Non-Governmental Organisations

SUMMER SESSION

COMMISSION FOR CIVL SOCIETY AND DEMOCRACY
CONF/CIV (2009) SYN3

Strasbourg, 10 August 2009

SYNOPSIS
OF THE MEETING OF 24 JUNE 2009

    1. Adoption of the agenda of the meeting [CONF/CIV(2009)OJ3] and of the synopsis of the meeting held on 27 April [CONF/CIV(2009)SYN2]

    2. Introduction by the Chair, Antonella Valmorbida and Vice-Chair, Veysel Filiz.

    3. Current activities in accordance to the action plan accepted in the previous meetings.

      3.1. European Local Democracy Week 2009 (12-18 October): presentation by Jos LEMMERS, Head of the Service of Democratic Participation of the Council of Europe.
      The organisers of the ELDW noticed a stronger involvement of the NGO community and of the local authorities. The pilot cities system was put into place and 10 cities applied for this status for 2009. The decision was taken to allow all the candidates to be a pilot city, to encourage taking more actions (the list of applicants is on the website).

      Kajo Buda, from the CEE CN (Central and Eastern European Citizens Network), presented the “citizens participation week”: the aim is to associate both weeks, to create cooperation between citizens, NGOs, Local Authorities and the Council of Europe.

      The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is already in contact with the local authorities but not yet with the NGOs; it would be useful if in each participating country there could be a contact person for the local authorities (appointed by the National Association of Local Authorities) and for the NGO sector (to be nominated by the local democracy NGOs of the country concerned). The Council of Europe should encourage contact between the two sectors.

      3.2. Regional meetings of the commission to be held; the concept was approved during the last meeting.
      Proposals include :

      ě Proposal of holding a decentralized regional meeting in Southern Europe beginning 2010, using ALDA network, in a Local Democracy Agency, if the resources are available.
      ě The European Centre of the International Council of Women (ECICW) suggested to hold a regional meeting of the committee in connection with its upcoming meeting in Rome.

      The aim of the regional meetings is to meet the NGOs that cannot come to Strasbourg, so the approach is different than the one of this commission.

      The Belarusian participants highlighted their wish to have an event in Belarus too since it would be an occasion to promote Democracy and Citizens’ participation in Belarus.

      There were reactions of the representatives of the Belarusian group: regarding the debate in the PACE about Belarus, there is no reason to be optimistic, because the new laws and context in the country make the situation worse for civil society. The only positive point is that a new cooperation might be possible between local authorities and the Council of Europe. It tends also to reinforce the dialogue between the national government and its civil society. Organizing a meeting of the Committee in Belarus would be a great advantage: the influence of the Council of Europe could better the situation for NGOs, and it would represent a test for the Belarusian government.

      3.4. Evaluation of the commission’s impact: Antonella Valmorbida is working on it with a former trainee, who is doing her thesis on the INGO Conference.

      3.5. Implementation and promotion of a “Code of Good practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process”: presentation by Cyril Ritchie, Rapporteur on the Code of Good Practice, and Biljana Zasova, Division of NGOs and Civil Society of the Council of Europe.

    The Code was submitted to the Congress, which welcomed the idea and will support the process, and also to the Parliamentary Assembly, which expressed a mixed opinion about it, suggesting identifying the countries’ conditions before implementing the Code. A strategy for raising awareness on the Code and for promoting its implementation, including for example the creation of an interactive website, the development of training modules, the presentation of public relations materials, is under preparation. The final version of the Code will be ready by September and submitted to the meeting of the INGO Cenference for adoption on 1st October, and then to the presidency in November. The Code concerns all levels of public authorities. The draft Code is available online.

      http://www.coe.int/t/ngo/Source/Code_of_Good_Practice_en.pdf

    4. Dialogue with other organisations dealing with civil society and democracy

      4.1. CÚdric Bloquet, Director of the CIDEM (information point for France of the European programme “Europe for citizens”).
      CIDEM is a French structure whose original aim was to fight racism, discrimination, to encourage voting, citizens participation; mostly among young people. Since 2008, it has been named national information point for this EU programme. It has to work with partners across Europe to strengthen European memory, a civic Europe...

      4.2 Olivier Terrien, Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform, Directorate of Democratic Institutions, Council of Europe.
      The Centre of Expertise builds the capacities of local authorities in Europe. through capacity-building programmes, developing innovative tools and expertise. The Centre’s programmes include “Leadership Benchmarking”; “Best Practice”; “National Training Strategy”, “Public Ethics Benchmark”, etc. The "Toolkits" created by the Centre contain effective template programmes which can be easily adapted and implemented by local authorities in any country.

      4.3. Alina Tatarenko, Directorate of Democratic Institutions, Council of Europe
      The new “Council of Europe Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level” is a practical instrument which generates synergies between local, regional, national, and European authorities in order to improve the quality of local governance according to a shared vision defined in the “Twelve Principles of Good Democratic Governance”. All relevant associations and NGOs are invited to join the initiative.

    5. The role of women to promote democracy and civil society in Kosovo1

    Representatives of the “Kosovar Gender Studies Center” and the “Kosova Women's Network” were invited to the June session to report on the role of women in the promotion of democracy and civil society in Kosovo following the adoption of a recommendation of the INGO Liaison Committee in June 2008. They presented the contribution of women’s NGOs to the alternative education and health care system prior to the war, their efforts to play an active role in the negotiations on the status of Kosovo and their current role in ensuring women’s participation in the democratic institutions, fighting domestic violence and trafficking. While a lot had been achieved in terms of adopting appropriate laws and action plans for facilitating women’s participation in politics and protecting their rights in society and economy, a lot remained to be done to put them in practice.

1 All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo

Cc : Members of the Standing Committee
Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly
Secretary General of the Congress
Secretary of the Committee of Ministers
Directors General
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 a.i. of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights