The Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) is the first and only organization in Turkey to gain general consultative status in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN). In an interview, JWF President Mustafa Yesil discussed the features, plans, and importance of ECOSOC.
General consultative status members have the right and authority to, if required, go directly through ECOSOC to the UN Secretary-General for agendas and proposals. Presently we are the first and only organization in Turkey with this status.
Mustafa Yesil, JWF President
Country memberships in ECOSOC are limited to three years. Yesil stated that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may apply to ECOSOC for either special consultative status or general consultative status. Yesil also stated that JWF applied for general consultative status one year ago. ”There are special conditions. To gain status, NGOs need the unanimous votes of 54 countries. Sometimes you can apply for general status. Your field of activity, organizational style, and whether or not you fulfill the global scale power criteria may result in your getting special consultative status. We applied for general consultative status. On the 23rd of July, 2012, JWF was accepted for general consultative status by the UN with the unanimous votes of 54 countries and thus became one of 145 organizations with this status in ECOSOC.”
Contributions to the UN
Yesil described the activities of NGOs with general consultative status as follows: “Programs can be offered based on economic and political issues on a global scale within the framework of the United Nations’ plans and projects during its annual period. An NGO can participate as a partner in one of the programs or prepare a report regarding a separate problem and present it to the United Nations. It can also be involved in lobbying actions with other NGOs regarding a given problem. An organization with this authority and support from the United Nations can take an active role in global human-centered incidents and international organizations of every kind.”
New York Representative Office
Yesil explained that after receiving general consultative status, JWF received seven entry and authority rights to the United Nations’ New York, Geneva, and Vienna offices. Yeşil said, “After declaring our intention to the United Nations to set up our representative office and provide the names of the associates who would work there, we opened an office in New York and have begun our work activities. We started with introducing the United Nations’ operation strategy and the countries it encompasses. It will take considerable time to get to know the think tanks’ activities up to the present time … [especially because] ECOSOC is the most comprehensive working group.”
Yesil stated that they now have the opportunity to participate in international organizations under the umbrella of the UN. “Four years after the UN gives you this status, they want a report on the activities created in the name of humanity, according to their criteria. Within this period, if you have performed jobs that do not fit within the framework of the required criteria of your status, your status may be lowered at the next meeting,” Yesil explained. “Organizations with special consultative status also have rights. But an application for special consultative status requires a 500-word report to be presented, whereas an application for general consultative status requires a 2,000-word report. General consultative status members have the right and authority to, if required, go directly through ECOSOC to the UN Secretary-General for agendas and proposals. Presently we are the first and only organization in Turkey with this status,” he said.
Providing a Global Perspective
“The Foundation is working to create a culture of co-existence in our country and in our region. We have conflict resolution solutions for cultural, ethnic, and belief conflicts,” said Yesil. “Today, social problems and difficulties are the biggest inhibitors to clarifying and resolving problems of global peace and security.
“One must see the recent period of growing nationalism, increasing conflicts based on religious sensitivities, the destruction of local cultures, and the helplessness and despair people see themselves in and offer solution-oriented projects.
“We believe that the Hizmet Movement encompasses projects with a human touch,” he said.
What Is ECOSOC?
ECOSOC is the council responsible for the coordination of 14 UN commissions that are active in economic and social fields. ECOSOC members comprise 54 countries. There is a three-year limit to membership, using a rotation system that gives all countries an opportunity to participate. ECOSOC, with its broad jurisdiction, processes more than 70 percent of the UN’s financial and human resource concerns. More than 3,500 NGOs applied for general consultative status but only 145 organizations were successful. Special consultative status was given to organizations in particular fields of expertise.
Special Consultative Status
For example, the Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anybody There?) Association has special consultative status because of its expertise in providing humanitarian aid and fighting against poverty. Organizations with special consultative status can participate in UN meetings, organize an activity within the UN, have a delegation at the UN, be invited to international UN conferences, and benefit from many other privileges.
Turkey has 116 NGOs with special consultative status in the UN, including the Kimse Yok Mu Association, Yeryuzu Doktorlari (Doctors Worldwide), IHH (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief), and the Deniz Feneri (Lighthouse) Association.