|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on NGOs
5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)
Committee on NGOs Recommends Consultative Status for 8 Organizations,
Postpones Consideration of 34 Applications
Recommending consultative status with the Economic and Social Council for 8 entities today, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) also postponed its consideration of 34 other applications, pending receipt of additional information, and held a discussion about its working methods.
The 19-member 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 status can attend meetings of the Council and circulate statements, while those that have general status can, in addition, speak at meetings and propose agenda items. NGOs with roster status are restricted to attending meetings.
The Committee recommended the following non-governmental organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council:
Women Power Connect, an India-based national organization seeking to fill the gap between grass-roots action and policy outcome;
Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, an international charitable organization headquartered in the United States which aims to help the poor and educate the rich;
Cooperation and Participation in Overseas NGOs, an international organization based in the Republic of Korea which aims to contribute to the building of a global civil society by dispatching youths, college students and adults as volunteers to non-governmental and non-profit organizations overseas, and to practise philanthropy around the world by cooperating with such organizations;
Dental Care International Foundation, an international organization based in the United States which donates dental equipment and accessories to dental and medical schools in developing countries;
European Space Policy Institute, an Austria-based international organization seeking to provide decision-makers with an independent view and analysis on medium- to long-term issues relevant to the use of space; and
Green Asia Network, an international organization based in the Republic of Korea which aims to act in response to environmental issues such as climate change, the growing greenhouse effect, increasing desert areas and the rising number of dust sandstorms;
The Committee granted roster status to:
Confederation of Fire Protection Associations International, a United States-based international body comprising leading fire-protection organizations from around the world that have joined forces to direct their collective resources towards reducing the global fire problem and increasing life safety; and
International Civil Aviation English Association, an international organization based in France which seeks to bring together persons and organizations involved in the use of English in an aeronautical and aviation environment within a worldwide forum, and to promote the exchange of information about the use of English;
Pending receipt of requested information, the Committee postponed its consideration of applications submitted by:
Viva Rio -- a Brazil-based national organization created in December 1993 as a direct response to increasing levels of armed violence in the state of Rio de Janeiro, which aims to promote peace and development at the local level, while creating the means to overcome urban violence and social exclusion –- after Egypt’s representative sought its interpretation of the term “sexuality” and more details about its work;
Vivekananda Sevakendra-O-Sishu Uddyan -- a national organization based in India which seeks holistic and self-sustainable community development -- as China’s representative requested that it adhere to proper United Nations terminology, and requested publications and documents;
World Toilet Organization -- an international organization based in Singapore which addresses the dysfunctional sanitation market for the poor by installing sufficient market infrastructure, and promotes ecological sanitation through recycling to prevent pollution of waterways -- because delegates had not received responses to their questions;
Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights -- an international organization headquartered in the Philippines which strives for a world where women enjoy reproductive and sexual rights, free from social, political, cultural and economic oppression, in keeping with their personally held values, in dignity and good health -- after Qatar’s representative requested more details of discussions it had held regarding sexual rights and its target age groups. Egypt’s representative asked whether it was a branch of an organization in the Netherlands;
Afromedianet –- a France-based international network of leading journalists and independent experts specializing in human rights, development issues and humanitarian affairs in Africa, which develops programmes aimed at supporting various local, national, regional and international human rights initiatives on the continent -- after Egypt’s representative requested examples of its work in Africa and asked about its membership structure. Dominica’s representative raised queries about the group’s finances;
American Delegation of the Order of Danilo I -- a national organization based in the United States which provides humanitarian assistance to the sick, the poor and the aged through charitable and educational works -- when Egypt’s representative asked about its name, registration and activities, and India’s representative asked about its sources of income;
Asia Catalyst -- an international organization headquartered in the United States which strives to support and promote the development of local NGOs that advance human rights, social justice and environmental protection in Asia -- as the representatives of China, Egypt and India asked about its finances, relationship with other organizations and activities;
Association Apprentissage sans Fronti è res -- an international organization based in Switzerland which focuses on promoting socio-economic rights through apprenticeship-based training modelled on Switzerland’s federal qualification certificate -- after the representatives of Burundi and Egypt asked about its activities, contacts in Peru and registration documentation. Switzerland’s representative said that since his country’s education system comprised strong vocational training, the NGO wished to share its vocational-training experience with developing countries, and it could therefore contribute to the work of the Council and other United Nations entities;
Association internationale des droits de l’enfant en difficulté et dans la souffrance -- an international organization headquartered in Canada which seeks to ensure that the neediest children in the world’s most remote regions have the basic necessities for survival -- when Egypt’s representative asked whether it intended to engage in transboundary adoption programmes, and requested an updated and detailed budget; and
Assyrian National Congress -- an international organization in the United States which sees itself as a global rallying point for the protection of the human rights of the ancient Assyrian people -- after the representatives of Qatar, Pakistan, Russian Federation, India, Iran, Angola and China asked about its activities, registration, finances and affiliates in other countries. They also wanted to know why the Committee had turned down its application in 1999.
Syria’s representative, noting that Assyrians enjoyed full civil rights in her country, said the group acted as an umbrella organization for a political party, and asked about its lobbying activities. She also sought the names of Syrian NGOs and individuals with whom it was affiliated;
When the Committee took up the application of the Australian Lesbian Medical Association -- a national organization striving to provide support and advocacy for members, advance the visibility of lesbian health, and provide a network for lesbian doctors -- a discussion of the Committee’s working methods ensued after the representative of the United States noted that the Association’s representative had been available since Monday to answer questions during the traditional hour of dialogue with NGOs. However, nobody had posed any questions at the time, and he therefore assumed that special consultative status could now be recommended.
Nevertheless, the representatives of Egypt and Qatar proceeded with a series of questions about the group’s membership, sexual orientation and rights, adoption by homosexuals, same-sex marriage, sex education, targeted age groups, attendance of conferences and research, among other things.
The representative of the United States expressed his profound disappointment, saying it was “outrageous” that the Committee had not previously taken advantage of the representative’s presence, despite having travelled to New York at great expense. It was clear that some delegations used “stalling tactics”, which were a bad reflection on the Committee and the United Nations. Some applicants clearly met the qualifications of resolution 1996/31, but the stalling tactics prevented them from participating in the Organization’s work, he said, adding that the Committee was inefficient and far behind schedule.
Recalling that the Committee had decided a year ago to separate, on a “trial basis”, applications from developed and developing countries, he said the stalling tactics prevented consideration of applications from the developed world. That was detrimental to the United Nations and a shame for both developed and developing countries, as many NGOs from the developed world also worked in the developing world. The United States was unwilling to go on with the separation until the Committee became more efficient, he said, requesting that it hear the NGO’s representative at 5 o’clock that afternoon.
The United Kingdom’s representative expressed her strong support for that statement and for the representative’s request, while Romania’s representative noted that, over the last five years, the Committee had postponed consideration of 72 applications from the North and 29 from the South. That practice was counter-productive.
Egypt's representative pointed out that the separation of applications from developing and developed countries was in accordance with resolution 1996/31, which mandated priority for NGOs from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Threatening not to go along with the separate lists was not acceptable. As for delaying tactics, any delegation could pose questions and react to the answers provided. Those were not delaying tactics, he stressed, pointing out that, as in the last session, the Committee had managed -- despite delaying tactics -- to cover all applications before. There was no need for threats, he reiterated.
Following a prolonged discussion, in which the representatives of Qatar, Pakistan, Israel, Peru, Sudan, Dominica, United States, Romania and Egypt participated, Committee Chair Ramis Sen ( Turkey) determined that the day’s meeting was dedicated to considering new applications, and delegations were entitled to table any comments or concerns. However, issues relating to working methods should be discussed under the relevant agenda items, he said.
Appearing before the Committee in the late afternoon, the representative of the Australian Lesbian Medical Association said the group consisted of lesbian medical doctors and medical students. It had unique knowledge of health issues, which it could share with the Economic and Social Council and the United Nations. Its members were from various religious backgrounds.
She said the organization did not promote lesbianism or anything else to anyone, had no position on adoption by homosexuals or same-sex marriage, and was not promoting anything that contravened the United Nations Charter. The NGO did not promote sexual activities to under-age groups, she said, pointing out that a website mentioned by one delegate did not belong to the organization, but was a Government-controlled one. The group had only sponsored research to determine whether the medical information presented on that website was correct.
Asked whether membership was exclusively limited to lesbians, she said that the NGO’s constitution stipulated that any person was eligible for membership if they were “self-identified” lesbians, medical practitioners or students. In other words, it was the person who decided sexual orientation. For instance, if Egypt’s representative decided he was a lesbian and had medical qualifications, he could join the NGO. Following insistence by Egypt’s representative, on a point of order, she apologized for breaching protocol.
The Committee postponed its consideration of the organization’s application, and those of the following organizations:
Ayuda y Solidaridad con las Ni ñ as de la Calle -- an international organization based in Mexico which seeks to help young girls at risk of living on the streets or already homeless -- after the Egypt’s representative asked about its international adoption programmes;
Child Helpline International –- a Netherlands-based international organization striving to respond to children in need of care and protection, and to voice their concerns to policymakers and decision-makers by establishing a global network of children’s help lines, while supporting individual help lines -- as China’s representative requested that it correct its use of United Nations terminology and asked about its activities in China;
Collectif des Familles des Disparu(e)s en Alg é rie -- a national organization based in France which aims to find missing persons and shed light on the fate of all victims of enforced disappearances in Algeria -- as the representatives of Pakistan, Qatar, Cuba and Egypt asked for the names of its representatives in other countries and affiliations with other groups, and requested information on its finances and registration;
Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association -- an international organization based in the United States, committed to relieving physical, emotional and spiritual human suffering and to supporting programmes that protect the natural environment -- as China’s representative asked for details of its activities, and Egypt’s representative requested more information on its sponsorship of meetings with Sudanese youths;
Dones per la Llibertad i Democracia -- a Spain-based national organization seeking to promote women’s rights and their participation in all areas of society while defending women's human rights worldwide -- as the Committee was still awaiting written answers to questions asked yesterday. Spain’s representative said the NGO had international experience as it supported international projects for women, with a focus on gender equality;
East-West Management Institute -- an international organization based in the United States which promotes the rule of law, civil society and free market systems globally, particularly in developing and post-conflict countries -- after Cuba’s representative requested a detailed list of its donors;
European Window Film Association -- an international organization based in Belgium which aims to change the perception of the European Union and that of consumers about window films, while promoting window film products for use in both cars and buildings -- when Egypt’s representative asked how the organization maintained its independence from the policies of its member companies;
Freemuse-The World Forum on Music and Censorship -- an international organization based in Denmark which advocates freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide -- as China’s representative requested further corrections to its communications by using correct United Nations terminology for Taiwan and Hong Kong;
Global Family for Love and Peace -- a United States-based national organization dedicated to building a harmonious world by promoting values-based education, organizing and directing activities for young people in the field of social service, and sponsoring interfaith dialogues –- because it had not responded to delegates’ questions;
Great Tao Foundation of America -- a national organization based in the United States which disseminates the ethical principles of Tao in order to improve the lives of individuals, and seeks to promote harmony and peace on the family, community, national and international levels -- after China’s representative asked about its affiliations and the geographical distribution of its representatives and members;
High Atlas Foundation -- an international organization headquartered in the United States which works to establish development projects in different parts of Morocco that local communities design and manage in partnership with Government and non-governmental agencies -- when Egypt’s representative requested more details of its structure;
Humanitarian Law Centre -- a national organization based in Serbia, which seeks to help post-Yugoslavia societies establish the rule of law and deal with their past -- burdened with large-scale human rights violations -- in order to prevent a recurrence, establish the criminal responsibility of perpetrators, and see justice done -- because the NGO had not answered delegates’ questions;
International Commission on Workforce Development -- an organization based in the United States which tries to bridge the digital divide in developing countries by providing access to affordable information technology and professional development courses via e-learning to enhance individual employability, boost economic development, and alleviate poverty in furtherance of the Millennium Development Goals -- after China’s representative requested the correct use of United Nations terminology and asked about its finances. Cuba’s representative sought information about the organization’s contacts in other countries and its opinion on the use of “radio-electronic space”;
International Prison Chaplains’ Association -- an organization based in Sweden which promotes human rights, especially freedom of religion, for prisoners all over the world -- when the representatives of Peru and China noted that it had not answered all questions put to it;
International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance –- a Switzerland-based organization seeking to promote and support rainwater harvesting initiatives worldwide as a strategic and sustainable way of contributing to achievement of the Millennium Goals for freshwater -- as China’s representative requested that it adhere to correct United Nations terminology. Egypt’s representative asked about the organization’s registration and sought its opinion on the relationship between its work and global warming and desertification. He also asked about its relationship with the Government of Switzerland, to which that country’s representative responded by saying he found no indication that the Government had subsidized the Alliance.
International Refugee Rights Initiative –- a United States-based organization dedicated to addressing human rights issues linking conflict and displacement in Africa, and to enhancing protection for vulnerable populations, particularly the displaced, before, during and after conflict -- as the representatives of Burundi, Egypt and Sudan asked about its registration and contacts with other groups, specifically in Darfur;
International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute -- an organization based in the United States, committed to establishing solidarity among people worldwide by promoting authentic human rights based on natural law principles, as set forth in such documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Rights of Man and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- as China’s representative requested information about its website and projects in Asia; and
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – an international organization seeking to defend the basic rights of people to housing, struggle against house demolitions and for the granting of building permits, promote assistance to victims of house demolitions, and enhance the planning of Jerusalem Municipality for peaceful living – after Israel’s representative asked about its funding and the role of its support groups in the United Kingdom and the United States. The representative of the United States asked whether the NGO’s Director had ever been arrested and if so, what the circumstances were. Syria’s representative asked whether the NGO considered demolition of Palestinian houses to be in contravention of the Geneva Conventions, and inquired as to its position on Security Council resolution 242 and 338.
The organization’s representative answered those and other questions during the traditional hour of dialogue with NGOs. Assuring Israel’s delegate that she would clarify the fundraising issues, she said the NGO’s Director had been arrested many times during his political activism, but had never been charged or convicted, nor spent time in jail. The NGO was not involved in criminal activities such as drugs, arms trade or money laundering. Its affiliates in the United Kingdom and the United States had no staff and were involved only in fund-raising.
She went on to note that the Geneva Conventions stipulated, among other things, humane treatment of people at all times, their protection against all acts of violence and threats, as well as protection of their honour and dignity. Housing was one of the main requirements for human dignity, she said, adding that she had seen pregnant women forced to live amid the rubble of their demolished homes, unable to reach a hospital due to checkpoints. That did not accord with those stipulations. The NGO tried to address such issues and to build houses for the victims as part of its conflict-resolution efforts. Advocacy was also part its activities, and a way to contribute to the work of Economic and Social Council and the United Nations, since it could not report from the ground on what was happening in order to prevent humanitarian atrocities.
Pending receipt of written responses to delegates’ questions, the Committee postponed its consideration of the NGO’s application, as well as those submitted by the following organizations:
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund –- a national organization based in the United States which strives to build the public understanding that is essential to the nation’s continuing journey towards social and economic justice, and the educational arm of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights – after China’s representative raised a question about its income from investments;
Mundo Sin Guerras– an international organization based in Spain which aims to promote ideas and actions that would lead to the elimination of war – after the representatives of China, Egypt, Cuba, India and Sudan asked how the NGO, given its very limited budget, could finance all its activities. The Russian Federation’s representative asked about its affiliations;
Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights – a United States-based international organization comprising family members of victims of homicide, State-sanctioned execution, extrajudicial assassinations and “disappearances”, who oppose the death penalty in all cases –- due to questions raised by China’s representative;
National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education – a national organization in the United States which seeks to create and administer educational and youth programmes, to advocate for the rights of children, women and the disadvantaged, and to provide humanitarian assistance to those in crisis -- because it had not yet provided information requested; and
Oromo Menschenrechts und Hilfsorganisation – an international organization based in Germany which strives to bring awareness of human rights abuses in Ethiopia to the public, to assist victims of torture, to give support to Oromo refugees in the Horn of Africa and to support the promotion of Oromo culture and traditions – after the representatives of Sudan and Egypt asked about its finances, activities and affiliations.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 28 January, to continue its consideration of applications.
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