Information in English
United Nations Nations Unies
NGO SECTION, DESA
1 UN Plaza, Room DC1-1480, New York, NY 10017
tel: (212) 963-8652 / fax: (212) 963-9248
Dear Sir/Madam, 23 July 2004.
We would like to inform you, that ECOSOC on its regular session in July, 2004, has approved a resolution to grant the "War Veterans Committee" (WVC) a special consultative status.
The Committee from now on can send its official representatives to the UN staffs in New York, Geneva and Vienna. The appointed representatives should receive their pass on the designated offices. It is evident that regular presence of your organization will allow you to carry out effectively and productively your consultative status.
Please, take into consideration, that in the Part II, IV, V, VII and 1996/32 Council resolutions, are given the description of monitoring of your consultative status with ECOSOC. Also pay attention to the Part IX, paragraph 61 which demands that the organizations with a General and Special consultative status should submit a quadrennial report on its activities during 2004 - 2007 to Committee by 2008. You must take into account a necessity to submit a proper report. In the meantime, we suggest you to submit detailed reports on your other activities.
The UN Organization publishes the Agenda of meetings and conferences which can be received by your representatives at UN staffs. Annually you can get through these offices the agendas of meetings of NGOs with consultative status. The latest copy of the agenda
and other information, concerning NGO, can be found on NGO Section Sight: http://www.un.orq.esa/coordination/ngo.
After all, you should specify your relations with the UNO Organization with your letterhead as follows: "NGO with a Special Consultative status with UN ECOSOC".
The emblem of the United Nations Organization should not be used, if it is not approved officially by the UN staff. It concerns also any forms, documents and printed materials of your organization.
We expect a fruitful cooperation with your organization and its representatives.
Chief Hanifa Mezoui
War Veteran Committee Head NGO of Section
Moscow 125009 Rissia
Dear Mr. Aushev,
We thank you for your letter dated 22 June, 2006 and commend you on your praiseworthy initiatives in support of the aims and objectives of the United Nations.
As you may know, Non-Governmental Organizations are the only civil society group with which the United Nations has a formal relationship and only a fraction of the Non-Governmental Organizations applying for Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council actually succeed in entering into a relationship with the United Nations.
In other words, Mr. Chairman, your organization's Special Consultative Status is in itself the official acknowledgement of the reciprocal relationship that exists between the War Veterans Committee and the United Nations based on shared aims and objectives in the field of humanitarian affairs. Moreover, your consultative status implies that the United Nations not only supports your various undertakings but also relies upon the contribution of your programmes to advance the global development agenda as we seek to achieve our common goal of meeting the challenges of the 21th Century.
Distinguished participants of the session,
Our non-governmental organization War Veterans Committee is registered with the Federal Registration Service of the Russian Federation, and since July 2004 under Resolution 1996/31 and the decision of governing bodies has been in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, which is an official recognition of the legitimacy of its relations with this international organization. The Committee comprises numerous international and regional veterans’ organizations from post-Soviet countries, other humanitarian organizations, as well as the Committee for Soldiers-Internationalists’ Affairs under the CIS Council of Heads of Governments, and I am honoured to have been heading it for more than 15 years now. Since last July we have been full members of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in consultative status with the UN (CONGO).
We already took part in two important events, which took place in Geneva last year, namely the ECOSOC session and the CONGO Assembly. We visited New York when we came to the USA in March 2007 at the invitation of US veterans’ organizations. We are familiar with UN agencies overseeing the work of NGOs and top international officials handling these matters.
At the same time, this session is our first UN-based experience in New York. I would like to thank the organizers of this high meeting and to express our hope that our visit to the UN will be used to strengthen ties with this major international organization, that it will serve the cause of strengthening cooperation at all levels in matters of rendering assistance to poor and needy veterans, improving the quality of their life, labour and social adaptation of young veterans and victims of conflicts.
I would like to make some general comments.
Unfortunately the entire history of the human civilization has been full of wars and armed conflicts, in which millions of people have died, got wounded or mutilated. The current global situation continues to be characterized by instability; there is still a threat of wars and military conflicts.
Last November in Moscow at an international conference with the participation of an American delegation, we had a thorough discussion on how to reduce the danger of new wars, alleviate the sufferings of millions of people on our planet and on what contribution veterans’ organizations can make to this process. In a joint declaration it is expressly stated that the parties will support their respective governments, armed forces and law enforcement agencies in their campaign against international terrorism and assist in preserving a safer world for our children and grandchildren, raising future generations on the tragic history of the past wars.
As an international NGO, we have just conducted our 3rd Congress in the capital of Azerbaijan Baku; it was mainly devoted to our foreign affairs and cooperation with the UN. I will speak on this in greater detail later, in particular since the Congress adopted an appeal to the UN, ECOSOC and CONGO, which contains a request and a call on the international community to pay more attention to veterans in a broad sense of the word, i.e. veterans of foreign wars and peacekeeping operation, victims of local conflicts and their family members. There is no need for me to explain to you that unfortunately such groups of people can be found not only in post-Soviet countries.
Today in various states of the world there live millions of participants in hostilities, peacekeepers, and people with disabilities in need of specialized medical and social aid, rehabilitation facilities, and legal support. Depending on the level of a country’s economic development, the situation in this area differs, ranging from hand-to-mouth existence to highly qualified and timely medical and social assistance and a high quality of life.
Our objective is to establish a regular information exchange among states about the true social status of participants of hostilities, people with disabilities and peacekeepers. Moreover, it is necessary to take into account both the results obtained by state and scholarly institutions and the conclusions and assessments of agencies carrying out an independent monitoring of veterans’ level and quality of life, their health and other aspects.
Also it is necessary to work out common principles and approaches which could affect political and military decision-making in states. Recent history clearly shows that authorities practically ignore the opinion of those who took part in wars. In this context, it is necessary to discuss how to make veterans and participants of hostilities heard, to make politicians respect our opinion. And for this we need the UN rostrum and, just as at this session, an opportunity to express our opinion and affect decision-making.
Now I would like to speak more specifically on our activities.
Taking care about veterans is, above all, the concern of the state and governmental agencies. There exist specific laws; many countries have ministries and other bodies responsible for activities in this field. In others, for instance, in most CIS states, this work is carried out through social welfare agencies under the control of specialized committees set up by legislative bodies. However, a considerable segment of this work requires not only attention from non-governmental organizations and movements, but also direct participation of civil society. In countries where pensions and benefits cannot ensure dignified quality of life even for ordinary pensioners, to say nothing of veterans who took part in hostilites - and these countries, unfortunately, include most of the CIS states - society’s involvement in resolving these issues has become absolutely vital. The main socio-economic indicators of veterans’ standard of life, including pensions, per capita family income, consumer expenditure pattern, medical, household, rehabilitation treatment, and cultural services remain very low. In this category of the population, we see the biggest number of displaced persons and refugees, unemployed, employers in other states, those with incomes below the poverty line.
This is what we are doing. Generally speaking, we help and uphold the rights of those who took part in hostilities, fulfilling their military duty, and those who suffered from hostilities, local conflicts and acts of terror as well as their families. At a conservative estimate, there are about 3 mln. such people in CIS countries.
There are figures characterizing our activities. When compared to volumes of state and non-state assistance veterans receive in some developed countries, these figures are modest. Recently the Committee has rendered assistance to war veterans, participants of local conflicts and victims of terrorism worth several million dollars, which made it possible to provide 1,482 people with prosthetics, 1,010 people with wheelchairs, 3,699 people with medical rehabilitation treatment, and about 200,000 people with medications. By mobilizing the funds of sponsors the Committee is extending financial aid to victims of local conflicts in Dagestan, Osetia, Ingushetia, Transdniestria, Tajikistan, Chechnya and Afghanistan and to those who have suffered from natural disasters.
But that is not the most important. We should encourage society to pay more attention to these issues, constantly push governments, legislative bodies and local authorities towards this, and maintain a high level of concern about these issues in society. Where possible, we should carry out organizational and outreach activities; for example, as part of professional rehabilitation programs, we can arrange for war veterans to receive free training in economics, marketing and management; set up new institutes and rehabilitation centers, carry out medical and humanitarian research, publish books and scientific papers.
Moreover, there are a great deal of issues that require not only purely professional but also humanitarian personal approach. There are a lot of nuances and sensitive issues involved in the analysis of moral and psychological condition of veterans, many of whom are quite young people in need of a comprehensive checkup, which along with medical clinicodiagnostic methods includes social and psychological examination, an evaluation of psychological health and testing. Of particular significance in rendering such medical and social assistance are repercussions of psychologically traumatic factors and the emergence of the posttraumatic stress syndrome, which becomes an internal reason for a person’s psychological and social disadaptation in society. And in 15 years many veterans emphasize frustration and discontent with peaceful life, the nature of interpersonal relations and new systems of values; they note intolerance toward injustice and propensity for autistic-like behavior. All of these symptoms occur in Afghanistan war veterans, those who participated in hostilities in Tajikistan, Chechnya as well as in victims of terrorism. Of course, all of this interferes with normal life; however, despite mental and physical health problems, most veterans show a trend to avoid going to doctors and psychologists. Our organization’s objective is to set up a database of information on this category of the population and assist them in determining what medical aid is to be administered.
As monitoring of the situation in various countries and regions shows, certain problems arise in determining both a veteran’s status and laws applicable to them. Many of the state bodies are idle, and because of their legal illiteracy many veterans are unaware of benefits they are entitled to under the law. As a result, the degree of coverage of veterans differs drastically in various countries and even inside countries. Our goal is to identify all of those who need and are entitled to receiving aid.
International humanitarian law and human rights constitute a special sphere of our interests. We are very sensitive to these issues as we are engaged in searching for those reported missing in action during the Afghanistan war as well as in burying servicemen in their native countries. The Committee jointly with the governments of a number of states has freed from captivity and returned home 23 people. Last November the Committee’s 10th search expedition found, prepared and brought home another former Soviet prisoner of war Yury Stepanov with his Afghan family. Now the Committee is helping him to find a home and settle down in Boshkortostan.
In this area we cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), we enjoy a good relationship with its regional office in the Russian Federation. Quite recently Mr. Francois Bellon, head of the ICRC delegation in Moscow, handed to us a list of participants in hostilities in Afghanistan who are reported missing in action or displaced. Moreover, in the course of our cooperation we align our positions on human rights issues and principles of organizing humanitarian activities in CIS countries. In particular, we support the idea of establishing cooperation with the authorities in disseminating information about the international humanitarian law and human rights issues. Besides, we consider important the principle that all civilians, including displaced persons, enjoy respect and protection from the authorities in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights.
The outcome of the recently held meeting with the leadership of the influential US veterans’ organization Foreign Wars Veterans is another proof of our concern about general humanitarian issues. During that meeting we signed a declaration of cooperation, among other things, in rendering assistance to the Joint Russian-American Commission on POW/MIAs. This is another evidence that an NGO can affect and in a way take part in shaping the national policy in this area.
As for our new experience of cooperation with the UN, broadly speaking, our organization’s goals are fully compatible with the relevant decisions and UN Resolution 1996/31 and with the spirit of the development goals proclaimed by the Millennium Declaration. We share the idea expressed by the UN Secretary-General at the adoption of the Declaration: “We cannot win overnight. Success will require sustained action across the entire decade between now and the deadline. It takes time to train the teachers, nurses, and engineers; to build the roads, schools and hospitals; to grow the small and large businesses able to create the jobs and income needed. So we must start now.”
As regards our membership in CONGO, we hope that the very essence and the chartered objectives of this organization will help us join the NGO family as a representative of civil society of such an influential and important entity as the CIS and establish a mutually beneficial dialogue with the UN on issues of partnership and cooperation.
There is an element of selfishness in our aspirations. Since in many respects we depend on our sponsors, our efforts to raise funds for humanitarian activities will be more successful if we acquire authority in the UN community. Business circles in CIS countries and in particular in Russia will be more receptive to our requests if we carry out our programs under the aegis or in cooperation with this respected international organization if not under its flag.
I would like to make some remarks on the theme of our session “Promoting full employment and decent work for all”. It is fully in line with one of the main areas of the War Veterans Committee activities, and the fact that as the invitation reads “In addition to the priority theme, the session will include review of relevant United Nations plans and programs of action pertaining to the situation of social groups such as: persons with disabilities, youth, ageing, and the family” increases our interest in this event and makes it possible to broaden our possible participation.
In this context, of interest are both our practical actions and our desire to establish cooperation with the International Labour Organization in this area, in which we are quite successful.
Quite recently, last December, at the Headquarters of the International Labor Organization in Geneva I had a meeting with Ms Alyona Neshperova, head of the Eastern Europe office. During the meeting, which was held in a friendly atmosphere, we specified and developed some of the aspects of a possible cooperation of the two organizations, which had been outlined during contacts with the ILO office in Moscow.
This, in particular, referred to proposals for the development of a draft joint program, whose implementation would render practical assistance to war veterans living in the territory of CIS and Baltic states. Discussion was held on issues of employment of those war veterans who found themselves in the territory of another state, on determining their whereabouts, place of residence, medical services as well as the problems arising from migration triggered by the emergence of new states on the post-Soviet space. Other issues included the development of a legal basis for the protection of employment and social rights of a war veteran in a position of a foreign employer as well as general issues of the ILO’s methodology in establishing a civilized labor market in the context of the state-employee-employer relationship with regard to the status of a young veteran or an employee with disabilities.
During these discussions we clarified our Committee’s approach to the development of programs compatible with the ILO methodology, especially with regard to contacts in those areas with state and governmental bodies. We reached agreement that the ILO would transmit to its Moscow office information on the advisability of maintaining contact with the War Veterans Committee. It was noted that the Committee hopes to receive assistance from the ILO Moscow office in the development of programs for helping war veterans in social, employment and migration issues. Provisionally this program can be entitled “Assisting employment of war veterans in the CIS and protection of their social and employment rights”
For its part, the ILO representative noted that the approach to employ NGOs’ capabilities in carrying out joint programs, especially the capabilities of the War Veterans’ Committee, which is directly engaged in work with people with disabilities, is sound and deserves serious consideration and further development.
Mention was made of the program “Towards Sustainable Partnerships for the Effective Governance of Labour Migration in the Russian Federation, Caucasus and Central Asia”, which will run till November 2009. According to the representative of the ILO, this issue is within the competence of the War Veterans Committee, in particular, because of the Committee’s contacts in state bodies and CIS veterans’ organizations.
On the whole, the meeting with the ILO official gave us the impression that further work in this area is promising despite the novelty of the cooperation proposal from an NGO, which due to the specific nature of the veterans’ movement operates along the lines of virtually all issues within the ILO direct competence, and despite the lack of tradition of such a cooperation, at least in the Moscow office of the organization.
However, the ILO made it clear to us that due to its potential as a donor country Russia itself could finance humanitarian programs including those carried out with the use of ILO capabilities and methods, but there was no unambiguous response to a comment by a member of the Committee’s delegation that the Committee, in fact, has to deal with veterans’ organizations in less “wealthy” CIS countries, where even the state cannot render the necessary assistance to veterans in employment matters, including labour migration. It was noted that issues of this kind arise in Central Asian states, in particular, in Uzbekistan, whose labour migration to the Moscow region and districts of Central Russia has been steadily growing recently. Despite the Committee’s own efforts to render assistance in certain labour migration issues in a prompt, virtually back-of-the-napkin way, so far there is no systemic approach to this set of issues as regards numerous veterans, victims of conflicts and their families, to say nothing of an approach under the aegis of the ILO. As the Committee’s representative noted, we feel that the number of problems both organizations deal with and areas of common interests is reaching a level at which the existing agreements should be realized in practical, even though not large-scale and financially burdensome, programs.
On the whole, the contacts we have had leave us with the impression that despite the ILO conservatism, the existing traditions and a certain institutional inertia of this organization, the prospects for the War Veterans’ Committee’s cooperation with the ILO look quite realistic and possible in the context of joint projects and programs, although they require a thorough discussion and setting to paper. Quite promising is the idea of engaging the ILO through CIS veterans’ organizations that are part of the War Veterans Committee. From the practical viewpoint, it is reasonable to start the development of a project in three areas: the ILO Moscow office, Ministry of Health and Social Development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Russian Mission in Geneva. It would be useful to receive “signals” on paper both from veterans organizations and governmental agencies involved in the implementation of a project. According to the Moscow office representatives, a wise approach to the issue may result in the ILO financing in the form of a grant for a research group, for example, on organizing migration of labour force from a CIS country, etc.
I would like to give an example of our everyday work. Some time in the autumn, our Committee, which is situated in Moscow in Kamergersky Alley not far from the famous Art Theater, was visited by a young guy, an Uzbek, who said he had been sent to us by his father, a veteran of the Afghanistan war, who told him we could help him with employment. The secretary of the Committee explained to him the official way of doing it; among other things, she mentioned the embassy of his country in Moscow. The guy replied that as his dad told him our Committee is more reliable. Of course, we did everything we could to help him, since this is also what our work in the area of employment consists in.
In conclusion, allow me to familiarize you with the text of the Appeal adopted at the 3rd Congress of the War Veterans Committee in Baku. I am not going to read it our - we have circulated it in print, just the way we presented it to the UN top officials.
The issue of veterans is a multifaceted one. Veterans themselves can help the UN in the attainment of its noble objectives, in its campaign for peace and security, in the upbringing of a new generation in the spirit of humanism, respect for human rights and dignity. And they hope for understanding and reciprocation.
And one more thing. While understanding the status of our organization as an NGO and procedural peculiarities of adopting decisions and resolution, which, albeit in a general way, are an expression of world politics on major issues of today, we would like to assure the distinguished audience that we will try to sway national governments of our countries and delegations to sessions to adopt resolutions on veterans and to speak more broadly on this matter, and this is what we are doing here today. The word ‘veteran’ must find its way into UN documents. Help us in this endeavor.