ECOSOC States give approval to six NGOs amid shocking delays at the UN

After years of delays, six human rights organizations have finally received permission to raise concerns and participate in discussions at the U.N. body overseeing economic development and social issues. The six groups now join thousands of NGOs with consultative status at the U.N. Economic and Social Council (known as ECOSOC).

The six organizations which won ECOSOC approval for consultative status are the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Diakonia in Sweden, No Peace Without Justice in Italy, the Estonian Institute of Human Rights, and two US-based groups — the Syrian-American Medical Society and the Wikimedia Foundation (the foundation that runs Wikipedia).

The United States had pushed for a vote on the six groups in June in the U.N. Committee on Non-governmental Organizations, which handles requests for accreditation to the ECOSOC. But a majority of the NGO committee’s 19 members voted to end the debate on the six applications, which again meant no action to be taken.

The U.S., Italy, Sweden, and Estonia then introduced a resolution seeking a vote in ECOSOC. The result was 23 countries in favor, 7 against, and 18 abstentions. The countries that opposed granting this consultative status to the six rights groups were Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.

Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The decision to grant U.N. accreditation to six human rights groups is a step in the right direction. But it’s only a fraction of the hundreds of organizations whose applications have been unfairly blocked for years by Russia, China, and other abusive governments.”