After an ECOSOC Vote Approving the Accreditation of OutRight Action International
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States would like to thank countries for their support of our draft decision. ECOSOC has once again sent a clear message to the NGO Committee and to the international community that it will ensure that diverse voices of civil society, including those that advocate for LGBT rights, are heard at the United Nations.
Today, ECOSOC has strengthened Resolution 1996/31 and has upheld its basic tenet that NGOs which clearly meet the requirements for ECOSOC status and have exhausted the remedies afforded them by the NGO Committee will be granted that status.
We hope that members of the NGO Committee will follow the guidance they have received today from ECOSOC in their future deliberations.
Thank you, Mr. President.
During an ECOSOC Debate on the Accreditation of OutRight Action International
Mr. President, for over 20 years, the OutRight Action International has been a respected human rights organization dedicated to combating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While it is registered in the United States, it also has offices in Argentina, South Africa, and the Philippines. By promoting the implementation of human rights treaties, it already has made a significant contribution to supporting the UN Charter and the work of this Council. It assists non-governmental organizations to prepare and submit documentation to the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, the UN Special procedures, and UN treaty bodies.
The OutRight Action International has also been a leader in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Its work has been praised by both UNAIDS and UNDP. Allow me to quote from a July 16th message from UNDP to the OutRight Action International expressing appreciation for their ongoing cooperation: "Your attention to the links between human rights and HIV has opened up conversations, communication and cooperation in communities that are key to achieving crucial public health, human rights and development goals." UNDP further expresses the hope that the OutRight Action International will work with the recently established Global Commission on HIV and the Law to "mobilize communities across the globe to promote public dialogue on how to make the law work for an effective response to HIV, in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals, especially MDG 6."
In Resolution 1996/31, this Council put forth a set of principles to be applied in the establishment of consultative relations with non-governmental organizations. Let me cite the first three.
The first principle requires that: "The organization shall be concerned with matters falling within the competence of the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies." The OutRight Action International easily meets this standard.
The second principle states: "The aims and purposes of the organization shall be in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations." The OutRight Action International clearly satisfies this standard. In fact, the advancement of the Charter lies at the core of its mission.
The third principle states: "The Organization shall undertake to support the work of the United Nations and to promote knowledge of its principles and activities, in accordance with its own aims and purposes and the nature and scope of its competence and activities." Is there any doubt that the OutRight Action International fully complies with this standard as well? As the testimonials from UNAIDS and UNDP demonstrate, the OutRight Action International is already making a valuable contribution to the work of the United Nations. Granting it consultative status would help strengthen its existing partnerships with the UN system around the globe and would advance our common objective of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
OutRight Action International is a well-known and well-respected NGO that obviously complies with all of the requirements of Resolution 1996/31. One might ask then why some delegations continue to insist that after having answered 44 questions over three sessions of the NGO Committee, and appearing in person on two occasions, OutRight Action International should wait even longer to have its application for consultative status approved.
These delegations claim that they called for a no action motion during the May session of the NGO Committee based on purely procedural considerations that had nothing to do with OutRight Action International's support for LGBT rights. We all know this is disingenuous. We all know the real reason. The NGO Committee has refused to grant consultative status to any LGBT NGO for more than a decade. During that same period, however, ECOSOC has acted to grant consultative status to seven LGBT rights NGO’s whose applications had been rejected by the NGO Committee – most recently last year when the application of a Brazilian LGBT NGO was approved 25-12-13.
These seven ECOSOC decisions have firmly established the principle that an NGO’s support for LGBT rights should not be a disqualifying factor in the NGO Committee's decisions to grant consultative status. But the NGO Committee unfortunately continues to act in complete disregard of the repeated guidance it has received on this matter from its parent body and to ignore the standards set in 1996/31.
When it became obvious that OutRight Action International's application would remain deferred in the NGO Committee indefinitely, the United States requested that the NGO Committee reach a decision. But rather than allow a vote that would in all likelihood be reversed yet again by ECOSOC, OutRight Action International's opponents decided to try a different approach this year. They approved a "no action" motion and then argued that the United States had no standing to ask ECOSOC to grant consultative status to the OutRight Action International since its application was still pending.
As a legal matter, this argument is deeply flawed. ECOSOC clearly has the authority under Resolution 1996/31 paragraph 15 to approve a decision such as E/2010/L.19. But what would be the consequences if we accepted these delegations' procedural argument as a matter of practice in the future? The NGO Committee could then keep controversial NGO applications in an endless state of deferral by refusing to allow votes that could be reviewed by ECOSOC. The end result would be a sharp curtailment of ECOSOC's legitimate and necessary oversight authority over a subsidiary body that it established for the purpose of promoting—not thwarting—the engagement of civil society with the United Nations.
The great diversity of voices heard at the United Nations is one of its underlying strengths as an institution. The members of this Council—including the United States— may not always agree with the views expressed by the 3,200 NGOs which currently enjoy consultative status, but collectively they play a vital role in promoting peace, security, sustainable development, and human rights. The United States urges you to be guided by the standards for consultative status under Resolution 1996/31 and to adopt E/2010/L.19, so that the OutRight Action International can join the UN's vibrant community of civil society organizations, as it so richly deserves.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Published on July 19, 2010 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization