Press Releases

    2 May 2002

    Economic and Social Council Decides Not to Grant Consultative Status to International Lesbian and Gay Association

    In Other Action, Council Adopts 2003 Work Programme, Grants Consultative Status to 56 Ngos

    NEW YORK, 30 April (UN Headquarters) -- Acting on the recommendation of its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, the Economic and Social Council, at the conclusion of its resumed organizational session today, did not grant consultative status to the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).

    That action was part of a draft decision contained in the Committee's report on its resumed 2001 session (New York, January 2002), by the terms of which the Council also granted consultative status to 56 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), reclassified three NGOs from special to general consultative status, and three from the roster to special consultative status. One NGO -- Armenian Relief Society -- was not reclassified from the roster to general consultative status.

    The decision not to grant consultative status to ILGA was the subject of a roll-call vote, with 29 voting in favour and 17 voting against, with Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Republic of Korea, South Africa and Ukraine abstaining. The Council then proceeded to a roll-call vote on the draft as a whole, with 52 votes in favour, none against, with 1 abstention (Ukraine).

    Discussion of ILGA Status

    [According to the NGO Committee report, the International Lesbian and Gay Association is an internat- ional organization previously on the roster. In 1994, one year after it had been granted consultative status, the Council suspended it, "based on concerns raised about its member organizations or sub- sidiaries that promoted or condoned paedophilia". Subsequently, the NGO requested reinstatement of its status, but a number of delegations to the NGO Committee raised questions in that regard. The Committee made a recommendation to deny the consultative status to the International Lesbian and Gay Association.]

    The representative of France, in a general statement before the vote on the recommendation described above (paragraph d), said it would be premature to vote on the substance of the matter. Therefore, he wanted separation of the recommendation of draft decision I of the Committee's report.

    The representative of Egypt said the NGO had had due time in the Committee, where two votes had been conducted. A representative of the NGO had not denied certain allegations that before 1993 it had supported paedophilia. Positions the NGO had adopted after 1993 were just an attempt to restore its status. One week before the beginning of the special session on children, adopting France's proposal would be the wrong signal to send.

    Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the Sudan said that the time allotted to the consideration of ILGA had been quite sufficient, but the Association had failed to provide crystal-clear evidence that it had rid itself and its members of paedophilia. The vote in favour of not granting status to that NGO would reaffirm the will and commitment of the international community to protect children.

    Also speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Pakistan agreed that ILGA had received a fair hearing at the NGO Committee. When that NGO's status was reviewed in 1994, there was substantial proof that some of its elements not only condoned, but also promoted and practised paedophilia. The NGO had still not responded to questions from the NGO Committee and had not convinced the NGO Committee that it had effectively disassociated itself from paedophilia. The notion that the United Nations should consult with paedophiles was ridiculous. "We are trying to create a world friendly to children", he said. "In such a world, there is no place for paedophilia."

    Germany supported France's proposal to delink paragraph d from draft decision I as there had been a basic disagreement in the NGO Committee. According to the Committee report, seven delegations had not been satisfied with the time dedicated to the NGO in question. That was why more time in the Committee should be dedicated to that NGO.

    The representative of the United Kingdom said his delegation was strongly opposed to paedophilia. Some NGO Committee members thought that they had not had sufficient time to consider ILGA's status, however. The ILGA should have sufficient time to answer the serious allegations raised, and the Committee should have sufficient time to decide whether the answers were correct or not.

    In light of the time spent on the matter, the representative of Nigeria asked how much more time would be sufficient to come to a conclusion on ILGA's status. He said the vote on ILGA was not necessarily a vote on the sexual orientation of that NGO, but rather an attempt to arrive at a condemnation of the criminal conduct of paedophilia. He asked for a clear and unambiguous statement regarding ILGA's official position on paedophilia.

    The representative of the Netherlands said ILGA had given some clear statements that they considered paedophilia a criminal act. Still, some question marks remained, and it would be worthwhile to further examine them. That was why he would vote no on a separate vote of paragraph d.

    France said a deadline on a decision on the NGO was possible. Regarding a clear commitment against paedophilia, he said the NGO's representative had said several times, according to the Committee report, that paedophilia was a criminal act and that the NGO did not promote or encourage paedophilia. Moreover, the NGO was one of the few NGOs having consultative status that had placed a commitment to protect all provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in its charter. A "no" vote would provide a possibility to postpone consideration of the NGO's file.

    The representative of Guatemala defended the right of the Council to separate points of a subsidiary body's decision. For that reason, he had voted no on the no-action motion. As for the substance of the proposal, he had serious doubts that ILGA should be granted consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. Delegations must be absolutely sure of what exactly was on the table in order to proceed to the vote.

    The representative of Egypt stressed that it was the responsibility of ILGA to provide proof that it did not condone paedophilia. The NGO had stated that those organizations that had not signed a declaration to that effect were not considered members of ILGA. Toronto-based Pink Triangle Press, however, was a formal member of ILGA. It had resigned when asked to sign a questionnaire, and rejoined in 1997 when signing it was not a requirement anymore. In 1995, the NGO Committee had sent a questionnaire to ILGA, but no response had been received. He urged all delegations to vote in favour of retaining the paragraph in question. The ILGA could reapply for consultative status in the future if it cleared its record.

    Benin's representative said that subsidiary bodies had been established to discuss serious substantive questions before the Council. In this case, the NGO Committee had made its decision. If there were any new elements, they needed to be reviewed, but that was not the case.

    Chile's representative said that, although his delegation's position in the NGO Committee had been defeated in a vote there, he respected decisions taken in subsidiary bodies and had, therefore, voted in favour of the Committee's recommendation.

    The representative of India said he had voted in favour of paragraph d, since the principles governing consultative status stated certain requirements that were not fulfilled by ILGA.

    Peru's representative said he had abstained from voting on paragraph d because voting could be under- stood as accepting ILGA's participation without that NGO having addressed serious charges against it.

    South Africa's representative said that his delegation had abstained in the vote as a result of the lack of clarity as to what the vote would mean. His country did not participate in the NGO Committee and had to rely on that body's report, which was not very clear as to what the balance was there.

    The representative of Senegal said that his delegation could not agree to the granting of consultative status to such organizations as ILGA. He was surprised at the support that it had been able to mobilize on behalf of many delegations. A large amount of time had been spent on the consideration of the matter in the NGO Committee and in the Council. He did not want it to become a precedent: the NGO had reached its conclusions, and its work should not be called in question.

    Prior to the votes on sub-paragraph d and the text on the whole, Egypt submitted a no-action motion regarding a request by France to consider the paragraph in question separately from draft decision I contained in the NGO Committee report. Following a procedural discussion, the no-action motion was defeated in a roll-call vote by 27 votes against to 22 in favour, with five abstentions (Bhutan, Cameroon, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Ukraine).

    Speaking in support of the no-action motion, the representative of Nigeria said that if in seven years the NGO in question had not been able to convince the NGO Committee to grant it status, it was now time to move on. Iran's representative also spoke in favour of the motion, echoing Nigeria's arguments.

    The United Kingdom and Germany spoke out against the motion, with the representative of the United Kingdom saying that he opposed such motions in principle, for they prevented free debate. The NGO in question had not received sufficient consideration in the NGO Committee and should be given a fair hearing.

    Other Action

    By draft decision II in the NGO Committee report, the Council also decided that the 2002 session of the Committee on NGOs should be held on 13-24 and 29-30 of May.

    Acting without a vote on other organizational matters, the Council decided to take note of the list of questions for its work programme for 2003, which includes proposals for its high-level segment, operational activities for international development cooperation segment, as well as coordination and humanitarian affairs segments.

    It also decided that the theme for the humanitarian affairs segment of its 2002 substantive session should be: "Strengthening of the coordination of United Nations humanitarian assistance in cases of natural disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies, with particular attention to reaching the vulnerable and the transition from relief to development". As more time was required to determine the theme for operational activities segment of its substantive session of 2002, the Council decided to defer the matter to a later date.

    Also without a vote, the Council decided to include in the work programme of its substantive session this year the agenda item entitled "Consideration of the request for conversion of the International Civil Defence Organization (ICDO) into a specialized agency of the United Nations system". A similar agenda item was included in relation to the World Tourism Organization. Both are currently intergovernmental organizations with observer status with the Council.

    The Council deferred consideration of the provisional agenda and documentation for the third session of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development until after the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg later this year. Also deferred was a decision on strengthening of the work of the Commission on Science and Technology, as was consideration of the report of the Secretary-General on the establishment of an ad hoc group on African countries emerging from conflict.

    Finally, the Council adopted, without a vote, a draft decision submitted by the Vice-President of the Council, Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala), whereby it decided to authorize the Council's President to hold consultations with concerned United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in Rome, Paris, Vienna and Geneva, in order to enhance collaboration and coordination among those entities in the Economic and Social Council.

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