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Message from the President of the INGOs Conference of the Council of Europe

Dear NGO representative,

In 2008 the Conference of INGOs created the Expert Council on NGO Lawin order to contribute to the enabling legal environment for NGOs. Our Expert Council carries out thematic and country studies on specific aspects of NGO legislation and legal opinions on specific piece of legislation.  

Considering its mandate, the Expert Council is currently preparing a thematic study on the impact on NGO activities, particularly humanitarian efforts targeting refugees and other migrants, of changing criminal law approaches or provisions in Council of Europe Member States. The aim is to cover as many national contexts as possible, including those which are already known as threatening NGOs helping migrants. 

Obviously, the results of the study will depend on the available data. That’s why we solicit your help, asking you to answer the enclosed questionnaire (in English) related to the relevant legislation and practice in the field of migration. We know that NGOs are at the forefront when it comes to respond to the human rights challenges of asylum and migration in Europe.

We really count on your help. Thank you in advance for kindly sending your responses by email to  before 2 September 2019.

As always, you will be informed about the progress and final results of the study.

Yours sincerely,

Anna RURKA

President of the Conference of INGOs

Enclosed: Questionnaire on State Practice

Marija Pejcinovic Buric (Croatia)

The Assembly today elected Marija Pejcinovic Buric (Croatia) Secretary General of the Council of Europe for a five-year term beginning on 18 September 2019. 

In the first round of the election Marija Pejcinovic Buric obtained 159 votes, an absolute majority, and Didier Reynders (Belgium) 105 votes. There were 264 votes cast.

Ms Pejcinovic Buric is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia.

PACE ratifies Russian delegation’s credentials

 

PACE has voted to ratify the credentials of the Russian delegation after they were challenged on substantial grounds on the second day of its plenary session in Strasbourg, declaring that it remained “committed to dialogue as a means of reaching lasting solutions”.

However, in return the Assembly called on Russia to fulfil a series of recent Assembly recommendations, citing among other things the release of Ukrainian sailors, co-operation on bringing to justice those responsible for downing Flight MH17, and taking measures to end violations of the rights of LGBTI people, especially in Chechnya.

In a resolution based on a report by Sir Roger Gale (United Kingdom, EC), the parliamentarians pointed out that the Assembly was a place where “political dialogue on the Russian Federation’s obligations under the Statute of the Council of Europe can take place with the participation of all those concerned” and where the Russian delegation could be “kept accountable” on the basis of the Organisation’s values and principles.

The Assembly said it expected its “clear offer of dialogue” to be reciprocal and to lead to concrete results. It resolved to debate a report on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Russia no later than the April 2020 part-session.

Vote on Resolution, Web page of the session, Adopted resolution

 

Russian delegation’s credentials challenged

The credentials of the new Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), presented this morning on the second day of the summer plenary session in Strasbourg, have been challenged on both substantive and procedural grounds.

Nino Goguadze (Georgia, EC), making the challenge on substantial grounds, cited Russia’s “persistent failure to honour obligations and commitments”. She was supported by at least thirty members of the Assembly present in the Chamber, belonging to at least five national delegations.

Volodymyr Ariev (Ukraine, EPP/CD), making the challenge on procedural grounds, cited irregularities in the composition of the delegation. He was supported by at least ten members of the Assembly present in the Chamber, belonging to at least five national delegations.

The challenges were referred without debate to the relevant committees for report to the Assembly, which will consider the question tomorrow at 3.30 pm, the opening of the afternoon sitting.

The members of the Russian delegation are entitled to sit provisionally with the same rights as other members until the Assembly has reached a decision but may not vote on their own credentials.

"We must preserve the pan-European dimension of the Council of Europe"

PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY SESSIONSTRASBOURG24 JUNE 2019

“As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe, we can measure the progress made since 1949 and the fact that this organisation is more essential than ever to promote our common values and foster economic and social progress on our continent,” said Amélie de Montchalin, French Secretary of State in charge of European Affairs, representing the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, addressing the Assembly today.

Ms de Montchalin praised the “close dialogue” between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers, a co-operation which “will enable the Council of Europe to continue to give life to the hope of progress born in 1949” and “to overcome the current crisis”. In this context, she stressed the importance of making the new joint procedure operational, which will make it possible to “react in a more effective, clear and coordinated manner when a member State fails to fulfill its statutory obligations". A window of opportunity is “open, and we must seize it, collectively, in order to preserve the pan-European dimension of the Council of Europe,” she said.

In her address, Ms de Montchalin also mentioned the main developments within the Committee of Ministers since its previous session on 17 May in Helsinki, and announced a number of events organised in the framework of the French Presidency with regards to its priorities, namely: preserving and consolidating the European system of human rights protection – recalling that the system of the European Convention on Human Rights was an unparalleled asset in the world – promoting equality and living together , and respond to new challenges in the field of human rights and the rule of law, particularly in the field of digital technology and artificial intelligence.

"PACE affirms its members’ rights ‘to vote, to speak and to be represented in the Assembly and its bodies"

PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY SESSIONSTRASBOURG25 JUNE 2019

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has decided that its members’ “rights to vote, to speak and to be represented in the Assembly and its bodies shall not be suspended or withdrawn in the context of a challenge to or reconsideration of credentials”.

In a resolution based on a report by Petra de Sutter (Belgium, SOC), the Assembly said this clarification of its Rules was to “ensure that member States’ right and obligation to be represented and to participate in both statutory bodies of the Council of Europe is respected”.

Citing the “exceptional context” of a recent decision by the Committee of Ministers, the Assembly also decided, in a derogation from its Rules of Procedure, to invite the parliaments of Council of Europe member States “which are not represented by a delegation to the Assembly” to present their credentials at the June 2019 part-session. Normally, credentials can only be presented at the opening of the ordinary session in January.

Read full article: PACE affirms its members’ rights ‘to vote, to speak and to be represented in the Assembly and its bodies’

"We must shoulder our responsibilities to defend the common interests of all Europeans"

PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY SESSIONSTRASBOURG24 JUNE 2019

 

“The part-session which we are starting today is taking place in extraordinary circumstances. Our Organisation is going through a crisis which has serious implications for the European human rights protection system and for the stability and sustainability of our own institutions,” the PACE President stressed at the opening of the session.

“We must therefore find a way to move forward. We all have the same objective: to defend the common interests of 830 million Europeans who expect to be able to enjoy – without any exclusion whatsoever – the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights. Let us always keep this in mind,” Liliane Maury Pasquier said.

“In taking our decisions today, we must all remember the origins of the crisis we are experiencing because there are incontrovertible facts which the Assembly can neither ignore nor accept. We are therefore going to continue to defend with conviction and determination our positions and the principles of international law that are so important to us. At the same time, we must also shoulder our institutional and political responsibilities,” she stressed.

Read full article: 'We must shoulder our responsibilities to defend the common interests of all Europeans'

Exchange of views between the candidates for the post of Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the Conference of INGOs

exchange of views with the two candidates for position of  Council of Europe Secretary General

On 11 April the Conference of INGOs held an exchange of views with the two candidates for position of  Council of Europe Secretary General:  Minister Didier Reynders (Belgium) and Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić (Croatia). It was an excellent opportunity for the members of the Conference to find out more about the candidates' political vision for the future of the Council of Europe.  For the candidates it was an occasion to listen the main concerns and ideas aiming at restoring public trust in democratic institutions and reinforcing the impact of Council of Europe standards.

During the exchange, several questions from the floor addressed issues such as how to face the political and financial crises in the Council of Europe, how to prevent corruption, promote equality, fight against LGBTI discrimination and how to reinforce the implementation of Council of Europe standards and human rights.

We wish both candidates a lot of success for their campaign!

Meeting between the President of the Congress and the President of the Conference of INGOs STRASBOURG3 APRIL 2019

Meeting between the President of the Congress and the President of the Conference of INGOs

On the 3rd April, the President of the Conference of INGOs met with the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

During this first bilateral meeting, Anna Rurka stressed the importance and interest of the Conference of INGOs to reinforce its interactions with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. She informed the President on the INGOs decision to hold the Conference of INGOs autumn session in parallel of the Congress session, in order to foster interactions and common debate.

The Conference of INGOs and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is working together on the updating of the Code of good practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process. The draft of the amended Code should be presented for adoption by the Congress and the Conference of INGOs during their reciprocal sessions in autumn.

The President of the Congress underlined the importace of the NGOs contribution to the work of the Congress in the Member States of the Council of Europe. Both highlighted interdependence between the participation of the NGOs in the decision-making process at the local, national and intergovernmental levels and the importance for the Council of Europe to continually focus its attention on the enabling environment for civil society organizations.