Non-Governmental Organisations

    CONF/2010/RAPACT

    2010 Activity Report

    of the Conference of INGOs

    http://www.coe.int/NGOS

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    I. The Conference of INGOs

    1. Introduction……………………………………………………………………………... 3
    2. A reform that is equitable and takes full account of the role played by

      civil society …………………………………………………………………………..… 5

    3. Promoting the Council of Europe’s values and fundamental rights………………. 5
    4. Giving real substance to participatory democracy………………………………….. 6
    5. Consolidating the political role of the Conference of INGOs………………………. 9

    II. The thematic committees

    1. Introduction……………………………………………………………………………… 12
    2. The Social Cohesion and Eradication of Poverty Committee…………………….. 12
    3. The Human Rights Committee………………………………………………………. 12
    4. The Sustainable Territorial Development Committee……………………………… 13
    5. The Culture, Science and Education Committee………………………………….. 13
    6. The Democracy and Civil Society Committee

    III. The Transversal Groups

    1. The Europe and Global Challenges Transversal Group…………………………... 14
    2. The Gender Equality Transversal Group………………………………………….... 14

    IV. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………. 15

    V. The Texts adopted…………………………………………………………. 16

    I. The Conference of INGOS

    1. Introduction
    In 2010 European countries were, like the rest of the world, thrust into a turbulent period of financial and economic crisis. They have all, without exception, responded by taking draconian measures impacting on the social field. The crisis has consequently severely tested universal values and human rights, in particular the social rights underpinning the European democratic identity. The crisis threatens the fabric of society and even the democratic structures of European societies and illustrates the vulnerability of international and European achievements in terms of fundamental rights.

    The Council of Europe and its member states are therefore facing a challenge with which they have never before been confronted, namely that of safeguarding, promoting and defending these fundamental values and rights against all attacks or attempts to sacrifice them to considerations of urgency or expediency. The support given to the protagonists of civil society and to human rights defenders is therefore crucial. These challenges underline the contribution which the civil society organisations that make up the Conference of INGOs make to the work carried out by the Council of Europe.

    The most important event in 2010 was the major reform of the Council of Europe. The Conference of INGOs did everything in its power to argue in favour of a reform that was equitable and took full account of the role played by civil society in the context of the Council of Europe’s “quadrilogue”. With the active participation and voluntary contribution of all its members, it also pursued and developed a co-ordinated strategy of action, in keeping with the main policy lines and priorities adopted at the plenary session of 28 April 2010 in the document “Building an active and socially committed European civil society!”

    The three main priorities of the Conference were:

    A. To promote the Council of Europe’s fundamental values and rights on the basis of the regular work of its thematic bodies (committees and transversal groups), which are active in the following fields:

    a. democracy, human rights, in particular gender equality and measures to combat violence against women;

    b. social cohesion, combating poverty and social exclusion in the context of the 2010 Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion;

    c. education and culture;

    d. sustainable development;

    e. solidarity in the context of global interdependence and in particular Europe’s solidarity with its neighbours in the South and in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

    B. To give real substance to participatory democracy, on the basis of:

    a. co-operation activities, particularly in priority areas:

      - in Belarus;
      - in the Russian Federation;
      - in the context of the Regional Congresses of NGOs;
      - with the Council of Europe North-South Centre.

    b. monitoring activities, including the Expert Council on NGO Law;

    c. standard-setting activities, including the “Code of good practice for civil participation in the decision-making process”.

    C. To consolidate the political role of the Conference of INGOs. In this connection:

    a. improving cooperation with other Council of Europe bodies and member states;

    b. developing partnerships with other international organisations, institutions and EU bodies and European and international civil society networks.

    With these aims in mind and in exercising its advisory prerogatives, the Conference of INGOs continued to challenge, propose solutions, inform and raise awareness and to hold civil debates on major issues and urgent situations at international, European and national level.

    Firstly, the Conference of INGOs adopted a number of official positions, resolutions and recommendations at its own initiative, and a number of opinions requested by the Committee of Ministers as part of the process of consulting the members of the “quadrilogue”. These texts are the outcome of painstaking initiatives on the part of its members, of discussion and exchange of expert opinions by its committees and the expression of consensus by all protagonists of the Conference of INGOs meeting in plenary session. These texts provide the member INGOs and civil society in general with a valuable tool for putting their case and disseminating information in support of national and transnational activities. They give voice to the opinions of civil society in the Council of Europe’s decision-making process and in the drafting of its instruments.

    Secondly, the Conference of INGOs, at its own initiative, organised various events (special days, seminars, round tables, and so on), both at the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg and in its member states, with the support of the partnership and participation of numerous actors from the institutions of the Council of Europe, the academic world and civil society. The Conference also contributed to the ad hoc events organised by the institutions and bodies of the Council of Europe and the European Union, as well as by the civil society organisations, to which it had been invited and at which it was represented by its President, members of the Bureau or the Chairs of its various committees and by experts; the Conference was also represented by its Chairs and members of its thematic bodies at the regular meetings of the Council of Europe‘s steering committees and other bodies.

    The number and quality of the activities described below illustrates the contribution made by the Conference of INGOs. They testify to the political recognition of the INGO Conference, its competence, its representative nature and its capacity to mobilise other civil actors at European and national level.

    2. A reform that is equitable and takes full account of the role played by civil society

    Given that the main event in 2010 was the major reform of the Council of Europe, the Conference of INGOs did everything in its power to argue in favour of a reform that was fair and took full account of the role played by civil society in the context of the Council of Europe “quadrilogue”.

    This mobilisation entailed:

    a. regular meetings of its governing bodies, the Bureau and the Standing Committee, during and between plenary sessions of the Conference, in Strasbourg and Paris ;

    b. internal consultation of the member organisations of the Conference in June 2010,

    c. three debates in plenary session during which two resolutions under the heading “Threat to democracy within the Council of Europe” were adopted in June and October 2010 respectively, with an eye to the adoption of the organisation’s budget for 2011.

    On this basis, the President, the Bureau and the Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs, made representations to the other members of the Council of Europe “quadrilogue”, and to national public authorities and the press, through the Conference’s member organisations in the countries where they are based.

    3. Promoting the Council of Europe’s values and fundamental rights

    Throughout the year, in keeping with the positions it had adopted in the past, the Conference of INGOs took close interest in:
    a. the drafting of the “Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, and domestic violence” by the relevant ad hoc committee (CAHVIO) to ensure that account was taken of the demands of civil society, on the basis of the Declaration adopted by its Standing Committee at the end of the round table on this subject  held by the Conference of INGOs in autumn 2009;
    b. the events held to celebrate the European Year for Combating Poverty (2010), on the basis of the relevant Recommendation adopted in plenary session on 1 October 2009;
    c. the preparations for the European Year of Volunteering (2011), on the basis of the Recommendation for a “European Year of Volunteering”, adopted in plenary session in January 2009. It will be noted that as a result of this Recommendation and the awareness-raising work carried out by members of the INGOs and aimed at the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the latter declared 2011 the European Year of Volunteering along with that of the European Union. The Conference of INGOs will continue its work within the Council of Europe to ensure that this special Year, initiated by civil society, leads to concrete action, has an impact on member states’ decisions and legislation, and, in the long run, benefits volunteers in Europe.

    Some of the most important achievements, events and positions of the Conference of INGOs that successively highlighted 2010, were:
    a. the adoption of a “Resolution on Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation” at the winter plenary session from 25 to 27 January 2010 ;
    b. the organisation of “European Biodiversity Day” in the context of the spring plenary session from 26 to 28 April 2010, under the responsibility of the Committee on Sustainable Territorial Development Committee, chaired by Anne-Marie Chavanon. This Day, in which Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, and Gaye Doğanoğlu, Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee of the Congress, took part, led to the joint signature by the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the "Working together for biodiversity" Declaration on 28 April;
    c. the organisation of the Round Table on the theme “Symbol of oppression or affirmation of identity” at the initiative of the Transversal Group on gender equality to coincide with the summer plenary session from 21 to 24 June 2010; this event, which took place on the eve of the adoption of the Parliamentary Assembly’s resolution on this subject, gave women’s organisations which are members of the Conference the opportunity to express their concerns and positions on this subject in the presence of numerous parliamentarians and the press;
    d. participation in the “Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural  dialogue”, held in Ohrid, the ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” on 13 and 14 September 2010;

    e. the adoption of the “Living Together as Equals in Dignity with Roma” Declaration, one of the highlights of the autumn plenary session from 4 to 6 October 2010;

    f. the organisation of the “Forum on the Universality of Human Rights” in co-operation with the European Wergeland Centre in Oslo on 21 and 22 October. This event, which was attended by representatives of civil society and the academic world and organised at the initiative of the Committee on Culture, Science et Education chaired by Edouard Jagodnik, provided the opportunity to study current developments in human rights, whose universal nature is being challenged as the balance of our social systems changes. Alain Mouchoux, Vice-President of the Conference of INGOs gave the opening address.
    g. participation in the high-level launching of the “Council of Europe Campaign to stop sexual violence against children”, which took place in Rome on 29 and 30 November 2010. The Conference of INGOs was represented by its President, Jean-Marie Heydt.

    4. Giving real substance to participatory democracy

    In this field the Conference of INGOs strove during 2010 to give civil society concrete support and give real substance to participatory democracy, on the basis of the following activities:

    a. co-operation activities in the following priority areas:

      - Belarus:

          Ø representatives of civil society in Belarus continued to make visits to coincide with the plenary sessions of the Conference of INGOs while assistance was given to NGOs, human rights defenders and the independent media in Belarus;
          Ø The Conference of INGOs held a round table on the Council of Europe and Belarus in Minsk on 4 and 5 February 2010. It was attended by representatives of different sectors of civil society, the relevant ministries and legal and academic parliamentary spheres. The Conference was represented by Jean-Marie Heydt, President and Sabine Rohmann, Vice-President, and Cyril Ritchie, Chair of the Expert Council of Experts on NGO Law.

          Ø the adoption of a “Declaration on Belarus” at the autumn plenary session from 4 to 6 October 2010;
          Ø the adoption of a second “Declaration of the Conference of INGOs on the situation in Belarus”, dated 22 December, in which the President and the Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs condemned the political violence in Belarus and expressed their concern about the political situation after the presidential elections, which had been marred by the intolerable use of force against peaceful demonstrators

    b. the Russian Federation:
    The Conference continued to implement the 3-year framework programme “for strengthening civil society and citizen participation in the Russian Federation”, designed to improve co-operation between NGOs and the authorities and consequently the role of civil society in public life and the framing of public policies. The programme mainly concerned human rights, democracy, culture and education, social cohesion and gender equality. Special attention was also given to Russian NGO legislation and the need to bring it into line with Council of Europe standards and values.
    The Programme was implemented under the responsibility of the Conference of INGOs, represented by its Honorary President, Annelise Oeschger, acting as Programme co-ordinator and rapporteur on co-operation with the Russian Federation, who presented a report on the programme at the plenary session on 27 January 2010, and by the members of the Bureau, with the backing of the Council of Europe Secretariat (NGO and Civil society Division / Directorate of Democratic Institutions).

    The following persons took part in the consultations and implementation of the Programme in 2010-2011: representatives of local partners and NGOs from various sectors of Russian civil society, members of the Conference of INGOs based in Russia and active in the priority areas of the programme, as well as representatives of INGOs that have applied for participatory status with the Council of Europe.

    The Programme also received the support of the Council of the President of the Russian Federation for assistance to the development of civil society and human rights institutions, and of the Department of Relations with the constitutive entities of the Federation, the Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which also helped implement it.

    In this context the following events were held:

    - the Seminar “Gender equality: a way to real democracy” was held In Moscow on 6 December 2010 at the initiative of the Committee of Mothers of Soldiers, and was a follow-up to the seminar on “Gender Equality” held in May 2009. This flagship event ended with a strong plea for the introduction of a national policy fostering gender equality, in keeping with Council of Europe values. The Conference was represented by its Honorary President, Annelise Oeschger, who made an address, Jean-Marie Heydt, President, and Sophie Dimitroulias, Bureau member.

    - the Seminar “Public Expertise: a tool for dialogue and co-operation between NGOs and the State” was held in Kostroma in November 2010. Annelise Oeschger spoke at the seminar on behalf of the Conference of INGOs.

    - the Seminar on “The European Social Charter: the role of social work and voluntary work in promoting social rights”, which took place in Moscow on 14 and 15 October 2010, was organised by Antonina Dashkina, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Social Cohesion and the Eradication of Poverty, in her capacity as President of the Russian Social Workers’ Union. The Conference of INGOs was represented by Jean-Marie Heydt and Annelise Oeschger.

    It will also be noted that the Conference of INGOs took part in the:

    - “Information and training seminar on the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages” aimed at the administrators of civil society and professionals, which was held in Krasnoyarsk on 18 and 19 May 2010, as part of the joint (Council of Europe – European Union) programme for the promotion of minority languages in Russia.

    c. Regional Congresses of NGOs:
    The Conference of INGOs held its Fourth Regional Congress of NGOs, the main theme of which was “the role of NGOs in a pluralist democracy”, in Vilnius, Lithuania, from 10 to 12 June 2010. This meeting gave participants from numerous countries a platform for discussing how to strengthen their co-operation and make recommendations concerning civil society activities in their region.

    d. The Council of Europe North-South Centre

    The main events in 2010 were:
    - The signature of the Co-operation agreement between the Conference of INGOs and the North-South Centre by the President of the Conference of INGOs and the Executive Director of the North-South Centre on 27 January 2010, at the end of a consultation of the members of the Conference of INGOs, under the responsibility of Sophie Dimitroulias (rapporteur), Bureau member;
    - the adoption of the Opinion of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe on Recommendation 1893(2009) of the Parliamentary Assembly concerning the future of the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre) and the proposal for a new Statutory Resolution on the North-South Centre, (CONF/SC(2010)1) by the Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs on 28 April 2010. This Opinion, which had been requested by the Committee of Ministers, was presented by the Europe and Global Challenges Transversal Group, which discussed and adopted it at the end of the consultation of the members of the Conference, under the responsibility of Sophie Dimitroulias, (rapporteur).

    Jean-Marie Heydt, the President of the Conference of INGOs, also took part in the seminar on prospects of co-operation between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Council of Europe, held in Rabat by the North-South Centre on 22 and 23 February 2010.
    e. Development of monitoring activities, including the Expert Council on NGO Law
    This body, which operates under the auspices of the Conference of INGOs, with the support and close co-operation of the Directorate General of Democracy and Political Affairs of the Council of Europe, is extremely important. It was established in January 2008, for an initial three-year term of office, in response to a request expressed at the Regional Congresses of NGOs in Warsaw (2006) and Kyiv (2007). The Council, which is responsible for monitoring Recommendation 2007(14) of the Committee of Ministers on the legal status of non-governmental organisations in Europe, aims to help to create an environment conducive to NGOs throughout Europe by examining national NGO law and its implementation and promoting its compatibility with Council of Europe standards and European good practice.

    The Expert Council, represented by its President, Cyril Ritchie, presented to the Conference of INGOs meeting in plenary session in 2010:

    - a second “Report on the internal governance of NGOs”, illustrated by five case studies and giving rise to the adoption of the “Recommendation on the internal governance of NGOs” dated 27 January 2010. In this Recommendation the Conference of INGOs considers “that the ongoing work of the Expert Council constitutes a contribution by the Conference of INGOs to the strengthening and deepening of the core values of the Council of Europe: Democracy, human rights and the rule of law;”

      - a third “Annual report on the conditions of establishment of NGOs” was warmly welcomed by the Conference of INGOs meeting in plenary session on 6 October 2010.

    f. The development of standard-setting activities

    In 2010 the Conference of INGOs launched the Code of good practice for civil participation in the decision-making process, which it had adopted on 1 October 2009, on the basis of a Recommendation of the Council of Europe Forum on the Future of Democracy (Stockholm/Sigtuna, June 2007) and at the end of a process of regional consultations on the subject. The Code lays down a series of guidelines for establishing a constructive relationship between public authorities and NGOs to be implemented at local and national levels in Council of Europe member states (participation, confidence, accountability, transparency and independence). It has been endorsed by the Council of Europe as a reference document and its importance is acknowledged by the Committee of Ministers.
    In June 2010 the Committee of Ministers asked the Conference of INGOs to submit an Opinion on Recommendation 1908 (2010) of the Parliamentary Assembly on Lobbying in a democratic society (European code of conduct on lobbying), adopted in plenary session on 6 October 2010, following a consultation of its members under the responsibility of Rémy Berthier (rapporteur). In this Opinion the Conference supported the principle of such a code being drawn up by the Committee of Ministers to improve the integration of civil society in all consultations undertaken by public authorities and proposed that it be associated in the relevant meetings to help draft the code

    5. Consolidating the political role of the Conference of INGOs

    Throughout 2010 the Conference of INGOs continued to develop its partnership with the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.
    The President of the Conference of INGOs, Jean-Marie Heydt, took part in and spoke at the following high-level events:

    - the Ministerial Conference on “The Court: a true guarantor of rights with a human dimension”, a high-level event on the future of the European Court of Human Rights, which took place in Interlaken, Switzerland, on 18 and 19 February 2010;

    - the “Conference on Democracy and Decentralisation, Strengthening democratic institutions through participation”, held by the Swiss Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in Saint-Gall on 3 and 4 May 2010. The President of the Conference of INGOs addressed the opening session of the Conference;

    - at the 120th Session of the Committee of Ministers, which took place in Strasbourg on 11 May 2010. The President of the Conference of INGOs thanked the outgoing Swiss Chairmanship for its excellent co-operation with civil society, in particular in preparing and running the Interlaken Conference, and reaffirmed the determination of the Conference of INGOs to contribute to the reform of the organisation ;

    - at the exchange of views between the President of the Conference of INGOs and the Ministers’ Deputies on the Conference of INGOs’ prospects in the context of the reform undertaken by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, which took place in Strasbourg on 26 May 2010.

    The Chairs of the committees of the Conference of INGOs also attended and spoke at the following thematic events:
    - the 7th Council of Europe ministerial conference on gender equality, held in Baku on 24 and 25 May 2010. On behalf of the Conference of INGOs, Karin Nordmeyer, Chair of the Transversal Group on gender equality, addressed the ministerial conference, at the end of which a Resolution and Action Plan were adopted.
    - the 23rd session of the Standing Conference of Council of Europe Ministers of Education, held in Brdo, Slovenia, on 4 and 5 June 2010. The Conference of INGOs was represented by Edouard Jagodnik and Sabine Rohmann, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Culture, Science and Education Committee.
    - the 15th session of the Conference of Council of Europe Ministers responsible for Regional Planning, which took place in Moscow on 8 and 9 July 2010. Anne-Marie Chavanon, Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee, addressed the ministerial conference on behalf of the Conference of INGOs and presented the contribution which the Committee had adopted in June 2010.
    The Conference of INGOs also took part in the annual session of the Forum for the Future of Democracy on the theme “European democracy in the XXIst century – Principles and Challenges”, which was held in Yerevan from 19 to 21 October 2010. The President of the Conference, Jean-Marie Heydt, inaugurated the "Democracy Fair", which was devoted to presenting the programmes, activities and instruments of the different sectors of the Council of Europe, NGOs and the public organisations taking part.

    The Conference of INGOs also gave its support to a large number of civil initiatives and events organised by its member INGOs and other actors of civil society at European and national level, in which the President, the members of the Bureau and the committee chairs took part.

    For example:

    - the Honorary Presidents and the President of the Conference of INGOs took part in the Honorary Committee of the “European award of scientific excellence in the field of fundamental rights, including gender equality”, in memory of Micheline Galabert, former director of the ILO”, chaired by Catherine Lalumière, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and under the leadership of Sophie Dimitroulias, member of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs;

    - the President of the Conference of INGOs made the opening speech at the European Conference « Les fondements de la cohésion sociale face à la crise économique. Droits sociaux et égalité des genres en Europe », placed under the patronage of the European Parliament in the context of the European Year to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion, organised by the Association of Women of Southern Europe, in partnership with the European Law Centre of Université Paris II (Panthéon - Assas), and with the backing of the French Department of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, French Ministry for Solidarity and Social Cohesion, in Paris on 19 November 2010.

    By way of conclusion, it should be pointed out that the winter and autumn plenary sessions culminated with successive exchanges of views with Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of Council of Europe, on 27 January 2010, and Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, on 6 October 2010. The President of the Parliamentary Assembly underlined the fact that “co-operation with civil society must be regarded as a key factor in democracy” and acknowledged that civil society was “a key ally”. He also opposed the idea of cuts in the budget of the Conference of INGOs and assured the Conference of his full support “to make sure that the Council of Europe turned the potential offered by the INGOs to the best possible account in pursuing its objectives”.

    II. The thematic committees

1. Introduction

    This report is a summary of the main activities of the five committees and the two transversal groups. It will also be possible to consult the individual activity reports of each committee on the website of the Conference of INGOS under the heading ‘structure’ – ‘committees’ and by choosing the name of the corresponding committee or transversal group.

    Each committee has made a major study of themes that are of considerable relevance to the whole of civil society. Substantial efforts have been made to ensure effective co-operation with the other Council of Europe pillars, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Committee meetings, at meetings and hearings. Some committees have also held joint meetings thereby generating more fruitful discussions with a view to improving consistency and co-ordination.

2. Social Cohesion and Eradication of Poverty Committee

Activities:

In 2010, International Year Against Poverty, special attention was given to the theme of combating poverty and to the negotiations for a new convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

The recommendations of the working group on health are appended to Doc. 12219 of the Parliamentary Assembly on preventive health care policies in Council of Europe member states.

The Committee also made considerable efforts to encourage member states who had not yet done so to ratify the Social Charter.

The Committee worked in collaboration with:

    - the Directorate General of Social Cohesion in developing the new Council of Europe Social Cohesion Strategy and Action Plan, given the current economic crisis which is having a greater impact on very poor people.
    - The Parliamentary Assembly: a hearing involving ATD Quart Monde, Caritas and the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) was held on 15 November 2010.

3. Human Rights Committee

    Activities:

    The Committee addressed the following issues:

    Discrimination as human rights violations and measures to be taken, in particular Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights, the key instrument for combating discrimination. ;

    - The abolition of the death penalty in Belarus: discussions were held with representatives of Belarusian civil society on this subject;

    - The future of the European Court of Human Rights: a representative of the Committee is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Reform of the Court. The President of the INGO Conference took part in a high level conference on the future of the Court in Interlaken, Switzerland;

    - Digital media literacy: the Committee Chair sits on the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services;

    - Human rights and religions: the Committee held a seminar in the presence of Mr Jean-Paul Willaime, Director of the European Institute of Science for Religions. Important work is being carried out in full co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Culture, Science and Education.

4. Sustainable Territorial Development Committee

    Activities:

    The Committee organised European Biodiversity Day in partnership with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Some 170 participants took part. It had the support of the Chair of the Committee of Ministers and of the Executive Secretary of the Biological Diversity Convention. Numerous articles in the international and European press and in the digital media welcomed this initiative. The Committee’s objective is to encourage citizens to take part in the drafting of public policies and in the decision-making process. The President of the Parliamentary Assembly, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe all signed a declaration “Working together for biodiversity, protection of natural areas and the fight against climate change”.

5. Culture, Science and Education Committee

The Committee held a Forum on the Universality of Human Rights in Oslo, Norway, in October 2010, with over 100 participants. The main objective was to reaffirm the universality and indivisibility of human rights.

The three sub-committees were particularly active with regard to the following subjects: science, society and ethics, the right to quality education in all European education systems, the teaching profession in the 21st century and the inclusive dimension of education.

    6. Civil Society and Democracy Committee

    The Committee has done outstanding work to promote the Code of Good Practice on Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process. Particular attention was given to Belarus in its activities and it invited members of Belarusian civil society to taken part in the sessions of the INGO Conference. It also took an active part in the Forum for the Future of Democracy on the theme “Democracy in the 21st century – principles and challenges”, which took place in Yerevan, Armenia, in October.

    III. THE TRANSVERSAL GROUPS

    1. Europe and Global Challenges Transversal Group

    The Group instigated the following activities:

    - Awareness campaigns aimed at NGOs, with the participation of the co-ordinators of parliamentary platforms;

    - active participation:

      Ø in the activities of the Lisbon North-South Centre: an important co-operation agreement has been signed between the Centre and the INGO Conference.

      Ø in Forum INNOV 2010 (European Forum on social and educational innovations, support to parents and the fight against exclusion). This Forum enabled 180 participants from Poland, Germany, France and Belgium (academics and members of the Conference of INGOS) to carry out grassroots work in Paris and Berlin for ten days.

    The pertinence of the activities of this transversal group is becoming clear in the light of the events currently taking place in countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean.

    2. Gender Equality Transversal Group

    A round table on “The Burqa: symbol of oppression or affirmation of identity?” was held in June in the context of the Parliamentary Assembly’s debates on Islam in the presence of the ambassadors of Finland, Denmark and Turkey.

    The President spoke on behalf of the INGO Conference at the 7th Interministerial Conference on Gender Equality, which took place in Baku, Azerbaijan. An Action Plan and a Resolution were adopted.

    Meetings were held with the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men during each session of the Parliamentary Assembly.

    IV. CONCLUSION

    This report clearly underlines the work of the Conference of INGOS, its activities, its expertise and its active participation in the main institutions and directorates of the Council of Europe. The Conference must continue to be a partner which is consulted, heeded and acknowledged.

    It is therefore advisable and also necessary to publicise all that the Conference does within the Council of Europe.

    To raise our profile and gain more recognition it is essential that we promote the NGOs’ activities by means of more determined and better targeted communication aimed in particular at the members of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities are.

    V. THE TEXTS ADOPTED

    Declaration “Support to the draft recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity” adopted by the Human Rights Committee on 25 January 2010 – CONF/HR(2010)DEC1;

    Co-operation agreement between the Council of Europe and the North-South Centre signed on 27 January 2010 by the President of the Conference of INGOs and the President of the Executive Council of the North-South Centre;

    Recommendation on the internal gouvernance of NGOs adopted by the Conference of INGOs on 27 January 2010 - CONF/PLE(2010)REC1;

    Joint Declaration “Working together for biodiversity, protection of natural areas and the fight against climate change” signed on 28 April 2010 by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, the President a.i. of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the President of the Conference of INGOs;

    Opinion of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe on Recommendation 1893(2009) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the future of the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre) and the proposed new Statutory Resolution on the North-South Centre adopted by the Standing Committee on 28 April 2010 – CONF/SC(2010)1;

    Declaration “Living Together as Equals in Dignity with Roma” adopted on 5 October 2010 by the Human Rights Committee – CONF/HR(2010)DEC2;

    Declaration “Cultic Excesses and Violations of Human Rights” adopted on 5 October 2010 by the Human Rights Committee – CONF/HR(2010)DEC3;

    Recommendation on “Menace to democracy within the Council of Europe” adopted on 6 October 2010 by the Conference of INGOs – CONF/PLE(2010)REC2;

    Declaration on Belarus adopted on 6 October 2010 – CONF/PLE(2010)DEC1;

    Declaration concerning the situation in Belarus following the presidential elections adopted on 19 December 2010 by the Standing Committee – CONF/SC(2010)DEC1.