The UN System's Ivory Tower Strategy
and the death knell
of INGO Consultative Status
- / -
and Fragmentation in the 1970s: an organized response to global crisis (Part
published in International Associations, 23, 1971, 1, pp. 28-48; PDF version)
INGOs and the Development Decade
At the annual conference in New
York at which INGOs are informed of UN plans affecting them, one speaker introduced
his talk with the following remarks :
"At the threshold of a new Development Decade, we are by now fully conscious
that we must not stay in our ivory tower at the United Nations, that this
organization of 126 countries can be terribly inward looking. We have to find
some windows to the external world otherwise the Development Decade and the
so-called global strategy are going to be a failure, and we think that the
NGOs are an institutional instrument we should like to use much more for this."
(Philippe de Seynes, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs.
Goals for the '70s: The Second Development Decade; Global Strategy for the
from this remark and a call in the last paragraph for the "mobilization of public
opinion" for which we would very much count on those assembled here who, I have
no doubt, will be persuaded that this is a useful concept, a useful undertaking"
there is no other reference to INGOs. All reference was to the economics of
development from the UN perspective.
Copies of the United Nations Report
on the International Development Strategy for the Second United Nations Development
Decade are now available. We note that :
"International cooperation for development must be on a scale commensurate
with that of the problem itself. Partial, sporadic and half-hearted gestures,
however well intentioned, will not suffice."
and that :
"Economic and social progress is the common and shared responsibility
of the entire international community".
(this space was reserved for comments on the section of the Report referring
to the participation of international nongovernmental organizations; we
have been reliably informed that the paragraph in question was deleted
at the drafting stage)
The reference to the "international
community" is unqualified. Each group is free to define it as it wishes.
Governmental bodies will therefore define it as being limited to governmental
bodies - the more eager nongovernmental bodies will define it to include themselves.
Is their assistance wanted ?
This tendency to use umbrella terms to be interpreted by the reader has been
commented on in previous articles in this journal [Who needs whom in the Second
United Nations Development Decade ? International Associations, October
1969; also Planning for the 1960s in the 1970s. International Associations,
March, April, June-July 1970]
On one specific point we note that
INGO assistance is desired :
"Private foundations, institutions and organizations will be encouraged
to provide further assistance for expanding and diversifying research activities
of benefit to developing countries."
And what of the nature of "social development" which
is a major concern of INGOs ?
"The ultimate objective of development must be to bring about sustained
improvement in the well-being of the individual and bestow benefits on all."
The section in the Report on "human
development" contains sub-sections on: population growth, employment,
education for development needs, health facilities, nutrition, involving children
and youth, housing and the ecological balance. There is no echo of Unesco's
suggested definition of development which was communicated to the preparatory
committee for the Decade, namely :
"Development is meaningful only if man who is both instrument and beneficiary
is also its justification and its end. It must be integrated and harmonized;
in other words, it must permit the full development of the human being on
the spiritual, moral and material level, thus ensuring the dignity of man
in society, through respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
The tone of the Report suggests
that human development means the creation of economic units with sufficient
"social" benefits to keep them content. We are back with the view that
"Development is generally accepted as meaning first and foremost economic
development. It implies an effort on the part of each country, where necessary
with outside assistance, to take stock of its natural resources and to develop
them to their fullest extent." (Mr Gabites. 16th General
Conference of Unesco. -Verbatim Reports, 16 C /VR. 18 (prov.), page 26).
This is also the view which prevails in the Report of the Ecosoc Development
Planning Committee (Vers un développement accéléré; propositions pour la deuxième
Décénnie des Nations Unies pour le développement. New York, 1970, ST
/ ECA / 128).
After arguing about the importance
of adequate social structures which makes any increase in production or income
merely one of a number of relevant economic and social indicators, the Report
notes that because many of the social indicators are lacking, social goals can
only be identified qualitatively. The Report is then able to conclude that in
fact economic and social questions are so closely interwoven that there is hardly
any sense in making the distinction between them. The remainder of the Report
identifies methods of increasing production and income, with a few undeveloped
remarks such as :
''La stratégie du développement doit être foncièrement conçue pour
les êtres humains; plus ils seront nombreux, plus les besoins seront grands.''
There is no mention of the collaboration
of international nongovernmental organizations and the Report ends with the
''De I'avis du Comité, les gouvernements plutôt que d'écouter une
opinion publique imprévoyante ne devraient rien négliger pour faire accepter
à leurs citoyens la nécessité d'assumer cette responsabilité clans leur propre
intérêt. C'est le cas de citer la fameuse maxime française: ''Gouverner
c'est prévoir .. Le Comité pense que les gouvernants sauront
faire accepter à leurs citoyens une stratégie bien conque du développement
mondial.'' (emphasis added).
How does one ensure that a strategy
is "well conceived "in a democratic society ?
Again a view such as the following,
expressed by the Director General of Unesco, is totally alien to the tone of
the Report and the conception of the strategy :
"The idea of development has, in fact, gradually become broader, deeper,
and more varied so that going beyond the purely economic aspects of improving
man's lot, it now also embraces the so-called social aspects.
... Man is the means and the end of development; he is not the one-dimensional
abstraction of homo economicus, but a living reality, a human person, in the
infinite variety of his needs, his potentialities and his aspirations... Even
the economists now admit that development is not development unless it is
total, and that it is no mere figure of speech to talk of cultural development: cultural development is part and parcel of total development." (Address
to the Intergovernmental Conference on Institutional, Administrative and Financial
Aspects of Cultural Policies, Venice, 1970. Paris, Unesco, p. 43)
The above Report refers
only to the importance of consumer education and preparing the new generation
for the tasks (defined by the old generation) which await them.
DON'T CUT OUT THE NGOs!
What criteria are used to determine the organizations which are not
significant.for peace, development and human survival ? - who checks
on the validity of the criteria ?
'.. (consultative status) involves obligations which are onerous
in so far as they are taken seriously. The temptation for NGOs is to make
only a nominal response to what is required of them or open to them. The
temptation for the governments politically active at the UN (if not their
concerted policy) is to cut out the NGOs so that they don't have to be
taken into account. Here is a theatre of international politics in which
what goes on has a bearing on the future of mankind if international institutions
and policies are going to develop into the rudiments of a world order.
That NGOs should hold on to their part and seek to enlarge its scope in
these still early days may be of'first-class importance. It means faithfulness
and effectiveness in rather unrewarding work. But the stake is tomorrow.'
(H.J. Blackham - Humanism - Pelican Original, 1968, p. 177-8)
The means identified by
both Reports for guaranteeing the success of the Decade are the "mobilization
of public opinion" (see International Associations, April 1970,
on this point). There is no mention whatsoever of international nongovernmental
organizations in this context. Perhaps this is what the UN is aiming for :
''Pour ces auteurs, la société de masse trouve sa caractéristique
dans le fait que les non-élites, atomisés, sont disponibles, c'est-à-dire
ouverts à la mobilisation et à la manipulation des élites. Séparés des groupes
de vie indépendants, cherchant confusément une communauté à laquelle se raccrocher,
les non-élites risquent donc de glisser dans une pseudo-communauté établie
par des élites ''exploitantes''.''(Jean Lohisse.
La communication anonyme. Paris, Editions Universitaires, 1969, p. 26).
"In both its capitalist and communist variants ... technocratic planning
is econocentric... short-range... essentially undemocratic." (Alvin Toffler.
Future Shock; a study of mass bewilderment in the face of change. London,
Bodley Head, 1970, p. 397-8).
planning is essential to the survival of slow-to-adapt administrations.
People survive by creating new institutional forms in response to new situations.
On this basis the Second Development
Decade will not be a period in which all possible types of person and organization
will work together, catalyzed by the UN, to alleviate a global crisis -
it is going to be the internal programme of a modest, under-financed, overburdened,
administrative apparatus determined that it knows best - quite literally
it is the United Nations Organization's Second Development Decade. It has nothing
to do with "We the peoples..." and participation is strictly "by invitation
Youth and the UN
Audience : Do you think, Mr Pearson, that there's a tremendous
credibility gap between young people and the UN ? I think personally perhaps,
representing the young generation more than you, that the UN as a peacemaking
organization with a stress on making peace doesn't exist at all. I think
this is the general feeling among young people who don't want anything
to do with the UN whatsoever. I think this is crucial and I think this
is also a very dangerous and regrettable development...
Lester Pearson : I don't quarrel with that assessment and I don't
quarrel with the danger inherent in the alienation of most young people
from organizations generally of the old type... " (Transcripts of
Proceedings; Conference on Human Survival, May 1970, United Nations, New
York. Charles F Kettering Foundation, 1970).
INGOs and the 25th Anniversary of the UN
The United Nations decided for the
first time not to invite INGOs to its " birthday party". For eight days, during
the commemoration in New York in October 1970 of the creation of the United
Nations, the privileges of INGOs in consultative status with Ecosoc were withdrawn.
INGO representatives were refused entrance to the Secretariat building over
The reason given was that there
were too many delegates in the building to accommodate the INGO representatives
as well. This would appear to indicate that in future attendance at UN meetings
will be governed by the facilities, rather than the facilities selected in terms
of the number who could attend.
INGOs and Consultative Status with ECOSOC
"For some time it has been indicated that NGO's have felt the need that
considerable thought must be given to their relationship to the UN and to
the efficacy of their own work. In the January 1967 meeting of the Sub-Commission
on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, statements
requested by a special rapporteur from NGO's were challenged and suppressed.
Two months later the "New York Times" quoted from Ramparts Magazine
that certain NGO's had received money from the CIA (U.S.A.) through an elaborate
arrangement of conduit foundations ... At its renewed session in January 1968,
the (ECOSOC) Council Committee (on NGO's) adopted a questionnaire. The first
five questions dealt with NGO budgets, contributions from governments, relationship
with governments other than financial, whether an organisation had ever been
reported as having been under the influence of any government or its agencies,
and a breakdown of the professional character of its membership and biographical
notes on principal officers. The last three questions were concerned with
resolutions on questions of a political nature in the last three years, and
whether in the last ten years an organisation had ever criticized a government
of a state in which it had no members or had criticized the UN. The political
nature of this questionnaire was obvious and as the review progressed it became
clear that these questions lent themselves to a trial-like procedure without
The review of NGO's (by the ECOSOC Council Committee) started September 1968...
There was steadily growing appeal to political considerations in both questions
asked and statements of disapproval of certain NGO's. It was, also, evident
that some of the Council Committee either did not know or could not accept
that an International NGO has constitutional limitation of its control over
a national affiliate. .(Consultative Status; Recent Developments and Future
Prospects. Eleventh General Conference of Nongovernmental Organizations in
Consultative Status with ECOSOC, 11 /GC / 22, p. 1-2) Geneva, 1969.
An informal view by a United Nations official responsible
for relations with NGOs was expressed as follows
''... les Nations Unies ne constituent plus l'institution
qu'elles étaient lors de la rédaction de l'article 71 de la Charte. Elles
ne sont plus davantage l'organisation qu'elles étaient lors de la célébration
de leur vingtième Anniversaire (1966). Elles continueront d'ailleurs à se
modifier avec la même rapidité que se modifient les forces en mouvement dans
le monde dont elles assurent la représentation. Si les organisations non-gouvernementales
désirent participer aussi aux changements qui s'opèrent, elles doivent s'éfforcer
de se trouver au centre du mouvement qui s'accomplit.'' (Curtis
Roosevelt. Déclaration non-officielle à la onzième conférence des organisations
nongouvernementales ayant le statut consultatif auprès d'ECOSOC, Genève 1969,
11 /GC /15, p. 2).
The same official's informal views are reported
more recently :
''... il souligne qu'en général, tant ses coIIègues du Secrétariat
que les délégués des Etats membres sont, à quelques notables exceptions près,
sinon hostiles, au moins complètement indifférents aux ONG. L'une des
raisons de cette attitude est qu'un grand nombre de délégués ne comprennent
ni le rôle ni la valeur des ONG ... il souligne à nouveau qu'il n'a pu se
défendre de l'idée que les déclarations écrites des ONG n'ont guère d'influence,
mais qu'on pourrait faire plus avec un peu plus d'imagination. Quant à la
politisation des problèmes, il déclare que cela s'applique maintenant à tous
les domaines et que dans ce sens, les N.U. ne font que refléter la réalité
quotidienne.'' (Résumé d'une Déclaration non-officielle lors d'une
réunion avec les ONG, Genève, 1970.)
INGOs and Unesco Member States
"The General Conference...
Invites the Director-General (a) to re-discuss 15 C / DR / FUT 65 in the
Administrative Commission of the General Conference with a view to studying
the possibility of increasing the allocations to National Commissions by finding
other resources, extra-budgetary for example or transferring to National Commissions,
for the conduct of certain projects, parts of the subventions budgeted for
the non-governmental organizations... .(Draft Resolution submitted by the
United Arab Republic to the 16th General Conference of Unesco, October 1970,
16 C/DR.82 Rev concerning Cooperation with National Commissions of Unesco.)
"After having heard the report of the Chairman of the Executive Board,
the Conference noted that, in the absence of a positive recommendation from
that Board and in accordance with Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure, the international
non-governmental organizations in question could not be invited to participate
in the work of the session. "
(Item 6 - Admission to the session of observers from international nongovernmental
organizations, on the recommendation of the Executive Board... (Summary in
the Journal of the General Conference; sixteenth session. Unesco, 1970, no.
3, IV, page 2.)
"We hope that the programme on "Man and Biosphere" will be
constructed along these lines so that it can draw upon the resources and enthusiasm
of the scientific world and involve non -governmental organizations and governments
alike in a large-scale joint venture... Unesco should take a good look at
other intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, at governments
and at the world of learning and research and should decide whether it is
not in effect, in many fields, duplicating what is being done elsewhere, whether
it is not competing instead of co-ordinating, whether it is not following
instead of leading."
(Miss Meeri Kalavainen of Finland. General Policy Debate, Unesco 16th General
Conference, October 1970, Verbatim Records, 16 C /VR. 7 (prov.), page 18).
comprehensive and heavily supported resolution with regard to Unesco and the
Second Development Decade (16 C/DR/PRG/1) contains no mention of international
nongovernmental organizations, the only indirect reference being
"Calls upon Member States...
To give active support to the extension and strengthening of Unesco's funds-in-trust
programme ... by encouraging non-governmental support amongst business
firms, professional and religious organizations, and foundations."
"It is unfortunately true that an organization whose activities and
successes are known to only a few specialists simply does not exist in the
mind of the public at large. Unesco in particular just cannot afford to be
satisfied with recognition by an elite alone ...
In peaceful intellectual competition, we cannot afford to draw new frontiers,
even where ideologies differ. It is only by appreciating one another's achievements
that we can enjoy mutual respect and trust. I should therefore like to urge
that Unesco in particular, as a world-wide organization, should in future
make a greater effort to collect information from no matter where, and to
quote all interesting sources of reference. Increased access to all information,
including that of regional and sub-regional organizations, would help remove
barriers and reservations and thus contribute towards peace. (Mr. Kirchschlager,
Austria, 16the General Conference of Unesco, 16 C /VR. 7 (prov.), p. 4-7).
Nongovernmental organizations and peace seen through the eyes of Unesco
General Conference of Unesco (October-November 1970) has destroyed the
relationship between Unesco and international nongovernmental organizations.
The context was Items 9 and 10 on the Agenda. The debate in plenary centred
on four topics: Unesco's contribution to peace; Unesco's tasks with respect
to the elimination of colonialism; proposals for a long-term plan of integrated
action for the advancement of peace and development within the field's of Unesco's
competence; and the utilization of Unesco's programmes as means of strengthening
cooperation between European States in the interests of peace and security in
Such was the complexity of the debate,
with 6 draft resolutions and 5 amendments on the two Items combined, that a
special committee was created to harmonize the texts and produce one draft plenary
resolution. This committee had to meet seven times. At the conclusion of all
this work INGOs are now faced with the implications of the following paragraphs
in a 33 paragraph resolution approved by 68 to 1 with 28 abstentions :
"The General Conference...
Noting that international nongovernmental organizations which are associated
with Unesco may play an important part in implementing the objectives of the
Organization, including its policy of unremitting opposition to and elimination
of colonialism and racialism; and noting further that some of these
organizations have branches or affiliates in countries in which colonialism
and racialism are practised...
Requests the Director-General to undertake investigations of all international
non-governmental organizations enjoying relations with Unesco, which have
branches, sections, affiliates or constituent parts in South Africa or Rhodesia
or Portuguese-dominated African territories, with respect to the practice
of racial discrimination or racial segregation in their policies, activities,
or membership or their cooperation in any way with the apartheid policy of
the Government of South Africa; and to report thereon to the Executive Board;
Calls upon the Executive Board to take the necessary measures, in the
light of the Director-General's report, to cut off, as from 31 December 1971,
all relations with those international non-governmental organizations, in
respect of which it has not been established, to the satisfaction of the Executive
Board, that their branches, sections, affiliates or constituent parts in South
Africa, Rhodesia or Portuguese-dominated African territories neither practise
racial discrimination or segregation in their policies, their activities or
in their membership, nor co-operate in any way with the Government of South
Africa in the latter's apartheid policy....
Invites the Director-General... to call on international nongovernmental
organizations which cooperate with Unesco for the more effective implementation
of the ideals of the Organization in the fields of human rights, peace and
international security..." (16 C /108 Add, 14/11 /70).
One of the draft resolutions incorporated
into the above had used the following terminology to make the point of the last
two paragraphs :
"... as from 31 December 1970 Unesco shall have no dealings with, that
is to say, shall not invite to meetings, shall not grant subventions to, shall
not consult, and shall not contract out work to, any international nongovernmental
organization which has branches... (in Southern Africa)... unless it can be
established beyond all doubt that such branches ... do not practice or subscribe
to racial segregation or discrimination in any form..." (16 C/DR/ PLEN.
It should be noted that the approved
resolution contains no positive references to INGOs which were not qualified
by some critical or negative phrase. And yet history would seem to indicate
that it has been, and continues to be, INGOs which are the key force in representing
and leading public opinion to more dynamic concepts of peace.
A TWO-STEP STRATEGY FOR THE 1970's
UNESCO OBJECTIVE :
Combat racism in Southern Africa.
ACTION TO BE TAKEN
1. Obtain highly confidential documentary proof in 1971, from international
nongovernmental organizations in consultative status with UNESCO, concerning
the degree to which their branches in Southern Africa do not practise
2. Conduct highly confidential investigation
of documents provided during 1971.
3. Cut off contact with all bodies providing
inadequate evidence of non-discrimination - on basis of highly confidential
4. Publish in 1972, according to the usual procedure, the list of all
international nongovernmental organizations in consultative status with
UNESCO, including the "purified" list of those with branches
in Southern Africa (proved, according to highly confidential information,
to be effectively counteracting, clandestinely, the discriminatory laws
in Southern Africa. - N.B. Any visible non-collaboration with discriminatory
laws is illegal there.)
1. Published list is used in 1972 by governments of Southern Africa
as perfectly adequate proof for suppressing the national sections of listed
organizations (and their officers) - for clandestine activity - without
said governments having to attempt to obtain the necessary highly confidential
2. Organizations and people combating racism
are suppressed on the basis of evidence freely supplied by UNESCO.
As a note appended to this draft resolution, but equally applicable to the
resolution finally voted, the Director-General gave a rough estimate of the
number of international nongovernmental organizations in Category A and B consultative
status with Unesco "and hence closely associated with Unesco's work"
which had national sections in South Africa. This list is printed on the preceding
page. (Note that the list does not include organizations with members in Portuguese
territories or Rhodesia.) 77 INGOs are listed. These 77 bodies have a total
of 253 links with the UN-system which are now threatened by this investigation
- in particular any INGO acquiring recognition (A or B) by UNESCO automatically
acquires recognition by ECOSOC. The 253 links are made up as follows: 73 with
ECOSOC (3 1, 28 11, 42 Roster), 23 with ILO (1 major, 22 Special list), 17 with
FAO (9 consultative status, 4 specialized, 4 liaison), 77 with UNESCO (16 A,
61 B), 13 with WHO, 3 with ICAO, 3 with ITU, 5 with WMO, 3 with IMCO, 4 with
IAEA, 28 with UNICEF, 4 with UNCTAD.
A few extracts from the debate on
the paragraph in question, "30(d)", are appropriate at this point (unfortunately
it is impossible for us to quote from the key Russian and Arab interventions
which are given in the original language in the provisional verbatim records)
''Nous comprenons fort bien les préoccupations qui ont été formulées
au sujet de la politique de ségrégation raciale...
Cependant le problème qui nous occupe est plus complexe. D'abord les organisations
non gouvernementales ne sont pas I'Unesco. Ce sont des organisations précieuses
certes à I'Unesco, qui gravitent autour d'elle, et en particulier celles dont
il s'agit ici qui ont le Statut consultatif, elles lui sont même probablement
indispensables; elles le seront plus encore dans la perspective qui nous a
été tracée par le Directeur général d'une collaboration accrue entre elles
et I'Unesco, mais elles ne sont pas l'Organisation. Elles bénéficient
d'une certaine indépendance, d'une certaine liberté d'action qui sont en elles-mêmes
de bonnes choses et doivent être sauvegardées. Pour nous, il y a donc en tout
état de cause une ligne de démarcation à tracer entre ce que peuvent être
nos préoccupations, même les plus légitimes, concernant des problèmes politiques
de haute importante, et ce que doit être la substance des activités de ces
WHAT THE RIGHT HAND DOES ...
All international nongovernmental organizations with branches
in the Republic of South Africa which are proved to be satisfactorily
combating discrimination - and thus are permitted to retain their
Consultative Status with UNESCO - will automatically lose their
Consultative Status with ECOSOC, according to the following ECOSOC
rules, which apply, since the Republic is an UN Member State :
"The consultative status of nongovernmental organizations with
the Economic and Social Council and the listing of those on the Roster
shall be suspended up to three years or withdrawn in the following cases
... (b) If the organization clearly abuses its consultative status
by systematically engaging in unsubstantiated or politically motivated
acts against Member States of the United Nations contrary to and incompatible
with the principles of the Charter.''
(ECOSOC Resolution 1296 (XLIV), 25 June 1968,
Furthermore, all international nongovernmental organizations without
branches in Southern Africa should, for fear of jeopardizing their
Consultative Status, refrain from criticizing the activities of the governments
in question - according to the implications of the 1968 questionnaire
to NGOs from the ECOSOC Council Committee on NGOs, in which it was asked
whether in the last ten years the NGO had ever criticized a government
of a State in which it had no members.
This is a classic 'double bind" situation but then according
to UNESCO logic, the United Nations is also practising apartheid - for
the UN has a member government in Southern Africa. South Africa
is a Member State.
Au surplus, chacun sait que la plupart au moins de ces organisations font
l'impossible, malgré des conditions souvent difficiles, pour s'adapter
aux circonstances dans lesquelles elles sont amenées à oeuvrer, circonstances
qui variant à l'infini suivant les pays, les régimes et les législations.
Elles doivent donc, puisqu'elles y exercent des activités dont chacun s'accorde
à reconnaître l'utilité et la nécessité, tenir compte de ces données
de fait qu'elles ne sauraient négliger sans renoncer, dans beaucoup d'endroits,
à des travaux féconds et même indispensables à la coopération internationale.
En outre, elles s'inspirent pour la plupart d'objectifs qui sont précisément
ceux que nous poursuivons ici. En général elles sont donc incontestablement
à l'abri de tout soupçon et constituent bien au contraire pour l'Organisation
une aide précieuse. Il est possible que, dans certains cas, des défaillances
existent ou des pratiques qui peuvent être considérées comme répréhensibles.
On doit cependant, tout en les reconnaissant, s'efforcer de les apprécier
avec circonspection, prendre le temps de les examiner, et examiner aussi les
meilleures méthodes pour éliminer ces pratiques...
L'Unesco elle-même doit-elle les sanctionner ? Elle doit, certes, en tirer
des conséquences, mais le mot de ''sanction'' sous une
forme ou sous une autre nous parait lui aussi peu approprié. Les organisations
non gouvernementales sont des institutions indépendantes: elles doivent considérer
elles-mêmes les conséquences de leurs actions, mais elles n'ont pas à subir
à proprement parler de sanction. Encore une fois, elles ne sont pas I'Unesco.
Ma conclusion sera brève. A notre avis, nous sommes sur le point de prendre
une décision sinon grave du moins fort sérieuse, et nous estimons que les
conséquences d'une erreur de tactique dans ce domaine peuvent être fort graves
pour les organisations non gouvernementales elles-mêmes, pour leurs travaux,
pour I'Unesco plus encore, pour son renom et pour ses conditions de travail.
Déjà l'on sait que certaines organisations non gouvernementales se sont
vivement émues, qu'elles nous l'ont fait savoir, qu'elles ont même envisagé
de tirer certaines conclusions des décisions regrettables qui pourraient être
prises dans cette enceinte ..(M. Maillard, France, 16 C /VIR.32 (prov.), p.
"I also express gratitude to the delegate of France for the amendment
which he has submitted, but I am afraid there is some misunderstanding, because
we do not say in our draft that we want to break with the NGOs.
What we do say is that Unesco should not associate itself with NGOs which
are active in South Africa. After all we are not the masters of the NGOs,
we only associate with them and we are only suggesting that we do not associate
with those NGOs which are active in South Africa, Mozambique and Rhodesia.
If they also value the high values of Unesco, they can still continue to associate
with us if they will cut off their affinities with those governments which
are practising discrimination. I think the delegate of France has misunderstood
the facts and I appeal to him to read the text again. I am sure that as he
is also a lover of peace and an opponent of apartheid and all similar activities
he will join with us in making some effort to try to dissociate our Organization
from the people who practise apartheid. Otherwise we have nothing against
NGOs. NGOs can after all take their own decisions; those which have branches
in South Africa can be struck off our register. They are masters of themselves
- we only suggest that we should not associate ourselves with that category: they are still free to do what they like. We simply appeal to them to dissociate
themselves from those countries. (Mr Mfinanga, Tanzania, 16 C /VR. 32 (prov.),
"It seems to my delegation, Mr President, that this draft resolution
has really frightening implications for the future of our relationships with
the non-governmental organizations...
Presumably, if this resolution were adopted, the Director-General would be
obliged ... to address a circular to all the non-gouvernmental organizations
listed in the document. He would then ask the question which is almost impossible
for anyone to answer: "Are you satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt
that your branches, sections, affiliates or constituent parts, in the Southern
African territories, do not practise or subscribe to racial segregation or
discrimination in any form ?"
It is virtually impossible, Mr. President, to prove that sort of negative
..(Mr. Mathieson, UK, 16th General Conference of Unesco, 16 C /VR 27 (prov.)
"... any attempt, I say, to establish beyond all reasonable doubt the
infallibility of these organizations concerning the racial issue, will expose
them to the government authorities concerned and may end up in limiting their
freedom of action, thus further isolating local forces working for human rights
and social justice." (Mr. Graham, U.S.A., 16th General Conference of
Unesco, 16 /VR 29 (prov.) p. 6).
''D'autres réserves ont porté sur les organisations internationales
non gouvernementales et sur l'insuffisance do leur représentativité internationale;
certains aspects de cette insuffisance ont d'ailleurs été évoqués au cours
du débat sur la paix qui va tout à I'heure reprendre. Eh bien, ces
réserves me paraissent, elles aussi, justifiées et je crois qu'avant de déléguer
à ces organisations (qui sont d'ailleurs très disposées à faire un effort)
de plus grandes responsabilités clans la mise on oeuvre du programme international,
il faut s'assurer qu'elles sont internationales dans leur composition et dans
leur esprit. Sans doute, ne pourra-t-on progresser dans cette direction que
graduellement, mais l'essentiel, c'est que l'on soit d'accord sur
la direction. .(Directeur Général, 16e Conference Générale de I'Unesco, 16
C /VR. 28 (prov.), p. 24).
"The first observation we want to make is on the strategy proposed in
regard to the location of the investment of Unesco's funds - where the money
will be spent....
An Ironic Possibility on the occasion of the
International Year for Action to Combat Racism and
Just what would happen if one international
nongovernmental organization dared...
History shows that Human Rights have never been simply given to man -
they have had to be demanded, taken or fought for by "fanatics"
on the appropriate occasion - some would say that a man should not have
rights until he has the strength to take and defend them. This is also
true of the Rights of Organizations - therefore, if there is any foundation
to the infringement of these Rights, as may be apparent from these pages
- even if only expressed as an extension of Human Rights - then is there
any thing to prevent such infringements being brought as test cases before
the appropriate Commission on Human Rights ?
What sort of test case might be brought by
the NGO before such bodies ? Perhaps against the :
- United Nations Organization, by arguing that there had been discrimination
against the NGO's interests - and its right through its own conception
of balanced social development to ensure the furtherance of certain
activities - as a result of its subtly implicit exclusion from full
participation in the im plementation of the International Strategy
for Development during the course of the 2nd United Nations Development
- ECOSOC Council Committee on NGOs, by arguing that it had been summarily
"tried" without adequate representation or safeguards during
the 223rd to 144th sessions of the Committee (January-April 1968).
- UNESCO Executive Board, by arguing that it had been accused, and
<<tried >>, and/ or demoted from consultative status without
adequate safeguards or representation as a result of the 1971 racism
(What of the rights of "freedom of association" when an NGO
is forced by UNESCO to cut off relations with its South African section
or lose its consultative status what if the section then attempted to
get recognition of such treatment as being an infringement of its own
There could be just sufficient evidence for an expert lawyer to build
up each case - but would they be "watertight"? In the case of
individuals, equivalent cases of subtle or overt infringement of human
rights would appear to have been successfully argued - some against States
- but would the extensions also be valid ?
How would the Commissions handle such cases - each would require very
careful interpretation of the extent of the ill-defined Rights of Organizations
as an extension of Human Rights.
Such test cases - between friends with the same long-term objectives
- would, whether won or lost, be extremely interesting as a means of progressively
defining more clearly, and in public, the Rights of Organizations - or
their absence - in an international setting. They would also serve as
a warning against future sweeping accusations and casual discrimination
Such an unprecedented strategy on the part of NGOs is perhaps being forced
upon them by trends in the UN's mode of operation - a highly political
body is not swayed by ideals or a-political issues unless they can be
tied to political ends. Decisions arising from the widely recognized "politicization"
of the Specialized Agencies can perhaps only be matched, in the eyes of
Member States, by an appeal to international law.
... the consequences could be incalculable for international activity.
A large proportion of the activities will be contracted out to international
nongovernmental organizations. The vast majority of these organizations have
their headquarters sited in developed countries [N.B. All U.N Agencies have
their headquarters in developed countries.]. Europe in particular, and many
do not at all operate in several developing countries... I suggest...that
the assistance to nongovernmental organizations be severely reduced, Unesco
equipping itself to do most of the things which it now passes on to nongovernmental
organizations... " (Mr. Romain, Trinidad and Tobago, 16 C/VR. 21 (prov.)
''L'action en faveur de la paix n'est pas en premier lieu une lutte
contre quelque chose, mais une action en faveur de quelque chose, c'est-à-dire
la dignité de la personne humaine. C'est à partir de ce principe positif qu'il
faut mesurer les inégalités dans le monde; c'est ce principe qui doit commander
la lutte contre l'inégalité. Quand nous luttons contre le racisme, c'est
parce que ce fléau est contraire au respect de la dignité humaine.''
(M. De Hoog, Pays-Bas, 16 C /VR. 26 (prov.), p. 16).
''Ne cédons pas totalement à la tentation de vouloir tout réglementer.
Il faut que les hommes puissent s'exprimer spontanément et librement. Dans
le domaine des idées et dans le cadre de projets qui ont permis à I'Unesco
de jouer son rôle d'animateur, les organisations non gouvernementales nous
ont apporté une contribution qui est loin d'être négligeable; et leur témoignage
est essentiel pour que nous soyons assures de travailler vraiment pour les
hommes et pour I'homme.'' (M. Olivier Guichard, France, 16 C /VR.
6 (prov.), p. 24).,
''Monsieur le Président, maintenant que j'ai eu le temps de lire
le projet d'amendement DR / PLEN / 19, permettez que je donne mon opinion.
Il est dit au paragraphe (b) :
''Demande au Conseil de prendre ... toutes les mesures nécessaires
pour rompre ... toutes relations avec les organisations internationales non
gouvernementales à l'égard desquelles il ne serait pas établi ... que
leurs branches ... ne pratiquent pas la discrimination ni la ségrégation raciale...
. Autrement dit, ces organisations internationales pratiquent la discrimination
raciale et doivent prouver qu'elles ne la pratiquent pas. Monsieur le Président,
c'est là une proposition parfaitement inacceptable pour ma délégation et pour
le sentiment du droit qui existe dans mon pays. Je voudrais que cela soit
clair. On ne peut accuser quelqu'un de quelque chose qui n'a pas été prouvé
et lui dire . prouvez-moi que vous n'êtes pas coupable .. C'est contraire
à tout sens du droit... . (M. De Hoog, Pays-Bas, 16e Conférence Générale de
l'Unesco, 16 C /VR. 34 (prov.), p. 9-10).
''Après ce que M. le délégué de la France a dit hier de l'mportance
des ONG pour toute l'action de l'organisation, je n'ai pas besoin
de revenir sur cet aspect de la question. ie rappellerai seulement que, ...
les ONG, si elles sont indépendantes, n'en sont pas moins indispensables pour
la vie de l'Unesco. Or le paragraphe 30 (d) met très sérieusement en
cause leur indépendance, et il nous semble déjà, pour cette seule raison,
inacceptable. De plus il donne au Directeur général une responsabilité politique
très lourde que nous ne devrions pas lui imposer et qu'il lui serait difficile
d'assumer. .(M. De Hoog, Pays-Bas, .16e Conférence Générale de l'Unesco,
16 C /VR. 33 (prov.) p. 10-11).
''Nous trouvons inadmissible qu'un organe gouvernemental fasse
pression sur des organisations non gouvernementales privées. Nous ne pouvons
approuver que l'on mette toutes les organisation non gouvernementales
au banc des accusés et nous trouvons inacceptables que, contrevenant à tous
les principes juridiques, on prévoie que ce sont les accusés qui auraient
à prouver leur innocence.
Le paragraphe en question présente en outre un très grave danger pour I'Unesco
car, s'iI était adopté, I'Unesco se trouverait peut-être dans l'obligation
de rompre toutes relations avec certaines organisations qui contribuent de
manière essentielle à son oeuvre. N'oublions pas que certaines des ONG
les importantes, dans les domaines scientifiques, par exemple, n'ont pas besoin
de I'Unesco, mais que I'Unesca ne peut atteindre ses buts sans elles.''(M.
Hummel, Suisse, 16e Conférence Générale de I'Unesco, 16 C /VR. 33 (pro.v.)
''Mesdames, Messieurs, vous êtes devant un problème extrèmement
important et vous allez prendre une décision de haute signification et peut-être
de grande conséquence... J'en arrive maintenant au paragraphe 30 (d)...
Mais toute question d'emplacement mise à part, considérons-le en lui-même
et du point de vue de sa mise en oeuvre.... Il s'agit là d'un point sur lequel
je dois une explication aux organisations internationales non gouvernementales.
Comme I'a rappelé hier M. le délégué de la Trinité et Tobago, on aurait d'ailleurs
tort, de croire que le problème n'a pas préoccupé les organisations internationales
non gouvernementales. Celles-ci - ou du moins certaines d'entre elles - ont
nettement montré qu'elles étaient conscientes de l'obligation morale
qu'elles avaient, dans le cadre de leur association avec I'Unesco, d'agir
conformément aux règles et aux idéaux de cette organisation; et les travaux
d'un groupe de travail du Comité permanent des ONG indiquent, même si la position
qu'ils ont permis de prendre ne peut pas être considérée comme liant juridiquement
toutes les ONG, que ces organisations ne sont nullement insensibles à ce problème
et qu'elles l'ont considéré avant même qu'il ne soit évoqué ici, en fait
dès 1969 et même plus tôt. Le Secrétariat dispose déjà d'assez d'éléments
d'information pour savoir que, sous des formes diverses, les organisations
internationales non gouvernementales ont le désir d'être en entière union
avec I'Unesco sur le plan éthique aussi bien que sur le plan intellectuel
et technique: si bien que, si l'enquête dont il est question au paragraphe
30 (d) m'était effectivement confiée, je n'interpréterais nullement cela comma
signifiant que je dois à priori présumer la culpabilité de ces organisations: bien au contraire ! Cette enquête ne devrait en aucune manière prendre l'aspect
d'un réquisitoire ou d'un interrogatoire s'adressant à de présumés coupables.
Cela serait tout à fait injuste à l'égard de l'ensemble des organisations
internationales non gouvernementales.''(Directeur Général, 16e Conférence
Générale de I'Unesco, 16 C / VR. 33 (prov.) p. 24).
sort of context - where the friends of the INGOs cited above represent,
for the most part, those governments whose support in a colonialism /racialism
debate amounts to a "kiss of death" - what hope is there that anything
meaningful could come from the following proposal, even if the Director-General
so desired it :
"I have already said that the participation of the National Commissions
and international nongovernmental organizations in the implementation of Unesco's
programme should be increased.... The moment has therefore come, I believe,
to make a thorough review of the way in which Unesco collaborates with these
two categories of organization. Practices have grown up which, with the passing
of time, have become mere habit. They should be revised and, if need be, dispensed
with, so that a new spirit - a spirit of greater initiative and generosity
- may come into relations on both sides. I said "on both sides"
advisedly. The National Commissions and the nongovernmental organizations
- particularly the latter - should make a greater effort to find ways of intensifying
aid to Unesco, and not simply aid from Unesco. Unesco, for its part, should
modify both its working methods and its approach particularly at the Secretariat
level, in order to give a fresh impetus to cooperation, which too often is
principally a matter of procedure and red tape, whereas its fundamental property
should be to give the widest possible scope to spontaneity of mind."
(Long-term outline plan for 1971-1976 presented by the Director-General, para.
INGOs, privacy and national and
international data banks
We are moving into the era of the
international data bank and network.
"Data Exchange within a National Data Processing Network is a highlight
for automation, but it produces a great problem for national and personal
security and the protection of privacy.... We can think of all data of a person
in one physical data record; that opens nearly unlimited possibilities of
data access and exchange. On the other hand we have and we must have in future
even stronger demands of security and privacy." (OECD, Directorate for
Scientific Affairs. Computer Utilisation in Member Countries; Meeting of Panel
on Public Data Banks and the Protection of Privacy, 1969. OECD, DAS / SPR
/ 69.57, p. 17).
But security for whom and privacy
from whom ? The current and planned practice of focusing on the nodes or
units in society in effect amounts to establishing a link initiated and controlled
by the State between it and the individual or other social entity. (a "We-say,
you-do" link) without any safeguards other than those approved by the
State guided by its own selected advisors. The individual is therefore naked
before the State. The State controls or "permits" everything. It is the implications
of this thinking which we see reflected in UN thinking.
It would be interesting to speculate
on whether such administrative power could be effectively and democratically
used with the type of short-term thinking characteristic of government policy-making,
to produce a satisfactorily developed fulfulling world society - just
what new things does the State expect to do ?
Why, for example, is the emphasis
not taken off the exposed social entity, treated as a naked passive unit and
placed on the relationships which exist between social entities ? This would
give privacy and freedom to such entities. The State still has adequate information
and society documents collaboration rather than emphasizing the fragmentation
of society and the atomization of the individual.
The approach being adopted is based
entirely on governmental criteria and with no concept of service to the community
in terms of the community's nongovernmental needs, the improvement of
the democratic process and the facilitation of social change. In particular
there is absolutely no realization, even within the UN, of how to use such information
services to increase the freedom and social potential of the individual social
entity. There is just vague recognition, used to justify immediate action in
terms of "blinkered" criteria, but without specific proposals :
"Privacy is ... defined as "the voluntary withdrawal of the individual
from society". Experience suggests that the opportunity of voluntary
withdrawal is essential for the intellectual and spiritual health of the individual
and for the well-being of the society of which he forms part. The development
of mechanised data banks and the efficient storage and communication of information
by computer offers the hope of society with a prosperous, fruitful and exciting
future. The rewards are indeed so desirable that it is vital to ensure that
their attainment is not jeopardised by disregard of the attendant dangers."
(OECD, Directorate for Scientific Affairs. Computer Utilisation in Member
Countries; Social Consequences of Computers - Public data banks and the protection
of privacy. OECD, DAS / SPR / 69.62, p. 6)
Whilst discreetly implementing complex
data networks, governments are treading hesitantly in public because of the
privacy issue and the threat to human rights. Such moves are being made with
the out-of-date safeguards of existing legal instruments ("In most
countries the laws relating to privacy and breach of confidence are ill-defined,
rarely invoked and sometimes non-existent. " OECD, DAS / SPR / 69.62). And yet
we hear that :
"According to the technical possibilities all responsible authorities
and organizations should participate in defining the data catalogs, solving
the legal problems, and planning the step-by-step build-up of effective information
systems. (OECD, DAS / SPR / 69.57, p. 16).
Who defines "responsible" and what
dangers are implicit in the non-defined term "organizations" ? In a governmental
context this most probably means all bodies on which government thinks it depends
for assistance ("everyone" in the Jackson Report) - but not those bodies
on which government depends for criticism. There is no recognition that it is
by ensuring that the traditional democratic watchdogs on bureaucratic, conscious
and unconscious, malpractice - namely nongovernmental organizations and
concerned citizens - participate fully in the use of such systems that
the feared abuse can be avoided and be seen to have been avoided. Just
as workers have to learn new tasks in an automated factory, nongovernmental
bodies have to learn new tasks with respect to government controlled data networks
- what is government doing about the retraining - what is the UN
doing - do they want nongovernmental criticism to be excluded in the new
Why has there never been any request
from the UN that nongovernmental bodies should indicate how they could function
within the new framework - why does the new UN information system (described
in the notorious "Chapter 6" of the Jackson Report on the Capacity Study of
the UN Development System) not mention the participation of nongovernmental
organizations in spite of the fact that "everyone" relevant to such a system
was consulted ? Why has Unesco not examined, in the design stages, the manner
in which consultative status INGOs could make use of its new computer system
and the pre-existing obstacles to such use ?
Once again we see government action
carried out without recognition of the distorting effects on social (as opposed
to "social welfare") processes - but this time the implications are more
far reaching and permanent once implemented - data networks are very expensive
to modify once implemented - and 1984 is not far away.
INGOs and multidisciplinary programmes
Some INGOs, and the U.I.A. in particular,
have been totally frustrated when attempting to mesh their own programmes with
those of the UN Agencies. If the INGO initiates the programme and seeks some
form of collaboration with the Agency, unless the INGO programme can be inserted
within the conceptual framework of an Agency programme, collaboration is not
possible. If the INGO programme crosses agency administrative boundaries, i.e.
if it is a multidisciplinary programme, UN Agencies are almost totally incapable
of interacting with it. This is partly due to the organization of departments
on a disciplinary basis. Much could be said on these points, but consider the
"Suppose that an organizational problem is completely solvable by one
of the disciplines we have considered. How is the manager who controls the
system to know which one ? Or, for that matter, how is a practitioner of any
one discipline to know in a particular case if another discipline is better
equipped to handle the problem than is his ? It would be rare indeed if
a representative of any one of these disciplines did not feel that his approach
to a particular organizational problem would be very fruitful, if not the
But, as systems analysts know, few of the problems that arise can adequately
be handled within any one discipline. Such systems are not fundamentally mechanical,
chemical, biological, psychological, social, economic, political, or ethical.
These are merely different ways of looking at such systems. Complete understanding
of such systems requires an integration of these perspectives. .(R.L. Ackoff.
Systems, organizations and interdisciplinary research. General Systems Yearbook,
5, 1960, Society for General Systems Research, pp. 1-8).
"Co-operation between the disciplines is by no means an easy matter,
since the various branches of learning have gradually isolated themselves,
developing their own apparatus of research, and wish to keep their respective
spheres free from the taint of outside influence. The process of integration
has been set in motion, but it is still far from being completed."(Bert
V.A. Röling. Peace research - the science of survival. Unesco Courier, November
1970, p. 32).
INGOs and UNHCR
Here is an excerpt from a speech
concerning co-operation between the UNHCR and Voluntary Agencies in Africa
The High Commissioner stated that delays and set-backs in initiating and
carrying out some UNHCR projects in Africa have resulted from the fact that
there is not in Africa the same effective network of Voluntary Agencies, capable
of acting as the operational partners of UNHCR, as exists in Europe.
While this is true as a generalization, subject to some outstanding exceptions
in the case of a few of the larger, well-endowed Voluntary Agencies, I would
suggest that it is not a surprising discovery. In fact, if my memory serves
me well, it was precisely this almost total lack of indigenous organizations
in many, many parts of Africa which was the reason that the UNHCR found it
necessary to undertake some operational work of its own when the Committee
took the plunge into Africa some four or more years ago...
I would suggest that this whole question of direct operations by the intergovernmental
organizations versus an operational contractual partnership with and through
the Voluntary Agencies, is one which the Committee might wish to review, in
the light of the experience which is taking place in Africa. The Voluntary
Agencies, needless to say, would hope to be called upon to participate in
such a study, which would have important implications for them. (Statement
made by Mr Garett Ackerson, UN Executive Committee of the UNHCR, 21st session,
INGOs and international legal status or facilities
An early important step taken by
The Hague Conference on Private International Law resulted in the adoption in
1956 of a Convention concerning the legal recognition of societies, associations
and foreign foundations. This has only been ratified by five of the Conference's
Member States. In addition it only covers recognition, not the activity of such
In an effort to improve the international
status of INGOs both to facilitate their operation and to ensure recognition
of their social significance, the U.I.A. after consultation with appropriate
experts, submitted to the Director General of Unesco in May 1959 a "Draft Convention
aiming at facilitating the work of international nongovernmental organizations".
(see text in International Associations 1959, no. 7, pp. 510-511). This
led to the following :
''... C'est avec le plus grand intérêt que j'ai pris connaissance,
ainsi que mes collègues de cet avant-projet dont l'importance ne saurait
nous échapper. Il est toutefois évident qu'un accord international de cette
nature est susceptible d'intéresser, au même titre, l'Organisation des
Nations Unies et d'autres institutions spécialisées; c'est pourquoi j'ai jugé
nécessaire de consulter à ce sujet le Comité administratif de Coordination,
dont la prochaine session se tiendra au mois d'octobre 1959 à New York. Je
ne manquerai pas de vous tenir informé des suites que le Comité aura décidé
de donner à votre initiative...-(René Maheu, Directeur Général par interim
de I'Llnesco, 17juillet 1959).
''... le Secrétariat a procédé à I'examen des mesures particulières
qui pourraient être prises en faveur des organisations non gouvernementales
par l'Unesco et, éventuellement par d'autres organisations du système
des Nations Unies, en vue d'apporter une solution pratique à- certains problèmes
auxquels se réfère le projet de Convention de votre Union. Le Directeur général
espère pouvoir présenter des propositions concrètes au Comité administratif
de coordination, ... en octobre 1960.''(Extrait d'une lettre de
René Maheu, Directeur Général Adjoint de I'Unesco, 17juin 1960).
''Lors de sa 31ème session (octobre 1960), le Comité a pris note
d'un rapport que je lui avais soumis sur les mesures que j'envisage de mettre
à l'étude en vue de favoriser l'activité des organisations non gouvernementales.
A la lumière de ces informations, le Comité a estimé qu'il n'y avait pas lieu
de prendre de nouvelles mesures en l'état actuel des choses.''(Extrait
d'une lettre de Vittorio Veronese, Directeur Général, Unesco, 23 décembre
'' 2. Problèmes du fonctionnement des organisations internationales
(16) Ayant été saisi en 1959, Par I'Union des associations internationales,
d'un projet de convention internationale visant à faciliter les activités
des organisations internationales non gouvernementales, le Directeur général
a procédé, après consultation du Comité administratif de coordination des
Nations Unies, -a I'examen de mesures pratiques, d'une portée plus limitée,
qui seraient susceptibles de favoriser le développement des activités de ces
organisations. Parmi les mesures envisagées, figurent notamment I'application
plus libérale de I'Accord pour l'importation d'objets de caractère éducatif,
scientifique et culturel ainsi que de celui qui vise à faciliter la circulation
internationale du matériel visuel et auditif de caractère éducatif, scientifique
et culturel...''.(Extrait du Rapport du Directeur G6n6ral de l'Unesco
sur I'Activité de l'organisation en 1960).
This resulted, by agreement with
the Customs Cooperation Council, in the inclusion of certain facilities for
the importation of goods destined for use in international meetings in a 1961
Convention. A significant step but on a secondary issue, namely a symptom of
the malaise is treated but not the cause.
Since that time, contacts have been made with the FAO, principally via the
regular Conferences of international organizations for the joint study of programme
and activities in the field of agriculture in Europe (sponsored by the FAO)
[G.P. Speeckaert. -Statut légal des organisations internationales non-gouvernementales.
Rapport (et) Analyse des réponses faites au questionnaire. (pour la) 14e Conférence
des organisations internationales pour l'étude en commun des plans d'activité
clans le domaine de I'agriculture en Europe, Paris, 1968. Bruxelles, Union des
Associations Internationales, 4 + 11p.]. The FAO recommended action by
the Council of Europe on a regional basis. A lengthy study has been undertaken
[Legal Status of international Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs); analysis
of the replies given by the NGOs to the questionnaire of the Directorate of
Legal Affairs. Strasbourg, Council of Europe, J /Dir (69) 1, 20 (in English
and French versions).] and an interim report to the above Conference in 1969
"... two kinds of action are in principle possible for the Council of
a) relatively short-term action consisting of the preparation of recommendations
by the Committee of Ministers.... If such recommendations are made, the Governments
of the Council of Europe would be requested, from time to time, how they have
been implemented in their respective countries;
b) long-term action, consisting of the preparation of a European Convention
..(Legal Status of International Nongovernmental Organizations. Secretariat
Note for the 15th Conference of International Organizations for the Joint
Study of Programmes and Activities in the Field of Agriculture in Europe,
February 1969 FAO European Commission of Agriculture, 1969.
Participants felt that both types
of initiative should be undertaken in parallel, since the Convention would,
if undertaken, require "8 - 10 years" to have any effect. Even this avenue
has now been blocked for an unknown period, as the following letter indicates
... j'attire votre attention sur I'état actuel de l'étude menée depuis
quelques années, sur recommandation de la F.A.0. par notre Direction des Affaires
juridiques concernant le statut juridique des Organisations non gouvernementales.
Malgré nos espoirs, nous n'avons pas réussi à ce stade à faire adopter par
le Comité des Ministres du Conseil de l'Europe une proposition tendant
à- l'élaboration, sur la base des résultats de ladite étude et dans le
cadre du programme de travail intergouvernemental, de recommandations en cette
matière à adresser aux Gouvernements de nos Etats membres. Cette impossibilité
est due au fait que, lors du récent réexamen des activités du Conseil de l'Europe
dans le domaine juridique, le Comité des Ministres s'est trouvé en présence
d'un très grand nombre de propositions d'activités nouvelles parmi lesquelles
il lui fallait nécessairement opérer un choix selon des priorités à accorder
en tenant compte des ressources disponibles pour le programme de travail de
l'Organisation. Or, le problème du statut juridique des Organisations
non gouvernementales n'a pas obtenu à cette occasion la priorité nécessaire
pour son inscription au programme de travail intergouvernemental du Conseil
de l'Europe. -(Extrait d'une lettre à I'U.A.l., octobre 1970, de
Paul Heim, Cabinet du Secrétaire Général, Conseil de l'Europe)
Note that in the framework of the European Economic Community the decision
has been taken to stress the problem of the business and profit multinational
nongovernmental bodies separately with the object of defining a "société
européenne". This will stunt the development of nonprofit bodies (including
many trade associations) which should parallel that of the profit bodies [See
: P. Saunders. -Société anonyme européenne; projet d'un statut d'une société
anonyme européenne; textes. Bruxelles. Communauté économique européenne, 1966;
also: Le projet de société commerciale européenne. Notes et études documentaires
(La documentation française), 18 septembre 1970, no 3719.].
No further action has been taken
by any UN Agency. In the current atmosphere such action would appear to be politically
impracticable. In parallel with this there is a difference in view point between
jurists on the existence, and, presumably, the significance of INGOs :
''Des associations revêtant les formes d'une organisation internationale
peuvent être créées par des personnes de droit privé ou de droit public non
étatiques ... Mais, n'étant pas formées par des Etats, ce ne sont pas Ià des
organisations internationales au sens strict des termes.'' (W.J.
Ganshof van der Meersch.-Organisations Européennes. Bruxelles, Emile Bruylant,
In this volume of 580 pages, 12
lines are devoted to nongovernmental organizations.
But consider the view of Professor G.L Morozov, Directeur du département
des organisations internationales de I'lnstitut d'Economie Mondiale et des
Relations Internationales (Moscou) :
''Analysant les changements intervenus dans le monde à la suite
de la révolution d'octobre et des victoires du socialisme ... L.I. Brejnev
remarque que ''les mouvements démocratiques auxquels participent
de larges couches de la population, ont pris un élan considérable''...
Nier l'importance des OING dans les relations internationales, ainsi
que l'existence d'un minimum d'éléments de droit, qui donne à un grand
nombre de ces organisations la possibilité d'exercer leurs activités, équivaut
à ignorer les faits objectifs...
Afin que les OING puissant exercer des activités normales, il est indispensable
également qu'elles puissent disposer de quelques règles de droit international.
La pratique crée les formes spécifiques d'un tel minimum de règles de droit
international dont le fondement réside principalement en la coopération des
divers états sur le territoire desquels une OING donnée fait se tenir les
assemblées de ses organes, ou d'autres de ses manifestations. Les nécessités
ultérieures démontreront inévitablement qu'il est indispensable de fixer par
des conventions les normes correspondantes.'' (G.I. Morozov. -Les
organisations internationales non gouvernementales et le droit international.
International Associations, 1969, no. 3, pp. 130-8; traduit de la revue mensuelle
''Le Droit et l'Etat Soviétique'', 1968, 4.)
And with regard to human rights
and economic development we see another picture :
''Notre conclusion dès lors est que le régime des droits et devoirs
de la personne morale en regard du droit international général ou particulier
n'a pas trouvé une solution définitive.
L'économie mondiale devient de plus en plus complexe et les relations de
plus en plus interdépendantes. Les pays exportateurs de capitaux prennent
conscience de la nécessité d'aider d'autres régions moins favorisées du globe: on ne peut cependant pas leur demander d'aller jusqu'à la catastrophe et
des garanties efficaces doivent leur être offertes.
D'une manière plus générale d'ailleurs dans une Société où la personne morale
se voit reconnaître une existence juridique - que celle-ci soit une association,
une société commerciale ou une personne publique -, il nous semble indispensable
de lui attribuer certains droits et de lui imposer des obligations précises.
Pour ces motifs, il serait sans doute heureux qu'elle puisse bénéficier d'un
régime juridique international distinct, propre à sa nature, et résolvant
beaucoup des problèmes donnant actuellement lieu à discussion.''
(S. Marcus-Helmons, Directeur du Département des Droits de I'Homme, ''Les
personnes morales et le droit international'' In Université Catholique
de Louvain. Premier colloque du Département des Droits de I'Homme; les droits
de I'homme et les personnes morales. Emile Bruylant, 1970, P. 80-1).
What appears to be lacking is the
universal social recognition of the function of nongovernmental bodies, as such,
whether profit or nonprofit oriented. For without such recognition - thought
out with as much multidisciplinary care as was the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights - any Convention will be based on a limited (and, in view of
its complexity, distorted) understanding of the significance of this social
phenomenon and will merely act as a "straightjacket" for creative social development.
INGOs and human survival
The report of a May 1970 Conference
on Human Survival at the United Nations Secretariat sponsored by two U.S. national
nongovernmental bodies, which amongst other things debated the question of how
public support could be generated for the United Nations, makes no mention of
nongovernmental bodies (with the exception of multinational corporations), except
in the following indicative excerpts from its Press Conference :
Third Organizational "Sex"- Non-Non-Governmental
"Audience : Considering the great proliferation of nongovernmental
conferences - yours is one - do you regard this as an indication that the
people should take over the running of the UN rather than the states?
Lester Pearson : Ours is not a nongovernmental conference in the
sense that we represent organizations. We are just here as individuals.
We are not only nongovernmental, we are even non-official in that sense.
And I would like to think that perhaps the Secretary-General (of the United
Nations) and those who are responsible for this meeting asked us
because, though most of us had governmental experience and official experience,
we were free of all governmental inhibitions and had a completely free
hand to say and feel as we felt... every time I go down the hall, I run
into some kind of nongovernmental meeting...".(Transcripts of Proceedings;
Conference on Human Survival, May 1970, United Nations, New York. Charles
F. Kettering Foundation, 1970).
Given the absence of "governmental inhibitions", what of the absence
of governmental prejudices ? Human survival goes beyond the survival of governments
and individuals - the "quality of the life" led by the survivors,
the manner in which they participate in society through groups, etc are all
crucial to "acceptable" survival.
We have concentrated on the relationship
between the United Nations system and the 2,000 international nongovernmental
organizations, of which some 500 are recognized by ECOSOC. Careful reading would
seem to show an evolution in the meaning of "We the peoples... ", the understanding
of the function of nongovernmental bodies, and the manner in which public opinion
can be moulded by the United Nations. What conclusions can be drawn? Firstly
INGOs are clearly faced with a repeat performance of the charade conducted by
the Ecosoc NGO Committee which subjected INGOs in consultative status with Ecosoc
to a degrading, inquisitional "grilling", preceded by a questionnaire which
effectively requested INGOs to prove their innocence of the general charge of
being government front organizations. Secondly, we shall undoubtedly see a repeat
of this performance with respect to INGOs in consultative status with FAO, WHO,
ILO, UNICEF, etc. since the two precedents now exist.
The technique adopted is certainly
most effective. Member States wishing to attack INGOs merely produce a topic
which a majority is against, INGOs included, and then associate condemnation
of this topic with a call for "positive" action on the part of an appropriate
group of INGOs.
The resolution will then be voted
and the unresponsive INGOs will stand condemned until they prove their innocence
to the satisfaction of the Member States. The latter being generally uninterested
in INGOs, the object is achieved, One cannot object to this procedure without
being labelled as objecting to the condemned topic.
The paragraph in the Unesco resolution
will require a far-ranging investigation to be effective. Note first of
all that in the version that first appeared it was retroactive, thus defying
another principle of the Declaration of Human Rights, through the phrase in
the past tense "... or to have cooperated in any way with the Government of
South Africa in the latter's apartheid policy". (The ECOSOC questionnaire specified
the previous ten years.) Note that secondly it covers by implication those organizations
which have individual members in Southern Africa but no branches. It is impossible
for an individual to live in South Africa without "cooperating" in some way
with the apartheid policy - be he black, white or any other shade.
Isolating Southern Africa is one
method of ensuring the introduction of human rights. It is the main strategy
open to States and applies particularly to the destruction of economic links.
Some INGOs may believe that dialogue is another strategy for which they are
particularly qualified. But States should not condemn INGOS, for lack of anything
better, because they have not been successful in applying their own strategy
and have in fact been hypocritical in disguising the manner in which they break
sanctions. One wonders why this approach was not taken to its logical conclusion
by requesting the Director-General to determine which Member States have
national organizations which have relations with INGOs with members in South
Africa. The UIA hopes shortly to be able to supply a list of multinational business
enterprises which have companies in both Southern Africa and in other Member
States. Will Member States apply their logic to this list ?
Basic weakness of INGOs vis a vis the UN Agencies
There are many aspects to society, and the number of INGOs is evidence of this
complexity. UN Agencies do not recognize the significance of all aspects. Where
UN and INGO interests overlap, the INGOs affected (but not the others which
remain in a legal and social "limbo") are only too anxious to support
the UN Agencies in question as potentially a most important aid to the achievement
of their objectives. They can then proudly wear the badge of "consultative
status". The UN exploits this situation by forcing each INGO, whatever
the range of its interests, to negotiate separately with each appropriate agency.
In this way the UN fragments the INGO movement so that INGOs are encouraged
to organize their inter-INGO activities to reflect UN imposed programme divisions.
INGOs either agree with these, in many cases inappropriately, politicised programme
concepts or are considered "ineffective collaborators" because of
their unwillingness to work with the UN Agency. At the same time each Agency
says that INGOs should work together on certain (UN) programmes. This is however
token encouragement only which is a disguise for the "divide and rule"
policy. A common INGO stand on any issue could not be handled by UN structures
as they are currently organized and therefore must be indirectly discouraged
by exploiting INGO weaknesses.
L'Unesco ne pourrait-elle devenir un vrai ''forum intellectuel''-
ouvert, non seulement aux spécialistes, mais aux penseurs, a ceux qui
incarnent des préoccupations effectives et morales ? Pour cela il faudrait
accorder une totale liberté d'expression aux penseurs, artistes, écrivains,
porte-parole du tourment et de la conscience du monde. ''Pour
ma part, dit le Directeur-général, vous le savez, a regret d'ailleurs,
dans le Projet de programme et de budget, je n'ai pas écouté ce chant
des sirènes ! Je me suis mis volontairement de la cire dans les oreilles
! Et je me suis fait attacher an grand mat pour ne pas les rejoindre.
Cependant, si vous vouliez qu'on aille vers elles, il n'est rien qui me
cause plus de plaisir. Mais je vous dis par avance que ce mouvement vous
entrainera vers des remous.'' (Extrait d'un résumé de la 12e
Conférence Générale de I'Unesco, 1962).
The fundamental weakness is a reflection of that existing between UN Agencies
themselves namely the inability and dislike of working together because of
the difficulty of establishing common ground (in the face of a global crisis)
or losing autonomy. The UN Agencies have rejected a structural revision as outlined
by the compromise-based Jackson Report. They are disinclined to facilitate dialogue
between INGOs polarized around each agency, let alone those outside the UN pall.
There is no theoretical, sociological or legal framework for international non-governmental
interaction - despite the de facto existence of such social processes recognized
in the PR tokenism of the UN agencies. And Unesco, the responsible agency, shows
no interest in establishing wide recognition of the significance of this phenomenon
as a key to the achievement of its programme objectives. The administrative
problem is used to disguise the social phenomenon.
INGOs in contact with the UN are
therefore imprisoned and paralyzed by the ideals and objectives that they hold
in common with the UN - resulting in a strange form of token collaboration,
supposedly unsatisfactory to both parties, through uncoordinated channels which
cripple any ability to act. In this exposed position INGOs are now being "picked
off" by Member States. If it had been deliberately planned it could hardly be
If this be true...
"It is quite certain that unless we can regulate our behaviour much
more satisfactorily than at present, then we are going to exterminate
Yet if nothing else, each time a new baby is born there is a possibility
of reprieve. Each child is a new being, a potential prophet, a new spiritual
prince, a new spark of light precipitated into the outer darkness. Who
are we to decide that it is hopeless ?"(R.D. Laing. The Politics
of Experience and the Bird of Paradise. Penguin, p. 26).
... then what of the potential significance
of the creation of each new group in every sector of the social process
"The group, considered first of all from the point of view of the
experience of its own members, is not a social object out there
in space. It is the quite extraordinary being formed by each person's
synthesis of the same multiplicity into We, and each person's synthesis
of the multiplicity of syntheses." (p. 72).
Who is to blame?
In the face of this sorry state
of affairs who should be blamed ?
- INGOs ? Perhaps for lack of effectiveness, lack of "internationality"
as implied by the Unesco Director-General ? Perhaps for lack of coordination
amongst themselves and an excessive desire to associate themselves with the
UN Agencies rather than with one another ? Perhaps for lack of ability to
see that they have a common interest and require new mechanisms through which
to express it ?
- UNESCO ? Perhaps for its "manque d'ouverture au dialogue"
and its lack of interest in collective consultation as noted by M. Tolen,
Chairman of the NGO Standing Committee ? Perhaps for treating NGOs as an
administrative problem rather than considering them as the Unesco-oriented
fragment of the international sector of a whole social universe of
organizations, groups, movements, etc. of all shapes, persuasions, degrees
of autonomy, etc. which, as a social phenomenon, merit the closest theoretical
and administrative attention on the part of Unesco - whether or not their
programmes are in line with Unesco's objectives - as cooperating systems which
could constitute a ready made set of building blocks for peace and the reduction
of world tensions ? Perhaps for a certain lack of consistency, giving support
(not necessarily financial) with one hand, and introducing obstacles to collaboration
with the other ?
- Member States ? Perhaps for the typical governmental (disguised)
contempt for anything nongovernmental ? Perhaps for the attempt to treat the
individual as naked before the State, bereft of any organizational support
or protection ? Perhaps for attacking other bodies for failing to do what
they have not done in their own case ?
- Peace Researchers ? Perhaps for not recognizing that their weakness
lies in the implementation of what they recognize should be done although
they ignore precisely those pressure group mechanisms through which society
and government may be made to respond to their insights ?
- Sociologists ? Perhaps for their traditional emphasis on the isolated
organization and the lack of focus on organizational networks ?
- International Relations Scholars ? Perhaps for the traditional political
science tendency to legitimize the old nation-state system whilst ignoring
the complex problems of interdependence between new types of political, social
and economic units in a rapidly evolving society ? Perhaps for training the
government delegates and administrators to ignore what is not directly relevant
to power politics ?
- Economists ? Perhaps for distorting "development" to mean
economic development and ignoring any aspect of "social" development
which does not contribute to economic ends ?
- International legal experts ? Perhaps for thoroughly convincing wide
segments of society, including government, that organizations - particularly
international organizations - did not "exist" until given legal
status or recognized by government, thus blinding government to the social
significance of any grouping of people in a democratic society and giving
governments the impression that they could "wish away" unwanted
organizations by ignoring them ?
Each of these social groups has
played its part in the drama. Each has sufficient built in momentum to ensure
that it will continue to act in the same way for many years to come.
The important point however is that
it is not any particular part of society which can carry all the blame. Each
is too concerned with its own affairs to consider itself guilty of any omission
with respect to society as a whole, or, it view of its ignorance outside its
domain, to be found guilty by its peers. It is the interaction between
the various forms of irresponsibility and ignorance which is forcing the breakdown
of relations between governmental and non-governmental bodies - hopefully,
from a governmental point of view, to be replaced by a direct (and easily controllable)
relationship between the individual and governmental agencies through increased
New concepts and organizational techniques are sorely needed. This is taken
up in the next issue.