Non-Governmental Organizations Committee Defers Action on Nine Entities, Introduces Provisional Agenda, Documentation for 2024 Session
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations continued its 2023 resumed session today, deferring action on conferring special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to nine entities. The Committee also rejected, by recorded vote, the application of two organizations for consultative status.
The 19-member Committee vets applications submitted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), recommending general, special or roster status based on such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend Council meetings and issue statements, while those with general status can also speak during meetings and propose agenda items. Those with roster status can only attend meetings.
Action on a number of applications was deferred because Committee members requested further information from the candidates about issues including details of their organizations’ activities, partners, expenditures, sources of funding and areas of operation.
Following the action, Petronellar Nyagura (Zimbabwe), Vice-Chair of the Committee, introduced the provisional agenda and documentation of the Committee’s 2024 session (document E/C.2/2023/L.1), noting that the proposed dates are 22‑31 January and 9 February for the regular session and 27 May–4 June for the resumed session. The Committee approved these dates for the sessions to be held in 2024.
Daniel Zavala Porras (Costa Rica), Vice-Chair of the Committee, then introduced the draft report of the Committee (document E/C.2/2023/CRP.65), which had been circulated to members of the Committee. The draft report will be updated by filling in the blanks with substantive details for consideration and approval by the Committee on 5 June 2023, he said, proposing that, according to the Committee’s established practice, the details will be considered during informal consultations as necessary.
Ms. Nyagura (Zimbabwe) noted that the draft report that was introduced had not been put forward for approval, but intended to serve as a basic structure for the final report, ahead of its introduction to the Committee for approval on 5 June. She went on to deliver closing remarks, noting that during the resumed session, the Committee had reviewed 204 new applications for consultative status from 56 countries, and 296 applications deferred from previous sessions of the subsidiary body, bringing the total number of applications considered to 500. In addition to these applications, the Committee reviewed 280 new quadrennial reports, and 112 reports deferred from previous sessions. Further, she said that the consultative status of 270 organizations was suspended; the status of 32 was reinstated; and the status of 172 was withdrawn. The Committee also took note of seven requests for a change of name, she added.
By the end of the 22 May session, she continued, 155 organizations were recommended for consultative status, representing 31 per cent of the applications under review by the Committee. She looked forward to further discussions during informal consultations on 22 and 23 June on improving the working methods of the Committee, including proposals for incorporating a hybrid component to the Committee’s questions and answers session.
The Committee will reconvene on 5 June to approve its report and conclude its resumed session.
Special Consultative Status
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations postponed consideration of the following nine entities:
SKT Welfare (United Kingdom) — as the representative of China asked for further details pertaining to its registration in four countries, including on the background of the structures between the four different names;
Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc (United States) — as the representative of Cuba asked for clarification regarding a minor discrepancy in the organization’s balance sheet, pertaining to its allocation of funds for legal services;
Stichting InterNations Exchange (Netherlands) — as the representative of China asked for further details on a project involving dialogue with terrorists in Somalia that was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, specifically about whether it was launched and what its contributions were;
Su Politikaları Derneği (Türkiye) — as the representative of Armenia requested details about reports from the Hydropolitics Academy;
The Committee then took up the application of The Center for Justice and Accountability (United States).
The representative of the United States said that the organization has been responding to questions since 2018, adding that the sheer number and types of queries imply that its application is being deferred for political reasons. He therefore asked for the organization’s application to be considered by the Committee.
The representative of China said that different Committee members had different opinions, and that, on the organization in question, there were some operational and financial issues to be further reviewed, given that it derived 90 per cent of its income from other international organizations. Further, he asked for details on whether any fee was charged for amicus briefs prepared for survivors.
The representative of the United States called for a vote on the organization, pointing out that it has been working hard to respond to all questions directed at it.
Cuba’s delegate said that, notwithstanding the procedural action, members must take care when deciding which organizations are credible, and which are not, noting that this process too could be characterized as “politically motivated”.
The representative of the United States noted that his country vetted applications according to three criteria: allegations of criminality; allegations of terrorist ties; and allegations that the organization is not non-governmental in line with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31. The United States takes the process of vetting seriously and objects to comments about its being politically motivated.
By a recorded vote of 10 against to 5 in favour, with 3 abstentions and 1 Committee member absent in the room, the Committee then decided not to grant consultative status to The Center for Justice and Accountability.
The Committee then took up the application of The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (Switzerland).
The representative of the United States noted that the organization first applied for status in June 2017 and has answered questions thoroughly and quickly since 2019. He therefore asked for the organization to be recommended to the Economic and Social Council for consultative status, making an appeal for consensus.
The representative of Türkiye said that he had further questions about the work and financing of the organization, including about the percentage of its executive body that is composed of serving government officials, as well as a related clarification on how the organization ensures the independence of its activities and publications.
The delegate of the United States then called for a vote on granting it consultative status and said he will vote “yes”.
By a recorded vote of 11 against to 6 in favour , with 1 abstention and 1 Committee member absent in the room, the Committee then decided not to grant consultative status to The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Türkiye reiterated that the Committee’s role must not be undermined and affirmed support for the subsidiary body’s regular working method, which entailed reviewing each application on a case-by-case basis. Legitimate doubts should be fully clarified until members are convinced that the organization fully meets the criteria for consultative status, he said, adding that a selective approach runs counter to this procedure and the mandate of the Committee.
The representative of Bahrain, speaking in explanation of vote on votes held today and the previous day, said that they were in favour of dialogue and consensus, and were not made in response to the work or activities of the organizations in question.
China’s delegate recalled his call for strengthened cooperation among members upon the session’s resumption and voiced regret that a few members were disregarding the Committee’s established working methods and consensus and forcibly tabling items for voting. Rejecting such a practice, he noted that the voting results have demonstrated its unpopularity, stressing: “It’s a classic negative example of what should not be done in the Committee.” Putting forth a list of selected organizations for consideration is “hypocritical”, as many other organizations from developing countries have been repeatedly deferred due to questions from certain delegations, he added.
The representative of Algeria reaffirmed the meaningful contributions of civil society to the United Nations, stating that votes were made with respect to matters of Committee procedure, and not on the organizations in question. Cuba’s delegate said he also voted against technical and procedural matters, not on the merits of organizations and their activities. Further, there is a need to increase the number of organizations granted consultative status from the developing world, to put them on equal footing with those from developed countries, he said, rejecting any “selective and differentiated treatment” of non-governmental organizations whose applications came before the Committee.
The representative of Cameroon said that the votes placed were not against non-governmental organizations, but in favour of preserving the Committee’s procedure, calling for a restoration of its classic working methods, to reach a decision on organizations by consensus.
India’s delegate, pointing out that his country was host to 3.3 million non-governmental organizations, a number which exceeded the population of many countries, voiced support for the participation of such organizations in the processes of the United Nations. However, “the right to question [them] is being questioned”, he stressed, pointing out that such actions attacked the basis of the Committee’s mandate, belittled its purpose and undermined its work.
The Humanitarian Forum (United Kingdom) — as the representative of Israel asked for further information about the group’s relationship with Syrian non-governmental organizations;
The International Center for Supporting Rights and Freedoms (Switzerland) — as the representative of China asked for further information on the number of victims offered legal aid in 2022, as well as the nature of such assistance;
US Council of Muslim Organizations (United States) — as the representative of Israel requested a breakdown of contributions from the private sector, which accounted for 17 per cent of the group’s funding;
Uluslararası Mülteci Hakları Derneği (Türkiye) — as the representative of China asked for a breakout list of donors, and about whether the organization has received donations from Government agencies; and
Öz Gida Sanayi Ve Yardimci İşçileri Sendikasi (Türkiye) — as the representative of Armenia requested a detailed breakdown of its expenditure.