CPJ given NGO consultative status by UN

The application to gain consultative status, made four years ago, was denied earlier this year before being overturned

The UN’s economic andCPJ social council on Monday overturned by a strong vote a decision to deny the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) consultative status at the United Nations.

CPJ applied for the special UN status four years ago, but the application was denied by the UN NGO committee in May.

Seeking to reverse the decision, the United States asked the full 54-member ECOSOC, which oversees the work of the NGO committee, to vote on granting CPJ special status.

A total of 40 countries voted in favour of the request, with five, including China, Russia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Vietnam, voting to oppose.

Six others, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, India, Pakistan and Uganda, abstained.

Granting consultative status to a non-governmental organisation allows it to have access to UN premises and gives it a voice as a recognised civil society group in UN discussions.

US Ambassador Samantha Power told the ECOSOC meeting: “CPJ is an independent impartial organisation with a long track record of reliable reporting.”

Power accused the NGO committee of deferring applications from organisations “simply because their work is critical of governments.”

The NGO committee has deferred decisions on requests from hundreds of organisations for UN status, with 399 applications being deferred in 2013, rising to 480 in 2016.

“The committee designed to support NGO participation at the UN has become a tool for keeping respected NGOs out of the UN,” Power said, calling the body the “anti-NGO committee.”

Russia and China argued that overturning the committee’s decision showed a lack of respect for its work.

There have been concerns about a backlash against NGOs at the United Nations, in particular those that defend reproductive rights and are vocal on LGBT issues and freedom of expression.

Earlier this year, a group of Muslim countries, Russia and African nations blocked 20 NGOs from taking part in a major AIDS conference.

Executive director of CPJ, Joel Simon said: “The council’s vote today recognises the important role that CPJ has played and continues to play at the UN y providing expert knowledge and analysis on press freedom related issues.

“While we are grateful that the vote finally grants CPJ accreditation, we remain disheartened at the politicised process for gaining accreditation and hope that the fact that our application took so long and was so contentious is a wakeup call for the bodies that ensure NGOs are able to access the United Nations,” he added.

Source: AFP, CPJ

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