Opening its regular session for 2019, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 70 organizations for special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and deferred action on the status of 40 others.
The 19-member Committee vets applications submitted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), recommending general, special or roster status on the basis of such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend Council meetings and issue statements, while those with general status can also speak during meetings and propose agenda items. Those with roster status can only attend meetings.
At the meeting’s outset, the Committee adopted its agenda (document E/C.2/2019/1) and programme of work. It elected Nadav Yesod (Israel), on behalf of the Group of Western European and Other States Group, as Vice-Chair, postponing the election of its Chair and remaining Vice-Chairs.
Marion Barthelemy, Director, Office for Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said in opening remarks that civil society — having played a significant role in the elaboration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — is now at the forefront of practical action for its implementation. Citing strengthened engagement by non-governmental organizations in the United Nations work, she said in 2019, 820 groups applied for consultative status, compared with 440 groups five years ago. Recalling that last session the Committee was not able to review its entire work programme — leaving unfinished business, including 233 deferred applications for consultative status — she noted that several General Assembly resolutions called for more active civil society participation in the United Nations. It also specifically invited the Committee to examine how it can accommodate the growing number of applications.
“The strong interest shown by [non-governmental organizations] in consultative status also raises serious concerns as to the capacity of the Office for Intergovernmental Support and Coordination, and its NGO Branch, to keep up to the task,” she said. For the third consecutive year, the Committee will consider at its regular session applications for status submitted two years ago, but which could not be reviewed last year as they should have been. That backlog — including 99 applications before the Committee at its current session — is a source of serious concern and is likely to grow even larger, she said. In that context, she stressed the need to ensure an appropriate level of resources, both human and technical, to allow the NGO Branch to support its much-increased workload in a sustainable manner. For example, its technological platforms have aged and must now be replaced by a unique system tailored to the branch’s specific needs, covering applications, submissions for quadrennial reports, review by the Committee and other elements.
Marc-André Dorel, Acting Chief of the Non-Governmental Organizations Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, associated himself with the Director’s remarks.
Mr. Yesod described this year’s session as “extremely packed”, with 288 new applications for consultative status and 233 applications deferred from previous sessions. Also before the Committee are 438 new quadrennial reports plus 90 reports deferred from previous sessions. In addition, the Committee will address three new and three deferred requests for reclassification, two deferred requests for a merger and several new requests for a change of name. “Based on the scope of the agenda before us, the Committee will have to move expeditiously and rationalize the time spent on each agenda item so we can successfully conclude our programme within the allotted time,” he said.
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 January, to continue its session, which runs from 21 to 30 January and 8 February.
The representative of the United States, emphasizing the Committee’s mandate as set out in Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31, underscored her country’s strong support for the participation of civil society organizations in the work of the United Nations and for giving them a voice in the Organization. Recalling the Committee’s first-ever consultations with civil society in June 2018, she stressed that such discussions should continue to be held at the start of each Committee session. The United States is pleased that the number of applications for consultative status continues to grow, and she urged fellow Committee members to review and accredit as many qualified non-governmental organizations as possible.
The representative of Brazil said he looked forward to engaging with Committee colleagues.
The representative of the European Union said the consultations with non-governmental organizations had yielded valuable ideas for ensuring that they had a strong voice within the Organization. There was a clear view, however, that the accreditation process lacks transparency and efficiency, especially for those non-governmental organizations dealing with human rights. All allegations against non-governmental organizations should be supported by evidence, he said, calling also for clear guidelines for assessing applications.
The representative of the United Kingdom, associating himself with the European Union and underscoring the critical role of civil society, said the past year has sadly seen States impeding their efforts. Several key recommendations emerged from last year’s consultations and they should guide the Committee’s work, he said, stressing the importance of transparency, objectivity and efficiency. He asked the Committee to announce a date for the next consultation meeting and implored it to complete the handling of those applications that have been languishing for far too long. He also drew attention to the challenges faced by journalists and media workers.
The representative of Uruguay said various factors make it difficult for civil society organizations to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Things may change over time, but human problems remain the same and greater efforts are needed to resolve them. Noting the ways in which the Committee has improved its working methods, such as live webcasts of its meetings and consultations with civil society, she suggested the simplification of application forms as well as the reasonable use of time by Member States during question-and-answer sessions.
The representative of Austria said he looked forward to hearing how the Committee will respond to the proposals made during the consultations.
The representative of the United States, expressing regret that some organizations come to the United Nations to perpetrate fraudulent and illicit activities, said her delegation wrote to the Committee last week requesting that the special consultative status granted in 2011 to the China Energy Fund Committee be withdrawn, after one of its officials was convicted by a United States federal court in November 2018 on corruption, money laundering and conspiracy charges. The Committee must take prompt action, she said, adding that if the organization in question wishes to respond, it should do so before 25 January.
The representative of India said non-governmental organizations are granted special consultative status on the premise that they do not abuse that status and that they adhere to impeccable moral and ethical standards. Given the gravity of the case in question, India supports the proposal to give that organization opportunity to explain its position. She went on to propose that, going forward, applications for special consultative status be vetted against the Security Council’s consolidated sanctions list.
NADAV YESOD (Israel), Committee Vice-Chair, said the Committee will resume its consideration of Special Reports on 25 January, when it will consider the China Energy Fund Committee’s response and take appropriate action.
Special Consultative Status
The Committee recommended that the Economic and Social Council grant special consultative status to the following 70 organizations:
ABC4All (A Better Community for All) (Sierra Leone);
Alnahda Philanthropic Society for Women (Saudi Arabia);
Abshar Atefeha Charity Institute (Iran);
Adolescent Breast and Pelvic Cancer Awareness Initiative (Nigeria);
Alebe Collins Nigeria Foundation (Nigeria);
Amroha Education Foundation (India);
Angels in the Field (India);
Appui Solidaire Pour Le Renforcement De L'aide Au Developpement (Mali);
Asociación Colectivo Mujeres Al Derecho Sigla ASOCOLEMAD (Colombia);
Asociación La Ruta del Clima (Costa Rica);
Association Assistance Communautaire et Développement (Mauritania);
Association Jbel Ayachi pour le développement culturel, social, économique et de l'environnement (Morocco);
Association des femmes pour la promotion et le développement endogène (Democratic Republic of the Congo);
Association pour la Défense des Droits de la Femme Mauritanienne (Mauritania);
Babatunde Development and Empowerment Initiative (Nigeria);
Bangladesh Association for Development of Trade and Finance (Bangladesh);
Beijing Changier Education Foundation (China);
Beijing Guangming Charity Foundation (China);
Bien Etre Social Pour Tous (Democratic Republic of Congo);
Brain Sluice Africa Child's (South Africa);
Centre de Recherche et d'Action pour le Développement Durable et l'Epanouissement ses Sociétés (Benin);
Centro de Información y Educación para la Prevención del Abuso de Drogas (Peru);
Chengmai Charity Foundation (China);
China Charities Aid Foundation for Children (China);
Community Development Alliance (Ghana);
Compassion Soul Winners Outreach International (Ghana);
Corporacion Fiscalia Del Medio Ambiente FIMA (Chile);
Corporación Colectivo de Abogados Jose Alvear Restrepo (Colombia);
Cámara de Instituciones de Diagnóstico Médico (Argentina);
EL-Aged Care Ltd/Gte (Nigeria);
Farhikhtegan’e Mosalman Association (Iran);
Fundación Abba Colombia (Colombia);
Gap Intercessors Ministry International (Nigeria);
Gender and Development Action (Nigeria);
Green Mobilisation Initiative (Nigeria);
Helpline Foundation for the Needy, Abuja (Nigeria);
Hinduistička Vjerska Zajednica Hrvatske (Croatia);
Human Rights Center in Iraq (Iraq);
Imam Ali Charity Institution (Iran);
Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Brazil);
Iranian Thalassemia Society (Iran);
Justiça Global (Brazil);
Kids Educational Engagement Project KEEP (Liberia);
LEDARS Local Environment Development and Agricultural Research Society (Bangladesh);
Markaz Toseeh Tehran (Iran);
Medijski Edukativni Centar (Serbia);
Nikookaran Sharif Charity (Iran);
ONG Funsocial Crecer Colombia (Colombia);
Ogiek Peoples' Development Program (Kenya);
Opportunity Two Excel Foundation (Ghana);
Organisation pour de nouvelles Initiatives en Développement et Santé au Burkina Faso (Burkina Faso);
Organización no gubernamental de Desarrollo Piensa Discapacidad (Chile);
Panoramic Charity Foundation (China);
Partenaires pour le développement rural (Mali);
Peace Society of Kenya (Kenya);
Permanent Peace Movement (Lebanon);
Phelyn Skill Acquisition Center (Nigeria);
Rahbord Peimayesh Research & Educational Services Cooperative (Iran);
Sanid Organization for Relief and Development (Yemen);
Smile against African Development Organization (South Sudan);
Smile Youth Initiative International (Nigeria);
Sociedad Espiritista Kardeciana Cruzada Quisicuaba (Cuba);
Sociedad y Discapacidad: Estudios, Asesoría e Integración de la Persona con Discapacidad "Sociedad y Discapacidad" (Peru);
Society for Orphan, Neglected & Youths (India);
Solidarité Humanitaire (Benin);
South Youth Organization (Iraq);
Stevenson Holistic Care Foundation (Nigeria); and
Syndicat Chretien Des Travailleurs Du Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo).
The Committee postponed consideration of the following 38 organizations:
Afrikaanse Forum vir Burgerregte (South Africa) — as the representative of India requested to know what happened to its 2011 application for special consultative status and for details of its recent activities;
Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos La Matanza (Argentina) — as the representative of Nicaragua asked for details on the status of its financial reports;
Association of Professional Social Workers and Development Practitioners (India) — as the representative of India requested more details about its activities;
Association pour une jeunesse africaine progressiste (Burundi) — as the representative of Turkey requested details about any regional or international partnerships it might have;
Association réseau de Centre d'entrainement aux méthodes d'éducation active du Cameroun (Cameroon) — as the representative of Turkey asked for information about its work in the area of counterfeit medicine;
Belarusian Fund of Peace (Belarus) — as the representative of the United States requested that it explain its relationship with the International Association of Peace Funds;
Burundi Rugby League Rugby A XIII Cooperative (Burundi) — as the representative of Turkey requested more information about its activities;
Center for Sex Education and Family Life Ltd/Gte (Nigeria) — as the representative of Nicaragua requested an explanation about its source of income;
Chanan Development Association (Pakistan) — as the representative of Pakistan asked how it is addressing its budget deficit;
Chavara Cultural Centre (India) — as the representative of India requested clarification of its sources of income;
Chorbut Local Support Organization (Pakistan) — as the representative of India requested more details about its recent and forthcoming projects and activities;
Community Human Rights and Advocacy Centre (Cameroon) — as the representative of Turkey requested details about its project involving farmers and grazers, including source of funding;
Dalit Welfare Association (Nepal) — as the representative of India requested a breakdown of its projects and funding, as well as an explanation of its funding model;
Environmental and Societal Development Foundation (Pakistan) — as the representative of India, noting the level of its available funds, asked if it is planning to expand its activities;
Envisions Institute of Development (India) — as the representative of India asked which international agencies it is registered with and whether it receives any foreign funding;
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (Uganda) — as the representative of China requested that it adhere to the one-China policy and recognize Taiwan as a province of China;
Global Buddhist Foundation (India) — as the representative of China requested that it correctly refer to Tibet as an autonomous region of China;
Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (China) — as the representative of the United States asked for clarification of its leadership structure;
Helpage India (India) — as the representative of China asked that it correct, in its recent annual report, its description of the Dalai Lama as “the Tibetan leader”;
Human Is Right (Cameroon) — as the representative of Turkey asked for more information about its activities;
International Society for Peace and Safety (Nigeria) — as the representative of Nigeria asked for clarification about its funding sources;
Kaarvan Crafts Foundation (Pakistan) — as representative of India asked that it explain its budget deficit and how it plans to tackle it;
League of Women Voters of Nigeria (Nigeria) — as the representative of Nigeria asked that it provide evidence of its national spread;
Love Alliance Foundation for Orphans, Disabled and Abandoned Persons in Nigeria (Nigeria) — as the representative of Nigeria asked that it elaborate on its activities;
Maalkop Trading and Projects (South Africa) — as the representative of Cuba asked in which countries it operates in Africa and elsewhere in the world;
NORSAAC (Ghana) — as representative of Pakistan asked for details about funding from foreign organizations;
National Association for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms (Egypt) — as the representative of China asked for more information about its collaboration with international organizations and the funding it received from them;
Pan African Girl Child Education Foundation (Nigeria) — as the representative of Nigeria asked whether it is registered in countries other than Nigeria as well as the outcome of its projects;
Peace Initiative Network (Nigeria) — as the representative of Nigeria asked for details about the funding it receives from Peace Direct;
Philippine Social Enterprise Network Inc. (Philippines) — as the representative of the Russian Federation requested more details about subsidies from the British Council and the European Union;
Poka Healthcare Foundation (Nigeria) — as the representative of Nigeria requested evidence of its national spread;
Rupani Foundation (Pakistan) — as the representative of India asked if it has any planned or ongoing activities in the area of skills development;
Sabawon (Pakistan) — as the representative of India asked for details about projects undertaken with funding from international organizations;
Silambam Asia (Malaysia) — as the representative of China asked that it correct its reference to Taiwan on its website;
Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce (China) — as the representative of the United States asked for details about its partnerships;
Society for Union of Muslims And Empowerment (SUMAE) Foundation (Uganda) — as the representative of Turkey asked for details about its ongoing and planned activities and its projects for this year;
Sohag Community Development and Caring Children with Special Needs Association (Egypt) — as the representative of China asked for more information about its source of income, its expenditures and its projects;
Stichting Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) Foundation (China) — as the representative of China asked that it use the correct expression for Taiwan on its website.
During a question-and-answer session in the afternoon, NGO representatives faced questions from Committee members.
A representative of the Association for Non-for-Profit Organizations to Facilitate the Drug Prevention and Socially Dangerous Behaviour “National Anti-Drug Union” (Russian Federation) said it operates throughout the country, taking drug addicts off the street and helping them fully reintegrate into society. Its work is based on a drug-free approach, with a focus on social rehabilitation. She discussed the Association’s work in other countries, noting that it would be going to Rwanda in February to explore prospects for a treatment camp there.
The representative of the United States asked about its relationship with the Government.
She replied that the NGO works with specialized agencies of the Government and emphasized its policy of full disclosure about its work, compared with other rehabilitation centres that treat patients horribly. She added that the organization focuses on quality in the rehabilitation, convalescence and resocialization, adding that it receives funding only from charitable institutions, with nothing from the Government.
The Committee then decided to defer the organization’s application.
A representative of Israel Trauma Coalition for Response and Preparedness (Israel) said it is an apolitical and non-partisan organization focused on trauma care and building resilience, working in all sectors. The reality in Israel requires the development of innovative and advanced tools for treating victims of psychological trauma, which it shares with other countries dealing with natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
The representative of Pakistan asked how it maintains its independence when it works closely with the Government, and whether it works in the West Bank and Gaza.
He replied that the organization works with the Government on a professional level. The 40 per cent of programmes in which the Government is involved are ones that the organization initiated and developed. He added that it works with Palestinians, adding: “We work with anyone in a situation of need.”
The Committee then decided to defer the organization’s application.