Strasbourg, 1 April 2003
NGO PC (2003)18 rev
Declaration on the Citizens’ Forum1
«NGOs - key players in democratic governance»
adopted at the
Extraordinary Plenary Conference of international Non-Governmental Organisations enjoying consultative status with the Council of Europe,
Strasbourg, 25 June 2003
The Plenary Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations, acting on a proposal from the grouping "Civil Society in the New Europe", expresses its satisfaction at the organisation, in November 2002, of the Citizens' Forum "NGOs -key players in democratic governance", which allowed the NGOs enjoying consultative status with the Council of Europe to participate in a "Quadrilogue" alongside the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.
The grouping "Civil Society in the New Europe" has a special role to play in implementing the recommendations of the Citizens' Forum, which are fully consistent with its fields of action:
- The "Fundamental Principles on the Status of NGOs in Europe", adopted at a multilateral meeting held by the Council of Europe in 2002, are of crucial importance to civil society across Europe and should be endorsed by the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers,
- - The Council of Europe should consider ways of providing co-funding for projects run by NGOs and explore the possibility of creating an international funding body to support NGO empowerment,
- - The Council of Europe and INGOs should forge closer ties with NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe with a view to strengthening civil society.
- - The joint CLRAE-NGO conference (Budapest, 28 February - 1 March 2003) constituted a step forward in the implementation of these objectives.
- - The INGO Liaison Committee should set up a transversal working group to co-ordinate work on the subject of democratic governance carried out by the sectoral groupings of INGOs enjoying consultative status with the Council of Europe. This working group should co-operate with Council of Europe bodies, in particular in implementing the programme of activities under the Integrated Project "Making democratic institutions work".
At a more general level, the INGOs wish to underline the benefits of the Council of Europe's integrated projects method as a means of turning to account the results of earlier work and adopting a new approach to issues of general interest.