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India "blocking" international Dalit body's UN consultative status, says UN official, backed by US, Norway

By Our Representative
In an unusual development, a senior UN official has taken strong exception to India “arbitrarily blocking” high-profile NGO operating from Copenhagen, International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), from obtaining UN consultative status. Calling Indian move “clearly unacceptable, wrong and unfair”, UN Special Rapporteur on the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Maina Kiai has said, reprisals were an area of the gravest concern and some states were repeatedly targeting organizations, “thus obstructing legitimate civil society participation.”
Kiai’s statement, made on October 28 in an address to a UN General Assembly meeting, found strong support from several countries, including the United States and Norway. Echoing Kiai’s concern, the American representative insisted that there was a need to reform the UN Committee on NGOs, which decides on the NGOs to be called as consultants in order to “prevent member states from blocking accreditation applications by posing perpetual questions and blocking consensus”.
The Norwegian representative specifically referred to the “continued deferral for seven years of the IDSN’s application for accreditation as an NGO with the UN”, saying this was “unacceptable and the situation should be rectified.” Earlier, suggesting the urgent need to “reform” of the NGO Committee, Maina Kiai said that this was necessary so that “unjustified blocks of legitimate human rights organisations such as IDSN did not occur.”
Though the UN meeting took place on October 28, the critique, apparently, went unnoticed. In its statement, the IDSN said how Kiai “highlighted” the way in which the NGO Committee had been “politicized”, blocking UN consultative status to NGOs, “deliberately” and “arbitrarily” applications of such bodies like IDSN. It quoted Kiai to say, “Since 2008, this NGO (IDSN) that focuses on caste-based discrimination has received 64 written questions from the committee, all raised by India.” And this was perhaps “the longest pending application before the NGO Committee.”
This NGO Committee is composed of 19 member-states: five from Africa, four from Asia, two from Eastern Europe, four from Latin America and the Caribbean, and four from Western Europe. Apart from India, three countries – known for poor human rights records – Russia, China and Bahrain – seemed not very happy with the UN special rapporteur’s views. Russia wanted that the issues should be resolved through “constructive cooperation with governments” as some NGOs had a “negative impact”.
Other areas of grave concern noted by Maina Kai included reprisals against human rights defenders participating in UN events and processes, the lack of adequate funding for the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the increasingly shrinking space for civil society nationally and internationally.
As an example of this shrinking space the special rapporteur warned, “The demands of the Financial Action Task Force to regulate NGOs to prevent abuse of such organizations for the financing of terrorism have been followed by a wave of new restrictions worldwide on funding for civil society, many of which do nothing to legitimately advance the fight against money laundering and terrorism.”

Comments

Raju Charles said…
Thanks a million to Norway!

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