ECOSOC and NGOs

Written by Kashi Nath Pandita, Secretary General of Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum (AEHRF), and Vice-President of the Geneva Office of AEHRF:

The need and importance of NGOs in promoting good governance has been debated for a long time. A majority of commentators has recommended further empowerment of NGOs as they are the real liaising mechanism between the civil society and the government.

However, formulation of an NGO and its accreditation to ECOSOC remain a complicated process. There is need of changing the broad approach to these aspects. Our experience is that at present an NGO seeking ECOSOC status is generally looked upon with some suspicion. Owing to political differences among member states of the UN, these differences are allowed to percolate down to lower levels and take the toll of good intentions of aspiring NGOs.

A reform in the procedures of granting ECOSOC status to aspiring NGOs is badly needed. It makes little sense that the granting of status is deferred for innumerable number of years. Procrastinating the matter badly affects the working spirit of an NGO. This trend has to be arrested. A decision about granting or not granting status to an aspiring NGO should be tie bound.

Yet one more aspect of the issue needs to be addressed. A free and fair discussion on each new application has not been witnessed in the NGO Committee. The member states are conditioned by mutual political relation syndrome. There is more of escapism rather than initiative for helping the civil society move towards good governance.

This matter needs to be discussed by the civil society with all seriousness. K.N. Pandita.

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