of the Russian Federation said the issue should be discussed by the informal working group before the Committee’s resumed session in May, while Turkey’s delegate underscored the need first to investigate system-wide approaches to the issue. Finally, Pakistan’s representative offered to conduct informal bilateral discussions outside the plenary before the Committee revisited the issue tomorrow evening.
Members of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations are Angola, Burundi, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Egypt, Guinea, India, Israel, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Sudan, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 29 January, to discuss the NGO network and continue its considerations of new applications for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.
More information on the Committee and the non-governmental organizations can be found at the website www.un.org/esa/coordination/ngo/.
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