Issue 32: ECOSOC asks its NGO committee to revisit one of its recommendations and Iran presents a report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has ordered the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to revisit its recommendation that Christian Solidarity International have its status revoked.

Analysis: Giving the Committee until mid-September to come up with a new recommendation on the fate of Christian Solidarity International (CSI), the NGO that was accused of violating the UN’s rules of NGO behavior, ECOSOC also imposed a “temporary suspension” on CSI.

During the debate on the recommended expulsion of CSI, the EU and others were particularly pointed in their criticism of the NGO Committee. For example, speaking for the EU, Finland charged that “the European Union is concerned about the tendency in the NGO Committee to set aside the criteria prescribed by the Council…and to take up other, politically motivated considerations.”

Further, the EU reiterated that it “is of the view that any NGO, regardless of its possible merits or alleged misconducts, is entitled to fairness, impartiality, mature reflection and due process.” UN Watch has always viewed the case of CSI as a test of ECOSOC’s commitment to the principles so ably expressed by the EU. Hopefully, between now and September, the NGO Committee will act in a way to ensure confidence in those values.

* The Government of Iran presented a report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Many CERD experts questioned the delegation about Iran’s respect of religious and ethnic minorities, including an explicit question on the fate of thirteen Jewish Iranians recently charged with spying on behalf of the U.S. and Israel.

Analysis: At CERD – as in all treaty bodies – experts ask oral questions of the reporting State, and then the State responds. Unfortunately, the members of CERD spent almost all the available time asking questions, leaving a mere forty-five minutes to one hour for replies. This inadequate time enabled the Iranian delegation to avoid answering questions they found uncomfortable.

In general, the back-and-forth between treaty bodies and States rarely amounts to “dialogue,” the stated goal of these encounters. In the present case, an opportunity to find out more about the fate of specific individuals persecuted because of their religious beliefs may not have been fully exploited. We hope that CERD, in its final report, will ask the Iranian government to reply in writing to all questions that remain unanswered.

UN Watch