Cablegate: Un Ecosoc Committee On Ngos: The Human Rights


DE RUCNDT #0516/01 1631623
R 111623Z JUN 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 60300

1. Summary and action request: On June 6 ECOSOC's NGO
Committee, acting at the behest of the Cuban delegation,
rejected an application for consultative status from a New
York-based NGO called the Human Rights Foundation. The Cuban
delegate called one of the Foundation's board members, former
Cuban political prisoner (and former U.S. ambassador to the
UN Commission on Human Rights) Armando Valladares, a
terrorist. The U.S. delegation called for deferring the
first-time application until the Committee could hear from a
representative of the NGO, but this was rejected by a vote of
6 (U.S.)-12-1. Cuba then moved to reject the application.
Rather than accept a consensus decision, the U.S. called for
a vote and the motion to reject the application was approved
13-4 (U.S.)-2. When ECOSOC meets June 30-July 25 and reviews
the Committee's report, we recommend the United States seek
to overturn the Committee's decision. End summary and action

2. Background: the Committee on NGOs of the UN's Economic
and Social Council is a 19-member body that meets twice a
year to review applications from NGOs for consultative status
with ECOSOC. Its terms of reference (ECOSOC resolution
1996/31) stipulate that NGOs granted status shall be
concerned with matters falling within ECOSOC's competence,
shall have aims and purposes that conform with the UN
Charter, and shall undertake to support the work of the UN.
The resolution also says the NGO shall be of recognized
standing within its particular field, shall have a
democratically adopted constitution and a representative
structure, and shall disclose the sources of its financial

3. The Human Rights Foundation was registered in the United
States in 2005 and submitted its application for ECOSOC
consultative status earlier this year. On June 2, after an
initial review of the application, the NGO Committee put
additional questions in writing to the Foundation, which the
Foundation answered in writing on June 4. One of the
questions states: "How do you explain your affirmation that
you don't and didn't have any links with any person involved
in terrorist activity considering Armanda (sic) Valladares's
presence in the Board of Directors of this organization, as
chairman of this entity?" The Foundation's answer points out
among other things that Valladares was a prisoner of
conscience in Cuba and so designated by Amnesty
International, and a U.S. representative to the UN Commission
on Human Rights with the rank of ambassador.

4. In the June 6 debate the Cuban delegate accused the
Foundation of "insolent, lying, and slanderous" attacks on
Cuba and Venezuela, claimed Valladares is a terrorist, passed
out copies of largely illegible Cuban court documents and
newspaper articles allegedly supporting this claim, and asked
the Committee to reject the application. Sudan, China,
Guinea, Egypt, Russia, Burundi, Dominica, and an observer
delegate from Venezuela supported Cuba. The U.S. delegate
pointed out that Valladares had been a prisoner of conscience
in Cuba, his Foundation is now dedicated to promoting the
freedom of speech he was denied in Cuba, and the Committee
had only heard one side of the story and should invite a
representative of the Foundation to come and speak to it at
its next session in January 2009. He recommended that action
on the application be deferred.

5. The Cuban delegate called for a vote on its request to
reject the application. The UK, Israel, and Peru supported
the U.S. call for a deferral, pointing out that it was
customary for the Committee to give first-time applicants an
opportunity to address the Committee and unusual for the
Committee to take action on so recent an application. The
Cuban delegate called for a vote on the U.S. request. The
request for a deferral was defeated by a vote of 6 (USA,
Colombia, Israel, Peru, Romania, UK) to 12, with one
abstention (India).

6. Cuba then repeated its request to the Committee to reject
the application, calling Valladares a "clown" and "a member
of a criminal gang." The Committee chairman (Sudan) asked if
the Committee wished to adopt the resolution by consensus,
but the U.S. delegate called for a vote. The motion to
reject the Foundation's application was adopted by a vote of
13 to 4 (USA, Colombia, Israel, Peru), with two abstentions
(Romania and the UK).

7. June 6 was the final day of the Committee's resumed 2008
session. Its report will be submitted for approval to
ECOSOC, the Committee's parent body, which meets in New York
June 30-July 25. We recommend that at this meeting the
United States seek to overturn this decision, or

alternatively send the case back to the Committee. Such a
request would need to be supported by demarches in the
capitals of most of ECOSOC's 54 member states.

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