Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Opens Resumed Session by Recommending Consultative Status for 9 Groups, Deferring 29 Applications

18 May 2009
Economic and Social CouncilECOSOC/6391
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on NGOs                                          

18th & 19th Meetings (AM & PM)                               



On the first day of its 2009 resumed session, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations recommended consultative status with the Economic and Social Council for nine non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and postponed consideration of 29 applications pending receipt of more information.

The 19-member Committee recommends general, special or roster status with the Council in accordance with such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime.  Organizations enjoying general and special consultative status can attend meetings of the Council and circulate statements.  Those with general status can, in addition, speak at meetings and propose items for its agenda.  NGOs with roster status can only attend meetings.

In opening remarks, Committee Chairperson Hassan Hamid Hassan ( Sudan) announced that the session would be his last in the Chair, while stating that the Committee was guided by adherence to the principles of the United Nations and the Economic and Social Council.  It equally aimed to ensure that the fulfilment of the provisions of Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 remained of the utmost importance in carrying out its work and that only under certain circumstances could exceptions be made.  However, exceptions should not be allowed to derail the review process, as experience had taught that when digressing from its purposes the Committee tended to lose sight of its objectives.  Despite the dedication of members, there was an unfortunate backlog of deferred applications and much to accomplish.

Nikhil Seth, Director of the Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Committee’s tight schedule demanded that it exercise sharp focus, cooperation and hard work in the coming days.  The international community was urgently seeking ways to pre-empt further meltdowns, and the United Nations was therefore challenged to bring about greater coherence and complementarity.  The role of the Economic and Social Council was more relevant than ever, and the Committee’s work was critical in ensuring a strengthening of the partnership with civil society.

He said the Council had proactively involved civil society in order to promote multi-stakeholder consultations, a ground-breaking approach that had resulted in greater credibility.  The Department and the Committee had performed a critical role in that evolution.  Due diligence without undue distractions would yield the most promising outcomes for the Committee.

The NGO Section now had a full complement of staff and there were plans to transform it into a full branch of the Department, he said.  The paperless Committee was unique and had facilitated faster and more cost-effective access to information.  Consultative status brought certain responsibilities and the Committee should therefore not falter in taking action against NGOs that failed to live up to the requirements and conditions of that status.

Andrei Abramov, new Chief of the NGO Section, said non-governmental organizations played an increasingly important role in all areas of concern to the United Nations, carrying out development, humanitarian-support and human rights operations.  They were networkers, facilitators and monitors driving new initiatives.  The Programme of Work for the current session contained a total of 142 new and deferred applications and 123 quadrennial and deferred quadrennial reports, in addition to reclassifications, name changes and other agenda items. 

To do justice to that workload, it would be useful for the Committee to continue to review its working methods, he said, adding that the Section’s work could only be enhanced if adequate resources were provided.  At present the “paperless committee” was constrained by a lack of resources to move on to “Paperless Committee 2.0” and there was, therefore, a need for contributions through the General Voluntary Trust Fund of the UN-NGO Informal Regional Network in order to update aged equipment.

The Committee Secretary, noting that the Committee had lost about an hour per day by starting late in previous sessions, said it had lost in time management what it had gained in effectiveness through its “paperless committee”.  Members were urged to start meetings on time.

Special consultative status was recommended for:

Association pour l’action sociale et développement, an organization from Cameroon about which no further information was available.

Centre d’animation, de formation, de récherche et d’appui au développement, a national organization in Cameroon which assisted in rural development;

Feminist League, a national organization from Kazakhstan seeking a society of non-patriarchal consciousness, an expansion of the legal rights of women, and the elimination of sexist stereotypes, with the overall objective of raising the social status of women;

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, a United States-based national NGO striving to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards and to promote unity and friendship among college women, among other things;

Fundacion de Ayuda y Promocion de las Culturas Indigenas Rosa Collelldevall, an international organization based in Spain, working to protect indigenous peoples;

GAVI Fund, a national organization based in the United States, which supports immunization and health-strengthening programmes, including through donor agreements, asset management, financial controls, auditing and accounting.  The representative of Egypt expressed appreciation for its important work in controlling Avian flue and its current work in battling the spread of the influenza A (H1N1) virus in developing countries;

Centre de Développement Agro-Pastoral de Djolu, a national organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working for rural development, after a representative of the NGO answered oral questions; and

Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization, an international NGO headquartered in Saudi Arabia, which coordinates Arab humanitarian work with the aim of alleviating suffering caused by natural and man-made disasters, also after a representative answered questions.

The Committee recommended roster status for the International Information Centre for Terminology, an international NGO headquartered in Austria, which promotes and supports the cooperation of existing terminology centres and networks, and the establishment of new ones, with the general aim of improving domain-specific communication, knowledge transfer and provision of domain content with a view to facilitating the participation of all in the global multilingual knowledge society.

Consideration of the applications submitted by the following NGOs was postponed:

Compassion Africa Aged Foundation, an international NGO headquartered in Ghana, which seeks to contribute to the improvement of the welfare and social conditions of the aged, as well as people affected by HIV and AIDS and orphans in Ghana and Africa, because the representative of Egypt requested an updated budget from the organization;

Human Security Initiative Organization, a national organization in Sudan, striving for the promotion of a human security concept and perspectives; prevention of the illicit spread and misuse of small arms and light weapons; prohibition of the recruitment of child soldiers while promoting reintegration programmes; and protection from landmines and of human rights.  Although the representative of Qatar recommended special consultative status, the representative of Egypt noted disparities between the organization’s Arabic and English names and requested clarification;

Samaj Kalyan O Unnayan Shangastha (SKUS), a national organization in Bangladesh, striving to improve socio-economic conditions for poor people and to eliminate illiteracy, ill health, malnutrition, starvation, deprivation, discrimination and exploitation.  The representative of Pakistan asked about its decision-making and election processes, its affiliations with other NGOs and its Government funding;

De Vrienden van Congo, an international NGO headquartered in Belgium, focusing on rural development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  A representative of the NGO answered questions about its expenditures and projects, making clear that all activities were carried out within that country, where it was registered.  Pending receipt of written answers and a copy of its Congolese registration, consideration was postponed;

Haiti Mission, an international NGO headquartered in the United States, which has as its primary focus a commitment to provide basic humanitarian aid to the villages of Numero Deux and Ravine Saab, which comprise the Church Parish of Our Lady of the Assumption in the Diocese of Jeremie in Haiti, after the representative of Egypt requested a copy of its registration;

Humanitarian Accountability Partnership International, an international NGO headquartered in Switzerland which seeks to achieve and promote the highest principles of accountability through self-regulation by members linked by common respect for the rights and dignity of beneficiaries, as India’s representative asked why the non-profit organization paid taxes;

National Council of Youth and Children Associations of Russia, a national group based in the Russian Federation whose mission is to support and coordinate the activities of Russian youth and children’s organizations in order to encourage the protection and realization of their interests, as well as the rights of children and youth, because no response had been received to the Committee’s questions;

Passionists International, an international NGO based in the United States, which promotes internationally the vision of the Passionist Family, after the representative of China, while declaring satisfaction with its statement that it would honour the use of correct United Nations terminology for such areas as the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, expressed a wish to ask more questions;

Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, a national NGO based in Canada, as no response had been received to the Committee’s questions;

World Granny, a national NGO based in the Netherlands, which tries to improve the quality of life for older people, their families and communities in the developing world, while raising awareness about the situation of older people among the public, institutions and Governments.  Egypt’s representative asked why the name listed in the application was different from the existing name and whether it had been registered as a non-profit organization.  He also wanted to know about affiliations with other organizations and requested more details about its financial reserves;

Centre de Formation aux Techniques Informatiques, a national NGO from Cameroon, which wishes to popularize information technology in the country, as the representative of the United Kingdom awaited responses to questions asked;

Corrections India, a national NGO based in India, which aims to bring prisoners' children to the highest level of dignity and social acceptance, in addition to counselling prisoners and bringing them into mainstream life, because Pakistan’s representative sought more details about its budget, decision-making processes and affiliations with other NGOs;

Fundación Help for the Andes, a national NGO based in Chile, which aims primarily to improve the lives of the disadvantaged and the suffering by improving health, education, living conditions, communication skills, social behaviour and social adjustment.  Egypt’s representative sought more details about its participation in and contributions to United Nations conferences, and requested its original application;

IFENDU for Women’s Development, a national organization based in Enugu, Nigeria, aiming to educate women, men and youth to dismantle oppressive cultural and religious systems that undermine the full human status of women, and to promote their full participation in all spheres of life, because Egypt’s representative asked what IFENDU stood for.  He also sought clarifications about its aims, such terms as “oil-women” and “oil-specific gender-themes”, and its budget;

International Initiative for Peace, an international NGO based in Nigeria, which wishes to take practical steps to promote the peaceful resolution of disputes, ensure mutual understanding and facilitate national and international integration as necessary conditions for development and the resolution of conflicts.  China’s representative wanted the organization to use the correct UN terminology for places in China in its application and publications.  Egypt asked where its offices were located;

International Institute for Security and Safety Management, an international NGO based in India, which promotes security and safety as integral parts of human and socio-economic development.  China’s representative noted that the correct United Nations terminology was not used on its website, while Pakistan’s representative sought more details about seminars it had organized, its relationship with the Government and its activities in South Asia;

Peace Action Training and Research Institute of Romania, an international NGO seeking to promote peacebuilding and constructive conflict transformation, as no response had been received to the questions;

SAHIL, a national NGO in Pakistan, working exclusively against the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation, because India’s representative asked about its affiliations with other organizations and whether it was active in Pakistan-administered Kashmir;

Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, a national organization which seeks to spread the culture and awareness of freedom of opinion and expression, belief, variety and tolerance inside Syrian society by cooperating with governmental associations and civil society organizations.  The representative of Syria said the Centre was not registered in the country and any activity it undertook within it was illegal.  Consequently, the Centre was not in compliance with conditions for acquiring consultative status.  The representatives of Egypt, Pakistan and Cuba said the Centre also appeared to have offices in France.  More time was needed for careful consideration;

Women Aid Collective, an international organization based in the United States, which aims to increase legal protection and fight for better choices for abused women, young people and children, as the organization had not responded to questions asked;

3D -– Trade -- Human Rights -- Equitable Economy, an international NGO based in Switzerland, which seeks to promote coherence between national development strategies and global economic processes by achieving broader participation in the elaboration and implementation of national development strategies and ensuring that the needs of particularly vulnerable groups such as women, children or indigenous groups are reflected in economic and trade policy, because the  representative of Egypt sought to know its stance on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and an explanation as to why it had chosen to register with the Registrar of Commerce, thus indicating a for-profit character.

Alliance Defense Fund, an international NGO headquartered in the United States, which seeks to defend and promote human rights and civil liberties recognized and protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and applicable international instruments.  The representative of the United States recommended special consultative status for an organization that was doing good work, while Cuba’s representative agreed, but asked about cases in other countries in which the organization had been involved and whether it could expand its useful work to Latin America;

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a non-profit international organization with headquarters in the United States and comprising European, Japanese and American automobile manufacturers.  It advocates technically sound public policy positions that meet consumer and societal needs for clean, safe, efficient and affordable personal transportation.  The representatives of China, Egypt, Cuba, Dominica and Pakistan raised doubts about the group’s non-profit character, with Egypt’s representative asking about its advertising activities, budget, the affiliation of the person who had signed the application, and whether it had sought accreditation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO);

Assistance for a Voluntary Return and Reintegration of African Migrants, an international NGO based in Switzerland, which aims to assist African migrants wishing to return, resettle or invest in their home country or any other African country, as the representative of Egypt asked about the contribution it could make to the Council, as well as its finances, decision-making procedures, elections and membership;

Center for Policy Studies, an international organization based in the Russian Federation, which seeks to strengthen the international security and non-proliferation regime, after the representative of the United States asked about the source of its “other grants”;

Christian Solidarity International, an international organization based in Switzerland, working for the defence of human rights in general and religious liberty in particular on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because responses to questions had not yet been received;

East West Institute, an international NGO based in the United States, which seeks to make the world safer by addressing the seemingly intractable problems threatening regional and global stability, after the representatives of China and Pakistan requested more details about its projects.  Egypt’s representative asked about its affiliations with United Nations organizations, funding by the World Bank and its $1.8 million budget surplus;

European Roma and Travellers Forum, an international organization based in France, representing and defending the populations of Roma, Sinti, Kalé, Travellers and related groups in Europe, as the group had not yet responded to questions asked; and

Global Volunteer Network Foundation, an international organization based in the United States, which supports the charitable and educational work of local community organizations all over the world through the distribution of financial, in-kind and material donations, because Egypt’s representative asked about its affiliations with other volunteer organizations.

The Committee also considered NGOs that were not in consultative status but which had been invited to the World Summit on the Information Society, considering whether they should be invited to join the Commission on Science and Technology for Development.  At the request of Egypt’s representative, that matter would be addressed once more information was available on the number of such NGOs that had applied for consultative status with the Commission.

In other business, the Committee approved its draft Programme of Work, as orally adjusted.

Members of the Committee are Angola, Burundi, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Egypt, Guinea, India, Israel, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Sudan, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday 19 May, to continue its consideration of applications for consultative status.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.