The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations adopted today the report of its 2018 resumed session, which contained seven draft decisions on matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council; among them, dates for the accreditation body’s 2019 session.
The Council would decide that the Committee’s 2019 regular session would be held from 21 to 30 January, and on 8 February 2019, with its resumed session held from 16 to 24 May, and on 4 June 2019.
By its other decisions, the Committee recommended that the Council grant special consultative status to 209 non-governmental organizations, and further, take note of the merger of the Ship and Ocean Foundation and the Sasagawa Peace Foundation to form the Saskawa Peace Foundation, deciding to grant it special consultative status.
The Council would withdraw consultative status for the Center for Global Community and World Law, the Global Volunteer Network Foundation, and the World Alliance of Peoples’ Organisations, as they ceased to exist. It would decide to immediately suspend 152 non-governmental organizations for one year, requesting the Secretary-General to advise them of such, and reinstate the consultative status of 27 organizations which had submitted their outstanding quadrennial reports. The Council also would decide to immediately withdraw the consultative status of 101 organizations.
Marc-André Dorel, Acting Chief of the Non-Governmental Organizations Branch, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the note created during informal consultations had been sent in April to non-governmental organizations with consultative status regarding the 22 June consultations. The organizations had been requested to respond by 31 May, and thus far, the Branch had received 195 written contributions: 56 from the Asia-Pacific region, 18 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 8 from Eastern Europe, 76 from Western Europe and Other States and 37 from Africa. Those contributions would be distributed to Committee members this week.
He said the primary recommendations, views and relevant points from those contributions had been integrated into the report, noting that the organizations were grateful to have been consulted and had presented ideas for increasing their participation in the Committee, along with modalities for such. More than 300 participants had registered for the 22 June meeting, the deadline for which was today. Confirmation letters had been sent and a list of those registered would be distributed on 14 June.
Jorge Luis Cepero Aguilar (Cuba) underscored the importance of actions taken to comply with resolution 1996/31, on the consultative relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, particularly 61 (a). He asked whether the Secretariat’s “compilation of the more salient points and contributions” would be submitted to the Committee for discussion or simply summarized for analysis. He also asked on which dates the letters regarding visas had been sent to the organizations.
Mr. Dorel responded that the compilation of salient points had been debated during official consultations. His office would share all contributions received and create a summary, which the Committee would not negotiate but rather use for informational purposes. The visa facilitation letters had been sent to the non-governmental organizations upon their approval of representatives to attend the 22 June meeting.
Chu Guang (China) said issues could emerge during preparations for the 22 June meeting, as it was the first such consultations to be held with non-governmental organizations. They were technical in nature and he expressed hope that in 2019 the Secretariat would intend for organizations to participate in them. He asked when the list of participants for the 22 June meeting would be provided to the Committee, expressing hope the Secretariat would work to ensure that interpretation was provided.
Mr. Dorel replied that the compilation would be sent by 14 June, which was also the date for the list of those inscribed for the 22 June meeting to be sent to the Committee. He proposed holding informal consultations on 18 June at 11 a.m. in that context.
Kelley A. Eckels-Currie (United States) welcomed the 22 June consultations with non-governmental organizations, stressing: “We are thrilled that this is finally scheduled” as it demonstrated the value of increasing transparency, and in turn, would improve the Committee’s work. However, almost 500 applications for consultative status had been reviewed during the session, yet the Committee had been unable to complete its work and review the deferred quadrennial reports of many organizations. Work methods must be improved so that non-governmental organizations were not subjected to increasing backlogs or years-long waits to have their reports reviewed.
Noting that the Committee had deferred 55 per cent of the applications for consultative status, she urged it to fulfil its mandate without “vexatious” delays. The United States would continue to press for civil society engagement within the Committee and for its greater participation in the United Nations. It would also take steps to advance the applications of worthy non-governmental organizations. She urged the Committee to reflect upon its role, and on countries with a strong record of promoting civil society at the United Nations to serve on the Committee.
Lilit Grigoryan (Armenia), speaking as an observer, said the report revealed shortcomings in the Committee’s work methods. Some Committee members had fallen short on ensuring transparency. Noting that 233 applications had been deferred, and recognizing that each Committee member had a right to pose questions to non-governmental organizations, she said that some had abused their membership when it came to applications from Armenia. Citing questions from two Member States with a known anti-Armenian stance, she objected to artificial obstacles to granting status to organizations from her country.
Mr. Dorel added that the Committee had received a record 826 new applications for consultative status during the Committee’s 2019 cycle, which covered applications received between 2 June 2017 to 1 June 2018. That compared with 774 applications received in 2017.
Also speaking today were representatives of Mexico, Austria and Iran.