India: Sulabh International gets top UN consultative status

The United Nations has accorded its highest consultative status to Indian sanitation NGO Sulabh International. The Chief of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) NGO Branch, Andrei Abramov conveyed the upgrade of Sulabh International from ‘Special’ to ‘General’ consultative status in a letter to Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak.

ECOSOC is the only main UN body with a formal framework for NGO participation. General consultative status is reserved for large, established international NGOs whose area of work covers most of the issues on the agenda of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies.

Sulabh Toilet Complex in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: Sulabh International.

While Sulabh has a sanitation focus and is most well-known for its pay-per-use public toilets, it also runs vocational training schemes for liberated manual scavengers and schools for their children. Established in 1970 in India, Sulabh has helped build sanitary facilities in a dozen African countries including South Africa and Ethiopia, as well as in Laos, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan.

ECOSOC has awadrded 142 NGOs with a general consultative status, including development organisations like Care, Caritas, Medecins sans Frontieres, Oxfam and World Vision. Some 14 dedicated water and sanitation-related NGOs, like WaterAid and the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), have a “Special” consultative status with the UN. This granted to NGOs which have a special competence in, and are concerned specifically with, only a few of the fields of activity covered by the ECOSOC.

Sulabh’s new status opens the door for it to actively engage with ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the UN Secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies, and to actively participate in the work of the Council.

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Source: IANS, The Hindu, 03 Nov 2011

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