1 June 2004
NGO Committee Suspends 2004 Session, Defers Action on Applications of Four Organizations for Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council
NEW YORK, 28 May (UN Headquarters) -- Suspending its 2004 regular session, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) today deferred action on the applications for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of four NGOs and took note of four quadrennial reports. It also adopted its report and took note of the report of the Committees informal working group.
In closing remarks, Committee Chairperson Paimaneh Hasteh (Iran) said the Committee had covered quite a bit of ground. It had recommended 114 organizations for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, decided to upgrade reclassification for seven organizations, and had taken note of 57 quadrennial reports. The Committee had decided not to recommend four organizations and had deferred action on 41 applications, as well as deferred taking note of six quadrennial reports.
She said consideration of special reports resulted in recommendations to suspend the consultative status of Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru for one year, and of Transnational Radical Party for three years. The case of one complaint brought by a Member State was closed. Nearly half of the recommended organizations were from under-represented regions, developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The NGOs that had requested participation in the High-level and Coordination Segments of ECOSOCs July session were the largest and most diverse group ever to do so.
She said that although the presentation of John Clark on the report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations-Civil Society Relations [see Press Release NGO/540 of 25 May] had given food for thought, she was sure the Committee would continue to seek and adopt measures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the way it carried out its unique and important mandate to facilitate and enhance the NGO consultative relationship with ECOSOC and the partnership with the United Nations as a whole.
She added that the Committee was in the electronic meeting mode. In that regard, she expressed sincere thanks to the Canadian NGO World Job and Food Bank for the generous donation of the computer equipment, and to the Mumbai Education Trust, an Indian organization that had supplied additional human resources for the implementation of the paperless committee.
Sarbuland Khan, Director for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, congratulated the Committee with its successful application of the paperless committee. He was happy to see that delegates seemed to be comfortable with the new technology and announced that the UN Awards Committee had written a letter of appreciation for the initiative. The initiative had been recognized at the highest level, including the Secretary-General, and it was hoped that the initiative would be sustainable. He also thanked the Committee for achieving substantial results and its impressive productivity, and hoped the Committees report to ECOSOC would be submitted on time.
Under its review of working methods, the Committee took note of the report of the Committees informal working group, introduced by the Chairman of the group, Hakan Tekin (Turkey). He noted, among other things, that 59 of the more than 2,000 NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC had not submitted their quadrennial reports.
Discussing the work of the working group, speakers said the Committee should find ways of helping those NGOs that had fallen behind in submitting quadrennial reports. Cubas representative proposed that those NGOs that were very active in the United Nations and had not submitted quadrennial reports should receive a last notice from the Secretariat, warning them of the possibility of suspension if they did not comply. Noting that NGOs from developing countries often had difficulties in getting access to the United Nations, speakers stressed they should be helped in acquiring consultative status with ECOSOC.
The Committee deferred, until its next session, action on the applications of:
-- Australian Reproductive Health Alliance, a national organization based in Australia promoting national and international public support for the improvement in the well-being and status of women and the development of reproductive health in families and individuals, pending receipt of more information;
-- World Assembly of Muslim Youth International, Inc. (WAMY), an international organization aiming to promote economic and social development, as the representatives of the United States and India needed more time to study the NGOs replies to questions posed;
-- Environmental Protection Society, a national organization based in Pakistan, as the Secretariat had not been able to contact the NGO in order to pose questions. The organization was already on the Roster of the Commission on Sustainable Development. In those cases, the Committee, according to ECOSOC decision 2001/295, is to consider as expeditiously as possible applications for consultative status with the Council; and
-- International Justice Mission, an international organization based in the United States aiming to provide intervention to those suffering injustice and oppression, who cannot rely on local authorities for relief, pending reply to additional questions from Cubas representative.
The Committee also took note of quadrennial reports from Society for Threatened People and International League for Human Rights, which had been deferred earlier.
Pending the issuance of relevant documents, the Committee took note ad referendum of the quadrennial reports of Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung and Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Regarding the report of the latter, Germanys representative noted that the NGO, during the 2001 Racism Conference in Durban, South Africa, had participated in activities that equated Zionism with racism. Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., he said that when people talk about Zionism, they meant Jews. That was anti-Semitism. If the organization continued to engage in anti-Semitic activities in the future, he said he would insist on measures against that NGO.
In other matters, the Committee approved the Committees report on its regular 2004 session, introduced by Rapporteur Hakan Tekin (Turkey) and contained in document E/C.2/2004/L.1.
It also decided to hold, pending authorization from ECOSOC, a resumed session of one day in June to take final action on those applications it had recommended for status ad referendum. Further, the Committee postponed to that day a decision on the dates for its resumed 2004 session, to be held in December.
In addition, the Committee expressed support for the requests of NGOs to address the High-level Segment of the upcoming ECOSOC meeting.
In other action, the Committee decided to discuss, in informal consultations, sending a letter of appreciation to Rotary International on the occasion of its 100th anniversary, as questions of precedence and selectivity were raised. Also, it took note of letters from the International Committee for Security and Cooperation in Europe and World Conservation Monitoring Centre, informing the Committee that they withdrew their consultative status.
The 19-member Committee uses various criteria to recommend general, special or roster status with ECOSOC, including the applicants mandate, governance and financial regime. Organizations that have general and special consultative status can attend meetings of the Council and circulate statements of a certain length. Those with general status can, in addition, speak at meetings and propose items for the Councils agenda, while NGOs with roster status can only attend meetings.
Non-governmental organizations with general and special consultative status must submit a report to ECOSOC every four years. The Committee can request a special report in certain instances, such as after receipt of a complaint from a Member State about the behaviour of an NGO during a meeting of a United Nations body to which it was accredited.
The Committee members are Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte dIvoire, Cuba, France, Germany, India, Iran, Peru, Pakistan, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, Turkey, United States, and Zimbabwe.
The next meeting of the Committee will be announced in the Journal.
* *** *