Estonia aligns itself with the statement made by the Czech Republic on behalf of the European Union.
We, as Member States, and the UN have set ourselves clear objectives on development, climate, health, education, peace and security and human rights. We know, for certain, that we cannot achieve these objectives alone. It is a cooperation, between states, the UN, international and regional organisations and civil society.
ECOSOC has acknowledged this. In creating its sub-body, the NGO Committee, it explicitly recognised in resolution 1996/31 the breadth of the non-governmental organisations’ expertise and their capacity to support the work of the UN. It gave the NGO Committee the task to help realise this role.
Estonia, as a member of the NGO Committee for the last 4 years, can confirm – as have others – that the Committee is not fulfilling its mandate, far from it. Instead, we see hundreds of NGOs from around the world, who fulfil the ECOSOC criteria and could provide support to the UN work, deferred year after year as a result of unjustified repetitive questioning.
While the Committee has the right and should do its work diligently when considering the NGOs, it cannot become an anthithesis to its name and mandate.
Inimõiguste Instituut is Estonia’s oldest human rights organisation, established shortly after Estonia regained its independence. It has helped to promote human rights, human rights education and awareness. As a small organisation working in a small country that has gone through rapid developmental changes it has experience to contribute. It applied for ECOSOC consultative status 6 years ago and despite effort, expense and constructive dialogue with the Committee it has been still waiting.
ECOSOC as the parent body of the NGO Committee has the responsibility to ensure it fulfils its mandate and when it fails to do so, address these gaps. It has an established practice of doing so – over two decades and dozens of cases. It has done so today.
We sincerely thank all states who supported today’s decision – it was an important one. It is also an important signal to the Committee that it needs to do better. We are all worse off if it continues to block the support, expertise and experience needed to reach our objectives at the UN.