The Conference of International Non-governmental Organisations of the Council of Europe

Over 50 years at the heart of European democracy

The voice of civil society is heard at the Council of Europe thanks to the Conference of International Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs). Since the introduction of consultative status for INGOs in 1952, the Council of Europe has developed even closer and fruitful relations with NGOs as representatives of civil society. The introduction of participatory status in 2003 has enabled INGOs to increase active participation in the policies and work programme of the Council of Europe, and to reinforce co-operation between the Council of Europe and the various associations in member States.

The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe
More than 400 INGOs enjoy participatory status and make up, since 2005, the Conference of INGOs which constitutes civil society’s pillar in the Council of Europe “quadrilogue” with the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Through this status, the Council of Europe includes INGOs in intergovernmental activities and encourages dialogue of members of parliament and local and regional authorities with associations on challenges facing society. The Conference of INGOs is now recognised as an institution of the Council of Europe.

Mandate of the Conference of INGO

The Conference of INGOs is the chief body representing the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe and as such identifies the general action needed to organise its participation in the Council of Europe “quadrilogue”, ensure that participatory status functions correctly, and so help to affirm the political role of civil society at the Council of Europe. It decides on policy lines and defines and adopts action programmes.

The Conference of INGOs meets in Strasbourg twice a year during the ordinary sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The Conference of INGOs is chaired by its President in office, whom it elects every three years. The current President of the Conference of INGOs, Ms Anna Rurka.

The Council of Europe’s relations with NGOs focus on the following:

I. Relations with international NGOs (INGOs): this can be seen as the Council of Europe’s statutory relations with NGOs through the INGOs holding participatory status, known collectively as the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe. Through this status INGOs are now actively contributing to the decision-making process at the Council of Europe and to the implementation of its programmes, thus ensuring their relevance to the expectations of Europeans.

Read more about the Conference of INGOs, its history, its structures and its projects: paper written by Iamvi Totsi

II. Civil Society Initiatives and Programmes with partner NGOs: civil society initiatives and co-operation programmes aim at strengthening the role of civil society in a pluralist democracy, in particular to improving relations between NGOs and public authorities.

See web page “Civil Society Initiatives” for more information on programmes with partner NGOs