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The United Nations recently accredited the nonprofit, Freedom Now, as an official Non-Governmental Organization, when only one month before, its application had been denied.

Freedom Now is an American nonprofit organization that works to help free those who have been imprisoned as a result of discrimination based on sex, race, gender and other criteria. This is an advocacy group, which not only provides legal advocacy to clients but also advocates in the public sphere to raise awareness of illegal detentions taking place around the world.

In the original vote, the application was denied by a United Nations committee, arguably because this organization seeks to undermine the country’s own system. One example of a country voting against Freedom Now to further its own agenda is China, which has a history of imprisoning people who disagree with the government. Currently, Freedom Now has a campaign to free a Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who is currently serving an 11-year sentence that began in 2009 for “undermining the state authorities,” according to the Nobel Prize website.

While some countries like China and Russia strongly opposed the accreditation, the United States made the final accreditation possible. Following the rejection, the issue was brought to the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC, which had the power to vote again on July 20.

With its NGO status, Freedom Now can continue to grow its work as a nonprofit helping those imprisoned based on their identity, but this process has also sparked controversy in the international political sphere. Now, perhaps the United Nations will seek to reform its accreditation system, in which countries that have not always met the UN’s human rights standards are still part of the forces deciding whether or not to give an organization a title of “U.N. NGO.” Freedom Now is teaching us about illegal detentions, but this situation has helped bring public attention to the corruption that allows these detentions to take place.

Rachelle Kredentser

Sources: India Times, Freedom Now, Nobel Prize, New York Times