STRASBOURG 9 FEBRUARY 2018

The Conference of INGOs calls on Council of Europe Member States for more solidarity to stabilise the current financial crisis

Concerned by the current financial crisis affecting the Council of Europe, which could accelerate the regression of European civic space and democracy in Europe,  the Conference of INGOs sent a letter to all permanent representations to the Council of Europe, asking them to show more solidarity with the Council of Europe to stabilise the current situation.

Letter from the Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs to all permanent representations to the Council of Europe :

Dear Ambassadors,

The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, representing European Civil Society, is deeply concerned by the current financial crisis affecting the Council of Europe.  The decision of the Russian Federation to suspend a part of its contribution to the Council of Europe and the decision of Turkey to reduce its contribution have, combined with the effects of years of 0% budget growth, placed the Council of Europe in an unprecedented situation. 

The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe visits Member States to meet local NGOs and public authorities to introduce them to the Conference of INGOs, better understand the cooperation between NGOs and decision-makers and to discuss NGO participation in the public decision-making process. Certain legal frameworks are in place in countries in order to consult NGOs and to associate them in decision-making.  The Conference hears the point of view of both NGOs and authorities to find out what use is made of these participatory tools. Each visit is followed by a report which highlights the important issues for the NGOs at that specific moment and socio-political context. Recommendations are formulated to improve the effectiveness of cooperation between NGOs and the public authorities. The findings of the visits also contribute to advancing the Council of Europe’s work in this field.

The participation of civil society in decision-making is one of the priorities of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and guidelines on civil society’s effective and meaningful participation in the political decision-making process are being developed for possible adoption by the Committee of Ministers. 

On behalf of the Conference of INGOs and its Expert Council on NGO Law, we share the concerns expressed by Mr Yves Cruchten, PACE Rapporteur on inappropriate restrictions on NGOs, about the new package of draft laws (so-called “Stop Soros” package) in Hungary.  We believe that this legislation “would increase pressure on NGOs defending Human Rights” and we call for implementation of PACE and CM recommendations relating to the legal status of NGOs and the freedom of association.

The analyses made by Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and Eötvös Károly Institute raise red flags .../...

 

The Conference of INGOs, at its meeting on 24 January, re-elected Anna Rurka as its President for a 2nd three year term and elected the members of its Bureau.  The bureau welcomes new faces:

 

President: Anna Rurka


Vice-Presidents: Robert Bergougnan, Anne Kraus and Christoph Spreng

Vice-President in charge of Equality: Anne Nègre

Rapporteurs: Rares-Augusin Craiut, Richard Pirolt, Katarzyna Sokolowka

The winter session of the Conference of INGOs will take place from 22 to 26 January 2018 (calendar).

On Wednesday 24 January, the INGO members will elect the President and the members of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs for a three-year term. Candidates can be found on the Conference website: in English and in French

During the political debate on the situation of NGOs in the Member States, a representative of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights will present the report on the Challenges facing civil society working on human rights in the EU. The speakers will discuss the issue of freedom of association and NGO participation in public policies in Estonia and Serbia.

     First of all, please accept my best wishes for the new year. May 2018 be a year of peace and serenity full of strong and important moments, always positive ones. We need a united Europe and we are working to make it that. I wish you energy and courage to face the challenges and success in your daily actions. The session of the Conference of INGOs is approaching and we will open together a new working year . As you can see in the annual Activity Report, 2017 was very rich. I am pleased to see that the impulse given to the development of the Conference has provided visible and coherent results, highlighting the expertise arising from our activities. Thank you very much for your trust! 

The Committee of Ministers today adopted guidelines aimed at promoting civil participation in political decision-making in the Council of Europe 47 member states.

The Committee of Ministers today adopted guidelines aimed at promoting civil participation in political decision-making in the Council of Europe 47 member states. At a time when democracy is challenged by diminishing trust of people towards politicians and elites in general, one of the prerequisites for guaranteeing democratic security is to ensure the participation of all individuals and societal groups in political processes and decision-making.

The new guidelines together with other existing texts such as Recommendation (2007)14 on the legal status of non-governmental organisations in Europe and the Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Processnow form a solid basis for governments and civil society to work together to strengthen democracy.

The Council of Europe and civil society already interact through the Conference of INGOs which promotes participatory democracy and provides input to the decisions taken at inter-governmental level.

The preparation of this unique standard-setting instrument was recommended by Secretary General Jagland in his 2015 report on the State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe.

40 YEARS OF DIALOGUE BETWEEN CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE: LOOKING BACK BUT MOVING FORWARD

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Among the many varied debates organised during the week, some of the highlights were:

  • A Side event organised in co-operation with PACE Committee on Equality and non-discrimination: "Women's mobilization in Europe 2016: What impact on policies?"
  • A debate/training session "How to fight against discrimination and hate speech in the post-truth era"
  • A debate on the “populist wave in Europe” on the basis of the Secretary General’s latest report
  • The situation of NGOs in member States with reports from the visits led by the President of the Conference to Hungary and Ireland and the meetings held with NGOs from Cyprus and Turkey
  • The Conference adopted a Recommendation “Human Rights and Business” encouraging members States to implement the actions recommended in Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2016)3.

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