6 January 2005

Opening 2005 Session, NGO Committee Recommends Consultative Status with ECOSOC for 24 Organizations, Defers Three Applications

NEW YORK, 5 January (UN Headquarters) -- Opening its 2005 regular session, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) this morning recommended 24 NGOs for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and deferred three applications. It also elected its officers, adopted its agenda and approved its programme of work.

By acclamation, the Committee re-elected Paimaneh Hataie (Iran) as its Chairperson for a two-year term. Carlos Eduardo Jaramillo (Colombia), Ilham I. Ahmad (Sudan), Serhat Aksen (Turkey) and Octovian Stamate (Romania) were re-elected as Vice-Chairpersons. Mr. Stamate (Romania) will also serve as the Committee’s Rapporteur.

In her opening remarks, the Chair of the Committee, Ms. Hataie (Iran), expressed condolences to the delegations affected by the tragedy of the South Asian tsunami disaster. Several NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council were actively assisting in the relief efforts, she said.

Noting that recently the United Nations had come under criticism, she suggested that everyone should work harder and find inspiration in the recommendations of the two recent high-level panels: “We the Peoples: Civil society, the UN and Global Governance”, a panel on UN/civil society relationships; and one on the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. The report of the panel on United Nations/civil society relations had been published in December 2004 and referred, among other things, to the role ECOSOC could play by monitoring and evaluating implementation and review of major conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields and in the preparation for the high-level plenary meeting in September. An NGO-initiative was responding to the panel’s recommendations by encouraging ECOSOC to hold an “NGO Peoples Forum” at many of the major meetings that would take place before the General Assembly event.

She said that, under new arrangements, both sessions of the Committee would be held within the same calendar year, with submission of the Committee’s report to the substantive session of ECOSOC. The programme of work included a review of 87 new applications of NGOs for consultative status, 50 deferred applications and 69 quadrennial reports. She emphasized that a great deal had been done so far to support NGOs coming from developing countries and she hoped that trend would continue.

Hanifa Mezoui, Chief, Non-Governmental Organization Section, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said the project of the “paperless committee” was now in place and was here to stay. She outlined the upcoming activities of ECOSOC regarding the five-year review of the Millennium Development Goals and the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations, saying that the NGO contribution in those events would be highly appreciated.

Highlighting some of the activities the NGO Section had undertaken, she drew attention to its participation, in partnership with the Department of Public Information (DPI), in a conference entitled “Millennium Development Goals:

Civil Society Takes Action” from 8 to 10 September 2004, as well as to DESA’s contribution to the “World Family Summit” which had taken place from 6 to 9 December in China. She also updated the Committee on activities of the Informal NGO Network “IRENE”, including in Mauritania, Pakistan and China.

The 19-member Committee uses various criteria to recommend general, special or roster status with ECOSOC, including the applicant’s 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 Council’s 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, during its morning and afternoon meeting, recommended that ECOSOC grant special consultative status to:

-- Center for Studies of Woman and her Comprehensive Formation, a national organization based in Mexico, focusing on offering women supporting services in information, counselling and training for improving their professional and human performance;

-- Association mauritanienne pour la santé de la mère et de l’enfant, a national organization based in Mauritania with the aim of providing support to efforts at the national level to improve the health of mothers and children;

-- Initiatives of Change International, an international network based in Switzerland, open to people of all cultures, nationalities and religions, who work towards change, locally and globally, by starting with change in their own lives;

-- Organisation mondiale des associations pour l’éducation prénatale (OMAEP), and international organization promoting prenatal education worldwide;

-- Nigerian Institute of Homeopathy, a national organization based in Nigeria, which aims to teach and spread the art of homeopathy and other forms of alternative medicine and to carry out scientific research in homeopathy;

-- China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, a national organization based in China, aiming to organize and coordinate nationwide academic seminars and NGO activities in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation;

-- Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, a national organization based in Egypt that provides grants to organizations operating in the field of social development;

-- Central and Eastern European Harm Reduction Network, an international organization based in Lithuania that supports, develops and advocates for harm-reduction approaches in the field of drugs, HIV, public health and social exclusion;

-- International Conference Volunteers, an international organization based in Switzerland that connects volunteers and organizers of non-profit projects, in particular social, humanitarian, environmental and scientific conferences;

-- Iranian Elite Research Center, a national organization based in Iran aiming to promote the research activities in the field of sustainable development;

-- National Aboriginal Forestry Association, a national organization based in Canada to advance the concepts of indigenous control and sustainable management to serve the needs of indigenous communities;

-- Organisation de défense de l’environnement au Burundi, a national organization with the purpose of protecting the environment through the promotion of sustainable development and to seek participation of grass-roots communities in environmental preservation activities;

-- European AIDS Treatment Group, an international organization based in Germany, with a mission to achieve the fastest possible access to state-of-the-art medical products and devices and diagnostic tests that prevent or treat HIV infection or improve the quality of infected people’s lives;

-- New Zealand Family Planning Association, a national organization based in New Zealand, aiming to promote a positive view of sexuality, informed choice and access to accurate information and quality sexual and reproductive health services;

-- National Council of Women of Malta, a national organization based in Malta that works to promote equality of opportunity for women, to enable them to participate effectively at all levels and in all aspects of the life of the community;

-- Korean Council for Local Agenda 21, a national organization based in the Republic of Korea that wants to activate nationally local Agenda 21 campaigns, which are programmes on environmental practices for residents, business and local administrators in order to improve the local environment and promote sustainable development;

-- Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, a national organization based in Cameroon aiming to promote social, economic and cultural development;

-- Aleut International Association, an international organization based in the United States that advocates for the Arctic indigenous peoples’ interests in the international arena;

-- Simply Help, an international organization based in the United States, aiming to provide food, toys, clothes, comfort and assistance to disadvantaged people that suffer from natural and economic calamities throughout the world;

-- Turkish Foundation for Children in Need of Protection, a national organization based in Turkey, which wants to house and educate homeless children and provide them with the experience of maternal love and a family environment;

-- Istanbul International Brotherhood and Solidarity Association, a national organization based in Turkey, which is mainly active in areas of humanitarian aid, education, moral and cultural development, medical aid, children’s rights and the development of young people;

-- Fondation européenne pour le développement durable des régions, an international organization based in Switzerland, with the aim of encouraging cooperation for sustainable development among the regions of Europe and among the regions of the Maghreb; and

-- Dui Hua Foundation, an international organization based in the United States, dedicated to advancing the protection of human rights by means of a well-informed dialogue between the United States and China (“dui hua” means dialogue).

The Committee then took up applications for consultative status from NGOs that had been accredited to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Pursuant to ECOSOC decision E/2004/212, those organizations, wishing to participate in future session of the Commission on sustainable Development beyond two years might be considered by the Committee as expeditiously as possible.

It recommended roster status for Arab NGO Network for Development, an international organization based in Lebanon, which envisions democratic, active and effective civil societies in the Arab region. Before any other applications under that decision could be taken up, an order debate ensued regarding its correct interpretation. Clarification would be sought from the Secretariat before proceeding with them.

Action on the application of Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia, an international organization based in the Philippines with the aim of promoting and catalysing partnership relations, facilitating human resource processes in rural areas, and mobilizing expertise and resources for the strengthening of solidarity and kinship among Asian communities, was deferred in the request of China’s representative, pending correction in the nomenclature of countries mentioned in the organization’s correspondence with the Committee.

The Committee also deferred action on the application of China Family Planning Association, a national organization based in China that wants to contribute to the process of China’s market-oriented reform, pending an answer to a question raised by the representative of the United States regarding the organization’s independency.

Turning to the application of the Korean Foundation for World Aid, an international organization based in the Republic of Korea that focuses on providing humanitarian assistance to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as helping other poor or war-torn countries around the world, the Committee heard from that organization’s representative, Iraq Nae Eun Kim.

Answering questions posed by the representatives of Cuba and China, Ms. Kim said that in offering aid to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, her organization used both private and official channels. It had one clear official channel in the country. The NGO was trying to help the Democratic Republic through every means possible; however, there were a lot of obstacles. When there were difficulties in approaching official channels, private channels had to be used.

She said the main aim of the NGO was to help “North Korea”, but it was now also expanding to other countries in need, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. The NGO tried to help any country that needed its help.

Action on the application was deferred pending instructions for China’s representative from her capital regarding the answers provided.

During the Committee’s approval of its Programme of Work, several delegations addressed the issue of the availability of interpretation services. ECOSOC decision 2004/321 provided interpretation to and from Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish on 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11 January for the morning meetings only and on 12 through 18 January for both morning and afternoon meetings. Speakers emphasized the importance of the meetings, while China’s representative warned that if there were no interpretation in the six official languages, the work of the Committee would be jeopardized. Other representatives expressed the hoped that the Secretariat could ameliorate the problem as well as possible, based on availability of resources. The representative of the Russian Federation, however, expressed concern about holding formal meetings without official interpretation in Russian.

As for the schedule of work, Cuba’s representative proposed that one meeting during the current session would be devoted to the Committee’s methods of work. A decision on the schedule of work was postponed until tomorrow.

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

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