Introducing a draft resolution titled “Application of the non-governmental organization Freedom Now for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council” (document E/2015/L.21), the representative of the United States said the group had worked for the defense of freedom of expression of political prisoners in the world. Its application had been on the agenda of the Committee’s for five years, with more than 60 questions put to its approval and it deserved status with the Economic and Social Council. The speaker from Albania said that Member States had the obligation to defend human rights and the work of the NGOs. Accordingly, he noted that Freedom Now should have the same status with other NGOs.
The Council then, by a recorded vote of 29 in favour to 9 against with 11 abstentions, adopted draft resolution E/2015/L.21.
Introducing a draft resolution titled “Application of the non-governmental organization Palestinian Return Centre for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council” (document E/2015/L.25), which would have the Council decide not to grant special consultative status to the group, Israel’s delegate emphasized the involvement of NGOs as crucial for the functioning of civil society and that his delegation had been proud to promote the granting of consultative status to many NGOs working to promote human rights. However, the Palestinian Return Centre was not what it had claimed to be; it was not only affiliated with Hamas, but it was also an essential part of the Hamas network. It was well known that the Centre operated throughout Europe, calling for the annihilation of Israel, and that it was funded by well-known terrorist organizations. The Centre had constantly denied any connection with Hamas, but this denial was deceitful, he said, quoting a conversation he saw between the Hamas Prime Minister and one of the leaders of the Centre. Israel urged the Economic and Social Council to not grant consultative status to the group, an organization that was in clear violation of the charter of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security. If the application was not handled correctly, it would pave the way for other terrorist organizations, such as Jabra al-Nusra and ISIS, to receive NGO status under humanitarian names and gain a foothold at the United Nations, he said.
Making a statement before the vote in connection with the draft decision, the speaker from the United States said her delegation would vote in favour of the draft due to serious concerns about the Palestinian Return Centre, its background and activities. It was unfortunate that some delegations had pushed the voting “prematurely”, however, and several questions related to the organization remained unanswered.
The Council then took action on “L.25” with a recorded vote of 13 in favour to 16 against, with 18 abstentions.
Speaking after the vote, several delegations relayed their positions.
The United Kingdom’s delegate said the involvement of NGOs was an essential part of the United Nations and attached great importance to open, strong and independent societies to support the work of the Organization. Questions, however, had been raised about the Centre as to whether its objectives were compatible with the work of the United Nations and, as such, the United Kingdom had voted in favour of the proposal.
The delegate from Germany said her delegation had followed the issue very carefully. Echoing the previous statement about unanswered questions, she said that her country could not vote for the Palestinian Return Centre to become an affiliated NGO.
Responding to the speaker from Congo’s statement that his delegation was unable to press the voting button, Council President OH JOON (Republic of Korea) said the records would reflect that point.