Two Africa based NGOs, the African Technology Development Link (ATDL) and the African Technical Association (ATA), lost their consultative status within the United Nations after a vote in the UN Committee on NGOs. The decision came soon after the two had made statements criticizing Pakistan’s activities in the Baluchistan and Gilgit-Baltistan Provinces and other areas of the country.
The decision was criticized by activists, notably by the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) for the hasty nature in which the decision was made.
The NGOs were alleged to have used language not befitting the United Nations and were also accused of having violated UN norms against acting in a politically motivated manner against member states. The vote against the NGOs was requested by Pakistan, a member of the Committee, and the Committee decided by 12-5 in the case of the ATDL and by 13-5 in the case of ATA to withdraw the NGOs’ status.
“We are deeply disturbed by the draft decisions of the Committee concerning the withdrawal of the status of these two NGOs. The process used was hurried and failed to fully respect the procedural safeguards required by ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31,” a release on the ISHR website quoted Michelle Evans as saying.
“In particular, the process did not allow the NGOs a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations against them. The decision to withdraw their status was taken despite requests from some Committee members for more time to reach out to the NGOs and ask for clarifying information,” she said.
The ISHR also stated that the process was in complete opposition to how the committee handles applications, where many NGOs wait for years to be granted or denied consultative status. The Human Rights Watch too has come out with a statement against the withdrawal, saying that the withdrawal represented a dangerous precedent, the Pakistani news agency ‘The News International’ reported.
Both India and the United States had voted against the decision to withdraw the NGOs’ status. “The loss here is for civil society. It will have a chilling effect on civil society as a whole and how they engage with the United Nations,” the US representative was quoted as saying by a UN press release.