China Proposal on NGOs Raises Transparency Concerns at U.N.

By Bree Feng

The New York Times

A proposal by China that would have withheld the names of countries that criticize nongovernmental organizations at the United Nations has drawn condemnation from diplomats and rights groups, citing concerns about transparency.

China made the proposal last week during a session of the United Nations committee that oversees accreditation for nongovernmental organizations to participate in United Nations meetings. At present, the United Nations publishes accounts of committee meetings that include any objections raised by the committee’s 19 member states to nongovernmental organizations seeking accreditation. Last Wednesday, however, China moved that the United Nations no longer name individual countries in its reports, participants in the session said. The motion was supported by Cuba, Iran, Russia, Pakistan and Sudan, the participants said.

China eventually dropped the proposal, but not before representatives of other countries expressed alarm about the risks to transparency.

The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, posted on Twitter that the proposal to withhold countries’ names was a “very concerning initiative,” though she did not cite China in connection with the proposal.

She added in another post, “In an era of global crackdown on civil society, the UN’s NGO Committee must set the example for openness & transparency.”

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