The Changing World of NGOs

The United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) produces a special brochure for it's Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). This brochure acts as an introduction to new NGOs and stipulates the requirements of being an NGO.

To mislead their readers, many critics of Jehovah's Witnesses quote from the current version of the DPI's NGO brochure and falsely claim that those requirements are what the Watchtower Society originally signed up to in 1991. The requirements given by the brochure for the DPI's NGOs include the requirement that the NGO should support the UN. Critics quote this brochure as the “proof” that the Society secretly knew they were supporting the United Nations. They claim that this requirement was in place since before 1991, and has remained unchanged ever since. Is this claim true?

No. The critics are lying. They simply hope that you won't think too much about it, and that you won't delve a little deeper and discover the evidence that the NGO world has changed considerably since 1991. We do not have the brochure from 1991, but we do have a copy of the 1994 brochure, which is considerably different from the current version which the apostates quote.

A new relationship

In fact, the 1994 brochure even testifies to the very fact the requirements and expectations of the DPI's NGOs were changing. Page six of the 1994 document says this:

“A new relationship between the UN and NGOs is now being created. We have seen this new relationship begin to mature. NGOs are taking on important new responsibilities.”

Indeed, the above statement proved accurate. For if we compare the current (2005) brochure to the 1994 brochure, we see major changes. For example, the 2005 brochure says the following:

“What are the Criteria for NGOs to become associated with DPI? The NGO must support and respect the principles of the Charter of the UN and have a clear mission statement that is consistent with those principles;”

Apostates often use the above quote, and repeat it endlessly as “proof” of the Watchtower Society's support of the UN. Yet this appears in the 2005 brochure, do we know if it appears in the older brochures? We already stated that we have a copy of the 1994 brochure, so does that phrase appear there? No, not at all. On the contrary, in the 1994 brochure we find that the above statement has replaced the following original statement:

“Who is eligible for association with the DPI? Non-profit organizations which: share the ideals of the UN charter;”

Notice the difference. In 2005, NGOs must support the principles of the UN Charter. In 1994, the NGOs must simply share the same ideals. Just what are those ideals?

“to maintain international peace and security; to suppress acts of aggression that threaten world peace; to encourage friendly relations among nations; to protect the fundamental freedoms of all peoples without discrimination based on race, sex, language, or religion; and to achieve international cooperation in solving economic, social, and cultural problems."

Does the Watchtower Society and Jehovah's Witnesses share those same ideals? They most certainly do — and have done so for years before the UN formed! It is understandable why NGOs should share these same ideals, for the UN would not want to assist or help any organization which promotes contrary ideas. For example, the resolution which gave the DPI power to associate NGOs elaborates on this desire:

“...the Secretary-General [should] ensure that the Office of Public Information [DPI], while reviewing the status of present organizations or considering new applications, excludes all those organizations whose aims or practices tend or contribute to the propagation of nazi ideology and racial and/or religious discrimination;”

We now have a better idea of why the 1994 requirements for being an NGO should stipulate that any associated organization should share the same ideals as the UN charter. They must share the same ideals of religious and racial tolerance and should not in any way promote contrary, racist or discriminatory ideas.

Support the UN by featuring UN information

Some have pointed to page 7 of the 1994 brochure where it states that the NGO must show that they “can prove, during the initial two years of association with DPI, that they support the United Nations by featuring UN information in their publications and outreach activity.”

However, take note that it does not say support the UN by supporting the principles and charter of the UN. Nor does it say to support the UN by supporting all their endeavors. The support spoken of is by writing articles about the UN. In other words, the word ‘support’ as defined in Websters Dictionary in this case means “to provide corroborating evidence or information”. —Read more about the word support in the chapter Principle Support

The 53rd General Assembly

Clearly, the requirements in 1994 were different than in 2005. There is further confirmation that the NGO world was changing. In 1998, the 53rd General Assembly of the United Nations reflected this changing situation, and declared it was entering a “new era” in it's relationship with NGOs:

“80. In the aftermath of the global conferences and with the emergence of a new international environment characterized by unrestricted flows of information, the United Nations has entered a new era in its relations with NGOs and other civil society actors. The Economic and Social Council recognized this changed relationship when it adopted resolution 1996/31. Many agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system have followed suit. The Secretariat, for its part, has tried to adapt to this new situation in creative and innovative ways and will pursue its efforts in this field. The United Nations is committed to seek the participation and contribution of NGOs in its work. New approaches, attitudes, methods and responses are required throughout the United Nations system if we are to meet this challenge effectively”

We now have two confirmed lines of evidence showing the United Nations relationships with NGOs (both ECOSOC and DPI) changed over the 1990's.

Changing very fast

In June 1999 the Global Policy Forum, a ECOSOC NGO organization which monitors policy making at the United Nations, published a report which stated:

The [DPI & ECOSOC] NGO world is changing very fast, in terms of activities and needs, and UN offices that relate to NGOs must be change-oriented and flexible. The offices should consider a streamlined, web-based application system.”

If the requirements and expectations of NGOs have not changed since 1991, as apostates claim, we wonder why the Global Policy Forum would make such a statement. Clearly it is because the critics are wrong, and that the NGO world really has changed “very fast” and the evidence proves it.

Proposing a booklet

In 1999 the Secretary-General published a report in which he stressed the need for a brochure to be sent to all NGOs:

“It was also proposed that each NGO should receive an orientation/welcome booklet and/or session upon obtaining formal status with the UN. The information should include specifics about the NGO liaison offices in the UN system, including names, contacts, locations. The booklet should reinforce mutual rights and responsibilities, as well as practical guidelines for the functioning of NGOs within physical structures and protocols of the UN, including how to follow debates and so forth.” — Section 24

We wonder why in 1999 the Secretary General should have “proposed” that each NGO should receive a welcome booklet or brochure including “specifics” about the UN system and “practical guidelines” and “protocols” for NGOs, if the NGOs were already receiving such a booklet prior to this.

Perhaps receipt of this booklet was sporadic, perhaps it was not sent every year. Perhaps the Watchtower Society didn't even receive one when their status was granted in 1992. What is certain, however, is that they certainly did not receive the 2005 brochure which opposers constantly quote from — the Society couldn't have possibly received that version 13 years earlier, for we know it's contents have changed. When opposers quote from the 2005 version as proof that the Watchtower Society supported the UN — they are simply wrong. Whatever was said in the 1991 brochure which the Society received — if they received one at all — it certainly did not say that. Further, when it is claimed the NGO requirements did not change, this is also clearly wrong for the UN has said they changed.

So far in this work we have shown how many claims of apostates have proved false. They do not distinguish between ECOSOC and DPI NGOs, misapplying ECOSOC's requirement to that of the DPI's NGOs. They have wrongly claimed the Society had to renew its application each year, when we can see from their own “proof” that they did not. They have also lied and stated that the 1991 NGO requirements remained unchanged when we can clearly see they did not. We are not stupid, we can see they have changed — as can the DPI department itself, the 53rd General Assembly, the Global Policy Forum, and the Secretary-General have all acknowledged on several occasions. If there was no change, we wonder why the forms are now so different and why all these people would say such things.

Now we have established these facts, we can move on to consider exactly how the Watchtower Society explained it's NGO relationship. Were the Society's letters of explanations truthful? Or are they full of lies and cover-ups, as many critics claim?