The CONGO Board meeting was convened by Renate Bloam, President of the Board, with 17 Board members present, among them PPSEAWA Int. represented by me.
The year 2005 meetings were marked by the Millenium+5 process that ended In the September 2005 World Summit in New York (High-Level Plenary Meeting of the 60th Session of the General Assembly) and the UN Summit on Information Society (WSIS, Phase 2) in November in Tunis.
Unfortunately, the Summit in New York was prepared behind closed doors and in so doing had no input from the Civil Society. Thus the challenge for the Board in 2006 is to be involved as much as possible in follow-up and implementation of the two Summits and to break through the barrier of the closed non-accessibility of the General Assembly.
CONGO was asked to help better coordinate NGO involvement in the Commission on Human Rights. Thus the Steering Committee NGOIC (NGO Information and Coordination)was established which includes major human rights NGOs.
During our meeting, the President and Board Members of CONGO received Visits from the Secretary General, Dr. Kofi Annan, and the President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Jan Eliasson. They explained to the Board the discussions and negotiations which had led to the presentation on February 23 of the “Draft Resolution on the creation of a Human Rights Council”; they further explained that the next days of governmental consultations would be decisive if the proposed Council was to be established before the meeting of the Human Rights Commission that was scheduled to start in Geneva on March 13, 2006.
After the Board received and read the proposal for the UN Human Rights Council, it issued the following written statement (excerpt):
In the present global crisis of tensions, breakdown of dialogue and loss of Confidence among peoples, the CONGO Board further welcomes the emphasis, given by the GA President, to the affirmation in the paragraph PP7 that “States, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious bodies and the media have an important role to play in promoting tolerance, respect for and freedom of religion and belief”
The CONGO Board also notes the paragraph PP8 of the Draft Resolution which recognizes “the work undertaken by the UN Commission on Human Rights and the need to preserve and build on its achievements and to redress its shortcomings.” In particular the CONGO Board expresses its hope that among those achievements the proven consultation and advocacy roles of non-governmental organizations and others will be preserved and enhanced and notes the paragraph OP11 which decides for the continuation of such consultations and participation “while ensuring the most effective contribution of these entities”. In this connection CONGO offers the services of its recently constituted “NGO Information and Coordination Service” with its steering committee of major Human Rights NGOs.
The CONGO Board therefore gives its full support to the content of the Draft Resolution and to its early adoption by the General Assembly. The CONGO Board calls on the NGO community to urge such adoption upon all member governments with which they have contact and to pursue throughout civil society continued commitment and engagement in ensuring the success of the future Human Rights Council.
The statement was sent to the President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Jan Eliasson and released to the press.
The next CONGO Board meeting is to be held in Vienna, August 2006. For More information please see: www.ngocongo.org