Rules of procedure

OING/Conf/2016/Rules

Rules of Procedure of the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe

Adopted by the Conference of INGOs on 24 June 2016

1. Conference of INGOs
2. Bureau of the Conference of INGOs
3. Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs
4. Committees
5. Elections
6. Verification and Dispute Committee
7. Procedure for amendment to the Rules of Procedure

1       Conference of INGOs

1.1       Composition of the Conference of INGOs

1.1.1    The Conference of INGOs comprises the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe.

1.1.2    Delegates from the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe make up the Conference of INGOs.

1.1.3    Delegates from national NGOs enjoying partnership status with the Council of Europe may be invited to sessions of the Conference in a consultative capacity.

1.2       Structure of the Conference of INGOs

1.2.1    The Conference of INGOs has a Bureau and a Standing Committee, the composition and functions of which are set out in paragraphs 2 and 3 of these Rules of Procedure.

1.2.2    The Conference is chaired by the President elected by the plenary meeting in accordance with the rules set out in Rule 5.3 of these Rules of Procedure.

1.2.3    The Conference of INGOs decides on the establishment of thematic committees and determines their number and titles.

1.2.4    It decides on the establishment of Expert Councils and determines their terms of reference and duration.

1.3       Terms of reference of the Conference of INGOs

1.3.1    The Conference of INGOs is the body representing the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe.

1.3.2    Taking account of the Council of Europe’s priorities, it decides on policy lines and defines and adopts its action plan.

1.3.3    It adopts positions on fundamental issues and may submit them, in the form of recommendations or resolutions, to other Council of Europe bodies, to other international or national institutions, as well as to the media.

1.3.4    The Conference of INGOs shall approve the activity report of its Standing Committee and hear the reports of its committees.

1.3.5    Having informed itself in this way, the Conference of INGOs shall identify the general action needed to organise its participation in the Council of Europe “Quadrilogue”, ensure that participatory status functions properly and so help to affirm the political role of civil society at the Council of Europe.

1.3.6    It shall determine the aims of its Standing Committee accordingly.

1.3.7    The Conference of INGOs may award the title of Honorary President of the Conference of INGOs to a former President in recognition of his/her past service and action to promote the position and role of INGOs at the Council of Europe.

1.4       Functioning of the Conference of INGOs

1.4.1    Assisted by the members of the Bureau, the President of the Conference of INGOs shall develop and direct the Conference’s political work and ensure that the Bureau and the Standing Committee run smoothly and the tasks assigned to its members are properly performed.  The President of the Conference of INGOs shall officially represent the Conference at events to which it or its Standing Committee are invited.  He/she may delegate such representation to a member of the Standing Committee.

1.4.2    If the President of the Conference of INGOs is temporarily unable to perform his/her duties, one of the Vice-Presidents shall replace him/her, with the prior agreement of the members of the Bureau of the Conference.  If the President is permanently unable to perform his/her duties, one of the Vice-Presidents shall replace him/her, with the prior agreement of the members of the Bureau, until the next session of the Conference, during which fresh elections will be held.  Unless such replacement takes place less than a year before the end of the President’s term, it shall be deemed equivalent to the performance of a full three-year term.  The President shall be referred to as the “acting President” here.

1.4.3    Governance of the various bodies of the Conference of INGOs shall be performed by representatives elected by INGOs belonging to the Conference during a plenary meeting.  Once elected, such representatives shall perform their duties in a personal capacity.

1.4.4    If an INGO ceases to operate or loses its participatory status, any representative it put forward for election shall no longer be entitled to perform his/her duties within the Conference of INGOs.

1.4.5    The Conference of INGOs shall hold at least two sessions a year, preferably during ordinary sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

1.4.6    The plenary meeting of the Conference shall be chaired by the President of the Conference of INGOs.  The Conference of INGOs Secretariat shall send out the notifications to attend and the agenda by email at least one month before the plenary meeting of the Conference.  All documents for the meeting shall be published in both languages (English and French) on the Conference website and thus made available to the INGOs enjoying participatory status at least two weeks before the meeting.

1.4.7    Any proposal submitted by an INGO delegate which is likely to interest the Conference of INGOs, and which is lodged with the Conference Secretariat 30 days before the Conference meets, may be put before the Conference of INGOs with the agreement of the Bureau.  Urgent matters may be referred to the Standing Committee, which may place them on the Conference agenda without a prior waiting period.

1.4.8    At all plenary meetings of the Conference of INGOs, delegates of INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe must sign the attendance list at the entrance to the meeting.  They are entitled to cast one vote for each INGO.

1.4.9    INGOs which are unable to attend a plenary meeting of the Conference of INGOs may give a proxy to another INGO to vote on its behalf.  An INGO which is granted a proxy may not receive more than one and accordingly may only hold a total of two votes (including its own).

1.4.10  All the decisions of the Conference of INGOs shall be taken by a show of hands, and require a relative majority of the delegates present.  A secret ballot may be requested by the President of the Conference or by one third of the delegates present.

1.4.11  At plenary meetings, decisions of the Conference shall not be valid unless half its delegates are present.  All decisions taken by the Conference must be made available, in writing, to its members no more than 45 days after its meeting.

2.       Bureau of the Conference of INGOs

2.1       Composition of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs

            The Bureau of the Conference of INGOs comprises:

members with voting rights:

-           the President of the Conference,

-           four Vice-Presidents, one of whom is responsible for gender equality,

-           three Rapporteurs.

an “ex officio” participant in a consultative capacity:

-           the President of “INGO Service”, who is invited to give his/her opinion on subjects having a budgetary impact.

2.2       Terms of reference of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs

2.2.1    The Bureau implements the decisions of the Conference of INGOs and co-ordinates the work of the Standing Committee.

2.2.2    It is responsible for the implementation of the internal and external communication policy of the Conference of INGOs.

2.2.3    It prepares the agenda for meetings of the Conference of INGOs and its Standing Committee.

2.3       Functioning of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs

2.3.1    The meetings of the Bureau shall be chaired by the President of the Conference of INGOs or one of its Vice-Presidents.

2.3.2    The members of the Bureau with voting rights (cf. Rule 2.1 of these Rules of Procedure) shall be elected on the proposal of the INGO they represent at the Council of Europe, and perform their duties in a personal capacity.

2.3.3    In the event of a member of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs resigning or being permanently unable to perform his/her duties, a fresh election shall be held following the procedure described in Rule 5.  On the proposal of the Bureau, the Standing Committee may decide not to hold a fresh election until the end of the member’s term of office.

3.       Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs

3.1       Composition of the Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs

3.1.1    The Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs comprises:

members with voting rights:

-           the President, the four Vice-Presidents and the three Rapporteurs of the Conference,

-           the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the thematic Committees,

“ex officio” participants in a consultative capacity:

-           the Presidents of Expert Councils,

-           the President of “INGO-Service”,

-           the President of the Verification and Dispute Committee,

-           the outgoing President of the Conference of INGOs for three years following the end of his/her term of office to ensure continuity of action.

3.1.2    The “ex officio” participants of the Standing Committee in a consultative capacity speak in debates with regard to the body they represent.

3.1.3    The persons in charge of the Committees’ Working Groups (cf. Rule 3.2.2), the delegates appointed by the President of the Conference to perform specific tasks (cf. Rule 3.3.3 of these Rules of Procedure) and, exceptionally, other delegates of INGOs enjoying participatory status may be invited as observers to meetings of the Standing Committee.  The persons invited shall give their opinions on agenda items.

3.2       Terms of reference of the Standing Committee of INGOs

3.2.1    The Standing Committee shall ensure the quality of the work done within the Conference of INGOs.  It is responsible for co-ordination between the Conference of INGOs and its thematic Committees.  It ensures consistency of the Committees’ work and compliance with the major policy lines defined by the Conference.  It has a consultative and proposal-making role vis-à-vis the Conference of INGOs and its Bureau.

3.2.2    It endorses the setting up and ending of the terms of Working Groups within the thematic Committees (cf. Rule 4.3.3).

3.2.3    It takes note of draft resolutions and recommendations issued by the thematic Committees and submits them to the Conference for adoption, having regard to the overall political strategy of the Conference of INGOs.  In urgent cases, and if no meeting of the Conference is to be held in the short term, it may adopt resolutions or recommendations on behalf of the Conference.

3.2.4    It defines the external relations of the Conference of INGOs with international, European and national institutions, as well as with the media.

3.2.5    It formulates opinions on the list of INGOs to which the Secretary General intends to grant or refuse participatory status or from which he/she intends to withdraw such status.

3.2.6    It facilitates the work of the thematic Committees by:

-           co-ordinating the work of thematic Committees and Expert Councils,

-           organising once every three years or when necessary the elections of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of each thematic Committee.

3.2.7    It approves the nomination of representatives of the Conference to the various steering committees and sub-committees of the Council of Europe.

3.2.8    It encourages the drawing up of written contributions by the thematic Committees, approves such contributions and ensures that they are sent to the other Council of Europe bodies.

3.2.9    It co-ordinates work on administrative and financial questions affecting the Conference of INGOs and its thematic Committees in liaison with the Council of Europe’s Civil Society Division and the “INGO-Service” association.

3.3       Functioning of the Standing Committee

3.3.1    The Standing Committee normally meets during sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly, between those sessions when necessary and, if possible, during the sessions of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

3.3.2    Meetings of the Standing Committee shall be chaired by the President of the Conference of INGOs or one of its Vice-Presidents.

3.3.3    The President, after consultation with the Bureau of the Conference, may appoint delegates from INGOs enjoying participatory status, regardless of whether they are members of the Standing Committee, to perform specific tasks for a set period.

3.3.4    All the Standing Committee’s decisions shall be taken by a show of hands, and require a relative majority of the members present who have voting rights (one vote per member).  A secret ballot may be requested by the President or by one third of members present who have voting rights.

3.3.5    Reports of the Standing Committee’s meetings shall be published in both languages on the Conference website within 45 days of the meetings.

4.      Committees

4.1       Composition of the thematic Committees

4.1.1    The meetings of the thematic Committees shall be open to all INGOs enjoying participatory status and to invited NGOs.

4.2       Terms of reference of the thematic Committees

4.2.1    The thematic Committees’ purpose shall be to facilitate co-ordination between the INGOs in specific interest areas, serve as common discussion partners for all Council of Europe bodies and thereby ensure more effective participation in the activities of those bodies.

4.2.2    The thematic Committees shall take account of the Council of Europe’s work and inform the Council of Europe of their members’ concerns.  They shall plan their work to reflect the general policy lines and the plans of action pursued by the Conference of INGOs.

4.2.3    Each thematic Committee deals with its own specific themes, but ensures co-ordination of its work with that of the others.

4.2.4    Each thematic Committee shall decide, subject to arbitration by the Standing Committee, in which Steering Committees, Groups of Experts, Parliamentary Assembly Committees and Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Committees it will participate.

  4.3     Functioning of the thematic Committees

4.3.1    The thematic Committees shall meet during the sessions of the Conference of INGOs.

4.3.2    Each thematic Committee is led by a Chair and two Vice-Chairs.

4.3.3    Each thematic Committee may propose to the Standing Committee the setting up of working groups on specific themes, to operate for a limited period of time.  Operating under the direct responsibility of the Chair of the relevant thematic Committee, each working group shall be assigned terms of reference laying down its remit and objectives. It shall report regularly on its activities to the thematic Committee Chair and circulate its meeting reports within three months. Documents drawn up by a working group shall be submitted to the Committee Chair before any possible implementation or distribution.

4.3.4    Each thematic Committee shall be required to present a written report on its activities at the Conference of INGOs’ first meeting of the year.  The Standing Committee may also ask the thematic Committees to submit interim reports, oral or written, on their activities.

4.3.5    In the event of a thematic Committee Chair or Vice-Chair resigning or being permanently unable to perform his or her duties, a fresh election shall be held to fill the vacant post following the procedure described in Rule 5.  If the vacant post is that of the Chair, a Vice-Chair shall act as Chair ad interim.  On the proposal of the Bureau, the Standing Committee may decide not to hold a fresh election until the end of the term of office.

5.       Elections

5.1       General principles

5.1.1    Members of the Standing Committee with voting rights (cf. Rule 3.1.1 of these Rules of Procedure) shall be elected by the Conference of INGOs for a three-year term of office.

5.1.2    Those entitled to stand are representatives from INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe who are members of the Conference at the time of the call for candidates.

5.1.3    No INGO may simultaneously hold more than one elected office with the right to vote in the Standing Committee.  In addition, no INGO may stand as a candidate in two elections taking place in the same session of the Conference.

5.1.4    Each election shall take place in two rounds:

-           In the case of ballots for a single post, if there is no absolute majority of the votes cast in the first round, a second round, requiring only a relative majority, shall be held between the two candidates having obtained most votes.  In the event of a tie in the second round, the candidate whose INGO has the greatest seniority in the Conference shall be elected or, in the event of equal seniority, lots shall be drawn.

-          In the case of ballots for several posts, the candidates having obtained an absolute majority of the votes cast in the first round shall be elected.  If all the posts have not been filled, a second round, requiring only a relative majority, shall be held between the remaining candidates.  In the event of a tie, the above-mentioned rules shall apply.

Unlike spoiled votes, blank votes shall be included in the counting of the votes cast.  Ballot papers bearing any additions of any kind shall be deemed spoiled.  Blank ballot papers are those not indicating any names.

5.2       Procedure

5.2.1    Ninety days before the session of the Conference at which members are elected, the Secretariat of the Conference shall invite all the INGOs enjoying participatory status, except those which are not entitled to stand (cf. Rules 5.3.1 and 5.4.1 of these Rules of Procedure), to nominate candidates.

5.2.2    Candidatures must reach the Secretariat of the Conference at the latest sixty days before the meeting of the Conference at which the members are to be elected.  Each INGO presenting a candidate shall complete and submit to the Secretariat of the Conference a candidature form bearing the signature of the INGO’s President or Vice-President or Secretary General, and under no circumstances the signature of the delegate proposed by the INGO concerned, even if the said delegate occupies one of those functions.

5.2.3    In addition, each candidature for the Presidency of the Conference must be proposed by the INGO represented and also be supported by at least ten INGOs enjoying participatory status, such support being notified to the Standing Committee.  Each indication of support shall be drafted on headed paper of the INGO supporting the candidature and shall bear the signature of the said INGO’s President or Vice-President or Secretary General, and under no circumstances the signature of the delegate proposed by the INGO concerned, even if the said delegate occupies one of those functions.  An INGO may support only one candidate for the Presidency.

5.2.4   The Verification and Dispute Committee examines the validity of each candidature as quickly as possible (cf. Rule 6.3 of these Rules of Procedure).

5.2.5    Candidates selected by the Verification and Dispute Committee must be able, in the weeks preceding the elections, to conduct an information campaign among all the INGOs enjoying participatory status.  Practical arrangements for this campaign shall be determined by the Standing Committee on the proposal of the Verification and Dispute Committee.

5.2.6    Ballot papers are distributed to the INGO delegates when they sign in.  Election shall be by secret ballot and voting shall take place after each candidate has presented himself/herself to the Conference, speaking time being determined by the Standing Committee, following consultation of the Verification and Dispute Committee, depending on the number of candidatures.

5.2.7    Voting shall be monitored by four tellers appointed by the Conference from among INGO delegates who are not candidates, assisted by a representative of the Conference Secretariat, and in the presence of a member of the Verification and Dispute Committee.  The ballot papers shall be counted immediately after the vote.  A record of the count shall be drawn up, indicating the total number of ballot papers, as well as the number of blank and spoiled ballots.

5.3       Election of the President of the Conference of INGOs

5.3.1    The President of the Conference of INGOs shall be elected by the Conference for a three-year term.  Candidates for the Presidency of the Conference of INGOs must have been members of a previous Standing Committee.  They may not hold more than two consecutive terms of office as President and may not stand again for any post on the Bureau until a period at least equal to their uninterrupted membership of the Bureau has elapsed.

5.4       Election of the Vice-Presidents and Rapporteurs of the Conference of INGOs

5.4.1    The three Vice-Presidents, the Vice-President responsible for gender equality and the three Rapporteurs of the Conference of INGOs shall be elected by the Conference for a three-year term.  Vice-Presidents or Rapporteurs may not hold more than two consecutive terms of office.  Following that period, a former Vice-President or Rapporteur may not stand again for a post on the Bureau, except for that of President of the Conference, until after a period of six years.

5.4.2    The election of the President of the Conference shall take place before that of the Vice-Presidents, which in turn is followed by that of the Rapporteurs.

5.4.3    The presentation of the candidates and voting shall take place after approval of the Standing Committee’s activity report.

5.5       Election of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the thematic Committees

5.5.1    Each thematic Committee is led and represented by a Chair and two Vice-Chairs, elected for a three-year term of office, no-one being entitled to hold more than two consecutive terms of office in the same Committee.

5.5.2    These Chairs and Vice-Chairs shall be elected by the Conference of INGOs.

5.5.3    The election of the Chairs of the Committees shall take place before that of the Vice-Chairs.

6.       Verification and Dispute Committee

6.1       Every three years, the Conference of INGOs shall appoint, from among its members, on the proposal of the President of the Conference and following consultation of the outgoing Committee, a Verification and Dispute Committee which shall have five members, none of whom has the right to vote in the Standing Committee.  No-one may be a member of the Committee for more than two consecutive terms of office.

6.2      The Verification and Dispute Committee shall appoint its President, who shall sit on the Standing Committee in a consultative capacity.

6.3       This Committee shall be responsible for:

-           verifying the candidatures mentioned in Rule 5 of these Rules and monitoring election procedures in these cases, assisted by a representative of the Conference Secretariat,

-           settling any dispute which may arise in the application of these Rules and more broadly concerning the functioning of the INGO representative bodies.

6.4       The conclusions of the Committee’s meetings shall be presented to the Standing Committee and subsequently published on the website of the Conference of INGOs.

6.5       Any member of the Committee standing for election to a Conference body shall temporarily suspend his/her participation in the Committee’s meetings at which that election is being discussed.

7.      Procedure for amendment of the Rules of Procedure of the Conference of INGOS

7.1       Any proposals for amendment of these Rules of Procedure shall be submitted in writing and sent to all the INGOs enjoying participatory status no later than sixty days before the date of the session of the Conference.  They must be adopted by a two-thirds majority of the voting members.

7.2       Any Rules of Procedure duly approved by the Conference of INGOs shall supersede the previous versions.