29 May 2008


29 May 2008
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on NGOs

17th & 18thMeetings (AM & PM)




With the start of the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council fast approaching, the resumed session of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today decided to recommend a Chinese-based civil-society group for general consultative status with the Council, and 31 other groups for special consultative status, while also hearing requests to launch an investigation into what some members viewed as the wrongful participation of a Jewish non-governmental organization with roster status at a Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in January.

Each year, interested organizations are assigned general, special or roster status with the Council upon the Committee’s recommendation, according to such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime.  The World Union for Progressive Judaism, an international organization headquartered in Israel, already enjoys roster status with the Council, which allows it to attend Council meetings, but not to circulate statements -- a right reserved only for non-governmental organizations with general or special consultative status.  Further, it cannot speak or propose items for the Council’s agenda, rights given to organizations with general consultative status.  The China NGO Network for International Exchanges, the sole organization today to have been recommended for such status.

In a complaint lodged on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the representative of Cuba said the participation of the World Union for Progressive Judaism at a January meeting of the Human Rights Council contravened resolution 1996/31 of the Economic and Social Council regarding the consultative relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.  The alleged incident was said to have taken place at a special session relating to potential Israeli violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  He requested the secretariat of the Committee to ask for an investigation into the matter by the United Nations in Geneva and submit the findings to the Committee, so as to determine whether the organization had abused its status and was deserving of punitive sanctions.

A lengthy discussion ensued among the representatives of Qatar, Sudan, Egypt, China, Israel, India, Russian Federation, United States, Romania, United Kingdom, Dominica and Switzerland on how best to study the matter, with some States requesting that a report be submitted to the Committee by Tuesday, 3 June.  Requests were also made that a video recording of the incident be aired.

The representative of the United States said that, while he agreed on the need for an investigation, he did not believe the deadline of 3 June allowed enough time to gather the necessary facts.  The representative of Israel added that the Committee should also hear from the Human Rights Council President himself regarding the incident (it was later revealed during the discussion that an apology might have been issued to the President of the Human Rights Council from the representative of the World Union for Progressive Judaism following the incident).  Israel’s delegate also requested that the Secretariat prepare a report on complaints of a similar nature and on what actions had been taken in those cases.

Aware that additional reports could cause a delay in deliberations, a few countries, such as the Russian Federation, Romania and Qatar, cautioned against the danger of politicizing the work of the Committee.

Organizations recommended for special consultative status today were Al Zubair Charity Foundation, a Sudan-based international organization working in the fields of humanitarian affairs, peacebuilding, human rights, women’s empowerment, child care and protection, early warning and disaster preparedness, as well as humanitarian emergency assistance to the victims of man-made and natural calamities (and is active in helping implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement); Fondasyon Konesans Ak Libeté, a Haitian organization that promotes active participation in public affairs and community life; International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, a United States-based international organization devoted to fighting child sexual exploitation and abduction; Institut international des sciences politiques, an international organization based in Spain that provides human rights information on countries and gives assessments of the situation in these countries; Vikash, an Indian organization that promotes sustainable development through individual empowerment; and Child Family Health International, an international organization of professionals and students based in the United States that promotes the health of the world community at the grass-roots level.

Also recommended for special consultative status were Women’s Shadow Parliament, a Kenyan organization that seeks to promote women’s effective participation in politics, legislative processes, policy and decision-making; Centro de Información y Educación para la Prevención del Abuso de Drogas, an organization in Peru devoted to the study of drug abuse among Peruvians; IT for Change, an organization in India that seeks to demonstrate innovative uses for information technology in development; National Women’s Studies Association, an organization from the United States seeking to advance women’s rights and gender equality around the globe; Women’s Rights Association against Discrimination, an organization from Turkey aimed at helping women exercise their rights as individuals; and Fundación Instituto Psicopedagógico Uruguayo, an Uruguayan organization devoted to achieving the social inclusion of children, adolescents and youngsters with disabilities and in social risk situations.

Special consultative status was also recommended for Learning and Development Kenya, a Kenyan organization that works with street children and orphans; CARAM Asia Berhad, an international organization based in Malaysia seeking to reduce HIV vulnerability among migrants; Mother Child Education Foundation, a Turkish organization devoted to empowering families in support of childhood development; Women and Modern World Centre, an organization in Azerbaijan aimed at ending discrimination against women in that country; All about Social, Economic, Educational Rights Foundation, a Pakistani organization serving underprivileged persons in the country; and Association VERSeau Développement, an organization in France devoted to water development.

Additional groups recommended for special consultative status were Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women, an organization in Trinidad and Tobago that promotes gender equality; Association d’équipements collectifs la Castellane, a French organization devoted to social development projects with and for the population of the Castellane district; Plateforme pour le développement durable des Caraïbes, an organization in France focused on providing humanitarian and development assistance; Society Studies Centre, an organization in Sudan that seeks to remedy the situations of those affected by war, displacement and conflicts; American Association of University Women, an organization in the United States aimed at improving educational options for women and girls; and Asociación Mujeres Unidas para el Microcrédito, an international organization based in Spain that promotes microfinance.

Other organizations recommended for special consultative status include Comité pour les relations internationales de jeunesse de la communauté française de Belgique, a youth organization in Belgium; Smile of the Child, an organization in Greece that combats child abuse; Ligue pour le droit de la femme congolaise, an organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that helps raise awareness among women of their rights and to defend them; Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, an organization in India seeking to empower indigenous groups, marginalized populations, women and children in claiming their entitlements; Voices of African Mothers, an international organization in Ghana that seeks to bring about a peaceful African continent by engaging women in the community; Fundación Paz Mundial, an international organization in Chile dedicated to disarmament and a culture of peace culture; and Ship and Ocean Foundation, an organization in Japan that seeks to encourage comprehensive management of the ocean.

Ten applications were deferred until later in the session, including that of Health for Humanity, an international organization based in the United States aimed at developing sustainable health systems through partnerships with local institutions around the world, which was subjected to questioning by the representative of Egypt; and NTIC et citoyenneté, an organization in Mauritius that promotes the use of information and communication technology among the people of Mauritania as a tool for development, also subjected to questioning by Egypt, as well as by Qatar.

Additional questions posed by the representative of Egypt to Knights of the Southern Cross, an Australian organization aimed at fostering the Christian way of life throughout Australia, led to the deferral of its application.  Also deferred were the applications for International Association of Women Judges, an organization based in Washington, D.C.; Foundation for a Culture of Peace, an international organization based in Spain focused on publicizing and implementing the 1999 United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action of a Culture of Peace; Nigerian Healthcare Foundation, an organization in the United States that seeks to improve health-care conditions of the Nigerian population in Africa; and Village Suisse, an international organization based in Switzerland that works with the poorest people of Africa, the Caribbean and countries in transition.

Also deferred until later were the applications from Saferworld, an international organization in Ireland that conducts research, advocacy and training in tackling the spread of arms and armed violence.  Six members raised questions regarding the application of the Human Rights Foundation, a New York City-based international organization.  Notably, Cuba protested that the Chairman of the Board had had a “terrorist past” in Cuba as a member of the Batista regime, and that the Foundation seemed to have concealed its links to organizations deemed questionable by the Cuban Government.  That led the representative of the United States to ask for further clarification.

The Committee also decided to defer its consideration to award special consultative status to Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice, a faith-based organization in Italy.  A representative of the organization explained its work in the area of “edu-communication”, a term coined by the organization to describe its work in improving human relationships in the classroom.  Questions were put to her by Cuba, China and Egypt regarding funding and taxation.

At the outset, Hanifa Mezoui, Chief of the Non-Governmental Organization Section, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, offered condolences for the devastation caused by the earthquake in China.  She also said the Committee was the only one at the United Nations to have gone “paperless” for 10 consecutive sessions, relying largely on electronic documents at its meetings.  Of the 49 questions put forward to non-governmental organizations by Committee members, all 49 had received replies, reflecting a 100 per cent reply rate.

Committee Chairperson Hassan Hamid Hassan of Sudan recalled that 70 out of 145 new applications had been dealt with in January 2008.  At the current resumed session, scheduled for 26 May to 6 June, the Committee was expected to hear 55 new requests for general or special consultative status, 2 requests for reclassification and 1 deferred case of reclassification.  It was also expected to assume 68 applications deferred from a previous session, 13 deferred reports from non-governmental organizations and 126 new reports submitted in 2008.  For the first time, the Committee would consider delinquent organizations with general or special consultative status that had not submitted their mandatory quadrennial reports.

The Committee comprises 19 member States with the representative of Sudan as Chair.  The representatives of Turkey, Romania, Pakistan and Cuba are the Vice-Chairs, and Pakistan is Rapporteur.  It is expected to continue its deliberations at 10 a.m. Friday, 30 May.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.