UN: MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE ON NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS ON THE CASE OF VIETNAM VS. THE TRANSNATIONAL RADICAL PARTY


Also considered this morning (14 May 2004) was a special report submitted by the Transnational Radical Party (TRP). The report was submitted following a complaint by the representative of Viet Nam that the NGO had provided accreditation to individuals who where members of the Montagnard Foundation, Inc., a movement considered a terrorist organization by Viet Nam, to take part in the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on Human Rights. At its 2002 session, the Committee found the report to be unsatisfactory and decided that the TRP should submit a new supplementary report.

Speaking as an observer, the representative of Viet Nam said the reason for his country’s concern had been made clear. The President of the Transnational Radical Party, Kok Ksor, was a terrorist who was instigating terror in pursuit of the Montagnard Foundation, Inc.’s publicly proclaimed goal of establishing a so-called “State of Degar” in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam. The TRP’s latest reports only repeated all the arguments, which the Committee had found unsatisfactory. It could not be denied that Kok Ksor was a terrorist and that the organization engaged in terror to pursue unjustified political aims.

It was time that the Committee take action to correct the situation, he said. The separatist desire of establishing “an independent State of Degar” within the sovereign State of Viet Nam was too clear for the Transnational Radical Party to deny. By the end of 1999, Kok Ksor had formally announced the establishment of the so-called independent State of Degar among exiles in North Carolina, United States, and had claimed himself to be “President”. The issue had been dragging on for three years now. The time that had elapsed had only made it clear that Kok Ksor was a terrorist and that he and the Montagnard Foundation, Inc. were resorting to increasingly dangerous forms of terror to destabilize Viet Nam and threaten its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The organization was abusing its consultative status with ECOSOC.

The United States’ representative said he did not see evidence to support the Vietnamese delegation’s assertions. It was easy to call someone a terrorist. Perhaps, someone in his lifetime had committed terrorist acts. However, people could change after making mistakes and could admit their mistakes. When a person had achieved a status among their community, it was possible for people in that community to invoke that name and perform criminal acts. If there was evidence that the person was directing separatist activities, it was a serious matter, but it was a matter for the Security Council, not the NGO Committee.

In the ensuing debate, several speakers questioned whether it was within the Committee’s mandate to discuss the nature of a non-governmental organization and whether it was a terrorist organization. Others, however, said that the issue fell well within the Committee’s purview, noting the evidence that the NGO was abusing its status as an accredited organization of ECOSOC.

The representative of Germany, noting that it was a politically charged and complicated legal issue, said the NGO Committee was an administrative committee of ECOSOC, and as such, not the right forum to discuss political issues. What was being asked was a legal impossibility. The Committee could not suspend an NGO as a means of coercing it to do something.

Cuba’s representative thanked Viet Nam for the new information it had provided. Looking at that information, it seemed that the NGO had displayed a separatist nature. Delegations must ensure that NGOs abide by the United Nations Charter. Violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity were serious issues and the Committee should be seriously concerned with it. The NGO was a separatist organization fighting the territorial integrity of a sovereign State. Moreover, past actions of people did have to factor into the Committee’s deliberations. Viet Nam had shown a flexible position, he added.

The representative of China said he was shocked by the information provided by Viet Nam’s delegation and supported Viet Nam’s proposals. Kok Ksor should be condemned. In the past two years, the Transnational Radical Party had been asked to provide a special report. Its attitude had been arrogant regarding that request. If the Committee allowed that behaviour to continue, it would not only lose its own credibility but also harm the United Nations. He hoped that the Committee would sanction the NGO’s activities in accordance with the principles of the United Nations, especially the relevant provisions of resolution 96/31.

Sudan’s representative also expressed concern with the information provided, noting that while he could not judge the behaviour of the organization, he could evaluate whether the behaviour was in line with the principles of resolution 96/31. The NGO, by the information presented, had engaged in separatist issues within a State. That was a source of great concern. He did not regard it to be in line with the principles and objectives of ECOSOC.

The representative of Pakistan said there was no international definition of terrorism, nor an exhaustive list of terrorists. Resolution 96/31 said that if an organization clearly abused its status by engaging in a pattern of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations, their membership could be suspended or withdrawn.

Zimbabwe’s representative said the allegations were serious. The Committee could not wash its hands and say it was an issue beyond its mandate. The organization in question was accredited to ECOSOC. It was unacceptable for accredited organizations to abuse their privileges by providing platforms to promote separatist elements.

Italy’s representative said the Committee had no mandate to consider the allegation regarding the terrorist nature and activity of the NGO. Should the Committee consider it, however, the allegation of terrorism would have to be proven. Mr. Ksor had been invited to participate in different meetings of the United Nations and had met with representatives of Italy and European Union parliamentarians in the recent past. The main issue was whether the NGO had abused its status. Mr. Ksor had participated in the Human Rights Commission and different forums, with no claims against his participation. Also, no mention had been made that a supplementary report had been presented by the organization. There had been no abuse of the rules and procedures and the purposes and principles of the United Nations and resolution 96/31. He hoped the Committee would be able to bring to a close the review of the special report.

Also participating in the discussion were the representatives of France, Romania, Peru, Chile, Cameroon, Iran and the Russian Federation.