Monday, August 30, 2010

ECOSOC Consultative Status at last












After three years of delay and "no action" motions in committee, ECOSOC finally granted consultative status to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) on July 19, 2010. The resolution passed -- by a vote of 23 for, 13 against, 13 abstaining and 5 absent (vote breakdown by country here) -- despite a "no action" decision on the group's application by ECOSOC's Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations in June. A summary of the ECOSOC debate on IGLHRC's consultative status is available here. (Photo: Hossein Alizadeh, IGLHRC’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator)
The US government worked hard to achieve this success. After the ECOSOC decision, Ambassador Susan Rice stated that the vote
reaffirmed the Economic and Social Council's commitment to include a diverse range of voices from civil society in the work of the UN. More important, the vote was a significant achievement for all those who work to see the United Nations embody its founding principles and advance the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Consultative status allows NGOs to place items on the agenda of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies; attend meetings; submit written statements and make oral presentations; and be involved in UN international conferences and their preparatory meetings. The vote to grant consultative status to IGLHRC was welcomed by human rights defenders the world over.
As human rights defenders and LGBT people living in countries where homophobic discrimination is a daily reality, we celebrate the accreditation of IGLHRC at the UN.
IGLHRC's access to the UN means that we too will have greater access to international human rights mechanisms that can prove invaluable to LGBT people's lives.
- Frank Mugisha, Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), one of 13 NGOs from Uganda to publicly call for IGLHRC to be accredited (see the over 200 NGOs worldwide that signed the petition for accreditation here)




The experience of IGLHRC is a familiar one. The few LGBT NGOs that have consultative status -- just ten in total -- attained it only after ECOSOC disregarded a negative or "no action" recommendation by its Committee on NGOs. Egypt has led the opposition to LGBT NGOs, with a strategy of continually postponing committee decisions on applications. The United Kingdom has been a leader in supporting LGBT NGOs, and has emphasized that disagreement with the policies of an NGO should not mean excluding them.
The UK statement during the ECOSOC debate on IGLHRC's application is here; the US statement is here.
Just what are the criteria for granting consultative status? Article 71 of the UN Charter provides that ECOSOC "may make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations which are concerned with matters within its competence." ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, which governs consultative status, "confirm[s] the need to take into account the full diversity of the non-governmental organizations at the national, regional and international levels."




To be eligible for consultative status, according to the resolution,
  • an NGO must be "concerned with matters falling within the competence" of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies,"
  • the group's aims and purposes must be "in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles" of the UN Charter, and
  • the NGO must undertake to support the work of the UN and to promote knowledge of its principles and purposes.
It may surprise some to learn that among the NGOs granted consultative status under these guidelines is the National Rifle Association.
The lack of guidelines to ensure the objective application of the consultative status requirements has led to criticism of the accrediting process. As this summary of the July ECOSOC session points out, states use the process to withhold or withdraw consultative status from NGOs that criticize them or with whose policies they disagree. This certainly reflects the three-year struggle of IGLHRC to attain consultative status.

2 comments:

Koo said...

In order to work with the United Nations, you need to obtain ECOSOC consultative status.

"Completed applications must be received by the first day of June of the year before the year the NGO wants to be considered for recommendation by the Committee. For example, complete applications, (which include a completed questionnaire and all the required supporting documentation) received by the NGO Branch before 1st June 2009, will be taken up by the Committee on NGOs in the year 2010. Applications received between the 1st June 2009 and 1st June 2010 will be taken up in the year 2011. "

Further information, please refer to the website of NGO section, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (http://esango.un.org/paperless/Web?page=static&content=apply)

Koo said...

Last Month to Apply for ECOSOC Consultative Status for 2012

<31st of May, 2011 is the last day to submit an application for ECOSOC consultative status for 2012!>

NGOs wish to achieve ECOSOC consultative status need to apply before 1st of June. Completed applications must be received by the last day of May of the year before the year the NGO wants to be considered for recommendation by the Committee. For example, complete applications, (which include a completed questionnaire and all the required supporting documentation) received by the NGO Branch before 1st June 2011, will be taken up by the Committee on NGOs in the year 2012. Any NGOs who wish to achieve ECOSOC consultative status must meet specific eligibility mentioned as below.



Consultative relationships may be established with international, regional, sub regional and national non-governmental, non-profit public or voluntary organizations. NGOs affiliated to an international organization already in status may be admitted provided that they can demonstrate that their programme of work is of direct relevance to the aims and purposes of the United Nations. In the case of national organizations consultation with the Member State concerned is required.
To be eligible for consultative status, an NGO must have been in existence (officially registered with the appropriate government authorities as an NGO/non-profit) for at least two years, must have an established headquarters, a democratically adopted constitution, authority to speak for its members, a representative structure, appropriate mechanisms of accountability and democratic and transparent decision-making processes. The basic resources of the organization must be derived in the main part from contributions of the national affiliates or other components or from individual members.
Organizations established by governments or intergovernmental agreements are not considered NGOs.

For further information about application process, please refer to the website (http://esango.un.org/paperless/Web?page=static&content=apply)

Thanks