Reuters International

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) was granted consultative status at the United Nations on Monday after the U.N. Economic and Social Council overturned an earlier decision rejecting the press freedom watchdog's application.

The CPJ reports on violations of press freedom in countries and conflict zones around the world, reporting and mobilizing action on behalf of journalists who have been targeted. Consultative status grants the group access to U.N. headquarters and allows participation in many U.N. events.

The United States led a campaign for the 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC ) to overturn the decision. On Monday, 40 states voted to accredit CPJ, 5 members voted against and 6 abstained. Three states did not vote.

China, Russia, Vietnam, Rwanda and Zimbabwe voted against accrediting CPJ. Russia and China both argued that there was no reason to revisit the earlier decision by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations rejecting the accreditation request.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said the rejection and delay in requests by CPJ and other groups by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations "undermines the U.N.'s credibility when we call on governments to respect the rights of civil society within their own countries."

"In recent years ... we have seen the committee systematically abuse its authority to delay the applications of qualified organizations," Power said before the ECOSOC vote. "As in case of CPJ, often times these organizations seem to be delayed simply because their work is critical of governments."

For years, the 19-member U.N. Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations delayed action on the CPJ application. But then in May it rejected the bid for accreditation, with South Africa, Russia and China among the states that opposed it.

China, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Sudan also voted against CPJ's accreditation in May. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the time he was disappointed that CPJ's accreditation request had been rejected.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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