The INGO (International Non-governmental Organizations) Conference is the body of the civil society in the Council of Europe , a European organization founded in 1949. The Council of Europe has 47 member States with some 800 million citizens and its seat is in Strasbourg , France .
The INGO Conference of the Council of Europe is a space for free and innovative participation of committed citizens, offering the possibility to contribute directly to the construction of Europe. It is the only assembly of NGOs playing an institutional role in an international intergovernmental organization .
Micheline Calmy-Rey , President of the Committee of Ministers , on the 25th of January 2010 addressing the Parliamentary Assembly : „The Council of Europe is playing an irreplaceable role in the building of a single Europe. Its intergovernmental co-operation method is enriched by a prominent parliamentary dimension – as represented by your Assembly – as a regional and local dimension in the form of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities , not forgetting civil society, represented through the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organizations. Thus, the huge diversity of our continent is represented within a single institution. No organization can claim to be more representative of all Europeans. “
First step: Consultative status
At its 8th Session, in May 1951, the Committee of Ministers stated that the Council of Europe may make arrangements for consulting with international non-governmental organizations. of Europe “ (Resolution (51) 30E) . In October 1972 it adopted the Rules for Consultative Status for INGOs (Resolution (72) 35) .
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe Georg Kahn-Ackermannincreased cooperation with the INGOs and suggested that they should get organized among themselves. This is the first meeting of the INGOs, which has been convened by the Plenary Conference of the INGOs, which has a consultative status with the Council of Europe. In 1979, the Committee of Ministers decided to establish, within the Directorate of Political Affairs, a secretariat for the Liaison Committee and for the interpretation and meeting of the disposal of INGOs. In 1995, the Liaison Committee set up the INGO Service to receive voluntary financial contributions from INGOs. The Committee of Ministers supported this initiative by contributing 15 000 FF (10’200 € in 2009).
In 1991 the Plenary Conference of INGOs set up „groupings“ in order to enable the INGOs to Work Collectively we specific thematic issues and to Reinforce Their cooperation with the directions Concerned, Often Allowing for more synergy Among Them. In order to make the cooperation with INGOs more flexible and easy, and at the same time, the Committee of Ministers adopted a new resolution on the relationship between the Council and the Council of Ministers in October 1993. of Europe and the international non-governmental organizations „(Resolution (93) 38) .
In October 2001, the Ministers‘ Deputies decided „to examine the possibilities of adapting the Committee of Ministers Resolution (93) 38 on relations between the Council of Europe and international non-governmental organizations in order to the Council may take greater advantage of its relations with NGOs in the pursuit of its aims „. The Liaison Committee and the Plenary Conference were associated with this work.
Second step: Attribution of the participatory status
On 19 November 2003 the Committee of Ministers changed the consultative status into a participatory status (Resolution Res (2003) 8), „Whereas it is essential that the rules governing the relations between the Council of Europe and NGOs evolve to the active participation of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) in the Organization’s policy and work program, and to facilitate INGO participation and access The Chair of the Committee of Ministers and the Executive Board of the Committee of Ministers of the United Nations. the Council of Europe, and by the INGO thematic groupings their collective voice and, thus, of millions of European citizens, working in each of the fields represented by them „.
At the same time, the Committee of Ministers established a status of partnership for national NGOs (Resolution (2003) 9) . It is one of the priorities of the INGO Conference to enable national and local NGOs to benefit from the Council of Europe’s achievements and to contribute to their work.
Third step: Political recognition
The INGOs is now participating in the implementation of the Convention of the United States of America. The Plenary Conference is given the title of „INGO Conference of the Council of Europe“ and adopts its new rules of procedure. The Council of Europe’s activity report of the same year states that „this change in the title reflects the political recognition of the INGOs as a partner within the Council of Europe“.
At the 3rd Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the Council of Europe in May 2005 in Warsaw , for the first time, the President of the INGO Conference is invited to take the floor in one’s official capacity. In connection with the Summit, the INGO Conference holds an extraordinary meeting in Warsaw University to confirm icts determination to supporting the Council of Europe through ict connection to the grass root level, Contributing to Reduce the Gap entre politicians shares and the needs and visions of the citizens.
In December 2005, the Committee of Ministers stipulates that the INGO Conference may delegate its representatives to the steering committees and subordinate bodies, like the Parliamentarian Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (Resolution (2005) 47) . The political recognition is followed by a progressive increase of the operational budget for the activities, organized by the INGO Conference and the secretariat, and by the reinforcement of the latter. In June 2008, the INGO Conference is in the process of reshaping its implementation of the Council of Europe.
A feature of the representation of INGOs at the Council of Europe is the fact that it is done on a voluntary basis. On the one hand, the INGOs are not any compensation for their work, regardless of whether they have an official function in the INGO Conference’s structure or not. ON THE OTHER HANDS THEIR INGOs pay for their living and subsistence costs during their stay in Strasbourg . With one exception: The members of the Standing Committee have their travel expenses reimbursed by the Council of Europe for the four ordinary annual sessions of the Conference. This means clustering que la representation is subordinated To Each INGO’s human and financial resources.
Internal organization and „quadrilogue“
INGOs enjoying participatory status, is the main decision-making body of the non-governmental organizations. It identifies the general action needed to organize its participation in the Council of Europe „quadrilogue“ (partnership between the four pillars of the Council of Europe: Committee of Ministers , Parliamentary Assembly , Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, and INGO Conference). It ensures that the participatory system functions and reinforces the political opinion of the civil society at the Council of Europe. It decides on policy lines and defines and adopts action programs. The Conference of INGOs meets in Strasbourg during the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It is chaired by its president in office, whom it elects every three years. The current President of the Conference of INGOs, Mr Jean-Marie Heydt, was elected in January 2009.
In its Madrid Declaration of May 2009, the Committee of Ministers confirms the role of the INGO Conference in the „quadrilogue“ and states that „developing – with the help of the Conference of the International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO) – interaction with civil We would like to see the rest of our lives „(CM (2009) 50 final 12 May 2009).
A good practice of this „quadrilogue“ is to be found in the Forum for the Future of Democracy , governed by the Council of Europe’s quadripartite stakeholders . This is a guarantee of its crosscutting impact. Another example for the „quadrilogue“ is the North-South Center of the Council of Europe , to the creation of which INGOs have contributed. In January 2010, a cooperation agreement was concluded between the North-South Center and the INGO Conference in order to strengthen their collaboration.
The Standing Committee is the second decision-making body of the non-governmental organizations. It has a consultative and proposal-making role vis-à-vis the INGO Conference and its Bureau and adopts the recommendations and resolutions expressing their commitment. It is responsible for co-ordination between the INGO Conference and its Committees; it promotes participation by the INGOs in the work of the other partners in the Council of Europe. The Bureau prepares the agenda for the meetings of the INGO Conference and its Standing Committee and the decisions taken by these two bodies.
During and entre les sessions, the hand work is done by the three committees Where INGOs Involved at local, national and European level is from Cooperate in the competence of the Council of Europe:
- Democracy , Social Cohesion and Global Challenges Addressing the issues of sustainable development („Democracy and Civil Society“, “ Social cohesion and eradication of poverty „, „Sustainable territorial development“) and a tranversal group „Europe and global challenges“
- Education and Culture
- Human rights
A delegate will be elected next January 2012 to deal with the gender equality theme.
The committees prepare the contributions to the steering committees and subordinate bodies, the Council of Europe and its member states and elaborate draft declarations and recommendations to the other pillars of the Council of Europe adopted by the INGO Conference or its standing committee. They share their expertise with the directorates general and other constituencies of the Council of Europe.
In addition to this collective work, national and international NGOs are cooperating with each other.
Relations with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress
The committees work in synergy with the committees of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. They issue their statements on their own initiative. To strengthen this cooperation, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted, in November 2007, a resolution on the „Co-operation between the Parliamentary Assembly and the Conference of INGOs “ (Resolution 1589 (2007) 1) , noting „with satisfaction that the work program of the Conference of INGOs contains several major themes which are closely related to the priorities of the Assembly. On this basis, it is believed that additional steps should be taken with a view to an enhanced co-operation aimed at further developing citizen participation and dialogue with civil society „.
In May 2008, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the INGO Conference concluded a resolution on partnership between local and regional authorities and NGOs in the Council of Europe to „promote progressive and appropriate procedures for citizen participation between elections“. This memorandum was established mainly to strengthen the position of national and local NGOs, which in their great majority do not have any link with the Council of Europe.
On April 2010, during the International Year of Biodiversity, the President of the INGO Conference Jean-Marie Heydt, Parliamentary Assembly President Mevlüt Çavusoglu and Acting President of the Congress Ian Micallef, signed for the first time joined Statement „Working together for Biodiversity“ .
Strengthening of civil society
The INGO Conference is also committed to strengthening the civil society in the Council of Europe member states and Belarus. Thus, it established the Expert Council on Non-governmental Organizations in Europe (CM / Rec (2007) 14) .
In October 2009 it adopted the Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process , recognized by the Committee of Ministers „as a reference document for the Council of Europe, and as a basis for further development of the framework for The Declaration of the European Communities “ (Declaration CM 21 October 2009) .
Furthermore, since 2006 the INGO Conference organized Regional NGO Congresses designed for NGOs from Central and Eastern European countries. They took place in Warsaw , Kyiv , Penza / Russian Federation and, last June 2010, Vilnius / Lithuania .