UN Bans NGOs from high-level meetings of world leaders — Causes powerful protests – Global issues

  • by Thalif Deen (United Nation)
  • Associated Press Service

After two consecutive years of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the United Nations Secretariat is back up and running – but in a virtual high-security war zone.

The week-long high-level meeting was scheduled to take place from September 20 to 26, but civil society organizations (CSOs) have been barred from attending UN headquarters from September 16 to 30. .

Mandeep S. Tiwana, Program Manager at CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, told IPS that ( released by the NGO branch of the United Nations Economic and Social Office (UNDESA) states that “as is the norm”, access to UN facilities is restricted.

From September 16 to 30, the UN headquarters will be accessible only to UN staff and member delegations, the circular said.

“The suspension of the annual and temporary licenses of NGOs in consultation with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) during the UNGA session is not only confusingly discriminatory but counter-intuitive because it deprives the international community of the benefit of civil society engagement during a time of enormous global turmoil, disruption and contention,” said Tiwana.

He argued that it was a lost opportunity for the UN and its state diplomatic missions to freely interact with civil society representatives, who brought with them a wealth of expertise and experience. fundamental and deeply committed to addressing global challenges in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter.

This cavalier attitude of the founding of the United Nations underscores once again the critical need of civil society to have a champion in the system in the form of the UN Civil Society Special Envoy. “.

He pointed out that the appointment of such a special envoy could help untangle the bottlenecks that hinder civil society participation at the UN, promoting best practices for civic and social participation. civil society throughout the UN and also promote the UN’s outreach to civil society at the regional level.

During an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter in 2020, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said civil society groups are an important voice at the San Francisco Conference (where the UN was inaugurated).

“You have been with us for decades, in refugee camps, in conference rooms, and in community advocacy on streets and town squares around the world.”

“You are with us today as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. You are our allies in defending human rights and fighting racism. You are indispensable partners in building peace, promoting climate action, promoting gender equality, delivering life-saving humanitarian aid and controlling the proliferation of deadly weapons.”

“And the world’s framework for common progress, the Sustainable Development Goals, is unthinkable without you,” he declared.

However, all CSOs were barred from leaving the UN building during one of the most politically important General Assembly sessions.

Louis Charbonneau, Director of UN Human Rights Watch, said: “As you know, the UN Secretariat has a futile policy of banning civil society organizations (CSOs) from leaving UN headquarters during senior week, so we won’t be in the building. But we will be available to answer questions or interview, when possible, outside of UNHQ. ”

“We also ask member states and the United Nations secretariat to put an end to the senseless exclusion of civil society during one of the most important weeks of the United Nations calendar,” said Charbonneau. nation”.

In an email interview later, he told IPS: “We have complained publicly about the terms of the ban on NGOs during the past UN General Assembly, because it is arbitrary and sometimes lasts a whole week at the top level, it doesn’t make any sense.”

“We are now calling on the United Nations to completely end the UNGA-era ban.”

He said: “Our experience with the outrageous ban on civil society under the pretext of Covid when everyone else – including tourists – was allowed back into the building made us realize that Civil society needs to push back against efforts to exclude NGOs at the UN. “

“The way Covid has been used to prevent civil society from staying out of the UN when diplomats, UN officials and journalists are allowed back confirms our belief that it is time for us to push for an end to the United Nations. end the UNGA high-level ban and other meaningless restrictions. ”

He pointed out that the Secretary-General’s “Common Agenda” is full of language about the importance of civil society.

Charbonneau declared: “Now is the time for the UN to make their actions reflect the rhetoric.

Jens Martens, Director, European Global Policy Forum, told IPS that the behavior of the UN and its member states towards NGOs is often hypocritical.

“On the one hand, they praise NGOs and declare that civil society involvement in UN work is a top priority. On the other hand, they limit or even prevent access by NGOs, as just happened during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly,” he said.

If Member States and the United Nations Secretariat take NGOs seriously, they should not consider them a potential security risk, Martens said.

“Instead, they should facilitate better access and working conditions for NGOs at UN headquarters.”

The UN crackdown raises the question: Are NGOs considered a security risk?

While visiting heads of state, heads of government, foreign ministers, ambassadors and other diplomats are allowed to move freely and avoid security checks, most permanent UN staff, UN correspondents and visiting journalists are considered a security risk and their movement is restricted and subject to restrictions- – while UN retirees are barred.

Incidentally, the only “terrorist attack” on the UN came from outside, not from within.

When Ernesto Che Guevara, who served as the second commander of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, was at the United Nations to speak at General Assembly sessions in 1964, the UN headquarters was attacked – according to literally true. The speech of the Marxist revolutionary born in Argentina was momentarily drowned out by an explosion. Anti-Castro forces in the US, backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), conducted a covert operation to prevent Che Guevara from speaking.

A 3.5-inch bazooka was fired at the 39-story Secretariat building on the East River while a CIA-inspired anti-Castro, anti-Che Guevara protest was taking place outside the UN building on Avenue New York’s No. 1 and 42nd Street.

But the rocket launcher – which doesn’t seem as sophisticated as shoulder-fired rockets and rocket-propelled grenades today – missed its target, the window vibrated and fell into the river about 200 meters from the UN building.

One report described it as “one of the wildest periods since the United Nations moved to its headquarters in the East River in 1952.”

As longtime United Nations staffers will recall, the failed 1964 bombing of the United Nations building came as Che Guevara launched a bombarding attack on American foreign policy and denunciation. a proposed denuclearization treaty for the Western Hemisphere. It was one of the first known politically motivated terrorist attacks on the United Nations.

After his speech to the panel, Che Guevara was asked about the attack on him. “The explosion gave the whole flavor that extra kick,” he joked as he cut his Cuban cigar.

When he was told by a reporter that New York City police had arrested a woman, described as an anti-Castro Cuban exile, who pulled out a hunting knife and jumped over a UN wall, intending to kill him, Che Guevara said: “It is better to be killed by a woman with a knife than by a man with a gun.”

A long-retired former UN staff member jokingly remarked last week: “This has to be the first example of gender empowerment at the UN.”

Report of the United Nations Office IPS

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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