Press Release: Youth Coalition denied ECOSOC status at United Nations following NGO Committee Vote

For Immediate Release
27 May 2016

New York –Following an unprecedented series of events at a United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations meeting, the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR or Youth Coalition) had its consultative status with the Economic Social Council denied. Consultative status allows organizations to access UN bodies and processes, and better participate in UN discussions.

This decision comes after a prolonged deferral process that lasted over six years. Youth Coalition first applied for Economic Social Council (ECOSOC) status in 2010, but its application has since been deferred eleven times.

Youth Coalition is a youth-led organization working to guarantee and promote the sexual and reproductive rights of all young people and support their meaningful participation in decision-making processes. The organization has been actively engaged in UN advocacy for over 15 years, with its roots grounded in the 1999 International Conference on Population and Development Operational Review. The organization is registered in Canada.

During the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO Committee) meeting on May 26, the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations made a statement in support of YCSRR’s bid for ECOSOC status, stating, “…The Youth Coalition is not just any organization. They are well known, active, and of excellent standing. They represent a group of dedicated and hard-working young people who are passionate about the issues that are facing the world today.”

Following this statement, the NGO Committee Chair made a motion to grant YCSRR accreditation, but as the gavel sounded, Iran requested the floor. Arguments over the validity of the decision spiraled into a heated dispute over process that culminated in a vote to overturn the YCSRR’s ECOSOC approval. The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) described the move as “unprecedented”.

Following this, the United States called for a vote on granting Youth Coalition status. The committee denied the group accreditation in a 6-5 vote, with 11 of 19 committee members present.

Youth Coalition’s ECOSOC status denial comes at a time when the NGO Committee is facing increased scrutiny and criticism over what is seen as the blocking of civil society groups from the United Nations through procedural tactics and delays. Just days before, ISHR released a letter signed by over 230 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) defending freedom of association at the UN and calling for the apolitical, fair and transparent consideration of NGOs applying for consultative status.

On May 26 the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a group promoting press freedom, was also denied consultative status after what they called a “Kafka-esqe bureaucratic limbo” since submitting their application in 2012.

Following the vote to deny Youth Coalition accreditation, the Permanent Mission of Canada voiced further support for the group, tweeting:

Despite the setback, the organization remains optimistic. The full 54-member council has the jurisdiction to overrule the decision at its next meeting in July. With the continued support of Canada and the increasing pressure on the NGO Committee to support the inclusion of civil society organizations at the UN, Youth Coalition hopes that the organization will finally be granted consultative status.

Media Contact

Sarah Hedges-Chou
Program & Communications Officer
Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights