EUROPE AND GLOBAL CHALLENGES
CONF/TG/GLO (2010) SYN3
Strasbourg, 13 July 2010
FOR THE ATTENTION OF MEMBERS OF THE EUROPE AND GLOBAL CHALLENGES TRANSVERSAL GROUP
The Europe and Global Challenges Transversal Group, meeting on 22 June 2010 :
Opening of the meeting
Michel Julien, Chair of the Europe and Global Challenges Transversal Group, opened the session and explained that part of the meeting would be devoted to follow-up to the joint meeting with the Human Rights Committee on “migrants and human rights”.
1. Unanimously adopted the agenda [CONF/TG/GLO(2010)OJ3]
2. Adopted the synopsis of the meeting held on 24 April 2010 [CONF/TG/GLO(2010)SYN2]
3. New features in Council of Europe/European Union relations since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty
Statement by Claude-Laurent Genty, head of the working group on relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union
One consequence of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty was that it enabled the European Union (EU) to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which it had previously been unable to do for legal reasons. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, inspired by the ECHR, became legally binding.
Mr Genty then described briefly how civil society was organised in the EU and in particular how it was represented on the European Economic and Social Committee. In this connection, he mentioned the plan, springing from an initiative by an NGO co-ordinating body (ECAS), to set up a European civil society house in Brussels.
Statement by Sophie Dimitroulias, member of the working group on relations between the Council of Europe and the EU and member of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs
on the scope of the new Treaty in the area of social rights, particularly in the current context of economic crisis and the proposals concerning “reinforced economic governance” in the European Union and increased “economic surveillance” of its member states. In this connection, she outlined the analysis made by the Association of Women of Southern Europe (AFEM) in its Declaration on “Reinforcing social rights in order to exit the economic crisis” adopted jointly at the Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights on 5 June 2010 and sent to the institutions of the EU and its member states. The declaration stressed that, in order to be effective, any policy to resolve the current economic crisis must necessarily be designed and implemented in the light of the fundamental values and social rights which were the cornerstone of the EU and the CoE, and must include binding social clauses.
4. Presentation of the NGO: “LEEKET BI.” (the gourd)
Gilles Degeois, administrator of the NGO
Louise Coffi, head of the working group on Africa, said that, with countries celebrating the 50th anniversary of independence, it was useful to take note of practical projects which were a model of development and showed what was being done to combat the population drift from rural areas to the cities and to other countries.
Gille Degeois made a presentation showing villages, a farm, a hospital and a school built by his NGO and gave some figures : life expectancy in Africa was half what it was in Europe; and 2000 women died in labour for every 100 000 births in Africa, as compared with 4 in Europe. Yet respect for the mother as the giver of life was a touchstone of civilisation in every society.
The methodology used was based on the concept of sharing out of responsibilities in different “houses”: the house of water, with a person responsible for monitoring water quality; the farmer’s house for crops and livestock, and especially veterinary advice; the house of young people; and the house of the citizen, which was the place where village elders came to talk and where discussions were held between the generations.
Took note of the importance:
- of an overall view of health as a whole encompassing everything that played a part in health, including birth, childcare, blindness prevention (important in Africa), education and employment;
- of trust in the aid relationship, both for those receiving aid and for those providing it;
- of giving young people the wherewithal to stay in, or return to, a newly attractive Africa.
5. Presentation of the international association Initiatives of Change
The purpose of the programme was to foster reconciliation between the leaders of the three countries of the Great Lakes region: Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. It functioned through the holding of round tables between rulers and rebel forces, a long-term process funded by the Swiss government, and was based on meetings held in Switzerland, away from local pressures. On the spot, in the three countries, the association worked with institutions such as the catholic church, which was very important in Burundi in particular, and made use of “political cafés” and, to some extent, all places where people came together to talk.
Noted that the aim of this programme was to enable the different players to “re-humanise one another”.
6. Progress of joint work with the Human Rights Committee on “Migrants and human rights”
Took note of the information provided by Agathe Willaume (Migration Division, Directorate General of Social Cohesion) on the Lisbon Conference of 31 May 2010 on “Human rights and migration”. The conference had stressed the sovereignty of states in managing their borders. This management was made more difficult by the economic crisis, which resulted in a reluctance to accept migrants. The list of existing instruments relating to migration was long, but the current challenge lay in implementation of these international rules, particularly as regards interception of migrants at sea, administrative detention, violence, xenophobia and racism. In the light of the observed failures, many questions remained unanswered: what could be done to facilitate rescue at sea, make it possible for migrants to seek asylum, combat the criminalisation of aliens in Europe, particularly undocumented aliens, put an end to unfair detention based solely on race, etc. The European Court of Justice had confirmed the absolute nature of the principle of non-refoulement. What, then, could be done to verify that return operations were consistent with human rights?
Called for close co-operation between migrants, NGOs and governments to meet these challenges.
Took note of the proposals put forward by Gabriel Nissim for the “migration and human rights” working group.
This working group should:
- comprise, in order to be operational, INGOs specialising in work with migrants as well as INGOs which were members of the Conference and national NGOs not working directly with migrants but with extensive practical experience in this field;
- base its work on the Council of Europe’s standard-setting texts relating to human rights and their effective implementation;
- focus initially on two objectives:
· one concerning legal migrants, in the context of Article 19 of the European Social Charter, on respect for migrants’ economic and social rights;
· the other concerning the procedures for deportation of illegal migrants, aimed at ensuring that these procedures were carried out in accordance with the rule of law.
7. The North-South Centre in Lisbon
Owing to a shortage of time, consideration of this item was postponed to the October meeting.
8. Follow-up to the European meetings on social and educational innovations, support to parents and the fight against exclusion
Item not dealt with owing to a shortage of time.