I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of the governments of Norway and New Zealand.
The United Nations is, and should remain, an intergovernmental organization where decisions are taken by its Member States.
At the same time, the relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations is as old as the Charter itself and critical to our work.
Today’s issues are very different from those the world faced when the United Nations was created. Governments alone cannot resolve today’s global problems.
We strongly concur with the finding of the Cardoso report that global threats like terrorism, climate change and AIDS, require global solutions involving all actors and stakeholders. Meeting future challenges calls for real partnerships between governments and the NGO community. Expanding and deepening the relationship with NGOs will strengthen our work.
When making difficult choices, decision-makers must work hand in hand with decision-shapers to address and promote the important issues that confront us.
Member States need strong allies for causes that are otherwise easily forgotten.
We also need the expertise and “the other” perspective that decision-shapers can provide. The exemplary partnership between NGOs and Member States in elaborating a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in less than five years is a case in point.
We have all of us agreed that any non-governmental organization that applies for consultative status with the UN should be considered in an objective way, based on the criteria of ECOSOC resolution 1996/31.
It is a fundamental principle that these NGOs should be given a fair hearing and judged on their merits. And it is a matter of serious concern to our governments that the NGO Committee did not discuss substantively the applications of the NGOs in question, and that no reason was given for the refusal.
This is particularly concerning given the important role that many such organisations have played in the international debate on HIV and AIDS, most recently at the Special Session earlier year.
The applications of numerous NGOs dealing with non-discrimination clearly indicates that there is a need for civil society representation at the United Nations.
We have received extensive evidence of violations of the right to life, freedom from violence and torture on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. While we maintain the responsibility for human rights obligations, we need to engage with civil society in our efforts to uphold the principles of non-discrimination, one of the core principles of the United Nations.
New Zealand and Norway call on Council members to ensure that these applications are considered today on their merits.
Click here to read Norway's statement on behalf of 54 countries in the Human Rights Council in Geneva:Jointstatement.doc