COMMITTEE ON NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION WITHDRAWS CONSULTATIVE STATUS OF UNITED KINGDOM-BASED BODY FOLLOWING COMPLAINT BY CHINA
Committee on NGOs
21st & 22nd Meetings (AM & PM)
COMMITTEE ON NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION WITHDRAWS CONSULTATIVE STATUS
OF UNITED KINGDOM-BASED BODY FOLLOWING COMPLAINT BY CHINA
Members Also Approve Seven Applications, Defers All New Bids to Next Session
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), acting on a complaint by China, this afternoon withdrew the general consultative status of Liberal International, a United Kingdom-based body that had won that status in 1995.
By a vote of 13 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 2 abstentions (Peru and Romania), the Committee stripped Liberal International of its consultative status with the Economic and Social Council on the grounds that the organization had severely abused that status on 4 March by assisting a ranking official from China’s Province of Taiwan to gain access to a meeting of the Human Rights Council and advocate Taiwan’s membership in the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Committee also approved six new applications for special consultative status, granted roster status to one organization and deferred all remaining new applications until its next session. The Committee approved two applications deferred from previous sessions held between 1999 and 2007, rejected two others and postponed consideration of all remaining deferred applications until its next session.
Also deferred until the next session were two new quadrennial reports submitted by NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and five quadrennial reports deferred from sessions held between 1999 and 2007. The Committee took note of reports contained in document E/C.2/2007/CRP.12.
In other action, the Committee adopted the provisional agenda and documentation for its twenty-eighth session (document E/C.2/2007/L.3), approving, as revised during the afternoon meeting, the dates of its 2008 regular session, to be held from 21 to 30 January and from 29 May to 6 June.
Rapporteur Octavian Stamate (Romania), introducing the draft report of the resumed 2007 session (document E/C.2/2007/L.2) and an informal paper containing the decisions made during the session, called on Committee members to review the draft report and submit their final comments to the Secretariat within two working days. The Committee then adopted the draft report.
As it considered new applications and reclassifications, the Committee granted special consultative status to the following organizations:
-- Inner Trip Reiyukai International, an NGO based in the United States that promotes peace, culture and education through information technology and training, values education, women’s empowerment through education and technology, youth initiatives, multi-faith dialogue, health care for AIDS victims and cultural restoration;
-- National Children’s and Youth Law Centre, an Australia-based organization that provides advocacy, information and education for children, and conducts legal research and policy development to improve laws and policies that impact children and promote their rights;
-- Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an NGO that supports women entrepreneurs through training, fair trade participation, exposure to domestic and global markets and loan guarantees;
-- Jamaica Association on Mental Retardation, an organization that aims to prevent and manage intellectual disabilities through advocacy, special education, educational assessment and placement, guidance and counselling, adult services and public education;
-- Microteam Education Apprentissage et Nouvelles Technologies, a Niger-based NGO that promotes new information and communication technology, trains primary and secondary school teachers and pupils to use computers and the Internet, and integrates information technology and the Internet into the country’s education system; and
-- Maryam Ghasemi Educational Charity Institute, an Iran-based NGO that promotes poverty eradication through free and universal education for children and through social development.
The Committee granted roster status to European Landowners’ Organization, a Belgium-based NGO that promotes and defends the sustainable development of rural entrepreneurship based on private ownership in agriculture, forestry, field sports, fishing, historic patrimony, environment, tourism, socio-professional life, rural industry, minerals, cultural monuments, fish farming, hunting, rural business, energy, water resource management and rural housing.
The Committee decided to defer to the next session the applications of Human Rights House Foundation; Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales; Association Sahel Solidarité Action; Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros; Iranian Society of Engineering Design and Assembly; Hudson Institute, Inc.; TRIAL; Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre Nigeria; Mahabodhi International Meditation Center; and all other remaining new applications and reclassifications.
The Committee resumed its consideration of a complaint in which the representative of China requested the withdrawal of consultative status from Liberal International, reiterating her delegation’s statement earlier in the week that the NGO, in promoting the secession of China’s Province of Taiwan, had failed to respect that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The NGO’s behaviour was, thus, “severely” contrary to the principles of the United Nations Charter. The Committee had reviewed the case during the past week and it was now time to take action. Any delay would only indulge abuses of such nature.
As the representatives of Cuba, Sudan, Egypt, Angola, Burundi and Syria supported China’s request, those of the United Kingdom, United States, Romania and Israel said Liberal International should have the right to respond to the allegations and requested the Committee defer the matter to a later date.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of position before the vote, said that, while his country acknowledged the “One China” policy, it did not support Taiwan’s application for full membership in the United Nations. However, it did support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the technical activities of international organizations. The United States also supported Taiwan’s participation in international organizations for which statehood was not a membership requirement. Moreover, Taiwan had made no politically motivated acts against China during the Human Rights Council session.
Stressing that Taiwan’s membership in WHO was in the best interest of public health, he said Liberal International’s actions did not constitute a pattern that would warrant sanctions under Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31. The Committee should bear in mind that the secretariat of the Human Rights Council had already taken full responsibility of the incident. The United States could not support China’s call to withdraw Liberal International’s status.
Romania’s representative said that, although Liberal International had abused its status, the information available to the Committee did not explain the entire situation. Romania, therefore, reserved its right to abstain, even though it strongly supported the “One China” policy.
Israel’s representative said sanctions should be the last step taken after an incremental process. It was important that the United Nations give NGOs space to contribute to the work of the Human Rights Council and other international organizations. Israel could not support a sanction, but that was not a vote against the “One China” policy. Rather, it was a vote against the procedure of not seeking clarification and consensus first. The Committee should not act in haste.
Peru’s representative, speaking in explanation of position after the vote, expressed support for the “One China” principle, but said Liberal International had acted in error and should have been suspended, rather than having its status withdrawn.
Cuba’s representative said Liberal International had seriously violated the provisions of resolution 1996/31 and had also severely criticized Cuba. The decision to withdraw its general consultative status was the right one.
In a general statement, China’s representative thanked all those who had supported her delegation, noting that Liberal International had been contacted before the vote but had regrettably maintained its position. Hopefully, the NGO would correct its mistake after it was made aware of the Committee’s decision.
The United Kingdom’s representative said the Committee’s decision was based on China’s complaint and should not be considered to have been based on Cuba’s unfounded allegations. The decision should not be interpreted as a statement for or against those views. The United Kingdom did not condone Liberal International’s actions at the Human Rights Council and it welcomed the decision by that body’s Board to look more stringently at who was represented at the Council. Liberal International had made significant contributions to trade, human rights and other issues since it had won consultative status in 1995 and the decision to withdraw that status would take away that contribution. While China’s proposal was neither fair nor proportionate, the United Kingdom continued to support the “One China” policy.
As it considered applications and reclassifications deferred from previous sessions held between 1999 and 2007, the Committee granted special consultative status to the following organizations:
-- Islamic Human Rights Commission, a United Kingdom-based organization that promotes human rights, equality and diversity throughout the world by addressing civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights locally and globally; and
-- International Bureau for Epilepsy, an Ireland-based NGO that serves as an international umbrella organization for national groups whose main aim is to improve the social conditions and quality of life of people affected by epilepsy.
The Committee decided to postpone until its next session the applications of the Foundation for Research and Support of the Indigenous Peoples of Crimea, Mountain Women Development Organization, Ambedkar Centre for Justice and Peace, Coordination Internationale pour la Décennie, and all other remaining deferred applications and reclassifications.
As the Committee took action on the deferred application for consultative status of the Jewish National Fund, the representative said in explaining his delegation’s position before the vote that the NGO had satisfactorily answered the Committee’s questions. It was not a politically motivated organization. Rather, it worked on sustainable development and environmental conservation issues, and the United States supported its application.
The representative of the Palestine Observer Mission said the NGO had not provided information to show it was not active in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Its activities, including those with the Gizo Park project, violated the Geneva Convention and it should not be granted consultative status.
Syria’s representative supported the pervious statement, saying the work of the Jewish National Fund was contrary to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Israel’s representative said that, since the Committee’s last meeting, the Jewish National Fund had removed the reference on its website to the Gizo Park project since it was not directly involved in it.
Qatar’s representative said it was unable to distinguish between the activities of the Jewish National Fund in Israel and in the United States. The NGO should, therefore, not be granted consultative status.
Angola’s representative said his delegation would abstain since the vote on the Jewish National Fund was too politicized.
By a vote of 7 in favour (Colombia, Israel, Peru, Romania, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States) to 8 against (Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, Guinea, Russian Federation, Qatar, Sudan), with 3 abstentions (Angola, India, Pakistan), the Committee rejected the Jewish National Fund’s application.
The United Kingdom’s representative, speaking in explanation of position, expressed great concern over the activities of the Jewish National Fund KKL (Keren Kayameth Lelsrael) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, an activity that should end. The United Kingdom had voted in favour of consultative status for the Jewish National Fund in question on the basis of the NGO’s assurance that it was not active in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The United Kingdom strongly encouraged the organization to persuade all members of the Jewish National Fund family to embrace the same policy.
Pakistan’s representative expressed support for a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The links between the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish National Fund KKL were unclear and Pakistan would, therefore, abstain during the vote.
Israel’s representative, thanking those delegations that had voted in favour, said the Committee’s rejection of the NGO’s application was one in a series of unwise decisions that ran contrary to the principles of the United Nations.
The Committee also took action on the deferred application for consultative status of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, rejecting a motion to close that application by a vote of 7 in favour (Burundi, China, Egypt, Guinea, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sudan) to 7 against (Colombia, India, Israel, Peru, Romania, United Kingdom, United States), with 2 abstentions (Pakistan, Turkey).
Pakistan’s representative, speaking in explanation before that action, said that by voting on whether to close the application of an NGO that was still in dialogue with the Committee was an unprecedented act that Pakistan did not support.
The United Kingdom’s representative echoed that sentiment, saying there was no credible reason for such an unprecedented move. The NGO in question would add an important voice to the United Nations. The United Kingdom would vote against the proposal to close the NGO’s file.
India’s representative said it would treat the vote as if the Committee was voting to reject its application and abstain accordingly.
Romania’s representative said it would also abstain.
Turkey’s representative said it would abstain, saying that closing an application could undermine resolution 1996/13 and compel the Committee to discuss that resolution in the future.
Israel’s representative said it was important to promote civil society worldwide and his delegation would, therefore, vote against the decision to close the applications.
The United Kingdom’s speaking in explanation of position after the action, expressed regret over the decision, saying his delegation would continue to work for the rights of gays and lesbians in the United Nations.
Sweden’s representative also expressed regret, saying the NGO did very good work that contributed to United Nations principles.
The Committee on NGOs will meet again at a date and time to be announced.
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