Economic and Social Council Grants 209 Non-Governmental Organizations Consultative Status, Adopts Seven Resolutions, Six Decisions, as Management Segment Resumes
The Economic and Social Council resumed its two-day Management Segment today to consider the reports of 11 of its subsidiary bodies and to adopt a variety of decisions and resolutions before it.
Those bodies consist of the six regional commissions, as well as the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; Commission on Science and Technology for Development; United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF); Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters; and the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. While the latter recommended 203 organizations for special consultative status, six other non-governmental organizations were added to the list in a draft proposed by the United States, which, in turn, led to a call for a recorded vote.
In total, seven resolutions and six decisions recommended by subsidiary bodies were adopted during the morning session, which was chaired by Lachezara Stoeva (Bulgaria), Vice-President of the Council.
Under regional cooperation, the Council adopted a draft resolution of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, by which it endorsed the conference structure enabling the Commission to advance sustainable development. In addition, three draft texts in the area of crime and criminal justice were sent to the General Assembly.
A draft resolution on the list of non-governmental organization receiving consultative status with the Council, presented by the United States’ delegate, caused a brief stir. Sponsored by a total of 36 countries, the text — which recommended six additional non-governmental organizations to the list proposed by the Committee — was adopted by 23 votes in favour to 7 against (China, India, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 18 abstentions. The Council thus decided to grant special consultative status to Diakonia; Inimõiguste Instituut; National Human Rights Civic Association “Belarusian Helsinki Committee”; Non C’è Pace Senza Giustizia; Syrian American Medical Society Foundation; and Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
The United States’ delegate pointed out that those organizations had been waiting for years to obtain non-governmental status and repeatedly answered questions from members of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.
Supporters of the amended resolution defended the right of the six organizations to make their voices heard at the United Nations. Still others pointed to those organizations having political or, as stated by Israel’s delegate, even terrorist affiliations.
Several Member States members criticized the approach of submitting the request directly to the Council on the grounds that it was a manoeuvre to circumvent the Committee.
China’s delegate said it was a “back door” for certain non-governmental organizations supported by certain countries driven by their selfish interests, in flouting the rules, while the Russian Federation’s delegate expressed his opposition to any form of pressure on the work of the Committee.
However, a representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, replied that the Committee has the responsibility to work in the general interest. Years have passed since those non-governmental organizations submitted their applications, endlessly waiting to be accredited even as they have answered questions “again and again” within the Committee.
Echoing that stance, Estonia’s delegate added that, as a result, the Committee is far from fulfilling its mandate. The vote sends it a signal to improve its functioning, she stressed.
The Committee also held elections by acclamation to fill vacancies in the Commission on Population and Development; the Programme and Coordination Committee; the Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); and the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, further confirming appointments to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The Council adopted its programme of work for the 2023 session, which includes the proposed dates for its meetings and debates between January and July 2023.
Also speaking were the representatives of Belarus, United Kingdom, India, Mexico, Indonesia and Chile.
The Council will reconvene on Friday, 22 July at 10 a.m. to continue its work.
ROSA MALANG, Director of the Office of Regional Commissions in New York, presented the Economic and Social Council report on regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields. (See documents E/2022/15 and E/2022/15/Add.1.)
The Council then adopted without a vote the draft resolution, which appears in the first chapter of the addendum to the Secretary-General’s report.
The addendum contains information on resolutions and decisions adopted or endorsed by the Economic Commission for Africa at its fifty-fourth session, held in Dakar and online on 16 and 17 May, and by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific at its seventy-eighth session, held in Bangkok and online from 23 to 27 May.
By the draft resolution proposed by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the Council approved the “conference apparatus” of the Commission, “allowing it to advance sustainable development”.
The representative of the United States stressed that since the drafting of the European Economic Community report, circumstances have greatly changed in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, which has an unavoidable impact on the sustainable development of the region. Citing the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the combined food and energy crises, she called for the Russian Federation to end its invasion of Ukraine without delay.
The Russian Federation’s representative responded that it is not in the interest of the United States delegation to speak of invasions, due to their own invasions of other countries.
Social and Human Rights Questions
Mr. HIKIARI (Japan), Chair of the thirty-first session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, presented the report of the Commission on the work of its session, held both in-person and online (see document E/2022/30). The session addressed crimes affecting the environment, reducing reoffending through rehabilitation and reintegration, and protecting children from sexual exploitation and abuse.
The Economic and Social Council recommended that the General Assembly adopt three draft resolutions.
The first draft was titled “Follow-up to the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Fifteenth United Nations Congress on Crime” (document E/CN.15/2022/L.3/Rev.1). By the text, the Council would decide to hold the Fifteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in 2026, without prejudice to the timing of subsequent United Nations congresses on crime prevention and criminal justice and with a view to maintaining the five-year cycle of the congresses.
A second draft resolution was titled “Reducing reoffending through rehabilitation and reintegration” (document E/CN.15/2022/L.4/Rev.1). By the text, the Council would request the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), subject to the availability of extrabudgetary resources, to convene a meeting of an open-ended intergovernmental expert group, with interpretation in all official languages of the United Nations, with a view to developing model strategies on reducing reoffending that can serve as useful tools for Member States.
A third draft text was titled “Strengthening national and international efforts, including with the private sector, to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse” (document E/CN.15/2022/L.5). By its terms, the Council would request UNODC to provide technical assistance and capacity-building initiatives, such as training in the use of digital evidence, material support, and services and other initiatives upon request, to support Member States, in particular developing countries, in preventing and combating online child sexual exploitation and abuse. It would also invite Member States to provide support in this regard.
The Council further adopted two draft decisions, by which it approved the appointment of Jonathan Lucas (Seychelles) and Omar Rifai (Jordan) as members of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute.
It also took note of the “Report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its thirty-first session and provisional agenda for its thirty-second session”, reaffirming Commission decision 21/1 of 27 April 2012 and approving the order of provisional agenda of its thirty-second session.
Economic and Environmental: Science and Technology for Development
The consideration of this item was based on two reports, including the report of the Secretary-General on the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels (see document E/2022/8); and the report on the work of the twenty-fifth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (see document E/2022/31).
The Council then adopted without a vote the two draft resolutions and one draft decision contained therein the report on the work of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development.
The first resolution was titled “Assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society”. By the text, the Council reaffirmed its commitment to the full implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit and the vision of the 10-year review of the World Summit beyond 2015. Also by the text, it encouraged all stakeholders to continue to contribute information to the stocktaking database maintained by the International Telecommunication Union on the implementation of the goals established by the World Summit, and would invite United Nations entities to update information on their initiatives in the database.
It further noted the many initiatives targeted at closing the gender digital divide, including, among others, International Girls in ICT Day (International Telecommunication Union); the Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age (the EQUALS initiative); and the EQUALS in Tech Awards (International Telecommunication Union and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women). The 96 provisions of the resolution also addressed Internet governance, enhanced cooperation and the way forward.
The second resolution, contained therein of the report, was titled “Science, technology and innovation for development”, by which the Council would list recommendations for consideration by national Governments, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In particular, it called upon the Commission to raise awareness and facilitate networking and partnerships among various technology foresight organizations and networks, in collaboration with other stakeholders.
The draft decision was titled “Report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development on its twenty-fifth session and provisional agenda and documentation for the twenty-sixth session of the Commission”. By the text, the Council took note of the report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development on the work of its twenty-fifth session and approve the provisional agenda and documentation for the twenty-sixth session.
Economic and environmental: United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)
MIRIAM MACINTOSH (Suriname) presented the “Report of the United Nations Forum on Forests on its seventeenth session” (document E/2022/42-E/CN.18/2022/8).
The Council adopted the draft resolution contained therein titled “Outcome of the seventeenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests”, by which it would make recommendations, in particular on the means of implementation, including activities and resources of the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network. By the text, the Council would also decide to establish an open-ended intergovernmental ad hoc expert group on the preparations for the midterm review of the international arrangement on forests, to be convened by the Forum secretariat towards the end of 2023, to review all assessments and outcomes of preparatory intersessional work related to the midterm review of the international arrangement, as outlined in the annex to the present resolution.
The Council also adopted a draft decision titled “Report of the United Nations Forum on Forests on its seventeenth session and provisional agenda for its eighteenth session”, by which it took note of the Forum on Forests report on the work of its seventeenth session and the dates of the next session, to be held at United Nations Headquarters from 8 to 12 May 2023, approving its provisional agenda.
Economic and Environmental: International Cooperation in Tax Matters
The Council had before it the Report of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters on its twenty-fourth session (see document E/2022/45/Add.1-E/C.18/2022/2).
The report contained a draft decision titled “Venue, dates and provisional agenda of the twenty-fifth session of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters”.
By its terms, the Council decided that, preferably and if feasible, the twenty-fifth session of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters shall be held from 18 to 21 October in Geneva. Otherwise, it shall be held in informal meetings in a scaled-down format using a virtual platform in October, with the decisions of the Committee adopted through a silence procedure and the final modalities decided by the Co-Chairs of the Committee following consultations with the members of the Committee.
Adoption of Agenda and Other Organizational Matters
The Council then adopted its work programme (document E/2022/L.15) for the 2023 session, which includes the dates of its meetings and debates.
While the 2023 session is due to open on 25 July, the substantive work will begin on 31 January 2023 with the Partnership Forum and ends on 26 July 2023 with the second debate devoted to management.
The Council adopted the draft decision without a vote.
Election, Nominations, Confirmations and Appointments
The Council also made a series of nominations for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The Council appointed Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (Chad) for Africa; Aluki Kotierk (Canada) for the Arctic; Naw Ei Ei Min (Myanmar) and Hanieh Moghani (Iran) for Asia; Dario Mejia Montalvo (Colombia) for Central and South America and the Caribbean; Valentina Sovkina (Russian Federation) for Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; Geoffrey Roth (United States) for North America; and Hannah McGlade (Australia) for the Pacific region.
The Council then elected by acclamation Nigeria to the Commission on Population and Development for a term of four years commencing at the first meeting of the fifty-seventh session of the Commission in 2023; the Philippines to the Committee for Programme and Coordination for a three-year term beginning 1 January 2023; and Germany to the Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), also for a three-year term from 1 January 2023.
In addition, Brazil, Denmark, Italy and Nigeria were elected by acclamation to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission for a two-year term effective 1 January 2023, or at such time as those countries cease to be members of the Council.
Social and Human Rights: Human Rights
ILZE BRANDS KEHRIS, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, presented the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on social, economic and cultural rights (to be issued as document A/77/36).
She reported that the pandemic has deepened the socioeconomic marginalization of some populations. Advocating a decompartmentalized approach to fundamental rights, she went on to detail certain situations included in the report — in particular the struggle of Afro-Colombians to defend their rights and access to contraceptive health in Nepal. She called for an overhaul of the social contract and underlined the willingness of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to increase its support to Member States for the promotion of these rights.
The Council had before it the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2022 regular session (see document E/2022/32 (Part II)) and the draft decision “Application of the non-governmental organizations for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council” (document E/2022/L.27).
The Council then turned to the draft decision.
The representative of the United States, presenting the list, expressed her regret at the slowness of the accreditation process for non-governmental organizations. She called for the six civil society organizations to be accredited regardless of their political affiliation because their voices must be heard at the United Nations.
The representative of Belarus, speaking in explanation of position before the vote, said she did not support the initiative because it aims to circumvent the work of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations — in contravention of the will of the 18 Member States of the NGO Committee, and representing a counterproductive approach. This precedent could be harmful and flood the United Nations with non-governmental organizations of dubious status, she stressed.
A representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that civil society organizations have been an integral part of the work of the United Nations since the San Francisco conference, stressing that their contributions are essential to the work of the Organization. Therefore, the European Union stands for the free and open participation of these organizations in the work of the United Nations. While acknowledging the role of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, he highlighted the fact that it must be guided solely by the general interest, and that the Council must examine that Committee’s possibly erroneous decisions. In this case, the six non-governmental organization have been waiting for years to be accredited to the United Nations, even though they have answered the questions put to them “again and again” within the Committee.
The Russian Federation’s delegate, noting that he supported the recommendations of the Committee, explained that, regarding the six non-governmental organizations in question, the Committee had engaged in a dialogue with them to clarify the nature of their activities. He underlined that the procedure in force for all non-governmental organizations was respected. He protested that the United States’ delegation has nevertheless decided to bring this question before Council, illustrating a policy of double standards. The Russian Federation is convinced that the right of States to receive information from non-governmental organization is part of the prerogatives of the Committee and that any form of pressure on its work is unacceptable.
Israel’s delegate shared the concerns of other Member States about the challenges faced by the six non-governmental organizations in obtaining consultative status with the Council. However, he stressed that not all non-governmental organizations deserve such status, citing the example of those that support terrorist organizations. In such cases, Israel will always oppose granting consultative status, he said, citing Diakonia among the six non-governmental organizations referred to in the draft decision, as it crosses a red line in partnership with a designated Palestinian terror group.
The United Kingdom’s representative welcomed the decision presented by the United States to the Council, as it presents six legitimate non-governmental organizations. This approach in no way undermines the work of the Committee, she said, calling for support for the decision.
The representative of China supported the call for a vote made by the Russian Federation, accusing certain countries of opening “the back door” for certain non-governmental organizations. Some States are driven by their selfish interests, flouting the rules, he stressed.
In a recorded vote of 23 in favour to 7 against (China, India, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 18 abstentions, the Council adopted the draft decision entitled “Request for admission to consultative status of non-governmental organizations to the Economic and Social Council” (document E/2022/L.27).
The Council thus decided to grant special consultative status to the following six non-governmental organizations: Diakonia; Inimõiguste Instituut; National Human Rights Civic Association “Belarusian Helsinki Committee”; Non C’è Pace Senza Giustizia; Syrian American Medical Society Foundation; and Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
The representative of India, in explanation of position after the vote, highlighted the key role of the Committee, which has a clear mandate. The procedure is transparent, he said, cautioning against any deviation from it.
Mexico’s delegate said he voted in favour because he considers it important to include non-governmental organizations in the work of the United Nations. He noted, however, that the Committee sometimes strays from its terms of reference, deeming it “shameful that a nomination suffers a delay of years without merit”. The Council should automatically consider applications that have been outstanding for four or five years, he suggested.
The representative of Indonesia called for respect for the Committee, which must be able to fulfil its mandate. “Let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he said.
Chile’s delegate, while supporting the inclusion of civil society, said that he abstained because it is important to respect the rules.
The representative of Estonia, associating herself with the European Union, said that the Committee is far from fulfilling its mandate. “This Committee cannot become the antithesis to its name and mandate,” she said, adding that the vote sends it a signal to improve its functioning.
The Council then adopted by consensus two decisions which appear in the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (document E/2022/32).
Draft decision I, titled “Applications for consultative status and quadrennial reports received from non-governmental organizations”, was adopted as amended by resolution L.27.
In addition to the six organizations above that have been granted special consultative status with the Council, there are 203 non-governmental organizations recommended by the Committee.
In addition, the Council would take note that the Committee has decided to acknowledge the request of the Goal organization to withdraw its application for admission to consultative status.
The representative of Israel, speaking after action, said that his delegation supported the accreditation of five out of the six organizations, but, as stated prior, disassociated from Diakonia’s accreditation.
In Draft decision II, titled “Report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2022 regular session”, the Council would take note of this report.