Freedom House Exonerated at the United Nations

New York

After a procedural vote on Thursday, May 24, 2002, the United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations closed a two-year-old case against Freedom House.

Cuba, Sudan, and China, all members of the NGO Committee, called for a review of Freedom House's UN accreditation, alleging that the organization unfairly criticizes their policies, and, according to Cuba, maintains ties with "terrorists," and actively works to overthrow its government.

The complaints were initially lodged in May 2000, with Cuba alleging that scholars and religious leaders Freedom House included in its delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, were in fact members of "terrorist" organizations. China lodged a complaint over the use of an interpreter for a Freedom House roundtable on China's human rights record, held at the UN in Geneva. Sudan later filed a complaint after Freedom House organized a public briefing in New York on slavery and religious persecution in Sudan, held outside UN grounds.

The complaints were set aside after the United States tabled a motion to adjourn the debate over Freedom House's methods of operation. The US delegate argued that the Committee had devoted inordinate time to Freedom House's case and that the organization had always been forthcoming in its responses and proved itself and its operations as legitimate. The motion was approved by wide margin, with ten of the Committee members voting for and five against. Four member states abstained.

The American motion received broad support from an array of Committee members, including Algeria, France, Germany, Chile, Turkey, Bolivia, Colombia, Romania, and Senegal. Voting against were Cuba, China, Sudan, Lebanon, and the Russian Federation. Ethiopia, Tunisia, and India abstained.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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