A United Nations committee has voted to deny the accreditation of religious advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) after deferring the group's application since 2009.
In 2009, CSW applied for consultative status with the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), but the application was continually deferred, hampering the group's opportunities to promote the freedom of religion. The status would allow the group to attend meetings at key human rights advocacy platforms such as the Human Rights Council and General Assembly.
The United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations, which is comprised of 19 U.N. member states, recently voted 11–4 against CSW's application, with one abstention and three absences.
The four states that voted in favor of CSW's accreditation were USA, Greece, Uruguay and Israel. Some of the countries that voted against the application included China, Sudan and India, which had track records of persecution against Christians.
Other countries that opposed CSW's accreditation were Cuba, Pakistan, South Africa, Iran, Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Russia abstained while Azerbaijan, Guinea and Mauritania were absent. CSW has already expressed plans to appeal the decision.
CSW has recently urged China to put an end to the human rights abuses against Christians and stop the use of torture against prisoners.
CSW's Kiri Kankhwende told Premier News Hour that the group will not be silenced by the countries that voted against the accreditation.
"A lot of [these countries] are dead set against us but we're not going to silence our voice in criticising them either," she said.
Kankhwende said that the charity is hopeful that it will stand a better chance of receiving the consultative status when the case is brought before the wider committee. She noted that the group would only need about 56 percent of the wider committee to vote favorably in order to get the accreditation.
CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas was not pleased with the decision, but he expressed his gratitude to the countries that voted in favor of the application.
"It is deeply concerning that the UN Committee on NGOs, the very entity which is tasked to facilitate NGOs access to the UN, is instead actively blocking civil society access to the UN," said Thomas.
"We believe that this decision is effectively an attempt to silence CSW and undermine the promotion of freedom of religion or belief within the UN system," he added.