Report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2005 regular session
(New York, 5-14 January 2005)
At its 2005 regular session, held from 5 to 14 January 2005, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations had before it 144 applications for consultative status, including applications deferred from its 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 sessions. Of those applications, the Committee recommended 87 applications for consultative status, deferred 52 organizations for further consideration at a later date and closed its consideration of two organizations. The Committee had also before it one request for reclassification of consultative status, which it recommended. In addition, it reviewed 84 quadrennial reports. The Committee heard five representatives of non-governmental organizations.
The present report contains four draft decisions on matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council.
By draft decision I, the Council would:
(a) Grant consultative status to 87 non-governmental organizations;
(b) Reclassify one non-governmental organization;
(c) Note that the Committee took note of the quadrennial reports of 72 organizations;
(d) Decide to close consideration of the applications of two non-governmental organizations.
By draft decision IV, the Economic and Social Council would take note of the present report.
Applications for consultative status and requests
2. The Committee considered item 3 of its agenda at its 1st to 9th, 11th and 14th to 16th meetings, on 5 to 7 and from 10 to 14 January 2005. It had before it a memorandum by the Secretary-General containing new applications for consultative status received from non-governmental organizations (E/C.2/2005/R.2 and Add.1-15) as well as a compilation of applications for consultative status deferred from previous sessions (E/C.2/2005/CRP.1).
B. New applications for consultative status and new requests for reclassification
8. At its 5th, 11th and 14th to 16th meetings, on 7 and 12 to 14 January, the Committee considered the application of Yad Sarah, an Israel-based organization.
10. The representatives of the Sudan and of the Observer delegations of the Syrian Arab Republic and Palestine expressed concerns and asked questions regarding certain aspects of the activities carried out by the organization. Some other delegations stressed the need for time in considering this application, since the organization would have to provide adequate responses.
11. On 14 January, when the Committee resumed its consideration of the work of this organization, the representative of Germany reminded the members of the Committee that he had announced the day before that it was the intention of his delegation to take action on this application at the current session of the Committee. Over 30 questions had been posed to the organization, to which it had responded promptly. He stressed that the organization had stated many times that it was a non-political, non-partisan organization committed to help disabled people in a non-discriminatory manner and had proved that by its actions. Since it was the last day of the Committee’s session, action had to be taken immediately in order to avoid the risk that, if delayed further, the matter could be transformed from a non-political case into a political one.
12. In the ensuing dialogue, a number of delegations continued to express their dissatisfaction with the responses provided by the organization.
13. The representative of the Sudan pointed out that the organization was vague in its responses and did not address the specific questions posed by delegations.
14. The representative of Palestine, speaking as an Observer delegation, stated that the organization had consistently not responded to her questions, namely, about its activities in “the illegal settlements in occupied Palestine territory”. Such activities would run counter to international law and United Nations resolutions. She also wished to have the organization explain in detail its activities in Ramallah and its relationship to the government and the army.
15. The representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, also speaking as an Observer State, underlined that the refusal to answer the question posed by Palestine made clear that the organization was active in the settlements.
16. Following a long debate on the work of the organization, the Committee decided without a vote to grant special consultative status to the organization.
17. The representatives of Cuba and the Sudan expressed regret about the procedure that had been followed and disassociated themselves from the consensus.
18. The representative of France, speaking also on behalf of Germany, stated that he had assessed this application on the basis of its own merits, as he did all applications before the Committee. The file itself, the comments received from the capital and from the ground and the seriousness of the answers provided by Yad Sarah had convinced him of the quality of this application, which France and Germany had supported since the beginning of the procedure. The Committee had been wise to take a decision without a vote. It was essential for the Committee to adopt a technical, non-political stance on the applications it had to review, in line with the provisions of Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31. The representatives of United States of America and Romania supported the statement made jointly by France and Germany.
19. The representatives of China, the Russian Federation, Cuba, the Sudan, Pakistan and Zimbabwe stated that it was a departure from the practice of the Committee to take such a decision in haste. Practices implemented in the past regarding the way the Committee conducted its work should be implemented in the future.
20. The Observer of the Syrian Arab Republic regretted that the Committee had granted status to an organization that had not responded to all the questions posed by delegations. Such an action created a precedent that had a negative impact on the work of the Committee.
21. The Observer of Palestine said that, for the reasons she mentioned above, her delegation would follow the work of the organization in the future.