Fair Treatment for Civil Society at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

To the Members and Observers of the United Nations Economic and Social Council:

Civil society is a vital partner in the work of the United Nations and the 2010 session of the UN ECOSOC presents an opportunity to support civil society voices. We urge you to support the application for NGO consultative status of the human rights organization, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and to prevent the unfair use of procedural measures to silence civil society.

Last month, certain Member States in the subsidiary NGO Committee presented a motion of "no action" on the call for a vote to decide on the consultative status application of IGLHRC. This no-action call was successful despite the fact that IGLHRC's application has already been in the Committee process for three years and the organization has answered numerous questions and requests for information. The nature of the questions facing IGLHRC and various other statements made by some Member States indicated that this stalling tactic was motivated by the fact that IGLHRC's human-rights work focuses on already marginalized lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

This is the first time this no-action procedure has been used to prevent the Committee from doing its work to make a recommendation on an application's merits after an initial (and in this case extensive) review of the applying organization. This extraordinary use of the no-action motion to prevent the full ECOSOC from taking decisions on an NGOs application, where that NGO works on politically contentious issues or for unpopular minority groups, should not be allowed to stand. If left unchallenged, this could result in the regular use of such a procedure to block progress. This would subvert the purpose of the NGO sub-committee, deny the ECOSOC the opportunity to fulfill its function and would limit the access of vital civil society groups to contribute to the work of the UN.

We call on you to support IGLHRC's application for consultative status at ECOSOC and to send a message to the NGO Committee that it must review all applications without discrimination.

Diversity of civil society at the United Nations is essential to respecting, protecting and promoting the human rights of all people and to achieving sustainable peace and human security. Please do not allow the voices of marginalized people to be silenced by discrimination and procedural roadblocks.

Sincerely,

Organization
Country Name
ECOSOC Status

This letter is also available in French and Spanish.