16 December 2003


NEW YORK, 15 December (UN Headquarters) -- The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations this morning opened its 2003 resumed session, which will run until Friday, 19 December.  It approved its provisional agenda and programme of work for the current session and recommended special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council for 39 non-governmental organizations.  The body also recommended roster status for five groups.

The 19-member Committee makes recommendations on a non-governmental organization’s (NGO) standing or reclassification with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) using a variety of criteria, including applicant mandate, governance and financial regime.  Those with roster status can attend meetings; those with special status can attend meetings and circulate statements; and those with general status can attend meetings, circulate statements and propose items for the Council’s agenda.

In opening remarks, the Committee’s Chairperson, Mihaela Blajan (Romania) underlined the importance of holding regular and resumed sessions in the same calendar year.  The next regular session would be held in May 2004.  In 2005, as the regular session would be held in January and the resumed session in May, it would be possible to report to ECOSOC during the same calendar year.

She said during the current session, 82 new applications, five new requests for reclassification and 55 quadrennial reports had to be considered.  To that work, 47 deferred applications had to be added, as well as a few deferred quadrennial reports and requests for reclassification.  Special reports also had to be considered.

Noting that during its regular session in May, the Committee had stressed that the “paperless Committee” [based on computer storage and accessibility of information necessary for the Committee’s work] should become the normal mode of work, she said Committee members had been provided with an “electronic key” with which they could access the “paperless Committee” from their missions.

Chief of the Non-Governmental Organizations Section in the Secretariat, Hanifa Mezoui, said during the resumed session she would present an update on the paperless project and on the outreach programme.  She noted that out of 62 countries presented in the work programme, half came from developing countries.  More than 65 NGOs would be represented during the current session.  She announced that the Committee would be “e”-ready in May 2004, despite equipment difficulties.

The NGOs for which special consultative status was recommended are: Drug Abuse, Rehabilitation and Research Centre, a national organization based in India; Federations des organisations non gouvernamentale du Senegal, a national organization based in Senegal; National Association of University Women of Romania, a national organization based in Romania; Association jeunesse action developpement, an international organization based in Mauritania; Zayed International Prize for the Environment, an international organization based in the United Arab Emirates; Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, a national organization based in Iran; Japanese Writers’ Committee for Human Rights, a national organization based in Japan; Kenya Medical Women’s Association, a national organization based in Kenya; One World Trust, a national organization based in the United Kingdom; People with Disabilities Uganda, a national organization based in Uganda; Romanian Youth Association for United Nations, an international organization based in Romania; Jeunesse Horizon, a national organization based in Cameroon; Right to Play, an international organization based in Canada; Sudan Council of Voluntary Agencies, a national organization based in the Sudan; and Haywood Burns Environmental Education Center, a national organization based in the United States.

Also, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, an international agency based in Bangkok; Non-Governmental Organization’s Coordinating Committee, of Lusaka; Women’s Rights Movement of the Philippines Education Centre; Antonio Restrepo Barco Foundation, of Bogotá, Colombia; Centre for International Rehabilitation, based in the United States; Chilean Corporation for Children and Youth Rights; Femmes solidaires, of Paris; International Native Tradition Interchange, of New York; Friends Society in Social Service, based in Utah, United States; Lokmanya Public Charitable Trust, of India; Social Service Agency of the Protestant Church in Germany; Actions on Gender Citizenship and Development; African Canadian Legal Clinic; American Planning Association; Association of Families and Women in Rural Areas, of Spain; Family Action Foundation of Madrid; International Cooperation, based in Milan, Italy; Press Council, of Turkey; Foundation Partners for Local Development, based in Bucharest, Romania; Green Front of Iran; National Centre for Sustainable Development, based in Bucharest, Romania; Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion; UMUT Foundation, a Turkish national youth empowerment organization; and South Asia Partnership International, based in Sri Lanka.

The NGOs for which roster status was recommended are:  The American Anthropological Association, based in Arlington Virginia; Comte nigerien sur les pratiques traditionnelles ayant effet sur la sante des femmes et des enfants; Foundation for Research on Technology Migration and Integration; Nour Foundation, an international agency based in New York; and International Paint and Printing Ink Council, based in Washington, D.C.

A decision on special consultative status for the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, a national organization based in Pakistan, was left pending, as the representative of India wanted clarification about the NGO’s relationship with the Pakistani Government and about certain publications.  Several representatives, in particular the representative of Pakistan, said a relationship between an NGO and a government should not necessarily impede the granting of status.  What was important was the independence of the NGO.  The NGO held the well-being of children supreme, did not sacrifice its independence and was even critical of the Government.

A decision was also left pending on the application of Partnership for Indigenous Peoples Environment, an international organization based in the United States, as the observer for Algeria asked for more time to study the application.

The Committee also took no decision on Avocats sans frontiers of France, or the International Academy of Ecology and Life Protection Services of Russia, pending replies to queries.

Consideration of applications from Help for Children in Need, an international organization based in Germany, and Mazdayasnie Monasterie, an international organization based in India, was postponed, as no reply had been received to questions and requests for clarification from those organizations.

When the Committee took up the application of the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, several delegates sought further clarification on matters related to the source the agencies donations and general income, as well as it’s relationship to the Turkish Government.  The Foundation’s representative said that the funds were given on “conditional” or “unconditional” terms.  In the first instance, monies would be earmarked for specific projects, and in the second, the funds supported its general work, she said.  She also briefly reviewed her organization’s lobbying efforts.  The Committee ultimately granted the agency special consultative status.

On the South Asia Partnership International, delegations asked a representative of that group to answer a few queries on the terminology -- particularly “human security”.  He said that, while that term might not be thoroughly defined at the United Nations, the Partnership saw the principle largely in terms of communities and their livelihoods -- coping mechanisms by which communities could successfully grapple with relevant issues.  The Committee granted its special consultative status.

The Committee also asked for further clarifications from a representative of the Agricultural Mission, chiefly on matters related to the group’s work with religious organizations.  Some wondered whether it only worked with Catholic groups.  The Mission’s representative said they were an ecumenical group that worked with Christian organizations.  But the Missions’ inclusive policy was to work with groups of all faiths toward the eradication of poverty in the developing world.  She added that the Missions did not just work with religious organizations and churches, but also included grass-roots groups, women’s groups, rural land development collectives and educators among its partners.  When asked to clarify the group’s mission statement, which highlighted its aim to “work in partnership with people of faith and conscience around the world”, she said Agricultural Missions was committed to working with other groups promoting social and economic justice.  The Committee Chair requested that the group provide further answers in written form.

Current members of the NGO Committee are Cameroon, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, China, Pakistan, India, Iran, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Cuba, Russian Federation, Romania, Germany, France, United States and Turkey.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., Tuesday, 16 December, to consider its consideration of new applications for consultative status and new requests for reclassification.

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