Non-Governmental Organisations

    STANDING COMMITTEE
    CONF/SC(2010)SYN6

    Strasbourg, 10 December 2010

SYNOPSIS

    FOR THE ATTENTION OF MEMBERS OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE

    The Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs, meeting in Strasbourg on 8 December (from 9.30 am to 6 pm), with Jean-Marie Heydt in the Chair:

    Asked Maritchu Rall (AIC), member of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs, to be rapporteur for the meeting.

    1. Adopted the agenda [CONF/SC(2010)OJ6].

    2. Adopted the synopsis of the meeting held on 4 October 2010, which was distributed at the meeting.

3. Progress of the reform of the Conference of INGOs

      Heard Jean-Marie Heydt describe the importance of building “a different way of operating”, review the progress of the reform and announce the attendance of Alexandre Guessel, adviser to the Secretary General. The main points to be noted were as follows:

      - some players wanted the Conference of INGOs to be weakened;
      - the financial cut was too severe: a budget of €220 000 instead of €470 000;
      - mobilisation of the ambassadors had cleared up some unfounded preconceptions;
      - at the meeting of the group of ambassadors on the future of civil society in the context of the Council of Europe reform on 3 November 2010, various practical proposals had been submitted (road map, position paper), following which several states had acted to ensure that the Conference was confirmed in the quadrilogue with appropriate resources;
      - the Committee of Ministers had confirmed and positioned the Conference for 2011 by including it in the Council of Europe’s budget;
      - two sessions were due to be held during 2011 (the cost of a session was approximately €22 000);
      - a sum of €63 000 was available for the three-year programme for the development of civil society in Russia from 2009 to 2011, following a commitment made in 2008.

4. Future prospects and development of change proposals for submission to plenary: for decision and assignment of tasks

The Standing Committee made the following proposals:

      - in the first six months of 2011, an ambassadors and INGOs working group would have to draw up a practical proposal so that debate could take place within the Committee of Ministers;
      - a letter would be sent to member states’ representatives announcing the establishment of the working group;
      - a strong message from the Conference of INGOs would be addressed to the Committee of Ministers setting out prospects for the future that took account of the reform under way at the Council of Europe;
      - information on the Conference’s desire to be more innovative would be sent to all Council of Europe bodies and to the member INGOs, underlining the sustained co-operation with the other pillars of the quadrilogue;
      - a meeting with the Committee of Ministers would be requested during the Turkish chairmanship;
      - the January 2011 session would begin with a meeting of the Conference of INGOs which would provide all the NGOs with an update on the progress of the reform. The committees and transversal groups would each have 1-hour meetings (with no overlapping);
      - the Standing Committee would meet on 17 January 2011.

    The following points emerged from the discussions in two workshops:

      - a select working group (based on the proposals by the two workshops) would be asked to draw up by mid-January 2011 objectives which would be submitted to the Conference of INGOs on 25 January 2011, namely:
      - more operational reorganisation based on the reform under way;
      - the committees and transversal groups would have to be defined according to the priorities agreed;
      - more functional links would have to be sought with NGOs that were not members of the Conference in order to involve them more and more effectively;
      - in-depth discussion was needed on various fundamental questions: Where was the Conference headed? With what tools? Was it necessary to have “resource persons” who were qualified in specific fields to provide expertise? Was it necessary to have a ‘monitoring unit’ to alert the Conference to topical developments?
      - a 2020 action plan identifying relevant general principles, fields and measures, as well as relations with the other pillars in the quadrilogue.

    The President welcomed Mr Alexandre Guessel, adviser to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe with responsibility for civil society in the context of the reform. The key points of his statement were as follows:

      - in general, the reform had to respond to society’s demands for modernity, taking account of developments and expectations;
      - a body called Agenda 2020 made up of the directors general had been tasked with drawing up proposals for a strategic vision for 2020;
      - the Secretary General would meet the members of the Bureau;
      - the work of the Conference of INGOs was not well enough known or properly appreciated: NGOs’ practical actions had to be clarified and capitalised on;
      - the budget of the Conference of INGOs would depend on the projects presented;
      - synergy between the priorities and actions of the Council of Europe and of the Conference of INGOs had to be agreed and strengthened.

    At the request of Alexandre Guessel and in preparation for the meeting with the Secretary General, a substantive and exhaustive document describing the Conference of INGOs’ actions and positive contributions to the various Council of Europe directorates would have to be drawn up.

    5. Turkish chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers and March 2011 Conference in Istanbul; for information and decision

    The President announced that, in partnership with COJEP, the Conference of INGOs and the Council of Europe would be holding a forum entitled “New multicultural challenges: how can NGOs play their part?” in Istanbul on 24 and 25 March 2011 during the Turkish chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (for more details, go to www.coe.int/NGO).

    6. Other business

    The Conference of INGOs would be present at the first European Youth and Human Rights Fair to be held in Strasbourg from 19 to 21 March 2011. Various lectures on human rights would be held to publicise the work of the Conference of INGOs.