Strasbourg, 9 July 2010
FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE INGO CONFERENCE
The Conference of INGOs, meeting in Strasbourg on 24 June 2010 (from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm), with Jean-Marie Heydt in the chair:
1. Election of a member of the Bureau as one of the Rapporteurs
· Elected, after being reminded by the Chair about the election procedure, Yulia Zvereva (Russian Peace Foundation, RPF) as Rapporteur of the Bureau of the INGO Conference with 41 votes, against 37 votes for Anna Rurka (European Committee for Home-based Priority Action for the Child and the Family, EUROCEF) and 4 votes for Stefano Melloni (European Secretariat for Scientific Publications, SEPS); Ms Zvereva’s term of office would end in January 2012;
2. Contribution of the Conference of INGOs to the reform of the Council of Europe
· Dealt with this item in camera; after the Chair gave a detailed account of the latest developments in the reform process, there was a discussion among all the members, from which it emerged that the Conference would prepare a document setting out all the arguments and opportunities that would fit in with the spirit of the Council of Europe reform. To this end, INGO Conference members were asked to send contributions to Alain Mouchoux, Vice-President of the Conference of INGOs, at: firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating “INGO Conference reform” in the “Subject” header.
3. Evaluation of the Conference of INGOs
· Took note of the Chair’s decision not to pursue this work on behalf of the INGO Conference, as some INGO Conference members, notably within the Bureau and the Standing Committee, felt it was inappropriate, but to nevertheless allow anyone who so wished to fill out the questionnaire. The Chair would be notified of the results of those questionnaires that had been completed and would consider how best to proceed;
· Took note of the following items of information provided by the Chair: at the meeting of the Standing Committee on 28 April 2010, mention had been made of the possibility of carrying out an evaluation of the INGO Conference; since the INGO Conference had neither the financial nor the human resources needed for such an evaluation, the Chair had agreed that a trainee in the Division of NGOs and Civil Society, Ksenia Gerasimova, would prepare a questionnaire to evaluate the INGO Conference, as part of her PhD research on civil society;
· Further noted the statement by Ms Gerasimova, who had some experience with evaluation exercises and explained the format and general aim of the exercise, which centred mainly on self-evaluation and was expected to provide information about the strengths and weaknesses of the INGO Conference;
· Held a brief exchange of views during which attention was drawn to the following points, inter alia: the reason for the exercise, the fact that the questionnaire contained too many questions, the need to explain, right from the start of the questionnaire, the relevant effectiveness criteria in order to clarify the grid for analysing the results.
4. Activities of the Conference of INGOs in 2010
· Took note of the presentation given by Maritchu Rall, Rapporteur of the Bureau, of the list of activities of the INGO Conference in 2010 (link to the list); this document would also be posted on the INGO Conference website, with members being invited to send Ms Rall any information about activities that might later appear in the list;
· Took note of the comment about the possibility that, in future, this list could show “structural” activities, such as INGO Conference members’ participation in intergovernmental steering committees.
5. Civil society group from Belarus
· Welcomed to the plenary meeting an NGO group from Belarus which said that, given the complexity of the situation in which civil society found itself in Belarus (problems with registration, restrictions on the activities of NGOs, the difficult conditions facing human rights activists), the support provided by the INGO Conference was deeply appreciated, in reply to which the Chair, Jean-Marie Heydt, said that the INGO Conference would carry on providing assistance to civil society in Belarus.
6. Lobbying in a democratic society (European Code of conduct on lobbying) – Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1908(2010) (link to the recommendation)
· Took note of the following information provided by the Chair: the INGO Conference had been asked by the Committee of Ministers to submit, by 15 September 2010, any comments it may have on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1908, which sought to make lobbying more fair and equal, transparent and governed by democratic rules;
· Decided by a majority, with 4 votes against and 2 abstentions, in favour of the idea of regulating lobbying and hence of drafting a European code of conduct in this area;
· Instructed Rémi Berthier, Chair of the Verification and Dispute Committee, to canvas INGO Conference members, until 15 July 2010, for any comments they may have and then to prepare, on behalf of the INGO Conference, a summary of these comments which would be forwarded to the Committee of Ministers by the President of the INGO Conference within the time frame specified; Mr Berthier drew attention to paragraph 11.1 of Recommendation 1908, which related more specifically to NGOs and which read as follows: “lobbying should be very clearly defined, differentiating between lobbying as a professionally compensated activity and the activities of civil society organisations, not forgetting self-regulating entities in different economic sectors”.
7. Other business
· Welcomed Géraldine Isorez, project leader “Cité de la solidarité internationale”, an NGO cluster in the Geneva area (website: http://www.ghs74.fr/).
8. Date of the next meeting: Wednesday 6 October 2010 (9.30 am -12.00 pm)