Conference of INGOs: Participatory status

Independent non-governmental organisations are a vital component of European society, guaranteeing freedom of expression and association both of which are fundamental to democracy.

Recognising their influence, the Council of Europe provides international NGOs (INGOs) with the opportunity to acquire participatory status.

The Council of Europe has had working relations with non-governmental organisations since 1952 when it introduced a consultative status for INGOs.  In 2003, in recognition of the increasingly active role played by the INGOS, the Council of Europe decided to change the consultative status to one of participatory status. 

In his 2015 report on the “ State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe ” the Secretary General recommended to revise, in consultation with the Conference of INGOs, the guidelines on participatory status. The main objective of the revision of the resolution was to better define the criteria for granting or refusing participatory status and to increase the relevance and quality of INGOs enjoying participatory status.

In July 2016, the Committee of Ministers adopted a new resolution on participatory status, Resolution (2016)3. It sets out the rules for the granting of participatory status to INGOs, gives more information on the background of the status, what it represents, the conditions to be met by INGOs and the possibilities it gives to INGOs to co-operate with the Council of Europe. If your INGO would like to apply for participatory status please read closely Resolution (2016)3 and refer to the section below "How to apply".

The INGOs enjoying participatory status form the Conference of INGOs.  Currently some 320 INGOs hold participatory status. The Conference represents civil society at the Council of Europe and works to promote participatory democracy. In addition to holding two annual sessions a year, it organises events linked to the priorities of the Council of Europe.

 Resolution (2016)3

How to apply

Participatory status is a status for international NGOs that are represented at European level. Before submitting with an application please check whether your INGO fulfils all the conditions listed in paragraph 2 of the Appendix to Resolution (2016)3. They are the following:

Participatory status may be granted by the Council of Europe to INGOs:

  • which respect and defend the values and principles of the Council of Europe;
  • which are able, through their work, to support the achievement of that closer unity mentioned in Article 1 of the Council of Europe’s Statute;     
  • which are created on the basis of a constitutive act adopted according to democratic principles;
  • which have a democratic structure and governance;
  • which are particularly representative in the field(s) of their competence, fields of action shared by the Council of Europe;
  • which are represented at European level, that is to say which have members in at least five member States of the Council of Europe;
  • which were created and have implemented activities at least two years before the moment of applying for participatory status;
  • which already have working relations with the Council of Europe;
  • which are capable of contributing to and participating actively in Council of Europe deliberations and activities;
  • which are able to make known the work of the Council of Europe to society.

Applications for participatory status must be submitted on the official form and must be accompanied by the following documents in French or English, and preferably in both of these official languages of the Council of Europe:  the INGO's statute, a list of its member organisations, an activity and financial report covering the previous two years, and a declaration to the effect that it accepts the principles set out in the preamble and in Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe.

Participatory status is granted once a year. Applications should be submitted by March in order to obtain the status in December of the same year. The next deadline for applications is 31 March 2017.