EUROPE AND GLOBAL CHALLENGES
Strasbourg, 25 June 2009
FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE EUROPE AND GLOBAL CHALLENGES TRANSVERSAL GROUP
The Europe and Global Challenges Transversal Group met on 23 June 2009 :
1. Opening of the meeting
Gérard Gréneron, Vice-President of the Conference of INGOs, opened the meeting, which he would chair until the results of the elections.
2. The Group adopted the agenda unanimously.
3. The Group adopted the synopsis of the meeting on 28 April 2009 [CONF/TG/GLO(2009)SYN2] unanimously.
Gérard Gréneron asked for two assessors to supervise these elections: Monique Bouaziz and Tuncay Cakmak volunteered. Separate votes were held for the post of chair and of vice-chair. The candidates were Michel Julien for the post of chair and Anne Sforza for the post of vice-chair.
Results of the elections:
Election of Michel Julien to the chair: 27 votes cast, 24 for and 3 abstentions
Election of Anne Sforza as vice-chair: 27 votes cast, 23 for and 4 abstentions
The new Chair thanked the members for the trust they had placed in him and highlighted the work on priority themes which the transversal group would be required to deal with in the forthcoming years.
Ms Sforza outlined her view of the group’s work, emphasising that, because of its specific transversal nature, it should not simply reproduce what was done elsewhere by other committees, but take up and investigate in more detail questions which affected our outlook on current changes in the world and posed new challenges.
5. Priority areas: co-operation with the committees
- The Group took note of the priority areas mentioned by Ms Sforza, particularly the negative effects of the current economic crisis and the probability that they would last, mainly affecting the most vulnerable sections of society and depriving young people of prospects. Using a number of examples, Ms Sforza showed how each committee was shedding its own particular light on the problem. She drew attention to the treaties and conventions at the Council of Europe's disposal to prevent large numbers of people from losing their dignity and to remind states of their responsibilities towards their citizens. It was important for the transversal group to have access to the others sectors’ timetables of activities so that its members’ attention could be drawn to the reports being planned and the documents being prepared with a view to facilitating the requisite communication and fostering co-operation.
- The Group heard Annelise Oeschger, Honorary President of the Conference of INGOs, propose that it should take on the threats posed to human rights and democracy by sectarian movements in international bodies and the strategy devised by some of these movements to take control of companies, cultural institutions and even governments. Discussion frequently centred on their harmful effects on individuals and families. However, some of these movements worked at a more general level, attempting to set up a social order in which human dignity and equality would be restricted. International institutions were one of their priority fields of activity, being forums in which they acted as NGOs. The annual report by the French Interministerial Mission for measures to monitor and combat the activities of sects (Miviludes) included a section entitled “Sectarian movements’ strategies to wield international influence” (link to the site). It could no longer be ignored that totalitarian NGOs took advantage of the positive standing that the title of NGO conferred on them. The aim would be to demonstrate that these NGOs were exploiting the principles of freedom of religion and other fundamental freedoms, and the international organisations set up to protect these freedoms, and blurring the distinction between offender and victim.
- The Group decided to send the memorandum presented by Ms Oeschger to the Standing Committee for its meeting of 24 June. A further study session on the subject was also proposed.
6. European Committee on Migration (CDMG): report of the meeting on 28 and 29 May 2009 (Strasbourg)
- The Group took note of several specific issues raised at this meeting:
- acquisition of the language of the host country by migrant children;
- the dramatic situation of migrants injured at sea or crossing borders;
- the report by the Committee of Experts on Roma and Travellers;
- the right of people to live decent lives in their country of origin (raising issues such as fair trade, the incomes of people working in this sector and Europe's relations with these countries);
- the problems raised by pandemics, vaccination campaigns and the cost of vaccines.
The annual report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) pointed out that one person in six in the world was a hunger victim and that Europe was currently failing to react to the situation (link to the report).
7. Draft co-operation agreement between the North-South Centre and the Conference of INGOs: for debate
The Chair talked about the changes at the North-South Centre in Lisbon. He stressed how important it was that Morocco had officially joined the dialogue between North and South. This would create a new impetus, placing particular emphasis on young people and strengthening partnerships with sub-Saharan Africa. Many measures had been taken to foster intercultural dialogue, including the Euro-Med University.
Deborah Bergamini (Italy), the current chair of the North-South Centre’s Executive Council was particularly receptive to the idea of working with the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe. The Chair read out the draft co-operation agreement. Several comments were made concerning the content and the style of the document.
- the Group decided to redraft the agreement before submitting it to the Conference.
Reference was made to the network of NGOs working in Africa and its desire to establish contacts with the INGOs at the Council of Europe.
- the Group decided to invite the representative of this network to one of its future meetings so that she could describe its activities.
8. Building a Europe for and with Children – Strategy 2009-2011
The Group heard the Chair’s description of past and future activities in this sphere.
9. Other business
Several participants asked for the meeting agenda to be more detailed in future, and for it to be accompanied by the documents to be discussed or their references, so that everyone could participate more efficiently.
As the time allotted had elapsed, the meeting rose.
"This is an unadopted draft document.
Under no circumstances shall it be considered binding on the persons referred to therein.”.
Cc: Members of the Standing Committee
Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly
Secretary General of the Congress
Secretary of 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