Morocco Interrupts Rights Council With False Allegations Against NGO Speaker

This morning at the UN Human Rights Council, Morocco interrupted the session with false allegations against an NGO speaker. Before the representative of International Educational Development could even take the floor, the Moroccan delegate raised a point of order, questioning whether the speaker is entitled to testify on behalf of that NGO given that she had previously addressed the Council twice for another NGO, called France Liberte.

In fact, it is common practice in the NGO community to designate a speaker from outside the organization to make a statement on its behalf. As the secretariat explained, the International Educational Development group issued a written request to allow the speaker to take the floor in its place. No rules were breached.

The Moroccan delegate began his statement by calling into question “the credibility and seriousness” of certain NGOs. He said that perhaps “the only explanation” of how the speaker could speak for two groups is that she registered for two badges, taking on two identities. He called this “irresponsible conduct” and a “threat to security.” He asked that measures be taken to ensure that there is no recurrence of the situation.

After consulting with the secretariat, the presiding Vice President announced that the speaker’s actions do “not run counter to the rules of this house.” Nonetheless, he said he would delay the speech to give time for the Secretariat to explain the ruling to Morocco.

Morocco continued to object that “it is not written in any document I have seen that a letter from the other NGO is acceptable. I cannot accept that this might recur.”

The Vice President broke the session for informal consultations with Morocco. About five minutes later, it was decided that the speech would be delayed at least until the very end of the NGO speaker’s list, at which point a final decision would be made regarding whether or not the speaker could take the floor.

In the end, the speech was permitted. It was entirely about Sri Lanka and had nothing to do with Morocco, though the speaker had slammed Morocco for alleged abuses in the Western Sahara during her past testimonies for the other NGO.

Still, Morocco felt the need to demand its right of reply after her speech to say, “The credibility of this NGO is at stake” and call the speaker’s actions “schizophrenic.” “Efforts should be taken to prevent NGOs from having two badges,” it urged. “That’s one point. Delegations only have one. Then there’s the rule allowing one NGO to give the floor to another NGO. We would like the rules of procedure to properly explain this.”

Sri Lanka also exercised its right of reply to the speaker.

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