But welcomes ECOSOC grant of NGO status to Brazilian gays and U.S.-based Democracy Coalition Project
GENEVA, July 27, 2009 — UN Watch, a Geneva-based monitoring group, condemned the U.N.’s decision today to reject an international Christian charity as a non-governmental observer owing to its refusal to accede to Beijing’s demands that it disclose member addresses in China, and “concerns” by Russia, Egypt, Cuba, Pakistan, and Sudan about “the organization’s ability to contribute” to the world body.
Despite a U.S. initiative to keep the application open, the Dynamic Christian World Mission Foundation—a group registered in Korea and California that promotes Christianity through educational projects in Russia, Japan and Kyrgyzstan—lost today by a vote of 23 to 22 at ECOSOC, the U.N. organ that oversees NGO participation at the UN Human Rights Council.
“Today’s vote is a setback for religious freedom, and could set a dangerous precedent at the U.N. for repressive regimes to launch frivolous objections, or demand sensitive information, in order to obstruct the important work of civil society organizations in the areas of religion, education, and human rights,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
Those voting to reject the Christian missionary group included Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, India, Indonesia, China, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, and Venezuela.
Those voting to support its application included the U.S., Brazil, Greece, Guatemala, Canada, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Germany, Japan, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, and Portugal.
“NGOs at the U.N. are routinely under assault,” said Neuer.
However, Neuer welcomed two other votes initiated by Western states today that saw ECOSOC overrule earlier decisions by a lower committee and grant accreditation to two NGOs.
By a vote of 25 to 12, with 13 abstentions, the U.N. accredited the Brazilian Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Association. Those voting no included Algeria, Belarus, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.
Egypt, an observer state on the 54-member body, suggested that the aim of the NGO and its supporters was to make homosexuality universal, and complained of “double standards” against Muslim charities that were rejected for ties to terrorism. In response, Brazil said the group merely represented a constituency of people.
Similarly, by a vote of 30 to 9, with 8 abstentions, the U.N. today also accredited the Democracy Coalition Project (DCP), a Washington-based organization founded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Those voting against it included China, Russia, Sudan, Venezuela, Belarus, Bolivia, Malaysia, and Mozambique. China and Russia said the group “attacked countries specifically” and had “a political agenda.”
“Like UN Watch,” said Neuer, “DCP scores countries on their U.N. voting records, and non-democratic rulers simply detest scrutiny.”
Finally, UN Watch raised concerns about ECOSOC’s consensus decision to suspend the Arab Commission for Human Rights for one year on the grounds that a June 2008 speech to the UN Human Rights Council was read out by Rachid Mesli, an Algerian human rights lawyer convicted by his country for terrorism in 1999. His trial was criticized by Amnesty International, and Mesli was granted refugee status in Switzerland.
While in January the U.S. abstained on the recommended suspension of the NGO, and the U.K., according to Inner City Press, criticized it as “heavy-handed,” no Western countries spoke out today.