Strasbourg, 5 June 2009



The Human Rights Committee, meeting in Strasbourg on 28 April 2009, with Gabriel Nissim (SIGNIS) in the Chair:

1. Opening
Agreed that the meeting would be held in two parts:

2. Adopted the agenda.

3. Adopted the synopsis of the meeting held on 26 January 2009 [CONF/HR(2009)SYN1].

4. Part 1 of the meeting: Religions and Human Rights (François Becker, European Network Church on the Move (REEL), Head of the Working Group)

Adopted the group’s working method and the main themes, including:

Adopted the following objectives:

On the basis of lengthy and fruitful exchanges, the following strands emerged:

Noted the following lines of approach:

5. Part 2 of the meeting: information

The committee:

Expressed its support for the campaign against the death penalty in Belarus. During the June session, the issue of human rights defenders would be discussed.

Drew attention to the unanimous adoption by the January 2009 meeting of the INGO Conference of Recommendation [CONF/PLE(2009)REC4]: The Durban Review Conference “to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”.

Noted that a workshop on the role of civil society and NGOs in combating discrimination and racism had been held by COJEP during the Geneva conference. Veysel Filiz (COJEP) presented the workshop, focusing in particular on continuity of the dialogue between organisations representing different religions and on the importance of defending the committee’s values and speaking out both within the various organisations and within international bodies.

Welcomed the adoption by many states of the final document of the Durban Review Conference: http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/pdf/Durban_Review_outcome_document_En.pdf

Underlined the participation in the Geneva conference of many NGOs, whose contributions had highlighted the work done on the ground to counter prejudice, promote education for citizenship and combat the causes of terrorism. Positive initiatives such as joining the Jewish-Muslim platform were to be supported.

Reiterated the importance of sitting on the steering committees. Participatory status gave the INGO Conference a role. It was therefore desirable for the NGOs to submit their opinions to the representative so that he could report on their work on issues such as fast-track asylum procedures, the future of the European Court of Human Rights and human rights in culturally diverse societies: challenges and perspectives.

Agreed to post details of the main issues dealt with by the Steering Committee for Human Rights on the committee’s website so as to improve the flow of information.

Heard a description of the event involving 300 children aged 9 to 12 years from different countries in Europe who had been asked to build a “Human Rights House”. The event had been a great success and other exchanges were under preparation. The working group’s task was to work with children and introduce them to human rights.

Was informed that the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE) was going to launch an appeal on 4 June 2009 calling for renewed mobilisation for children: http://www.biceinternational.org/ewb_pages/w/world-appeal-to-a-new-mobilization-for-childhood-geneva-june-2009.php

Urged NGOs to take part in the conference and in the preparatory forum to be held in Paris on 5 May. The committee Chair would attend the ministerial conference on behalf of the INGO Conference. Several NGOs would speak on behalf of civil society.

6. Social Charter, Economic and Social Rights (Marie-José Schmitt, European Action of the Disabled, Head of the Working Group on the Social Charter)

Noted the working method of the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) tasked with examining the national reports and submitting conclusions to the Committee of Ministers.

Asked the NGOs to gather any concrete accounts of worrying situations in the area of employment law in particular. A questionnaire would be prepared and distributed in June.

7. Presentation and discussion of a draft recommendation on the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Marie-José Schmitt, European Action of the Disabled)

Discussed representation of the INGO Conference at the co-ordination forum for the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had been in force since 2006. It was the first international treaty dealing with the civic, economic, political, cultural and social rights of persons with disabilities.

Approved the presentation of a recommendation on the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the INGO Conference with a view to encouraging Council of Europe member states to sign and ratify the convention. The recommendation would be circulated among all Council of Europe bodies.

Cc: Members of the Standing Committee
Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly
Secretary General of the Congress
Secretary to 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 of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights