7 January 2005

NGO Committee Recommends 12 Organizations for Consultative Status with ECOSOC, Defers 10 Applications

NEW YORK, 6 January (UN Headquarters) -- The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) today recommended 12 NGOs for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and deferred 10 applications.

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.

The Committee recommended that ECOSOC grant special consultative status to:

-- People with Disability Australia, a national organization based in Australia, aiming to be the leading disability organization, advocating for the realization of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community;

-- Native Women’s Association of Canada, a national organization based in Canada that strives for communities in which all individuals have an opportunity to develop their talents in order to achieve their full potential;

-- Adolescent Health and Information Project, a Nigerian-based national organization committed to providing access for young people to the relevant information and necessary skills development;

-- Terre Vivante, an international poverty relief organization based in Mauritania, which gives priority to the environment, economic initiatives and the advancement of rural and urban women;

-- African Business Round Table, a South African-based international organization, focusing on strengthening the African private sector, promoting intra-African trade and investments and attracting foreign investments into Africa. Germany’s representative, supported among others by Cuba, made the point that the organization did not represent a particular group of enterprises, but had a broader scope, so that special consultative status was warranted;

-- Comité français des organisations non gouvernementales pour la liaison et l’information des Nations Unies, a national, France-based organization whose purpose, among other things, is to disseminate the views of the United Nations and its specialized agencies and to convey the needs of populations and make suggestions to the United Nations;

-- Arab Mexican Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Civil Association, an international organization based in Mexico aiming to promote trade and investment between Mexico and the Arab countries;

-- Albert Schweitzer Institute, an international organization based in the United States which strives to play a dynamic role in introducing Dr. Schweitzer’s philosophy of “Reverence for Life” to a broad audience in order to bring about a more civil and ethical society characterized by respect, responsibility, compassion and service;

-- Be Active, Be Emancipated, a national organization based in Croatia that lobbies for the recognition and improvement of the status of women’s human rights;

-- International Center for Clubhouse Development, an international organization based in the United States, committed to improving the life circumstances of people with mental illness; and

-- Rodale Institute, an international organization based in the United States, that has for 53 years been a leader in promoting the improvement of human and environmental health through the introduction and development of regenerative food production systems in various parts of the world.

Roster status was recommended for Sirius Global Animal Charitable Trust, an international organization based in New Zealand, striving to have the dog (domestic companion animal) taken out of the human food chain and to have it classified as not for human consumption by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Committee deferred action on a number of applications pending answers to questions raised by delegates. They are:

-- Academy for Mobilizing Rural-Urban Action through Education, a national organization based in India, aiming at accelerating the realization of universal child rights and ensuring that women’s rights are progressively met with improvements in the position of girls and women in society, as Pakistan’s representative needed more time to study the provided answers;

-- Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, a national organization based in Iran established with the aim of helping patients suffering from such diseases as Thalassaemia, haemophilia, diabetes, renal failure and cancer, as Germany wanted more clarification on the organization’s relationship with the Government;

-- Center for Human Rights and Environment, a national organization based in Argentina that promotes sustainable development through the promotion of the relationship existing between the environment and people, as Cuba’s representative raised questions about the international or national status of the organization, its membership, and its activities regarding human rights;

-- Ecospirituality Foundation, an Italy-based international organization, protecting the cultural and spiritual heritage of indigenous peoples and supporting and underlining actions against violation of their religious rights and sacred sites, as Chile’s representative asked an additional question about the organization’s activities;

-- Fondation Surgir, a national organization in Switzerland, focusing on defending and providing direct assistance to girls and women and their children who are victims of all forms of physical, psychological, sexual or social violence, particularly traditional forms of violence, as Chile’s representative queried the national status of the organization;

-- Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, an Australia-based international organization responsible for the allocation and registration of IP (internet) addresses in the Asia-Pacific region and training of technical personnel in the region to manage intranet infrastructures, as China’s representative wanted more clarification about the organization’s membership;

-- Crime Stoppers International, a United States-based international organization that aims to provide an environment for citizens in all of the world to anonymously offer information about crime and thereby contribute to its reduction, prevention and solving, as further clarification was being sought by Chile’s representative about the word “Incorporated”, and by Cuba’s representative about the organization’s involvement with police organizations; and

-- Kerala Rural Development Agency, a national organization headquartered in India which aims to empower the community through participatory human development processes, among other things, as it had forwarded no replies to the questions asked of it, citing the recent tsunami disaster as the reason.

Action on the application of Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, a national Egypt-based organization working for the protection and promotion of human rights in that country, was postponed until the organization had met the requirement of having been registered for more than two years, as set out in ECOSOC resolution 1997/31. The NGO had been registered in Egypt in June 2003.

Suri Sehgal, Chairman of the Sehgal Foundation, a national organization based in India that addresses integrated, sustainable development in India’s village communities, answered questions posed by the representatives of Pakistan, Germany, the United States and India. He said that although the NGO was a family trust founded by United States citizens, namely himself, it was registered and incorporated in India, and all activities were in that country as well. There had not been a third party evaluation of the work done by the NGO, but it worked in partnership with, among others, the United Nations Foundation and the Credit Alliance. There would be no partners if the Foundation was not credible. It was a private foundation, because it did not seek any funds. Enough funds were available from the founder.

He said the trust had been registered in India in 1999, after which for two years feasibility studies were carried out for the best way to proceed, combining scientific and business principles. Integrated programmes had been developed for village development in one of the poorest rural areas of India near Delhi. An integrated development model had been produced, including clear timelines and deliverables, that could be replicated for other villages. The foundation was now working in 17 villages and was on track with the programme. It intended to expand its work to 40 villages, and over time to 400 villages. By that time, more funding would be needed.

The Committee deferred action on the Foundation’s application, as Pakistan’s representative had to transmit the provided answers to his capital.

The Committee also considered the application of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development and Peace, a United States-based international organization, which aims to advance communication and cooperation among and between the women of the world in order to protect human rights, facilitate sustainable development and promote peace.

Answering questions posed by Cuba’s representative, Afaf Mahfouz, member of the NGO’s Board, assured the Committee that her organization was independent and autonomous, despite the fact that much of its funding came from the National Endowment for Democracy in the United States, which had links with that country’s Government. Regarding the concept of “human security”, about which Cuba’s representative had said that it implied matters of sovereignty, she said her NGO only used that concept from a humanitarian point of view, in the framework of the Millennium Development Goals. The NGO only worked in partnership with grass-root organizations on invitation from those organizations. It did not enter countries uninvited.

The Committee would continue consideration of this NGO’s application 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.

The Committee will meet again tomorrow, Friday, 7 January, at 10 a.m. to continue consideration of new and deferred applications.

* *** *