Thursday, 3 February 2011

The things the UN thinks worth doing.

I am not a big fan of the UN, and tend to subscribe to the opinion of the wag who deemed it the most ridiculous body since Quasimodo.  Anyway, this: 'The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended eight organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and postponed consideration of 19 applications'.

I had some fun with a similar list a few years back, but I think the new list raises the bar somewhat. So, here are some of the winners, none of which am I making up:
CLIPSAS - Centre de Liaison et d'Information des Puissances Maçonniques Signataires de l'Appel de Strasbourg, an international organization based in France which wants to connect national Masonic associations that had signed the Masonic signatories to the Strasbourg Appeal;
I cannot get at all exercised about masonry and regard it as at worst harmless, but note that it is meant to be a secret society.  So are the CLIPSAS bods outing themselves, or are they imposters?

And this:
Grand Triangle, Inc., an international organization based in the United States which aims to achieve universal fraternity and development by promoting peace, cooperation and justice;

Laudable, but I guess they will not be winding themselves up any time soon.  Perhaps they could shoot for better weather, tastier fruit and the like too.

International Samaritan, a United States-based international organization which serves to alleviate poverty in garbage-dump communities worldwide, and eradicate ignorance by providing United States citizens the opportunity to participate in service trips that bring social services to these communities;
Erm.  Where to start?  If I lived in 'a garbage-dump community' and had my poverty alleviated to the degree that I could afford to move out of said G-DC, I would.  Perhaps IS should term its aim as being to persuade people not to be down in the dumps, as it were.  Or maybe living in G-DC is rich and rewarding and they have a fabulous sense of community, the only problem being that there are not enough rich people in them to serve as a stimulus for economic activity. 

And now to the ones that did not pass this hurdle and lurk in limbo:
Center for Global Nonkilling — an international organization with headquarters in the United States which wants to promote change towards the measurable goal of a killing-free world — as Burundi’s delegate asked about it’s affiliations, Cuba’s delegate queried membership and finances, and China’s speaker wanted information about projects in the Republic of Korea and Thailand, and how they were funded.
Measurable goal, eh?  Perhaps we will have to be wary of vast spikes in the apparent suicide rates in various parts of the world.

And there's more:
Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans — an international organization with headquarters in Greece working towards the strengthening of relations, exchange of ideas and solidarity between all world Greek Constantinopolitans and particularly the Greek Constantinopolitans of the diaspora with their fellow countrymen currently living in Istanbul — when Turkey’s delegate asked about the group’s membership and affiliations, as well as about its Government funding and philanthropic donations.  Bulgaria’s delegate, seconded by Belgium’s delegate, expressed support for consultative status, as the organization was widely and internationally recognized.
Fancy Turkey asking questions.  However, a quick google suggests that  Ec.Fe.Co (as it sometimes terms itself) spends most of its time in Turkey bashing.

And this:
Homosexuelle Initiative Wien — a national organization in Austria which fights for the human rights of gays and lesbians, combats all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation, works for equality and equal rights of gay men and lesbian women in all areas, and strengthens the self-esteem of gays and lesbians, among other activities.
Someone from Pakistan is not up to speed on inclusive speech:

Pakistan’s delegate asked how the organization viewed the human rights of its members.  Were the rights of lesbians and gays different from those of “normal” men and women; if so, how?  Also, the organization stated it sought the rehabilitation of gay and lesbian victims of State suppression, and he requested details about the nature of such State suppression, and about what efforts had been made to recover the rights of the victims.
And the reaction:

The representative of Belgium asked Pakistan’s delegate to reformulate the question as there was no difference in application of human rights to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons or heterosexuals.  He simply wished to see the question “be proper” vis-à-vis reference to LGBT people.  Bulgaria’s delegate asked that the question from Pakistan be reformulated in a more respectful way.

Those Bulgarians learn fast, don't they?

In response, Pakistan’s delegate said he had never said gays and lesbians were not normal human beings.  He believed they were normal human beings.  That was precisely why the human rights of normal men and women were the same as those with another orientation.  He wondered what “extra” human rights they enjoyed.
And so on.  This wikipedia page would seem to suggest that Pakistan is not exactly twinned with Old Compton Street. 
International Center for Alcohol Policies — an international organization based in the United States which promotes understanding of the role of alcohol in society and help reduce the abuse of alcohol worldwide.
Sound ghastly, doesn't it?  I bet the office party is an absolute riot.

Here we have a very strong contender for the least appealing name for an NGO in all recorded history:

Lawyers for Lawyers.

Yes, lawyers for lawyers.  Anyone feel like making a donation?  Turns out it is not as bad as it sounds, as it is 'a Netherlands-based international organization which actively supports lawyers who are hindered or threatened in practicing law'.

Another odd one:

Second Amendment Foundation — a national organization in the United States which defends the right to keep and bear arms, through its publications, public education programmes and legal action projects — because Cuba’s delegate said the agenda the organization promoted was controversial.  It was difficult to see it in the context of the work of the United Nations.  He asked whether the organization promoted firearm use in schools and how it could contribute to the Economic and Social Council’s agenda.  Supporting Cuba, Peru’s delegate said the topic had no place in the Council or its subsidiary bodies.  Venezuela’s delegate said the NGO did not conform at all with the Council’s work and there was no reason to give it status. T he delegate of the Russian Federation added that the group’s position was contrary to international efforts to strengthen control on arms trade and wondered whether its application should be considered at all.

The opposition of those countries is not hugely surprising, but I would think that there would be a remarkable degree of overlap between US UN-haters and US 2nd amendment fans.  Perhaps the organisation was on a fishing expedition and is even now e-mailing its support base with the news of which countries line up against it. 

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