25 May 2004
NGO Committee Recommends Suspension of Consultative Status for Two Organizations
NEW YORK, 21 May (UN Headquarters) -- In recorded roll-call votes, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) today recommended to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) suspension of consultative status of the Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru for one year, and of the Transnational Radical Party for three years.
The 19-member Committee uses various criteria to recommend general, special or roster status with ECOSOC, including the applicants 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 Councils 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 ECOSOC every four years. The Committee can request a special report in certain instances, such as after receipt of a complaint from a Member State about the behaviour of an NGO during a meeting of a United Nations body to which it was accredited.
The special report (contained in document E/C.2/2004/3)from Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru, an international organization with special consultative status since 1997, was submitted after a complaint from the United States that during the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on Human Rights in 2003, two representatives of the organizations had rushed towards that countrys delegation carrying a large cylindrical object, had unfurled a banner and had chanted anti-American slogans. At the 2003 resumed session in December 2003, the Committee had requested that a representative of the organization should appear in person at the 2004 regular session. The representative of the United States had asked for suspension of the organizations consultative status for at least one year on 14 May.
At the outset of this mornings meeting, the representative of Cuba introduced a draft resolution (E/C.2/2004/L.4) by which the Committee would decide to maintain Tupaj Amaru in special consultative status and to retain the question of the follow-up to its special report on its agenda until its 2004 resumed session. In his introduction and during subsequent discussion, Cubas representative cited many examples of incidents where delegations, victim of harassment from NGO-accredited individuals, and the Committee had taken a flexible attitude after the NGO in question had acknowledged wrong-doing and had taken steps to ensure that such incidents would not recur.
A letter received yesterday evening from the NGO was then read, in which the NGO stated it had not been able to get a visa on time to come to the United States and did not have the funds for an airplane ticket.
The representative of the United States said his delegation had made all attempts to get a representative come and had facilitated appointments to get a visa. However, a request for a visa had not been submitted, even though the organization had had five months to do so. The NGO also had accredited individuals that had caused problems for other delegations. It was necessary to send a strong signal to NGOs that such behaviour was not tolerated, he said, and moved for a decision regarding suspension of the NGO.
In a recorded roll-call vote, requested by Cuba, of 10 countries in favour, 4 against (Russian Federation, Zimbabwe, China and Cuba) and 5 abstentions (India, Iran, Pakistan, Senegal and Sudan), the Committee decided to recommend to ECOSOC to suspend consultative status of Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru for one year.
In explanation of the vote before the vote, the representative of China said that NGOs should strictly abide by their responsibilities under ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, governing NGO accreditation. In case of violations or complaints, the Committee had the right to review the issue. However, since last years incident, the NGO in question had immediately apologized, withdrawn its accreditation of the person involved and made assurances that in the future such acts would not happen again. Due to technical reasons, the NGO had not been able to send a representative to New York. The Committee should continue to review the matter without making a decision in haste, and the NGO should get another chance. She would therefore vote against the proposal. The representative of the Russian Federation associated himself with that statement.
Also in explanation of the vote before the vote, the representative of France, also speaking on behalf of Germany, said the NGO had indeed taken certain corrective steps. However, he was not convinced of the sincerity of the excuses offered as the NGO had been asked five months ago to appear before the Committee and had not taken steps to make such a visit possible. All criteria for suspension had been fulfilled. The Committee could not but move on the matter, as its credibility was at stake. The representatives of Peru, Romania, Colombia, Turkey and Chile also announced their support for the proposal.
After the vote, the representatives of the Sudan, Senegal and Pakistan explained why they had abstained, stressing that they condemned the incident, but that the organization had shown a positive attitude in dealing with the incident, and had not had a chance to send a representative to todays meeting for technical reasons.
In a general statement after the vote, Cubas representative said the Committee had not taken into account sufficiently the amends the organization had made and the difficulties one could have to obtain a visa for the United States. In this case, the Committee should not have reacted differently from the way it had acted in similar cases for over 10 years. He expressed hope that in the future, the Committee would act with the same vigilance.
Given the decision taken, the Committee decided not to act on draft resolution E/C.2/2004/L.2 submitted by Cuba.
Transnational Radical Party
A special report (contained in document E/C.2/2004/3) was submitted by the Transnational Radical Party (TRP) -- an international NGO in general consultative status with the ECOSOC since 1995 -- following a complaint from Viet Nam that the NGO had provided accreditation to individuals who were members of the Montagnard Foundation Inc. (MFI), a movement considered a terrorist organization by Viet Nam, to take part in the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on Human Rights in 2002.
At its 2002 session, the Committee had found the report to be unsatisfactory and had decided that the Transnational Radical Party should submit a supplementary report. On 14 May, Viet Nams representative had stated that the new report only repeated all the arguments which the Committee had already found unsatisfactory.
In this afternoons proceedings, the representative of observer State Viet Nam said last week, he had presented undeniable evidence that Kok Ksor was a terrorist and that his organization Montagnard Foundation Inc. (MFI) was engaging in terrorist activities in the pursuit of their separatist aim of creating a so-called independent State of Degar in Viet Nam. Members of MFI were enjoying the protection of the TRP. He requested the Committee to consider a recommendation to ECOSOC that consultative status of TPR would be suspended for the maximum period allowed [three years]. He said additional documents attached to his statement supported allegations made.
In the ensuing discussions, some Committee members, among them the representatives of Cuba, Sudan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russian Federation and Zimbabwe, stressed that the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty of a Member State were at stake and supported the proposal.
The representative of Romania, however, said the Committee must decide whether NGO activities were consistent with requirements to have consultative status and not judge conduct of any individuals. The presentation by the representative of Viet Nam had not shown how the conditions for having consultative status had been affected. The representatives of Germany, United States, Chile, Cameroon, Peru and the observer State of Italy also could not support the proposal for suspension.
After a short suspension, the Committees Chairperson, PAIMANEH HASTEH (Iran), announced that a formal proposal had been made to recommend to ECOSOC that consultative status of the Transnational Radical Party be suspended for the maximum period, three years.
The representative of Germany, supported by the United States, asked for more time as this was the first time a formal proposal had been made and the representative had submitted new information he wanted to study.
After several representatives objected to deferment of the matter, Germanys representative made a formal proposal for adjournment of the debate (under rule 50 of the Rules of Procedure). The representatives of France and the United States spoke in support of the proposal, while the representative of China and the Sudan opposed it. In a recorded roll-call vote of 8 in favour (France, Germany, Peru, Romania, Turkey, United States, Chile and Colombia), 9 against (India, Iran,
Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, Cote dIvoire and Cuba) and 2 abstentions (Senegal and Cameroon), that proposal was rejected.
The Committee then proceeded to a recorded roll-call vote on the proposal to recommend to ECOSOC that consultative status of the Transnational Radical Party be suspended for the maximum period allowed -- three years. With nine members voting in favour (Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, Cote dIvoire, Cuba, India, Iran, Pakistan and Russian Federation), 8t against (Turkey, United States, Cameroon, Chile, France, Germany, Peru and Romania), and 2 abstaining (Senegal and Colombia), the proposal was adopted.
In explanation of the vote, the representative of Germany, also speaking on behalf of the representative of France, said the Committee was not a forum to label individuals terrorists. Therefore, Germany and France would vote against the proposal. The person in question was not listed as such by the United Nations and the European Union. He did not believe a breach of rules had occurred. The representatives of the United States, Chile, and Romania associated themselves with that statement.
In a general statement after the vote, the representative of the observer State Viet Nam thanked the Committee for having taken the appropriate action. He hoped that those who had voted against the proposal would carefully study his request and take the appropriate decision when the matter came before ECOSOC.
The representative of the observer State Italy deeply regretted that, notwithstanding the relevant information provided by the Transnational Radical Party against the unproven allegations of Viet Nam, the suspension had been approved. The decision, taken on the basis of allegations from Viet Nam, would result in a loss of credibility of the Committee.
The Committee members are Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte dIvoire, Cuba, France, Germany, India, Iran, Peru, Pakistan, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, Turkey, United States, and Zimbabwe.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 24 May, to consider quadrennial reports.
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