WINTER SESSION
CIVIL SOCIETY AND DEMOCRACY COMMITTEE
CONF/CIV(2010)SYN1 

Strasbourg, 5 March 2010

SYNOPSIS OF THE MEETING
HELD ON 26 JANUARY 2010

FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY AND DEMOCRACY COMMITTEE

The Civil Society and Democracy Committee, meeting on 26 January 2010 in Strasbourg:

1. Adopted the agenda and synopsis of the meeting held on 30 September 2009 in Strasbourg (CONF/CIV (2009) SYN4).

2. Introduction and report on activities:

3. 2011 : European Year of Volunteering Action

Voluntary work necessitated a democratic context. It also had a political dimension. For a number of years now, there had been a crisis in the voluntary sector. The current economic crisis had aggravated this state of affairs, particularly in Eastern and South-East Europe. Voluntary work necessitates training: address by Olivier Fleury (Volonteurope) and Suzanna Szabo (The European Volunteer Centre).

There should be a review of the ‘International Year of Volunteers’, in which the Conference of INGOs should be involved.
4. The European Blind Union: the Albanian situation

Tommaso Daniele (European Blind Union) presented a report on the violation of the rights of people with a visual impairment in Albania. The President of the Albanian National Association for the Blind, Sinan Tafaj, was also present.
The Chair was asked to put a request to the Commissioner for Human Rights to organise a visit to Albania in order to assess the situation.
5. The implementation phase for the Code of Good Practice on Civil Participation in the Decision-making Process 

6. 4th Regional NGO Congress in Vilnius (Lithuania) 

Address by Stasys Kausinus (Civil Defence Fund; local partner of the NGO Conference for the organisation of the congress). The following topics would be discussed in Vilnius: the role of civil society in a pluralist society, NGOs as militants for human rights, legislation regarding NGOs, the situation of civil society in Belarus, the promotion of the Code of Good Practice on Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process, and the situation in the Caucasus: the role of NGOs in conflict prevention and post-conflict situations, in which NGOs could play a key role. All information would be available on the Regional NGO Congress website.

7. Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership of the European Union

Siarhiej Mackievic, spokesperson for the Civil Society Forum for Eastern Partnership, described the Forum’s activities. The Forum hoped to become a permanent body.

Mrs Claudia Luciani, Director of Political Advice and Co-operation (Directorate General of Democracy and Political Affairs of the Council of Europe) described the activities of the Council of Europe that were relevant to the Eastern Partnership.