Strasbourg, 29 May 2009
THE MEETING OF 29 APRIL 2009
FOR THE ATTENTION OF MEMBERS OF THE CONFERENCE OF INGOs
The Conference of INGOs, meeting on 29 April in Strasbourg, with Jean-Marie Heydt in the chair:
· Welcomed Thomas Hajnoczi, Permanent Representative of Austria to the Council of Europe, who talked about his active interest in civil society issues. Also present was Jean-Louis Laurens, Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs, who said that the Council of Europe would face a tough budgetary climate in 2010 yet nevertheless assured members of the INGO Conference of his support.
1. Code of good practice for civil participation in the decision-making process: for exchange of views, adoption of a draft document and information on the final drafting process
· Took note of the fact that this draft Code would go through the following stages: procedure for informing the Committee of Ministers and consulting the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, final adoption by the Conference of INGOs on 1 October 2009, presentation at the Forum for the Future of Democracy in Kyiv (21-23 October 2009) and inclusion of a mention in the Forum conclusions and, lastly, organisation of an event under the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers (12-13 November 2009 in Ljubljana);
· Took note of the exchange of views which followed the presentation of the draft Code by the Rapporteur and which focused on the following points: developing the practical aspect of the Code (with some examples), without forgetting, however, its standard-setting approach; including a more explicit reference to human rights; deleting the reference to “minimum standards”; incorporating the notion of equal participation by women and men; the prospect of developing the Code of Good Practice into a Council of Europe instrument with its own monitoring procedures;
· Further noted that the Civil Society and Democracy Committee would place this item on the agenda for its meeting on 24 June 2009 in order to carry out an interim assessment of the progress to date;
· Approved the draft Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process;
· Decided to inform the Committee of Ministers and to consult the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe;
· Asked the Rapporteur of the INGO Conference to develop a draft strategy to raise awareness among stakeholders and to promote participation by NGOs in decision-making in European countries through the Code of Good Practice;
· Decided to submit the draft Code of Good Practice for final approval at the autumn session of the Conference of INGOs (1 October 2009).
2. The “Strasbourg dialogue”: follow-up to the Regional NGO Congress in Penza (5-7 December 2008) and the Strasbourg round-table (16-17 February 2009): for exchange of views
· Took note of the exchange of views on follow-up to the “Strasbourg dialogue”1, whether it involved facilitating discussion and communication between participants at the Penza and Strasbourg gatherings, relaying information to member states’ NGOs or working with the other Council of Europe bodies to secure their support for this process.
3. Text submitted to the INGO Conference: for adoption and consideration of the arrangements for implementation
· After the text was presented by Marie-José Schmitt, unanimously adopted the draft Recommendation on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [CONF/PLE(2009)REC7] and decided to transmit this Recommendation to the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly.
4. Verification and Dispute Committee
· On the basis of the three candidatures announced at the meeting (Monique Bouaziz [European Council of WIZO Federations], Marion Senellart [Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe] and Jean-Philippe Durrenberger [European Association of Leisure Time Institutions for Children and Youth]) proceeded, by show of hands, to elect a fifth member to the Verification and Dispute Committee. Results of the poll: Jean-Philippe Durrenberger (37 votes, elected), Monique Bouaziz (18 votes), Marion Senellart (10 votes). Jean-Philippe Durrenberger accordingly replaced Jeanine Duprey-Kennedy on the Committee.
5. Summer session (22-24 June 2009): information on the elections of the chairs and vice-chairs of the transversal groups
· Noted that no-one had applied for the post of vice-chair of the Europe and Global Challenges Transversal Group and decided, with one vote against and five abstentions, to extend the deadline for candidatures until midnight on 23 May 2009, in preparation for the elections on 23 June; if no-one applied by 23 May, a further official invitation for candidatures would be issued under the INGO Conference Rules of Procedure.
6. Autumn session (28-30 September 2009)
· Decided to change the dates of the autumn session as follows: Tuesday 29 September – Thursday 1 October.
7. Other business
· Took note of the setting-up of a working group of the Social Cohesion and Eradication of Poverty Committee, entitled “poverty, human rights and economic crises”, in which members of the INGO Conference were invited to take part;
· Took note of the information provided by Karin Nordmeyer, Chair of the Gender Equality Transversal Group, with regard to the letter sent to the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, about the law on the personal status of women in Afghanistan [link to the letter (in English)] and the draft letter concerning the post of Head of the Gender Equality Division in the Council of Europe Secretariat.
8. Date of the next meeting: Thursday 1 October 2009 (9.30 am – 12.30 pm)
Cc: Members of the Standing Committee
Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly
Secretary General of the Congress
Secretary to the Committee of Ministers
Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights
Director of the Private Office of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Director of External Relations
Director of Strategic Planning
Director of Communication
Director of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
1 The “Strasbourg dialogue” is an INGO Conference initiative that brings together NGOs and think-tanks from the Caucasus and INGO representatives for the purpose of building confidence and improving the conditions of populations in areas affected by the conflict in August 2008.