I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The European Union attaches great importance to the participation of civil society organisations at the UN. Civil society makes an indispensable contribution to our work on countless issues, including the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons.
Indeed, in previous sessions of the Open Ended Working Group on Ageing, we have benefited from the active participation of a diverse range of civil society experts, whose contributions have greatly enriched our discussions. We look forward to similar engagement by civil society during the coming days.
In a world that is increasingly hostile to NGOs – manifested through legal or political steps to stifle the work of civil society or through direct, and even fatal, attacks on human rights defenders – it is all the more incumbent upon the UN and its members to facilitate NGO access and participation at the UN.
The EU and its Member States, together with other delegations, have, on several occasions, raised concerns with the way that the non-objection clause is being applied in practice. We continue to insist on a better approach, one which provides for the full participation of all civil society organisations relevant to the discussion – without the possibility for arbitrary exclusions by any single Member State that do not provide real reasoning. The final decision on the list of CSOs must not be that of a single Member State.
We therefore regret that objections have been submitted in relation to the participation of one Non-Governmental Organisation. We encourage all Member States to vote in support of its accreditation.