Παρασκευή, 7 Ιουνίου 2013

In historic votes, NGO Committee recommends Special Consultative Status to two lesbian and queer organizations

From 20-29 May, The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations held its 2013 resumed session where it considered 246 new and 180 deferred applications for consultative status by NGOs. 

In historic votes, it recommended special consultative status to two organizations supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, the first time since 2008.

During the resumed session, the Committee – for the second and third time in its history – recommended special consultative status to two gay and lesbian civil society groups. 

On 24 May, the Committee recommended 
special consultative status to the national-based Australian Lesbian Medical Association, which advances both lesbian health professionals’ visibility and lesbian health in general. 

The organization had faced postponement for seven consecutive sessions and had answered 54 questions posed to it over the years. 

The Committee approved recommendation 
by vote – 9 in favour to 6 against, with 2 abstentions. 
Following the vote, several Members of the Committee expressed support for the decision. 

The representative of Belgium underscored that the Association, as one of the oldest on the list of deferred organizations, was a “victim of unfair treatment and discrimination” by the Committee.

On 28 May, the Committee recommended 
special consultative status to a gay civil society group, the Austrian organization, Homosexuelle Initiative Wien,  
following a vote of 9 in favour to 6 against, with 2 abstentions. 

The representative of the United States said that it was a “monumental achievement” to approve consultative status for an organization that had been deferred since 2007, while Bulgaria’s delegate pointed out that the decision illustrated the Committee moving away from past “discriminatory practices.” 

Rather, such approval, which had been a rare event, was now demonstrating the establishment of a new pattern with regard to civil society groups in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“The decision this week by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to recommend consultative status to two organizations representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is a triumph in the ongoing struggle to advance human rights and enhance the involvement of those working on sexual orientation and gender identity at the UN,” 
Michelle Evans of International Service for Human Rights said.

“With consultative status, these groups can better serve LGBT communities by sharing information and analysis of the abuses and discrimination LGBT people face around the world, and by advocating for their rights in UN spaces,” 
Ms. Evans added.

The 19-member Committee recommends that the Council grant general, special or roster status, in accordance with such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime. 
Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend the Council’s meetings and circulate statements, while those with general status can, in addition, address meetings and propose agenda items.
Roster-status NGOs can only attend meetings.

During the meeting, the Committee also addressed the increases in workload, with several delegates saying it was challenging to address all the applications it receives. 
Technical and staff problems had affected workflow, resulting in a delay reviewing cases and a growing backlog, the delegate of Turkey pointed out. 
There were concerns, as well, that large numbers of organizations applying for the first time could end up being deferred.

Members stressed that the Committee had a great responsibility towards the United Nations and civil society. Further, an increase in workload required an increase in resources and time. 
With approximately 200 more applications than the previous session, a thorough comprehensive discussion of working methods was needed rather than a piecemeal solution, the United States’ representative said.

Members of the NGO Committee for the period 2011-2014 are: 
Belgium, Bulgaria, Burundi, 
China, Cuba, 
India, Israel, 
Kyrgyzstan, 
Morocco, Mozambique, 
Nicaragua, 
Pakistan, Peru, 
Russian Federation, 
Senegal, Sudan, 
Turkey, 
United States of America, and 

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