Strasbourg, 15 July 2011
FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
The Human Rights Committee met on 22 June 2011 in Strasbourg. Iamvi Totsi, Vice-President of the Conference of INGOs, opened the meeting and presented the agenda. Iamvi Totsi relinquished the chairmanship of the meeting to Annelise Oeschger, the new Chair of the Human Rights Committee.
2. Adopted the meeting agenda, adding the item on the situation in Belarus.
3. dopted the synopsis of the Human Rights Committee’s meeting on 25 January 2011 [CONF/HR(2011)SYN1]
4. Appointed the Rapporteur of the Committee, Maritchu Rall (AIC)
5. Heard Gabriel Nissim, former Chair of the Human Rights Committee, welcome the election of the new Chair, Annelise Oeschger and the two Vice-Chairs, Gérard Greneron and Marie-José Schmitt, and invite the Committee and the INGOs to develop their effectiveness on the ground, particularly towards young people – in this context, he especially thanked Brigitte Kahn, the former Vice-Chair. Mobilisation was indispensable to ensure that human rights were applied for the dignity of all. Over the last few years the Committee had given priority to education for democratic citizenship and in human rights. On that score, he suggested building the capacities of the NGOs in the field of mediation.
6. Heard Karin Nordmeyer, Chair of the Transversal group on “Gender Equality” recall that gender equality was a fundamental right to be addressed in all committees and in the Plenary Conference of INGOs. She stressed the indispensable work to be continued on prevention of violence against women and invited the INGOs to mobilise the governments regarding the new Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence signed by only 13 member countries.
Iamvi Totsi recalled that the Standing Committee on 13 April 2011 had decided that a person responsible for the transversal field “Gender Equality” would be elected by the Conference of INGOs in January 2012 under the established procedures for the election of Bureau members, and would be a member of the Standing Committee.
7. Heard Gérard Greneron’s presentation of the new institutional environment at the Council of Europe. On that subject, he recalled the Secretary General’s document on the Reform SG/INF(2011)9 final, from which the following elements emerged:
· the proposals for the new organisation of intergovernmental structures and the three areas of work corresponding to the fundamental values of the Council of Europe: human rights, rule of law and democracy.
· Two general directorates would be set up:
- General Directorate I: Human Rights and Rule of Law comprising human rights and legal co-operation
- Directorate General II: Democracy
· The timetable would be decided shortly.
Gérard Greneron said that the Chair of the Human Rights Committee would transmit the information on the new structure of the Council of Europe electronically.
8. Heard Annelise Oeschger concerning the retention of the working groups. She recalled the existing groups, viz.:
- Education for human rights and democratic citizenship in the digital media sector, led by Gabriel Nissim (Signis);
- Human rights and religions, led by François Becker (EN/RE);
Decided the creation of two working groups on the following themes:
- European Social Charter, preparation by Marie-José Schmitt (AEH);
- Human rights defenders, preparation by Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM);
These working groups were to draw up proposals for action under their terms of reference, establishing a work schedule for the January 2012 session.
The Transversal Group on Gender Equality led by Karin Nordmeyer would continue to function until the Plenary Conference in January 2012.
The working group on “Sectarian excesses and violations of human rights” had completed its work. The follow-up to the Recommendation and Resolution on “Sectarian Excesses and Violations of Human Rights” adopted by the Conference of INGOs on 27 January 2011 would be provided under the responsibility of Danièle Muller-Tulli (FECRIS).
9. Heard a delegation from Belarus describe the serious situation of human rights defenders who were unable to discharge their mission in complete freedom. She drew the attention of the INGOs to the proceedings against them and to the difficulties which they encountered in having themselves registered on the lists of associations. After reading, the committee adopted the Resolution [CONF/PLE(2011)RES3] on “Freedom of association in the Republic of Belarus” (with eight abstentions).
10. No other business was raised.