ECOSOC: Coordination and Management, 18th Meeting

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19-Apr-2017 02:58:40
Launching 2017 coordination segment, Economic and Social Council adopts 10 decisions, elects subsidiary body members amid debate on NGO participation, at 18th meeting of 2017 session.

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The Economic and Social Council today adopted 10 decisions and elected dozens of members to its subsidiary bodies, as it kicked off the coordination and management meetings of its 2017 session.

The bulk of today’s discussions focused on improving the work methods of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, a subsidiary body charged with granting United Nations consultative status to civil society groups. The Council decided to grant that status to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which had been rejected by the NGO Committee more than a dozen times, by a recorded vote of 28 in favour to 9 against (Burkina Faso, China, India, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Africa, Turkey, Venezuela, Viet Nam), with 12 abstentions.

Estonia’s representative, on behalf of the European Union, noted with concern that a significant number of applications were being rejected on “spurious” or politically motivated grounds. He said Christian Solidarity Worldwide had been rejected in 14 sessions of the NGO Committee, despite having responded diligently to more over 80 questions about its activities.

Several other delegates defended their right to raise questions and request information in order to make informed decisions. China’s delegate, noting that the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter included respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, called it imperative that all non-governmental organizations seeking consultative status meet such standards.

Pakistan’s delegate said it was the prerogative of any NGO Committee member to seek information on the work of civil society organizations. Christian Solidarity Worldwide was not the only one that had been requested to provide further details. Seeking a reversal of the Committee’s decision would set a dangerous precedent.

Other speakers stressed the need for transparency and accountability, questioning why the NGO Committee was the only subsidiary body that was not webcast. To improve work methods, the Council decided that the public meetings of the Committee’s next session would be webcast, in a recorded vote of 37 in favour to 0 against, with 16 abstentions.

Before the vote, Norway’s speaker stressed that the principle of openness must be present, particularly in a body dealing with civil society. Many members echoed each other on the issue of accountability and transparency, with the delegates from Uruguay and Chile both saying that webcasting the Committee would allow non-governmental organizations from developing countries to access the proceedings if they could not afford to travel in person to Headquarters.

On that point, China’s delegate said that in reviewing the draft decision’s co-sponsors, it was obvious that developing countries were not on board. Several delegates, including the representative of the Russian Federation, had abstained from the vote, explaining that the Council should not take up decisions which should be made in the Committee.

The Council also adopted without a vote the following seven draft decisions contained in the NGO Committee report on its 2017 regular session: “Withdrawal of consultative status of the non-governmental organization ‘Kimse Yok Mu’”; “Withdrawal of consultative status of the non-governmental organization ‘Gazetecuiler ve Yazarlar Vakfi’”; “Withdrawal of consultative status of the non-governmental organization ‘Turkiye Isadamlari ve Sanayiciler Konfederasyonu’”; “Refrain from contacting or communicating with three organizations whose legal status has ceased to exist and, based on that, whose consultative status was recommended for withdrawal at the first meeting of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, held on 30 January 2017”; “Request for withdrawal of consultative status”; and “Report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2017 regular session”.

Also today, the Council appointed Belize to its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, adopting its draft decision on “Coordination, programme and other questions: Long-term programme of support for Haiti”.

It also elected members to and filled outstanding vacancies on the following subsidiary bodies: International Narcotics Control Board; Statistical Commission; Commission on Population and Development; Commission on the Status of Women; Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting; Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)/United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS); Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP); Commission for Social Development; Commission on Science and Technology for Development; Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission; Committee for Programme and Coordination; and Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Also speaking today were representatives of Armenia, United Kingdom, Australia (also on behalf of Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Switzerland), South Africa, Viet Nam, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico.

The Council will meet again Thursday 20 April at 10 a.m. to continue its Coordination and Management Meeting.
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