Over 40 NGOs express their support for granting the ECOSOC Status to Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression

In United Nations Human Rights Council by


Your Excellency,


As civil society organizations from throughout the African and Arab regions and around the world, we are writing to you to express our strong support and solidarity for the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). After years of unnecessary delay in the consideration of the SCM’s application for consultative status with the United Nations, the SCM’s request to be allowed to contribute to the work of the UN will be voted on by the member states of ECOSOC in Geneva, Switzerland, on the 25th of July, 2011.  We urge you, as a member of ECOSOC, to vote in favour of this application in order to uphold the principle of freedom of assembly and association, and the ability of civil society organizations to freely participate in the work of the United Nations.  


The SCM is a France-based human rights NGO that aims to promote freedom of opinion and expression in Syria and throughout the Arab world. The NGO conducts seminars and practical workshops, publishes studies related to freedom of expression and opinion, and provides legal support for journalists. The Director of SCM, Mazen Darwish, is a reputable Syrian human rights defender of high integrity who has worked tirelessly for the realization of human rights in the Arab region.   


In the context of the ongoing repression of overwhelmingly peaceful protests in Syria, ECOSOC’s actions on SCM’s application are likely to be subject to considerable scrutiny, and failure to accept the application of this clearly qualified NGO would damage the UN’s credibility and risk sending unhelpful signals regarding the current crisis. It is incumbent on United Nations ECOSOC members to support the engagement of Syrian human rights defenders in the work of the United Nations in order to ensure the voice of civil society and victims of rights violations are taken into account within its deliberations. 


Voting in favour of the application of SCM will not only benefit the work and uphold the principles of the United Nations, it will also provide tangible evidence that your country supports the important work of Syrian human rights defenders and all those throughout the Arab region and beyond who have sacrificed their lives and well-being for the sake of a more dignified and democratic future.


Almost all independent Syrian human rights defenders and human rights organizations have been forced to operate from outside of Syria due to the current government’s grave repression of such activities within the country. The government continues to deny legal existence to several human rights organizations in Syria, while it imposes a travel ban on many leaders and members of human rights and reform organizations. For the past several decades, the government has relied on exceptional courts, including military tribunals, to harass and prosecute many human rights defenders and democracy advocates throughout Syria. Moreover, the Syrian government has repressed and censored information, opinions and ideas, including an arsenal of laws and policies that severely curtail freedom of the media and political participation.  


We urge you again to support SCM’s application for consultative status at the UN, in recognition of the important work of this organization to disseminate information on human rights conditions in Syria to the international community, and its support of human rights defenders inside Syria.




1. African Democracy Forum
2. Albadeel Centre for Studies & Research, Jordan
3. Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies
4. Arab Foundation for Civil Society and Human Rights Support, Egypt
5. Arab Network for Human Rights Information, Egypt
6. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
7. Asian Legal Resource Centre
8. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, Egypt
9. Bahrain Center for Human Rights
10. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
11. Center for Trade Unions and Worker&#146s Services, Egypt
12. Committees for the Defense of Democracy Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria
13. Conectas, Brazil
14. Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies
15. Democracy Coalition Project (DCP)
16. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)
17. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
18. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)
19. Freedom House, USA
20. Human Rights Agenda, Nigeria
21. Human Rights First Society, Saudi Arabia
22. Human Rights Watch (HRW)
23. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
24. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
25. Iraqi Human Rights Organization, Denmark
26. Jordanian Commission for Democratic Culture, Jordan
27. Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), Sudan
28. Lawyers for Justice in Libya
29. Moroccan Association for Human Rights
30. Moroccan Organization for Human Rights
31. National Council of Liberties in Tunisia
32. New Woman Foundation, Egypt
33. Palestinian Human Rights Organization in Lebanon
34.  Partnership for Justice, Nigeria
35. Reporters Without Boarders
36. Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights in Yemen
37. Southern Africa Litigation Centre
38. Syrian Center for Transitional Justice and Democracy Empowerment
39. The Arab Working Group for Media Monitoring
40. Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights
41. Western Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN)
42. Yemeni Organization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms

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