12 MAY 2006

NGO Committee Recommends 13 Organizations for Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council

Hears Statement by President of Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations

NEW YORK, 11 May (UN Headquarters) -- The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, in two meetings today, recommended 12 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and heard a statement by a representative of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CONGO).  One organization was recommended for roster status.

The President of the Board of CONGO in consultative status with ECOSOC, Renate Bloem, briefed the Committee on the work of CONGO and the ECOSOC NGO Forum.  Stressing the importance of NGO participation in United Nations activities, she said that, in February, the Board of the Conference had had the honour of receiving the Secretary-General and Presidents of the General Assembly and the ECOSOC.  More honest and open multi-stakeholder processes had been discussed along with the outcome of recent international Summits.  However, the central subject had been the draft resolution on the Human Rights Council, which had been proposed by the Assembly President that very day.

Another topic in which CONGO was very much engaged was the outcome of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), she said.  Next week, the Conference would participate in the consultations providing a new mandate to the ECOSOC Commission on Science and Technology for Development to become the intergovernmental body reporting to ECOSOC for overall WSIS follow-up with a multi-stakeholder perspective.

Turning to a subject "much closer to the Committee's deliberations", she drew the members' attention to the protest by two "LGBT" (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) NGOs, whose applications for consultative status had been "summarily rejected without the hearings accorded to other applicants".  The attempt to discriminate against LGBT NGOs on procedural grounds and to breach the principle of non-discrimination did not reflect well on the important work of the Committee and would only lead to a protest campaign.

On a more positive note, in conclusion, she invited members of the Committee to participate in the upcoming Forum on Employment and Decent Work that CONGO would hold with its traditional partners in Geneva on 29-30 June, preceding the ECOSOC high-level segment.

Privileges conferred by consultative status with the Economic and Social Council vary according to its level -- roster, special or general.  Organizations that have special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council can attend its meetings 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.  They are required to submit reports on their activities in support of the United Nations every four years.  Organizations with roster status can attend meetings but are not required to submit quadrennial reports.

Special consultative status was recommended for:

Roster status was recommended for Dhammakaya Foundation, an international NGO based in Turkey, which seeks to support scientific activities and promote sustainable economic and social development through relief and development programmes.

Awaiting more detailed information from several organizations, the Committee left pending the applications of:  International Bureau for Epilepsy, International Association of Y's Men's Clubs, Udisha, Coalition gaie et lesbianne du Quebec, Drug Free America Foundation, Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, ILGA-Europe, Israel Women's Network, Bhagwan Mahaveer Vikland Sahayta Samiti, European Garage Equipment Association, and Ambedkar Centre for Justice and Peace.

Also left pending was the application of the Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities.  The representative of Bangladesh objected to granting it consultative status as the NGO had provided misleading and insufficient information.  What did the organization mean by "discrimination" and "ongoing atrocities" against minorities in Bangladesh? she asked.  Where did it get its information and how would it substantiate it?  There had not been a single instance, to her knowledge, of so-called atrocity against religious and ethnic minorities in Bangladesh.  The Constitution of her country guaranteed equal rights for all its citizens, irrespective of religion, race or caste.

As the Committee took up the application from Global Ecolabelling Network, an international NGO based in Canada, China's representative said that Taiwan and Hong Kong constituted an inseparable part of China, and the organization in question should provide clarifications regarding its treatment of those entities as separate countries.  Similar corrections were made as the Committee studied the applications of several other organizations, including HELIO International, with the representative of China saying that the correct terms were "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China" and "Taiwan Province of China".

Concerns about correct use of United Nations terminology in reference to geographical names were also expressed in connection with several other applications, with Romania's representative saying that the correct term was "Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro", and the representative of Chile saying that the mention of "Iquique" should be changed to "Iquique, Chile".

Also left pending was the application of LatCrit (Latina and Latino Critical Theory, Inc.), whose representative provided answers to members' questions today.  He said that the NGO was designed to highlight the Latin community's concerns and voices in legal discourse and social policy, while promoting diversity and particularity.  The Latin community included people of Latin American descent living anywhere.  LatCrit was involved in various activities, including South-North exchange on theory, culture and law -- an annual conference that took place in different regions every year.  It was also involved in research and organization of seminars and scholarly interventions.

The organization Religious Freedom Coalition was not considered today, because its documentation was not available in all six official languages.

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