20 May 2005

NGO Committee Recommends Five Organizations for Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council

By Roll-Call Vote, Withdraws Status of International Council of Association of Peace in Continents

NEW YORK, 19 May (UN Headquarters) -- The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today withdrew the consultative status to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the International Council of the Association of Peace in the Continents (ASOPAZCO), by a recorded roll-call vote of 8 in favour, 4 against and 6 abstentions,   The Committee also recommended consultative status for five non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and deferred three applications.  It recommended reclassification for one NGO and took note of one quadrennial report.

The recorded roll-call vote, requested by the representative of Germany, also speaking on behalf of France and Romania, took place on a Cuban proposal for status withdrawal.  Cameroon, China, Cuba, Iran, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan and Zimbabwe voted in favour of that proposal; France, Germany, Romania and United States voted against; and Chile, Colombia, India, Pakistan, Peru and Turkey abstained.  Côte d’Ivoire was absent.

The ASOPAZCO had been suspended in 2000 for three years.  In 2004, the NGO had been asked to submit an updated application.  On 11 May (see Press Release NGO/564), the Committee decided to notify the NGO of its intention to act on a proposal to withdraw the consultative status during the current session.  The organization was requested to respond within five working days to questions asked.

In submitting his proposal, the representative of Cuba said that ASOPAZCO maintained strong links with organizations that worked against the Cuban Government, such as the National American Cuban Foundation, which had sponsored terrorist activities against Cuba, including support for Luis Posada Carriles.  The ASOPAZCO continued to be a politicized group involved with other terrorist organizations, in contravention of ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 governing consultative status of NGOs.  The NGO had not responded to questions submitted by the Committee.  “Those cooperating with terrorism should not be given any room in the work of the United Nations”, he said.

An extensive debate followed, in which the representatives of Germany, United States, China, Sudan and Zimbabwe participated.  The representative of the United States said that the organization had been suspended for three years.  Reinstatement of status was automatic, according to the legal opinion of the United Nations.  If status was to be withdrawn, a complaint should first be filed, giving new causes for action.  No new information had been provided.  On the same merits that ASOPAZCO had been suspended, there was now a proposal to withdraw its consultative status.  That was called “double jeopardy” in his country.  Questions had been posed regarding the organization’s updated application, and the organization should have a chance to reply.

In a general statement after the vote, the representative of Cuba thanked all those who had supported the proposal.  He said that the European delegations asking for a vote once again had associated themselves with aggressive policies against “a small country trying to exercise the right to choose on how to organize its own society”.  They were aware of the case and the links of ASOPAZCO with terrorism against Cuba.  He was surprised that they still continued to waste the Committee’s time.

In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Romania said that his country did not associate itself with any aggressive policies against any country.  Also exercising his right of reply, the representative of Cuba answered that he maintained his general statement after the vote.

The representatives of Germany, United States and Pakistan spoke in explanation of their vote.  The representative of the Sudan also gave a general statement after the vote.

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 the Council every four years.  “Taking note” of a quadrennial report implies that the Committee finds the report adequate for fulfilment of that obligation.

The Committee recommended special consultative status for:

-- Cultural Survival, an international organization with headquarters in the United States, which promotes the rights, voices and visions of indigenous peoples;

--  African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, a national organization based in the Gambia, dedicated to protection of human rights throughout Africa; and

-- Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la region des Grands Lacs, an international organization based in Switzerland that wants to break the many cycles of violence in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

Roster status was recommended for:

-- General Union, a national organization from Japan which aims at providing all workers with an organization that protects their workers’ rights; and

-- Space Generation Advisory Council, an international organization based in Austria, dedicated to enable and promote a continuous and interactive dialogue on space-related issues between the United Nations and young people of the world.

The Committee deferred applications from:

-- International Police Commission, based in the United States, which addresses problems affecting human rights and economics, as Germany’s representative asked for more information about the organization’s activities in the Philippines; and

-- International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement, an international organization based in the United States, representing people who have been affected by leprosy, as Cuba’s representative wanted to know more about the organization’s planned activities in Cuba.

The Committee also deferred action on the application from BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, a national organization based in Bethlehem, that provides professional analysis and information regarding the situation of Palestinian refugees to the United Nations human rights system, as Germany’s representative reiterated his request that the organization provide all statements from 2004 and 2005 that dealt with terrorism and addressed the question of what were legitimate means to resist occupation.  The representative of the United States asked what the organization’s relationship was with the International Solidarity Movement.

Several speakers, including the Permanent Observer of Palestine, expressed support for the NGO, which was registered with the Palestinian Authority and supported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  The representative of Israel, however, expressed concern about the organization, as it politicized the issue of refugees and made “aggressive, vitriolic” statements against his country, using “intolerant, anti-Zionist, as well as what could only be described as anti-Semitic” language and images.  Moreover, he said, the organization opposed the existence of a MemberState.  Its political agenda did not live up to the obligations stemming from ECOSOC resolution 1996/31.

The Committee recommended reclassification from roster to special consultative status for the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, an international organization based in the Netherlands with roster status since 1974.

It took note of the quadrennial report of the Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants.

Turning to its “methods of work”, the Committee agreed that its informal Working Group would meet before the 2006 regular session on two projects:  quadrennial reports, and steps to be taken with NGOs with roster status that had not been in contact with the NGO Section, despite attempts to reach them, and that the Working Group would be open-ended.  The Working Group would report on progress made on the issues to the 2006 regular session of the Committee for its consideration.

The Committee was informed that, pending confirmation from Conference Services, the regular 2006 session would take place from 19 to 27 January, and the resumed session from 10 to 19 May.

On page 2 of Press Release NGO/568 of 17 May, reference was made to “the indigenous Ahwazi Arab tribes of Iran”.  That phrase should read, as follows:  “Iranian Province of Khuzistan”.

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

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., Friday, 20 May, to addressoutstanding issues and conclude the work of its resumed 2005 session.

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