17 January 2005

Committee on NGOs Concludes Current Session, Recommending Consultative Status with ECOSOC for Two Organizations, Deferring Applications of Two Others

Finishing Two Days ahead of Schedule, Committee Recommended Consultative Status for Total of 85 NGOs, Deferred 46 Applications

NEW YORK, 14 January (UN Headquarters) -- Concluding its regular 2005 session, two days ahead of schedule, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and deferred decisions on the applications of two others. It took note of one quadrennial report and closed the file on one application for consultative status.

Summarizing the accomplishments of the session, Michele Fedorof, representative of the NGO Section of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Committee had 135 applications before it. Of those applications, it had recommended 85 NGOs for consultative status, deferred 46, closed the file of two applications, and recommended reclassification of status of one NGO. Two applications were withdrawn. It had also reviewed 84 quadrennial reports, of which it had taken note of 71.

In recommending general, special or roster consultative status with the Council, the 19-member Committee uses various criteria, including the applying organization’s 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 may, in addition, speak at meetings and propose items for the Council’s 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 organization’s behaviour during a meeting of a United Nations body to which it has been accredited.

During a morning and afternoon meeting today, the committee recommended that the Economic and Social Council grant special consultative status to Aviations Sans Frontièrs, an international organization based in France that wants to provide logistical support to NGOs working in inaccessible areas using light aircraft.

The Committee once again considered the application of Yad Sarah, an Israeli national organization dedicated to enable people with special needs to continue to live among their families, in their homes and within their communities. Yesterday, Germany’s representative had announced that he would insist on action regarding the application (see Press Release NGO/558) and said today that during the course of the last eight weeks the NGO had been subjected to over 30 questions and had answered all questions promptly. The NGO had stated many times that it was a non-political, non-partisan organization committed to helping disabled persons in a non-discriminatory manner and had proved that by its actions. As today was the last possibility to take action during the current session, further delay would not be fair to the NGO and would increase the risk of transforming a non-political case into a political one.

During a protracted debate, in which several speakers insisted on more time to study answers provided, the representative of the Observer Mission of Palestine said the NGO had consistently not responded to a most crucial question, namely one about its activities in the illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. Such activities would run counter to international law and United Nations resolutions. She insisted on an answer as to why the NGO refused to answer that question. The representative of observer State Syria added that the refusal to answer that question made clear the NGO was active in the illegal settlements.

The Committee decided to grant special consultative status to the NGO without a vote, but the representatives of Sudan and Cuba expressed regret about the procedure followed and disassociated themselves from the consensus. The representatives of France (also on behalf of Germany), Pakistan, Romania, Zimbabwe, China and the Russian Federation, as well as the representatives of observer State Syria and the Observer Mission of Palestine, also spoke after the action.

The Committee deferred action on the applications of:

-- Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar, an India-based national organization, working for the protection and promotion of human rights enshrined in the country’s Constitution, using law and judicial processes, as Pakistan’s representative needed more time to study the answers provided; and

-- Social Alert, an international organization based in Belgium, aiming to defend and promote the economic, social and cultural rights, because Cuba’s representative wanted more information about the organization’s independence and the role of governments in countries where it was active;

The Committee closed the file on the application of Association of Expelled Persons, a national organization in Germany, representing expelled persons and emigrants of German origin who had been or would be received in Germany. Germany’s representative expressed his regret that a positive decision on the application had not been possible.

The Committee took note of the quadrennial reports of Europe 2000 (as contained in document E/C.2/2005/2/Add.4).

The Committee then adopted its report on the session (contained in document E/C.2/2004/L.1) introduced by its Rapporteur Octavian Stamate (Romania).

In her concluding remarks, the Committee’s Chair, Paimaneh Hastaie (Iran), noted that thanks to Committee members’ efficiency, the regular session had ended two days ahead of schedule. She thanked the Bureau, Committee members, the Secretariat and the NGOs who had participated for their hard work. Congratulatory remarks on the successful completion were made by the representatives of Germany, Colombia, China, Russian Federation and Zimbabwe on behalf of their regional groups.

Members of the Committee 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 is expected to meet again at a date to be announced in the Journal.

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