India abstains from voting on UN resolution on US NGO

Against the backdrop of the ongoing tussle between the Indian government and NGOs, India has abstained from voting on a UN resolution on an American NGO ‘Freedom Now,’ which would be granted special consultative status that works to free political prisoners across the world.

India was among the 11 countries that abstained from voting on the resolution in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to grant special consultative NGO status to the ‘Freedom Now’ group.

29 members voted for the resolution and 9 members voted against the resolution, which included Pakistan and China, while 11 countries abstained from voting on the resolution. Freedom Now heaved a sigh of relief. “Being granted the status is important not merely as acknowledgement of its important work but to provide the organisation, its imprisoned clients, and their families a platform to address the UN Human Rights Council, ECOSOC, and the General Assembly during relevant discussions,” said the NGO.

‘Freedom Now’ also intends to use this status to improve global efforts in raising concerns about human rights violations and arbitrary detention, along with reforming the NGO accreditation process. It has also been opposed by many countries such as Iran, Sudan, China, Pakistan where it works to try to free those unjustly imprisoned for raising their voices against the state.

This abstention by India would be seen to be exacerbating the trust deficit already existing between NGOs and the government with recent cases where the government has come down heavily on foreign-funded NGOs, and accusing them of being a threat to national security. It would be interesting to see if and how India would work with ‘Freedom Now,’ considering that it has now been accorded a special consultative status by the UN like many other NGOs. 

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