Monthly Archives: May 2017

Suspending 2017 Session, Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations Postpones Consideration of 33 Applications

The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today suspended its 2017 resumed session pending one final day of work next month when its report will be finalized for adoption.

It also decided to postpone its consideration of 33 applications of non-governmental organizations pending their submission of written responses and recommended that the Economic and Social Council close consideration of applications which had not responded to the Committee’s last three reminders.

During the half-day session, the Committee approved the dates 29 January to 6 February and 22 February, and 21 to 31 May and 11 June for the 2018 regular and resumed sessions, respectively.  It also approved the provisional agenda for its 2018 session (document E/C.2/2017/L.1).  The Committee’s draft report was introduced by Rapporteur Farid Jabrayilov (Azerbaijan).

In closing remarks, Committee Chair Jorge Dotta (Uruguay) commended the subsidiary body’s work in approving a total of 181 applications, noting that out of 164 new applications considered, 124 were recommended status.  For the first time, the session had been broadcasted, allowing for more transparency with civil society and providing them with a better understanding into what the Committee expects.  Underscoring the need for further efficiency, he recommended the Committee organize a meeting on working methods prior to its next session.

Action on applications was postponed because Committee members requested further information from the candidates about, among other items, details of their respective organizations’ projects, partners, expenditures, sources of funding and possible contribution to the work of the United Nations.

The 19-member Committee vets applications submitted by non-governmental organizations, recommending general, special or roster status on the basis of such criteria as the applicant’s mandate, governance and financial regime.  Organizations enjoying general and special status can attend meetings of the Council and issue statements, while those with general status can also speak during meetings and propose agenda items.  Organizations with roster status can only attend meetings.

The Committee will reconvene on 12 June to conclude its work.

Deferred Applications

The Committee postponed its consideration of requests for consultative status from the following 33 organizations pending their responses to questions posed by members:

International Non-Olympic Committee (India) — as the representative of India requested additional information of the group’s organizational structure.

International Human Right Organization (Pakistan) — as the representative of Pakistan requested additional detail on the group’s projects with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

International Non-Olympic University (India) — as the representative of India requested further clarification on whether the group was registered with his country’s educational organizations.

Pak Women (Pakistan) — as the representative of Pakistan requested further detail on the group’s projects.

RESDAL Red de Seguridad y Defensa de América Latina Asociación Civil (Argentina) — as the representative of Venezuela requested an updated copy of the group’s financial statement.

Social Services Trust (India) — as the representative of India requested additional information on the group’s grants and if it was planning to expand its operations abroad.

The Arab Council for Supporting Fair Trial (Egypt) — as the representative of Cuba requested clarification on the organization’s relationship with the Government, and the representative of South Africa requested additional details on its projects.

The New Woman Foundation (Egypt) — as the representative of India requested further information on the group’s sources of income, and the representative of South Africa requested additional detail on regional projects.

The Voice Society (Pakistan) — as the representative of Pakistan requested details the organization’s activities across the country.

Anti-Corruption Foundation (Russian Federation) — as the representative of the Russian Federation requested additional information on the organization’s sources of income.

Asia Center for Human Rights (Republic of Korea) — as the representative of China requested clarification regarding the group’s contribution to the Winter Olympics.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (Denmark) — as the representative of the Russian Federation requested additional information on the group’s advisory board.

Christian Solidarity International (CSI) (Switzerland) — as the representative Nicaragua requested a list of organizations with which it worked in the Central American nation.

Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) (Republic of Korea) — as the representative of Cuba requested additional information on the group’s projects.

European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Limited (Belgium) — as the representative of Pakistan requested additional information on the group’s reports, and the representative of Cuba requested clarification on its operation and donations.

Global Forum for Media Development (Belgium) — as the representative of Cuba requested additional information on the group’s work.

Global Network of Sex Work Projects Limited (Scotland) — as the representative of Nicaragua requested additional information on the group’s work and current projects.

Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) Limited (Ireland) — as the representative of India requested the organization provide details on its projects carried out with United Nations funding.

Hokok Coalición Internacional Contra la Impunidad (Spain) — as the representative of Israel requested information on whether the group was working to promote the Sustainable Development Goals.

International Dalit Solidarity Network (Denmark) — as the representative of India requested information on the group’s activities in other countries and its partners.

International Gulf Organization FZ-LLC (Switzerland) — as the representative of Iran requested additional details on the group’s human rights education projects.

Jeunesse Etudiante Tamoule (France) — as the representative of Turkey requested information on the group’s publications, and the representative of India asked if it had offices in India.

Muslim Hands (United Kingdom) — as the representative of Israel asked about the organization’s projects in the Middle East, and the representative of India asked whether it carried out activities in India.

NDLH International Network of International Diplomacy, International Law and Human Rights (Norway) — as the representative of the Russian Federation requested additional details on the group’s work, and the representative of China requested additional information on its partners.

Peace Brigades International (United Kingdom) — as the representative of China requested further information on how the group selected volunteers to carry out its work.

Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Inc. (United States) — as the representative of China requested further detail on the group’s “relationship-building” events.

Stichting Pro Papua (Netherlands) — as the representative of Iran requested additional detail on the group’s grassroots projects and methods of implementation.

The Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice (Russian Federation) — as the representative of the Russian Federation requested the group’s sources of data to present its reports and additional detail regarding its cooperation with Canadian organizations.

US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (United States) — as the representative of the Russian Federation asked which projects the group had carried out with funding from the Open Society organization and the State Department Bureau of Democracy.

United Sikhs (United States) — as the representative of India requested further details on the group’s collaborations and its future plan of implementation.

We Care for Humanity (United States) — as the representative of Cuba requested an up to date presentation of the group’s budget, including a breakdown of projects.

Youth RISE (Resource, Information, Support, Education) Limited (United Kingdom) — as the representative of China requested details on the group’s projects in combating drug use among youth.

Right Livelihood Award Foundation (Sweden) — as the representative of the Russian Federation asked whether the group was fully aware of the history of the White Helmets organization, which was one of its awardees, and whether it was sure the White Helmets had not participated in the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Closure of Applications

The Committee decided to close, without prejudice, a number of deferred applications of groups that had not responded to the subsidiary body’s last three reminders as of 31 May 2017.

General Assembly Elects Slovakia Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák President of Seventy-Second Session, while Selecting Bureaux for Main Committees

The General Assembly today elected Miroslav Lajčák, Slovakia’s Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, as President of its seventy-second session, while also selecting members to the Bureaux of its six Main Committees.

In accordance with tradition, the Assembly President’s election follows the system of geographical rotation whereby regional groups — the Eastern European States in the present case — putting a consensus candidate forward every year.

Following the election, the new President outlined six priorities, emphasizing first his intention to focus on people.  “I do believe we can do more to bring the UN closer to the world’s citizens” and make a real difference in their lives, he said.  The Sustainable Development Goals and climate action would also be important priorities, he said, adding that human rights would guide his work as an overarching principle.

He went on to highlight the importance of prevention and mediation in sustaining peace, and of calling attention to the issue of migration.  Emphasizing the importance of quality, he pledged not to launch any initiative that would result in additional burdens, particularly for smaller States, saying he would rather create a streamlined agenda, organized in clusters.

Indeed, creating a stronger United Nations, able to meet the multitude of expectations placed upon it was a common goal, he continued, adding that, to that end, he would facilitate a constructive, informed and open interaction among Member States and with the Secretary-General.  He called for greater trust between the United Nations and its members, stressing that he would do his utmost to support progress on the United Nations reform agenda.  He underlined the vital need to bolster the General Assembly’s role and improve its efficiency, and to transform the Security Council into a twenty-first-century entity.

Extending his congratulations, outgoing President Peter Thomson (Fiji) emphasized the Assembly’s critical role in setting the stage for peace and sustainable development amid massive global challenges — constant conflict, the largest refugee and humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, the spread of terrorism and the destructive effects of climate change.  He expressed confidence that, under Mr. Lajčák’s leadership, the United Nations would be strongly positioned to advance efforts to sustain peace, promote human rights and “stay the course” in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Secretary-General António Guterres also congratulated the new President, commending his “impressive” command of the Organization’s work and strong commitment to its principles.  Mr. Lajčák had expressed his firm belief that “strengthening the UN is the best investment to achieve the universal desire for peace, development, equality and justice in the world”, he recalled.

Also congratulating the President-elect on behalf of regional groups were representatives of the following Member States:  Cameroon (African States), Marshall Islands (Asia-Pacific States), Poland (Eastern European States), Haiti (Latin American and Caribbean States), Austria (Western European and Other States) and the United States (Host Country).

Acting in accordance with tradition, the Secretary-General then drew lots to determine which delegation would occupy the first seat in the General Assembly Hall during the seventy-second session.  The Czech Republic’s delegation was picked for the first seat, to be followed in English alphabetical order by all the other countries, including in the Main Committees.

The Assembly also elected the following 21 Vice-Presidents of its plenary:  Afghanistan, Bolivia, Chile, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe.  Also serving as Vice-Presidents were the five permanent members of the Security Council — China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.

Prior to that action, the outgoing President expressed regret that out of 16 regional nominations, only two representatives had been female.  He encouraged Member States to consider what steps they could take to advance gender parity.

A number of delegates then expressed reservations about Israel’s election as an Assembly Vice-President, with Iran’s delegate representative emphasizing that Israel was “in no way qualified”, having occupied Palestinian lands and committed flagrant violations of international law for decades.  “Israel is no friend to the United Nations,” he stressed, disassociating his delegation from Israel’s election.

Qatar’s representative pointed out that the role of Vice-President demanded respect for United Nations decisions, whereas Israel saw itself as superior to its resolutions and violated them regularly.

Syria’s representative described Israel’s election as part of a “clear policy” by the Group of Western European and Other States, as well as the Assembly’s Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization), Fifth (Administrative and Budgetary) and Sixth (Legal) Committees.  Underlining that Israel was an occupying Power, he said its candidacy in elections for any United Nations entity was at odds with the Organization’s Charter.

The Assembly then held consecutive meetings of its six Main Committees to elect members of their respective bureaux.  It elected five Chairs by acclamation, while electing the Chair of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) by secret ballot.

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) elected Mouayed Saleh (Iraq) as Chair; Terje Taadik (Estonia), Alfredo Toro Carnevalli (Venezuela) and Georg Sparber (Liechtenstein) as Vice-Chairs; and Martin Ngundze (South Africa) as Rapporteur.

As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) opened its meeting, Haiti’s representative announced the unanimous decision by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) to nominate Rafael Darió Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela) as Chair, while emphasizing that no aspect of his country’s current political situation would prevent him from fulfilling his duty in that position.

However, the representative of the United States called for a secret ballot, expressing concern about the state of democracy in Venezuela and the ability of a representative of the Government of President Nicolás Maduro to serve as Chair of the Fourth Committee in a fair and apolitical manner.  To date, nearly 60 Venezuelans had died and hundreds had been injured or arrested in political protests, while thousands had fled to neighbouring countries, she said.  Noting that the Government was attempting to rewrite the Constitution and curbing political freedoms, she said the United States could not support the candidacy of Mr. Ramírez until democratic order was restored in Venezuela.

The Fourth Committee then elected Mr. Ramírez as its Chair after he received 133 votes, surpassing the required majority.

Mr. Ramírez (Venezuela) rejected the attempt by the United States delegation to alter the “posture and position” of the Latin American and Caribbean region as an attack on the multilateral system, aimed at imposing its own will.  “Today, we have taught [the United States] an extraordinary lesson in sovereignty,” he said, vowing to advance the Fourth Committee’s efforts to eradicate colonialism, including the dominion of the United States over Puerto Rico, among other territories.

Acting by acclamation, the Fourth Committee then elected Ahmed al-Mahmoud (United Arab Emirates) and Ceren Hande Őzgür (Turkey) as Vice-Chairs, and Angel Angelov (Bulgaria) as Rapporteur.

In a second secret ballot vote, the Committee elected Yasser Halfouni (Morocco) as the Vice-Chair by 88 votes to 58 for Zaina Benhabouche (Algeria).

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) elected Sven Jürgenson (Estonia) as Chair; Malelaos Menelaou (Cyprus), Kimberly Louis (Saint Lucia) and Valérie Bruell-Melchior (Monaco) as Vice-Chairs; and Chipulu Luswili Chanda (Zambia) as Rapporteur.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) elected Einar Gunnarsson (Iceland) as Chair; Nebil Idris (Eritrea), Alanoud Qassim M.A. al‑Temimi (Qatar) and Dóra Kaszás (Hungary) as Vice-Chairs; and Mariá José del Águila (Guatemala) as Rapporteur.

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) elected Tommo Monthé (Cameroon) as Chair; Abbas Yazdani (Iran), Anda Grinberga (Latvia) and Julie O’Brien (Ireland) as Vice-Chairs; and Felipe Garcia Landa (Mexico) as Rapporteur.

The Sixth Committee (Legal) elected Burhan Gafoor (Singapore) as Chair, as well as Duncan Laki Muhumuza (Uganda), Angel Horna (Peru), Carrie McDougall (Australia) and Peter Nagy (Slovakia) as Vice-Chairs, with Mr. Nagy also elected Rapporteur.

At the outset, Mr. Thomson (Fiji) expressed his deepest sympathies following the terrorist attack earlier today in Kabul, Afghanistan, which claimed many lives, also extending condolences to all family members of the victims of recent terrorist attacks around the world.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 1 June, to discuss implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV/AIDS.

South and Central Asia: On the Terrorist Attack in Kabul, Afghanistan

The United States strongly condemns today’s deadly attack in Kabul.

We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and injured, including our Afghan partners, members of the diplomatic and international communities, and many innocent Afghan citizens. We pray for a speedy recovery to the American and Afghan members of our mission staff and others who were injured in this attack, and we praise the Afghan Security Forces, police, and medical professionals who were the first responders to the scene.

In the face of this senseless and cowardly act, the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan is unwavering; the United States stands with the government and the people of Afghanistan and will continue to support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country.

Written question – A comprehensive approach to pastoralism in Africa – E-003402/2017

In the Eastern African drylands, drought is currently affecting millions of people, including pastoralists.

Besides humanitarian assistance, a comprehensive approach towards pastoralism is needed to increase the resilience of pastoralist communities.

In previous resolutions on this topic, including those of 15 September 2011 on famine in East Africa(1) and of 12 March 2015 on Tanzania(2), Parliament stressed the importance of pastoralism.

In 2013, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution on pastoralism. In 2014, as a follow-up this resolution, the Commission stated that it was preparing a reference document on pastoralism for EU delegations, which was supposed to build on analyses of successful initiatives supported by the EU and other stakeholders.

When does the Commission intend to publish this document, what kind of guidance will it provide and how will civil society organisations be included in the process?

How will the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) consider the role and needs of pastoralists in its forthcoming strategy document on fostering state, economic, environmental/climate and societal resilience in third countries?

Act before time runs out, urges UNICEF, as Yemen grapples with ‘unprecedented’ cholera outbreak

31 May 2017 &#150 Amid an “unprecedented” increase in suspected cholera cases in war-torn Yemen – where medical facilities are teetering on the edge of collapse – the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stepped up its response but warned that time may be “running out.”

“More and more children die every day in Yemen from preventable causes like malnutrition and cholera,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement yesterday.

“Anyone with a heart for children cannot let the situation continue. Stop the conflict [now],” he urged.

According to the UN agency, more than 65,000 suspected cases of the deadly disease have been reported in the country, of which about 10,000 were reported in the past 72 hours alone.

Some 532 people, including 109 children have succumbed to the disease over the past month. The numbers are feared to rise as more cases are verified.

Responding to the outbreak, UNICEF has sent in three aircrafts carrying over 40 metric tonnes of lifesaving supplies including medicines, oral rehydration salts (ORS), diarrhoea disease kits and intravenous fluids to treat more than 50,000 patients.

It is also helping provide chlorinated drinking water, disinfect wells and set up water filling stations and storage.

But needs continue to increase, with medicines and other vital medical equipment in short supply, said UNICEF.

This latest crisis comes as the country has been reeling under the effects of a conflict, now into its third year, that has rendered water treatment plants barely functional and water sources severely contaminated by sewage and uncollected garbage.

Half of the country’s health facilities aren’t working, and medical staff haven’t been paid for over eight months.

“The situation in Yemen is teetering on the verge of disaster […] over 27 million Yemenis are staring at an unforgiving humanitarian catastrophe. The biggest victims of this man-made tragedy are Yemen’s most vulnerable population – its children,” underscored Meritxell Relaño UNICEF Representative in Yemen.

“The international community needs to support long-term investments in social services like water and sanitation. Otherwise, deadly disease outbreaks will strike again and kill many more.”