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UN: Joint letter opposing anti-NGO participation proposal concerning the UN's Minority Forum and Social Forum

A Joint Open Letter signed by NGOs from around the world to the UN Human Rights Council


March 23, 2012

To Permanent Representatives of
Member States of the UN Human Rights Council

Your Excellency,

Re: Oppose anti-NGO proposal on Human Rights Council resolutions on The Social Forum (A/HRC/19/L.20) and the Forum on Minority Issues (A/HRC/19/L.11)

The undersigned nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and groups are writing to express our concern regarding potential language to be inserted during the adoption by the ongoing 19th session of the Human Rights Council of the draft resolutions on The Social Forum and the Forum on Minority Issues on NGO participation (the Forums).

We are concerned that some States may try to insert language restricting the participation of non-ECOSOC accredited NGOs to those that “respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of states.” The concern is that such language could be invoked abusively by States actually seeking to silence the voices of NGOs who disagree with the policies and practices of such States.

If adopted, this language could have serious implications for the participation of NGOs in spaces that have traditionally benefited greatly from their contributions. NGOs have historically played important roles in both Forums, providing vital information and expertise. This notion is recognized within the text of the draft resolution on the Social Forum, which “[r]affirms the Social Forum as a unique space for interactive dialogue between the United Nations human rights machinery and various stakeholders, including the contribution of civil society and grass roots organizations,…” .

Furthermore, the Forums have made important contributions to human rights work at the United Nations
precisely because they provide a space for dialogue between NGOs and governments, as well as a space in which all stakeholders can engage constructively on what the United Nations can do to address the relevant issues. It is important that the Forums continue to hear a variety of voices.

For these reasons we strongly believe that it is essential to continue to provide for the meaningful
participation of NGOs in these spaces and to restrict any attempts to insert language in the resolutions that could be interpreted otherwise.

We hope you and your colleagues agree. We urge your delegation to reject language that would directly or indirectly curtail the participation of NGOs in the Forums during the upcoming adoption of the relevant
resolution at the 19th session of the Human Rights Council.


Sincerely,

1. Amnesty International
2. ARC International
3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
4. Asian Legal Resource Centre
5. Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies
6. Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
7. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
8. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
9. Human Rights Watch
10. International Service for Human Rights
11. Open Society Foundations
12. West African Human Rights Defenders Network

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