24 January 2006

NGO Committee Recommends 11 Organizations for Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council

NEW YORK, 23 January (UN Headquarters) -- The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, in two meetings today, recommended 11 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, and decided, by recorded roll-call votes, not to recommend two others whose work focused on combating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

A standing committee of the Council, the 19-member body uses various criteria to recommend general, special or roster status with the Economic and Social Council, 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 decided not to recommend consultative status for International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), an international organization based in Belgium, and Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians, a national organization based in Denmark, by votes of 10 in favour of denying the applications to 5 against, with 3 abstentions, in both cases.

The Committee took those decisions after motions for deferral of the debate were rejected by votes of 10 against to 5 in favour, with 3 abstentions.

Emphasizing that the Committee had taken two decisions which "will haunt us for a long time", Germany's representative said it had committed an act of discrimination against two NGOs whose sole purpose was to combat discrimination.  The message the majority of the Committee had sent to the NGOs and to the world was clear:  discrimination against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation was okay.  The decisions reflected badly on a Committee which had been criticized in the past for introducing partisan political considerations into its work in a manner which was inappropriate for an administrative committee of ECOSOC.

Speaking in support of the Danish NGO, the representative of Denmark, an observer in the Committee, said that it was a disturbing and unpleasant surprise that so many members stood ready to reject the NGO's application.  The NGO worked in a professional manner and had produced valuable work.  He had not heard any valid reasons for voting against the application.  Some countries, which were not even members of the Committee, had undertaken a campaign to ensure that the Committee did not recommend status for the two organizations, he stated, adding that such a decision was a rejection of one of the fundamental principles guiding the work of the United Nations, namely non-discrimination.

In other action, the Committee recommended that ECOSOC grant special consultative status to:

-- China International Institute of Multinational Corporations, a national organization based in China, promoting exchange and cooperation between Chinese and foreign multinational corporations and enterprises;

-- Traditions pour demain, an international organization based in Switzerland, supporting the sustainable development of indigenous peoples of Latin America;

-- National Foundation for Women Legislators, a national organization based in the United States, providing strategic resources to women leaders for leadership development and effective governance;

-- Vikas Samiti, a national organization based in India, focusing on poverty eradication and sustainable development; and

-- PRIDE Youth Programs, an international organization based in the United States, promoting safe, healthy and positive lifestyles among youth and to prevent drug use and violence.

In addition, the Committee recommended roster status for:

-- International Cost Engineering Council, an international organization based in Australia, promoting cost engineering, quantity surveying and project management for the public good worldwide;

-- International Society of Addiction Medicine, an international organization based in Canada, which educates and trains professionals at the local level to combat drug addiction and intravenous drug use; and

-- International Police Commission, an international organization based in the United States, forming a united front, with Government and private entities, to address human rights, economics and the plight of people both in the United States and in other nations.

Also, the Committee took up the applications of NGOs that were already participating in the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development.  In those cases, the Committee, according to ECOSOC decision 2001/295, is to consider, as expeditiously as possible, applications for consultative status with the Council.

In that connection, the Committee recommended special consultative status with ECOSOC for United Nations Association of the United States of America, Inc., a national organization based in the United States, and Eco-Accord - Center for Environment and Sustainable Development, a national organization based in the Russian Federation; and roster status for International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems, an international organization based in Japan.

The Committee left pending the application of Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, a national organization based in Egypt, in light of questions relating to membership in its governing bodies and funding.

Likewise, the application of Angel Foundation, an international organization based in the United States, was left pending while the Committee tried, once more, to elicit responses to questions posed, including on whether the NGO had actually implemented its plans to establish assistance centres in other countries.

The Committee engaged in a dialogue with the representative of Ambedkar Centre for Justice and Peace, an international organization based in the United States, on issues ranging from the NGO's chapters in India to whether it engaged in proselytization.  The NGO's representative stated that it had contact with volunteer organizations working in India on issues such as education, women's health and human rights, many of whom had little or no funding.  His NGO assisted those groups, although not through any formal structural relationship.  He added that the NGO, which did not engage in proselytization, sought consultative status in order to increase its participation within the United Nations.

That NGO's application was left pending, while the Committee awaited written responses to questions posed by the representative of India.

Also left pending was the application of the World Council of Muslim Communities, Inc., an international organization based in the United States, whose representative responded to a number of questions posed by the delegations of India, Germany and United States, relating to the organization's membership, the scope of its activities, areas of advocacy, its coordinating role, if any, and work on combating terrorism.

In response, the NGO's representative said it was working to build bridges of understanding and tolerance among different communities around the world, particularly post-"9/11".  It worked in loose relationships with other organizations, and was involved in, among other things, information sharing.

Also today, the Committee decided to close the file on the application of NIRDHAR - Women and Child Development Organisation, a national organization based in India, as it had not had any contact with that NGO for a few years.

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, 24 January, at 10 a.m. to take up applications for consultative status and requests for reclassification deferred from previous sessions.

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