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WikiLeaks: 2009-02-18: 09USUNNEWYORK149: UN Economic and Social Council: Committee on NGOs

by WikiLeaks. 09USUNNEWYORK149: February 18, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 03:17 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09USUNNEWYORK149 2009-02-18 17:45 UNCLASSIFIED USUN New York

DE RUCNDT #0149/01 0491745
R 181745Z FEB 09
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: STATE 7030 
1.  Summary and comment:  At its regular session January 
19-28, ECOSOC's Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations 
(CNGO) recommended ECOSOC consultative status for 21 US. 
NGOs.  Action on the Democracy Coalition Project's 
application was deferred until the Committee's next session 
in May.  The CNGO voted against the application of the 
Associacao Brasileira de Gays, Lesbicas e Transgeneros 
(ABGLT), but it was close and Brazil is likely to ask ECOSOC 
to overturn the decision.  The CNGO voted to recommend a 
one-year suspension for the Arab Commission for Human Rights 
(ACHR), an accredited NGO, based on a complaint filed by the 
Algerian Government; but the U.S. delegation abstained as 
instructed, saying the Committee did not have enough 
information.  The CNGO also suspended the application of the 
Ethiopian Human Rights Council.  The National Democratic 
Institute for International Affairs withdrew its application 
for ECOSOC status, complaining that the CNGO's application 
process is,"non-transparent and inconsistent, and in our view 
does not reflect the values of the United Nations."   A U.S. 
proposal to have the UN Secretariat check NGO applications 
against the UN's al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctions list met 
continued opposition from Cuba, Egypt, and Qatar, but remains 
on the agenda of the CNGO's working group.  End summary. 
2.  During the resumed session, the CNGO had before it 157 
applications for consultative status, including 53 which had 
been deferred from earlier sessions.  Of those applications, 
the CNGO recommended 64 for consultative status, deferred 86 
for further consideration, and closed consideration of four 
organizations.  It did not recommend consultative status for 
one organization and two organizations withdrew their 
applications.  The CNGO also reviewed the quadrennial reports 
of 108 accredited NGOs, including 13 that had been deferred 
from earlier sessions. 
3.  The U.S. delegation initially intended calling a vote 
recommending approval of this long-standing application, but 
decided at the last minute (with DCP's approval) not to do so 
due to an anticipated close vote and the absence of one 
delegation expected to vote in favor of DCP (Burundi) and the 
wavering of a previously committed delegation (Qatar).  The 
Committee deferred action on the application until May.  If 
the application is approved then, ECOSOC will likely approve 
it in July and nothing is lost, as formal ECOSOC approval of 
the Committee's recommendations is required in any case for 
accreditation to become effective. 
4.  The CNGO voted not to recommend consultative status for 
the Associacao Brasileira de Gays, Lesbicas e Transgeneros 
(ABGLT), but the vote was close.  Egypt, which with other OIC 
members of the Committee often votes against gay and lesbian 
groups, recommended a procedural "no action" motion, but the 
Committee rejected this by a vote of 7-9 ( U.S.)-2  The UK 
then called for a vote on the recommendation to grant special 
consultative status to ABGLT, but this was defeated 6 
(U.S.)-8-4  The U.S. voted in favor of ABGLT's application, 
as instructed (reftel).  The supporters of the NGO, led by 
Brazil (which though not a member of the CNGO is a member of 
ECOSOC) will attempt to overturn the Committee's decision in 
the annual ECOSOC meeting in July.  Generally, ECOSOC is more 
favorable to gay and lesbian NGOs than is the CNGO, and given 
the close vote in the latter a reversal in the former is not 
5.  The Government of Algeria had filed a complaint against 
the ACHR alleging it had allowed a non-member of the NGO, 
Rachid Mesli, to speak on its behalf during deliberations of 
the Human Rights Council in June 2008 in Geneva, despite the 
fact that the GOA had brought charges of association with a 
terrorist organization against Mesli and a warrant for his 
arrest is currently outstanding.  Mesli, a former Amnesty 
International "prisoner of conscience," lives in Switzerland 
and enjoys refugee status there.  Per instructions (ref. A), 
the United States pushed for deferral of the matter on the 
basis that the CNGO had not had time to gather all the facts. 
 When this deferral request failed, the U.S. as instructed 
called for a vote on the recommendation of Peru to suspend 
the NGO for one year.  The CNGO voted to accept Peru's 
recommendation 18-0-1(U.S.).  At the end of the year-long 
suspension, barring further complications, ACHR's 
consultative status will be restored. 
6.  The Committee suspended the application of the Ethiopian 
Human Rights Council (EHRC).  This NGO had registered 
properly with the Ethiopian Government and then properly 
applied to ECOSOC for accreditation.  Between the time the 
NGO applied and the time the CNGO reviewed its application, 
however, the Ethiopian Government changed its laws regarding 
the registration of NGOs.  A new law states NGOs will not be 
registered if they receive more than 10 percent of their 
funding from outside of Ethiopia.  Opponents of the EHRC 
application argued that being properly registered with one's 
own government is required by the CNGO's 1996 guiding 
resolution.  Once EHRC registers under the new law, they 
argued, the CNGO will begin considering its application again 
and the NGO will not have to re-apply.  (We defer to Embassy 
Addis Ababa to say whether EHRC will be able to qualify for 
registration under the new law.) 
7.  The National Democratic Institute for International 
Affairs was one of two U.S. NGOs to withdraw its application 
from consideration.  The other was African Action.  NDI said 
in a January 30, 2008 letter to the UN Secretariat that it 
was withdrawing its application, pending for more than a year 
and a half, because it had been subjected to arbitrary 
questioning by the CNGO.  It complained that the CNGO's 
application process is "non-transparent and inconsistent, and 
in our view does not reflect the values of the United 
8.  In the January 2008 session of the CNGO, the United 
States succeeded in adding to the agenda of the Committee's 
working group an agenda item, entitled, "Ways to ensure that 
NGOs, being considered for consultative status or reviewed 
for any other matter, are not involved in any international 
criminal activity, including terrorism, as envisaged in 
ECOSOC resolution 1996/31."  The majority of CNGO members, 
led by Cuba and Egypt, oppose this initiative, saying the 
issue is outside the scope of the mandate of the CNGO and the 
use of the UN's terrorist and criminal lists will be 
prejudicial to Islamic NGOs because the main UN terrorist 
list is the al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctions list maintained by 
the 1267 Committee of the Security Council.  During the 
CNGO's resumed session in May-June 2008, Cuba, Egypt, and 
Qatar tried to close debate on this matter in the working 
group so they could claim the group had discussed the issue 
without reaching a consensus.  USUN, however, was able to get 
the same agenda item added to group's 2009 agenda. The 
working group met again during the current session with no 
further progress, and opposition delegations are still 
pushing hard to close this debate with no action. 
9.   Among the recommended NGOs were several U.S.-based ones, 
including the Human Rights Education Association (HREA), 
World Lung Foundation, Drug Abuse Resistance Education 
America (DARE), Fairleigh Dickinson University, Congregation 
of Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Carmelite NGO, Corporate 
Accountability International, Friend of Africa International, 
Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), 
International Center for Innovations in Civic Participation, 
Girls Learn International, International Center of Medical 
Colleges, Women's Bar Association of the State of New York, 
and the Bar Association for International Governmental 
Organizations.  It should be noted that about one-third of 
the total accredited NGOs are U.S.-based. 
10.   Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) had faced strong 
opposition from several delegations, led by Egypt, who 
questioned whether FDU met the definition of an NGO. 
However, after an appearance before the Committee by an FDU 
representative and an explanation by our delegation that 
applicable resolution 1996/31 states clearly that any 
organization that is not for profit and not run by a 
government may be considered an NGO, the application was 
approved by consensus. 
11.    The CNGO also recommended granting consultative status 
to the Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Carmelite 
NGO.  Carmelite had faced strong opposition from a couple 
delegations, led by Egypt, who questioned whether a religious 
organization could be accredited.  However, after an 
appearance before the Committee by a Carmelite representative 
and explanation by the U.S. delegation that applicable 
resolution 1996/31 states clearly that Carmelite was an 
eligible NGO, the application was finally approved by 
12.    Of the applications deferred until the May 2009 CNGO 
session,  there are several more U.S. NGOS, including the 
Assyrian Academic Society, International Association of Women 
Judges, International Reading Association, and the 
International Center for Transitional Justice.  Most of these 
applications were deferred because a few Committee members 
(often led by Egypt) posed numerous questions in order to 
defer action on the applications of NGO's with which for a 
variety of reasons they have disagreements. 
13.  The CNGO deferred action on the application of the 
Australian NGO Muslim Aid Society (MAA).  Australian 
counter-terrorism police had raided the offices of MAA in 
July 2008 on suspicion of channeling aid through the Islamic 
organization INTERPAL, banned in Australia for its alleged 
links to terrorism.  (INTERPAL (Inter-Palestinian 
Organization) is also on the U.S. Treasury Department's OFAC 
sanctions list.)  The Australian Ambassador, however, 
addressed the CNGO and said the investigation by Australian 
police into MAA had concluded and no charges were filed.  MAA 
is also allegedly involved with the NGO Union of Good, an 
umbrella organization comprised of over 50 Islamic charitable 
funds and foundations worldwide, which is also on the United 
States' OFAC sanctions list. 
14.  The application of the U.S. NGO Women's Business 
Development Center - Florida was closed without prejudice 
because the NGO had not responded to three reminders from the 
Committee to answer the questions the Committee had submitted 
to it. 
15.  Comment: The CNGO's contentious sessions during the last 
few years show the extent to which some members of the 
Committee tend to make decisions based on political 
considerations rather than the merits of the NGOs applying 
for accreditation.  This was particularly evident in the 
actions of the delegations of Egypt and Cuba, but also, in 
some cases, of Russia, China, Pakistan and Qatar.  NDI's 
criticism of the Committee (paragraph 7 above) has merit in 
our view. 


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