India along with six others has voted against a draft resolution presented by the US that recommended six human rights groups, which have been blocked for years in the United Nations' NGO Committee, be granted special consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council.
At the meeting of the 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations recommended 203 groups for special consultative status.
However, six other non-governmental organisations, including the foundation that runs Wikipedia, were added to the list in a draft proposed by the United States, which, in turn, led to a call for a recorded vote, according to the UN.
A report on the UN website said that the draft resolution on the list of non-governmental organisations receiving consultative status with the Council, presented by the United States' delegate, "caused a brief stir." The draft resolution, sponsored by a total of 36 countries, recommended six additional non-governmental organisations to the list proposed by the Committee. It was adopted by 23 votes in favour with China, India, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Russia and Zimbabwe voting against and 18 abstentions.
The Council decided to grant special consultative status to 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.
The United States' delegate pointed out that those organisations had been waiting for years to obtain non-governmental status and repeatedly answered questions from members of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations.
Supporters of the amended resolution defended the right of the six organisations to make their voices heard at the United Nations. Others pointed to those organisations having political or, as stated by Israel's delegate, even terrorist affiliations, the report said.
Several member states members criticised the approach of submitting the request directly to the Council on the grounds that it was a manoeuvre to circumvent the Committee.
The report added that the representative of India, in explanation of the position after the vote, highlighted the key role of the Committee, which has a clear mandate. The procedure is transparent, he said, cautioning against any deviation from it.
Human Rights Watch welcomed the ECOSOC approval for UN accreditation for the six human rights groups "that have been blocked for years in the UN's NGO Committee." Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that the decision to grant UN accreditation to six human rights groups is a step in the right direction.
"But it's only a fraction of the hundreds of organisations whose applications have been unfairly blocked for years by Russia, China, and other abusive governments. Rights-respecting countries should push for an urgent overhaul of the UN's accreditation process for non-governmental organizations and put a stop to efforts to silence human rights activists at the UN."
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