11 May 2004
Opening 2004 Session, NGO Committee Recommends Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council for 16 Organizations
Defers Decision on Two Others, Elects Officers
NEW YORK, 10 May (UN Headquarters) -- Opening its regular 2004 session, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) this morning elected by acclamation Paimaneh Hasteh (Iran) as its Chairperson, as well as other members of its Bureau, and adopted its agenda. During its afternoon session, the Committee recommended consultative status for 16 NGOs and deferred a decision on two.
Beatriz Londoño (Colombia), on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States; Octavian Stamate (Romania), on behalf of Eastern European States; Hassan Hamid Hassan (Sudan), on behalf of the African States; and Hakan Tekin (Turkey), on behalf of the Western European and Other States, were elected as Vice-Chairpersons. Mr. Tekin will also serve as Rapporteur.
In opening remarks, Marjatta Rasi (Finland), President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said the Committee was the only intergovernmental body that dealt with the relationship between the NGO community and the ECOSOC. After the Millennium Summit and other international conferences, the Council had entered a new era in finding solutions to the challenges of the twenty-first century, as had the role of ECOSOC as the central forum for development partners. That affected also the role of the various entities dealing with the Council. The NGO sector was particularly significant in todays world, and the outcome of the Committees deliberations ensured the direction and quality of the relationship between ECOSOC and the NGO community.
The 19-member Committee on NGOs makes recommendations to the Economic and Social Council on a non-governmental organizations status in relation to the Council 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 Councils agenda.
The outgoing Chairperson, Mihaela Blayan (Romania), said the past two years had been a rewarding experience, as the work in the Committee had been particularly substantive and challenging. Among the two years accomplishments, she mentioned improvements in its methods of work such as the establishment of the paperless committee -- an electronic meeting format -- as well as a decision to hold both regular and resumed sessions in the same calendar year, thereby enabling the first regular session of the Economic and Social Council to consider the Committees report.
She also hailed improved coordination and dialogue between the Committee and the Commission on Human Rights. Proactive measures had been undertaken to ensure that NGOs were aware of existing regulations regarding their participation in intergovernmental meetings. In 2002, the Committee had recognized the importance of the NGO Sections UN-NGO Informal Regional Network (IRENE) in strengthening NGO participation in the intergovernmental process, particularly organizations from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, and had decided to establish a Voluntary Trust Fund in support of that initiative.
Patrizio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, said that building coalitions and establishing networks would be a major challenge for NGOs as they sought to make a meaningful contribution to the United Nations. Given historic and cultural differences, reaching agreement would be a challenge. That challenge must be met, however, if the Millennium Development Goals were to be met.
Opening statements were also made by Sarbuland Khan, Director for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, and the new Chairperson of the Committee, Ms. Hasteh (Iran).
Hanifa Mezoui, Chief of the NGO Section in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, reminded Committee members of the fact that they would have to review a total of 243 cases during the upcoming three weeks, among them 110 new applications. As of today, she said, 2,418 NGOs had consultative status with the ECOSOC, of which 131 had general consultative status, 1,376 special consultative status and 911 roster status.
The Committee recommended special consultative status for:
-- Corporation of Opportunity and Joint Action (OPCION), a national organization based in Chile, working in the field of human rights and the rights of children and adolescents;
-- Fundación Cultural Baur, a national organization based in Mexico, dedicated to promotion of the moral, physical and intellectual rights of children;
-- Womens Solidarity Association of Iran, a national organization based in Iran to promote understanding for Muslim Iranian women and solidarity among Iranian women and women of other countries;
-- Ligue burundaise des droits de lhomme, a national organization to defend and promote human rights and the development of the rule of law in Burundi;
-- China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), a national organization based in China;
--Chinese Society for Sustainable Development, a national organization based in China;
-- Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA), an international migrant farmworker organization based in the United States;
-- Goi Peace Foundation, an international organization based in Japan, which aims to build an international peace network;
-- Sister to Sister International, an international organization based in the United States, which aims to represent the interests and protecting the rights of women of African descent globally in all aspects of political, economic and social life;
-- Airline Ambassadors International (AAI), an international organization based in the United States, which provides for opportunities for global volunteerism helping children in need;
-- Child Rights Action Coalition, a national organization based in Nigeria;
-- Ius Primi Viri International Association, an international organization based in Italy, aiming to cooperate with democratic institutions to fully implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
-- Research Institute for Rehabilitation and Improvement of Womens Life, a national organization based in Iran;
-- Womens Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON), a national organization committed to the enforcement of womens rights and the attainment of equality development and peace; and
-- Geriatrics Care Foundation of Pakistan, a national organization to work for the welfare and well-being of the elderly in Pakistan;
Roster status was recommended for the World Self-Medication Association, an international organization based in France, aiming to convey the social and economic value of responsible self-medication around the world.
The application of Alulbayt Foundation, an NGO based in the United Kingdom, dedicated to the social welfare and educational development of Muslim communities, was deferred pending to questions asked by the representatives of the United States and Chile about its finances, particularly the sources of its funding.
A decision was also deferred regarding the application of Ittijah: Union of Arab Community-based Associations, a national organization based in Israel, a network for Palestinian NGOs in Israel to promote increased cooperation and exchange between Palestinian Arab organizations, pending answers to questions asked by the representatives of the United States, Colombia and Romania, among other things, about its political activities. The representative of the Committee Observer Israel asked for postponement, as, according to him, the mission had not received notification that the NGO was seeking consultative status.
In other business, the Committee approved its Programme of Work as orally revised and its working schedule.
Current members of the NGO Committee 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 Committee will continue its consideration of applications immediately following informal consultations to be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, 11 May.
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