The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has presented his Annual Report to the UN Human Rights Council. The report features concern over the continuous deferral of applications for UN consultative status from civil society organisations and includes direct reference to IDSN’s application, which has been unjustly deferred by the UN NGO Committee for 10 years.

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IDSN has issued a factsheet covering all the details of IDSN’s case, including over 80 questions received from India over the past 10 years and statements of UN experts addressing IDSN’s case.

In 2017, a UN side-event was held in New York, where prominent speakers addressed the fact that the NGO committee was not fulfilling its mandate and was seen to block rather than foster the participation of NGOs in UN human rights fora. The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and Freedom Now have also circulated a Background note on the NGO Committee alongside a note on options for reform of the NGO Committee.

Please see the extracts from the High Commissioner’s 2018 report here:

  1. Several Member States, 11 regional organizations and civil society organizations highlighted the Economic and Social Council accreditation procedure as a considerable obstacle to the involvement of civil society in United Nations forums. Deferrals that amounted to de facto rejections seemed to target disproportionately civil society that worked on human rights-related issues. In her 2014 report, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association noted that, out of 48 organizations that had had their accreditations repeatedly deferred, 46 worked on human rights issues, such as children and women’s rights, minorities and country situations (see A/69/365, para. 74). She condemned such practices and insisted that States and the United Nations had a legal obligation to strengthen civil society participation within the United Nations, including by ensuring that people could exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in multilateral arenas (ibid. para. 57). It was reported that some decisions had been deferred for up to nine years before eventually being rejected, while some were still awaiting final determination.12

Footnote 12: For example, World Uyghur Congress, Alkarama (since 2015), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (since 2009), Committee to Protect Journalists (since 2012) and International Dalit Solidarity Network (since 2008). The application of Journalists and Writers Foundation was withdrawn by the Department of Public Information.

  1. 21. One commentator noted that the practice of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations reflected the growing restrictions placed on civil society globally, while at the very time restrictions at the national level made access to the United Nations all the more crucial.13 Some submissions suggested that certain accreditation practices had become politicized14 and might constitute a form of reprisals.15 For example, the process of asking questions during meetings of the Committee was identified as a means to block critical voices, which resulted in repeated deferrals of and de facto rejections of applications for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, 16 reportedly targeting civil society organizations because of their engagement with the United Nations human rights mechanisms and other regional and international organizations.Footnote 13:   See Similar concerns related to the politicization of the Committee were mentioned by UNDESA, Alkarama, International Dalit Solidarity Network and others.

More information:

The European Parliament stresses the need “to promote an enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders working with people affected by caste discrimination in order to ensure their security and avoid any impediments to, or stigmatization or restriction of, their work; stresses that such an environment should include access to funding, cooperation with UN human rights bodies and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) accreditation.”

  • Read the open letterto the ECOSOC members sent by IDSN and other affected NGOs being blocked from gaining ECOSOC status