T Kumar of Amnesty International speaking at event at the UN march 20, 2015.
The US expressed her concerns at the withdrawal of the special consultative status for two African NGOs, on the bidding of Pakistan and China, that had helped highlight the human rights situation on Balochistan at the UN in Geneva.
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations voted to withdraw the roster status of two organizations, African Technology Development Link and African Technical Association on Pakistan’s request Tuesday-- the same day Pakistani security forces forcibly disappeared brother and uncle of Swiss-based leader of the Baloch Republican Party Azizullah Bugti. Both NGOs enjoyed special consultative status with the Unido.
The African Technical Association, in collaboration with Baloch leaders Mehran Baluch and Noordin Mengal, had organized a side event at the Palace of Nations on Geneva on March 20, which was addressed among others by Amnesty International’s international outreach director based in Washington DC.
“The loss here is for civil society,” the US delegate Kelly Razzouk said in a general statement following the second vote. Stripping an organization of its status was not a decision to be taken lightly. “It will have a chilling effect on civil society as a whole and how they engage with the United Nations,” she was cited as saying in a UN Press release.
Taking the floor prior to the first vote, the representative of Pakistan said that the organizations in question were “maligning the good name of Africa”, as they had made false statements against other Member States. Pakistan representation to the UN is headed by Maleeha Lodhi, who became the envoy after the army soft coup in Pakistan last fall. Samantha Power heads the US delegation.
The representative of China said that the organizations in question had conducted activities that smacked of political intentions and had launched “wanton political attacks” against other Member States.
Kelly Razzouk said much was not known about the two organizations in question. Among other steps, updated applications could be requested from them, she said. Withdrawing the status of two organizations from Africa — which was underrepresented — was a “drastic step”, and she wished to see the process undertaken in a more transparent manner. The representatives from Greece, Israel and Uruguay said they shared those concerns.
Civil society organizations expressed anguish. “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,” said Michelle Evans of the ISHR in New York. “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 deplored.
A recorded vote was held on Pakistan's proposal to withdraw the roster status of two accredited non-governmental organizations. United States was joined by India, Israel, Greece and Uruguay to oppose the Pakistan-China vote. Most of the world’s governments with dubious human rights record sided with Pakistan and China. These countries were Azerbaijan, Cuba, Guinea, Iran, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Russia, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey, and Venezuela.
It is not the first time an NGO lost its consultative status for highlighting Balochistan issues. Six years ago the Interfaith International met a similar faith. Last fall, Baloch leader Hyrbyair Marri and his colleagues were escorted out of the Palace of Nations in Geneva by the security personnel. Baloch Voice Foundation chair Munir Mengal lodged a written complaint with the UN to explain the reasons for the ouster "I have not received any explanation as yet," Mengal said on phone from Paris.