13 January 2005
NGO Committee Recommends Nine Organizations for Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council, Postpones Six Applications
Delegates Take Note of Three Quadrennial Reports, Defers Action on Three Others
NEW YORK, 12 January (UN Headquarters) -- The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for nine NGOs and postponed decisions on the applications of six others. It also took note of the quadrennial reports of three organizations, deferred action on those of three others and considered a special report submitted by ASOPAZCO (International Council of the Association for the Peace in the Continents).
In recommending general, special or roster consultative status with the Council, the 19-member Committee uses various criteria, including the applying organizations mandate, governance and financial regime. Non-governmental organizations enjoying general and special consultative status can attend Council meetings and circulate statements of a certain length. Those with general status can, in addition, speak at meetings and propose items for the Councils agenda, while organizations that have roster status can only attend meetings.
Non-governmental organizations with general and special consultative status must submit a report to the Council every four years. The Committee can request a special report in certain instances, such as following a complaint by a Member State about an organizations behaviour during a meeting of a
United Nations body to which it has been accredited.
Acting on the applications, the Committee recommended general consultative status for Coordination SUD, a national organizatio0n based in France that coordinates the activities of French NGOs in the field of emergency aid and development.
It recommended special consultative status for:
-- the Fondation Surgir, a national Switzerland-based organization, aiming to defend and provide direct assistance to girls and women and their children who are victims of physical, psychological, sexual or social violence, particularly traditional forms of violence;
-- the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, an international organization with headquarters in Australia responsible for the allocation and registration of IP (Internet) addresses. It also offers training to technical personnel in the region who manage Internet infrastructures;
-- the China Family Planning Association, a national NGO active in reproductive health, family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention and care;
-- the Global Youth Action Network, an international, United States-based organization whose purpose is to increase collaboration among youth organizations working to change the world for the better;
-- the Association Mauritanienne pour le Développement et la Protection de lEnvironnement, a national NGO in Mauritania that wishes, among other things, to contribute to sustainable development, combat poverty, promote gender equality and combat desertification and pollution;
-- the Humanitarian Foundation of Canada, an international organization that aims to alleviate poverty, chronic unemployment, disease, hunger, homelessness and their causes in Canada, as well as in less developed countries; and
-- Action Contre la Faim, an international NGO based in France that is committed to combating hunger throughout the world in emergencies and post-crisis situations.
The Committee recommended roster status for Europlatforms, an international organization based in Belgium which aims to promote and expand the concept of logistic centres in Europe and worldwide by creating and developing relations among existing centres in Europe and with similar groupings internationally.
It deferred decisions on the applications submitted by:
-- the Kerala Rural Development Agency, a national NGO based in India which wishes, among other things, to empower the community through a participatory human development process and to promote organizations at the grassroots level. The deferral was a result of the insistence of Pakistans representative that replies to delegates questions be sent by the organization itself and not by a consultant;
-- Crime Stoppers International, an international organization based in the United States, which aims to provide an environment for citizens in all countries of the world to anonymously offer information about crime. The representatives of France and Cuba considered the answers that it had provided to be incomplete;
-- the Engine Manufacturers Association, a United States-based international organization promoting the general welfare of the internal combustion engine industry. Cubas representative asked about the NGOs position on the Kyoto Protocol and what input it could to United Nations agencies towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
-- Aviation Sans Frontières, an international organization based in France, which, among other activities, provides transport facilities, using light aircraft, to NGOs working in inaccessible areas. The representative of the Russian Federation wanted more information regarding its activities; and
-- the Fazaldad Human Rights Institute, a Pakistan-based national organizations that aims to eliminate human rights abuse and to promote education in the field of human rights. Indias representative was not satisfied with the organizations responses to questions raised.
Many delegates spoke regarding an application by Yad Sarah, a national organization in Israel, which aims to enable people with special needs to continue to live among their families, in their homes and within their communities, as well as to develop services in the home-care field. The application had previously been considered on 7 January (see Press Release NGO/554). Irans representative was not satisfied with its replies to questions asked and wanted more clarification about the national or international nature of the organization and its relationship with the Israeli Government. Representatives of Syria, an observer State, and the Observer Mission of Palestine sought more time to study the replies.
Germanys representative, supported by other speakers, expressed strong support for the NGO, saying it had now become crystal clear that the organizations goals were purely humanitarian and without a political agenda. He insisted that a decision on the application be taken during the current session. As proof of the organizations humanitarian nature, the representative of Turkey reminded delegates that it had been one of the first to provide assistance during the 1999 earthquake in his country. The Committee postponed a decision on the application until later in the current session.
The Committee took note of three quadrennial reports for the period 2000-2003 (contained in document E/C.2/2005/2/Add.9) submitted by the Lutheran World Federation, Solar Cookers International and the World Veterans Federation.
It deferred consideration of reports (document E/C.2/2005/2/Add.9) submitted by the Association for the Prevention of Torture, International Service for Human Rights and the Peace Education Foundation, as the representatives of Cuba and the Russian Federation raised questions about their activities.
The Committees afternoon meeting was devoted to its methods of work, particularly the issue of ASOPAZCO (International Council of the Association for the Peace in the Continents), whose consultative status had been suspended in 2000. In 2004, ASOPAZCO sought the reinstatement of its special consultative status with ECOSOC, but the Committee, before considering reinstatement, requested a special report on the organizations activities during the three years of the NGOs suspension. That report (document E/C.2/2005/3) states, among other things, that since its suspension, ASOPAZCO has undergone a profound reorganization and is currently focusing mainly on educational activities regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Addressing the special report, Cubas representative said the organization had avoided answering the Committees questions as to how it had remedied the reasons for which it had been suspended and had been very vague about its activities during the suspension years. ASOPAZCO continued to display behaviour that was contrary to the principles of the United Nations Charter, including politically motivated acts against Cuba. Citing examples of such activities, he said ASOPAZCO maintained close links with the National Cuban/American Foundation (FNCA), an organization based in the United States that carried out acts of terrorism.
He went on to say that ASOPAZCOs special report made clear that the organization in no way described changes that would rectify the reasons for its suspension. It had provided no information about changes in affiliation, activities, membership and financing. He proposed that the Committee decide to request that ASOPAZCO submit a new application for consultative status and that the Committee decide on it during a future session.
The representative of the United States said, however, that the report presented the information requested. Serious allegations of terrorism had not been made against ASOPAZCO, but against another organization with which it was associated, and some of them went back to 1980. If members of the Committee had questions, they should be asked. He did not support the need for a new application, the need for which was not mentioned in ECOSOC resolution 1996/31.
In the ensuing debate, many speakers, among them the representatives of China and Iran, agreed that the information provided by the NGO was not the information requested. The organization had not established any argument demonstrating that it had overcome the reasons for its suspension. Other speakers, however, noted that resolution 1996/31, governing the rules for the acquisition and suspension of consultative status, provided for automatic reinstatement of such consultative status after the term of suspension had expired. Requesting a new application would change the suspension into a withdrawal, they argued.
As the representative of the United States needed instructions to act on Cubas proposal for a new application, the Committee proceeded to a motion to adjourn the debate. The representatives of Germany and United States spoke in favour of the motion and those of China and Zimbabwe spoke against it. The proposal was rejected in a recorded roll-call vote of 5 in favour (Chile, France, Germany, Romania, United States) to 8 against (China, Colombia, Cuba, Iran, Peru, Russian Federation, Sudan, Zimbabwe) with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, India, Pakistan, Senegal, Turkey). Côte dIvoire was absent.
The representative of the United States then submitted an amendment to Cubas proposal, namely that the Committee would not ask for a new, but for an updated application. Cubas representative accepted the amendment and the Committee then decided by consensus to request ASOPAZCO to present an updated application to be recognized as consultative entity, which the Committee would examine in future sessions.
Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of France, speaking also on behalf of Germany, said that although he would join the consensus, he regretted having been forced to give a view on a proposal that had not been sufficiently prepared. The decision should not be considered in such a way that a suspended NGO should start from zero in the application process in order to be reinstated. The representatives of the United States, Romania and Chile associated themselves with that statement.
Also speaking in explanation of position was the representative of India.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, 13 January.
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