Non-Governmental Organisations

Vienna, 5-6 May 2014

Jean-Marie Heydt, President of the Conference of INGOs, attended the 124th session of the Committee of Ministers held in Vienna on 5 and 6 May 2014. It was a special session in that it celebrated the 65th anniversary of the Council of Europe, saw the handover of the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers from Austria to Azerbaijan and took place at a time when tensions in Ukraine were very high.

The coming period will be particularly important for the Conference of INGOs insofar as it is frequently contacted by national NGOs which do not understand why the Council of Europe’s basic texts are not applied by their countries’ governments. Working meetings have already taken place with various authorities and will continue throughout this period, with the Conference making very focused and determined efforts.

The tensions in Ukraine were also discussed at length. We were able to point out how far removed governments’ priorities sometimes are from the concerns of the public and how inviting civil society to take part more often in the process of shaping countries’ futures would bring them closer together.

For his part, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe presented an analysis of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe in the form of a report describing the scale of the challenges which civil society can help to tackle.

As the voice of organised civil society, the Conference of INGOs officially undertook to contribute to the various relevant action and intervention plans, in particular in terms of implementing the package of immediate measures in Ukraine and the Secretary General’s recommendations, especially regarding freedom of association.