PPJ- 20 December 2017
The U.S. Helsinki Commission said, in a report on NGO Participation in the OSCE published on 19 December 2017, that some participating states effort to curtail NGO participation.
“Various participating States have objected to what they perceive as negative aspects of NGO participation in meetings, including criticisms of their governments levied by NGOs; the presence of persons connected to their political opposition or whom the government has accused (sometimes seemingly for political reasons) of some type of criminal activity,” the report said.
NGOs and States participate on an equal basis
The report underlines that under the OSCE Rules of Procedure and various consensus decisions “NGOs are allowed to participate in human dimension meetings on an equal basis with participating States. NGOs—no matter how small—can raise their concerns directly with governments.”
The only ground for exclusion is …
The report states that only the “persons or organizations which resort to the use of violence or publicly condone terrorism or the use of violence” can be excluded and there are no other grounds for exclusion.
Government-sponsored NGOs (the GONGOs)
The report points out that “recently there has been an increase in the number of government-sponsored NGOs – often called GONGOs – at human dimension events. These organizations are funded (and sometimes created) by governments to participate in the meetings, praise the regime, and take up time in order to minimize the length and impact of real NGOs statements.”
Dubious designations as terrorist are meaningless
“One participating State may choose to describe an individual or group as ‘terrorist.’ However, broad extremism laws and lack of an independent judiciary or record of due process in that nation could make such unilateral declarations meaningless to other states, especially in the absence of any evidence of such dubious designations,” said the report.
Turkey’s continued protest about NGO participation
“In 2017, Turkey walked out in protest of the registration of an NGO it claimed was a ‘terrorist’ organization due to alleged connections to Fethullah Gülen. Turkey continued to protest the NGO’s participation in subsequent human dimension events, which it also boycotted, and insisted on renegotiating the rules for NGO participation in the OSCE.” the report stated.