India, along with six other countries, voted against a draught resolution presented by the United States, which recommended that six human rights organisations, which have been blocked for years in the United Nations’ NGO Committee, be granted special consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council. The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations recommended 203 groups for special consultative status at the meeting of the 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Six other non-governmental organisations, including the foundation that runs Wikipedia, were added to the list in a draught proposed by the United States, prompting the UN to call for a recorded vote. According to a UN website report, the draught resolution presented by the United States’ delegate on the list of non-governmental organisations receiving consultative status with the Council ’caused a brief stir’.
The draught resolution, which was sponsored by 36 countries, added six more non-governmental organisations to the list proposed by the Committee. It was approved with 23 votes in favour, 23 votes against, and 18 abstentions from China, India, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Russia, and Zimbabwe. Diakonia, Inimoiguste Instituut, National Human Rights Civic Association ‘Belarusian Helsinki Committee,’ Non Ce Pace Senza Giustizia, Syrian American Medical Society Foundation, and Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. were all granted special consultative status by the Council.
The delegate from the United States noted that those organisations had been waiting for non-governmental status for years and repeatedly answered questions from members of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. Supporters of the amended resolution defended the six organisations’ right to be heard at the United Nations. Others pointed to organisations with political or, as Israel’s delegate stated, even terrorist affiliations, according to the report.
Several member states criticised the approach of submitting the request directly to the Council as a ruse to avoid the Committee. According to the report, the representative of India emphasised the key role of the Committee, which has a clear mandate, in explaining the position after the vote. He stated that the procedure is transparent and warned against any deviation from it. Human Rights Watch applauded ECOSOC’s decision to grant UN accreditation to six human rights organisations ‘that had been blocked for years in the UN’s NGO Committee’.
Human Rights Watch’s UN director, Louis Charbonneau, said in a statement that granting UN accreditation to six human rights organisations is a step in the right direction. However, it is only a small sample of the hundreds of organisations whose applications have been unfairly denied for years by Russia, China, and other oppressive governments.’ Rights-respecting countries should push for an urgent overhaul of the UN’s accreditation process for non-governmental organisations, and efforts to silence human rights activists at the UN should be halted.’