28 May 2004
Committee on NGOs Recommends Five Organizations for Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council, Defers Action on Five Others
Also Takes Decisions on Reinstatement of Two Suspended NGOs
NEW YORK, 27 May (UN Headquarters) -- The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) today recommended five organizations for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and deferred action on five applications. It also adopted decisions on reinstatement of two suspended NGOs -- Reporters without Borders and AZOPAZCO (Asociación para la paz continental -- that had been suspended.
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 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.
Under review of its methods of work, the Committee took up the matter of Reporters without Borders, which had been suspended for one year, and AZOPAZCO (Asociación para la paz continental), which had been suspended for three years. The representative of Cuba submitted two draft decisions in that regard. On the issue of whether suspended NGOs should or should not be reinstated automatically after expiration of their suspension, the Office of Legal Affairs had provided a legal opinion to the effect that after a period of suspension, an NGOs consultative status was automatically reinstated without the need for re-application.
By the draft decision on Reporters without Borders, the Committee would decided that it, noting that the NGOs suspension would expire on 24 July, would invite the organization to inform it about its commitment to ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 during its period of suspension, the activities carried out and the possible changes having taken place in this period. It would decide to delay any action on that matter until the information was received.
Introducing the draft, Cubas representative said it was intended to enable the Committee to consider information provided by the NGO on whether any changes in the organization had taken place during its period of suspension. Referring to a precedent, he said the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) had been suspended in 1994. The Committee decided in 1997, the end of the suspension, to consider the NGO, and in 2001, the organization had submitted a new application.
In the ensuing debate, the representative of France disagreed that the matter of ILGA had set a precedent, as the organization had been suspended in 1994, before adoption of resolution 1996/31 that regulated proceedings regarding NGOs. He introduced two amendments, one to the effect that ECOSOC would note and acknowledge the end of the suspension, and the other to delete all further requirements and delay of action. Speakers stressed that the debate was strictly on legal matters and not political in nature. Some, such as the representatives of China and the Sudan, did not agree with the legal opinion provided. Others, among them representatives of Romania and Chile, supported Frances position.
Frances first amendment on noting and acknowledging the end of the suspension was adopted by consensus. Cubas representative asked for a recorded roll-call vote on the second amendment and called on delegations to vote against that amendment. The amendment was adopted with 11 Committee members voting in favour, six against (China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sudan, and Zimbabwe), and two abstaining (Iran and Senegal). The representatives of Turkey, Sudan, Pakistan, Germany, Colombia, Peru, Cameroon and Iran spoke in explanation of their vote.
Then the draft decision, as orally amended, was put to the vote on the request of Cubas representative, who said he could not accept the text as amended. The draft, which reads as follows: The Committee on NGOs recommends that the ECOSOC take note and acknowledge the fact that the one-year suspension of the organization Reporters without Borders is due to finish on the 24th of July 2004, was adopted in a recorded roll-call vote of 13 members voting in favour, five against (China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russian Federation and Zimbabwe) and one abstaining (Iran).
A draft decision on AZOPASCO would have the Committee decide, prior to reinstatement of the consultative status, to request a special report of the NGO on its activities during the three years of suspension, said the decision on suspension. A representative said the organization was linked to groups that promoted acts of violence and subversion against a constitutionally established Government of a Member State. Before the NGO was reinstated, the Committee should, therefore, have very clear information on what had taken place during the three years of the NGOs suspension.
In a recorded roll-call vote of 10 members voting in favour, three against (Chile, Turkey, and United States), and six abstaining (Cameroon, France, Germany, India, Peru, and Romania) the draft was adopted. The representatives of Turkey, Chile, Iran, China and the Sudan explained their position.
The Committee recommended special consultative status for:
-- Ittijah Union of Arab Community Based Associations, an Israel-based national organization that is a network of Palestinian NGOs in Israel;
-- Citizens Movement for Environmental Justice, a national organization based in the Republic of Korea working for the realization of environmental justice and of a sustainable society; and
-- Catholic Medical Mission Board, Inc., an international organization based in the United States that works to provide health care to people around the world without discrimination.
Roster status was recommended for Planned Parenthood Federation of Korea, a national organization based in the Republic of Korea, after the organizations representative clarified its activities in China. Sudans representative expressed concern that an affiliate organization would be in status while the mother organization also had status, which was creating an imbalance;
Pending the issuance of relevant documents, the Committee recommended ad referendum special consultative status for Droit à lénergie SOS future, an international organization based in France promoting the creation of a right to energy.
The Committee deferred action until its resumed session on applications from:
-- Action contre la faim, an international organization based in France aiming to combat hunger throughout the world in emergencies and post-crisis situations. Committee members asked questions about the NGOs finances and its independence from Government. The representatives of Germany and France expressed their support for swift granting of consultative status to the organization.
-- Sign of Hope, a national inter-denominational human rights and relief organization based in Germany, as Sudans representative needed more time to study information received that the NGO had crossed the Sudanese border without authorization.
-- Vikas Samiti, an international organization based in India, promoting the improvement of womens conditions, particularly of those women living in poverty, because Pakistans representative needed more time to study information received.
-- Tarumitra, a national NGO based in India, aiming to create an atmosphere respectful of basic human rights and promote a world view and spirituality that is earth-friendly, as the representative of Pakistan needed more time to study the organizations responses; and
-- SAHARA for Life Trust, an international organization based in Pakistan focusing on education and abolition of child labour, as Indias representative said the organization had not replied to all questions asked.
The Committee was informed that a complaint against the Simon Wiesenthal Centre was no longer pursued and that that case was, therefore, closed.
In former meetings, the Committee had taken note, ad referendum, of certain quadrennial reports pending issuance of relevant documents. Since document E/C.2/2004/2/Add.7 was published, the Committee removed the ad referendum clause for quadrennial reports from: Charitable Society for Social Welfare, International Association of Penal Law, Médecins sans frontières, and World Human Dimension.
In yesterdays Press Release NGO/541, the organization One World International was incorrectly mentioned as having been deferred. The NGO had been recommended for special consultative status and would receive a letter mentioning its incorrect usage of Hong Kong and Taiwan.
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 Friday, 28 May, to review its methods of work and to consider quadrennial reports.
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