Non-Governmental Organisations

SPRING SESSION

STANDING COMMITTEE
CONF/SC(2010)SYN3

Strasbourg, 17 May 2010

SYNOPSIS
OF THE MEETING
ON 28 April 2010

FOR THE ATTENTION OF MEMBERS OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE

The Standing Committee of the INGO Conference, meeting in Strasbourg on 28 April 2010 (from 2.30 to 6 pm), with Jean-Marie Heydt in the chair:

    Adopted the agenda [CONF/SC(2010)OJ3] ; however, in view of the discussion on the reform and its impact on the INGO Conference, the Standing Committee was unable to discuss the following points: functioning of the INGO Conference; consideration of the contributions received with an eye to the possible revision of the Rules of Procedure of the INGO Conference; activities for 2010-2011 ; Council of Europe ministerial conferences in 2010 ;

    Adopted the synopses of the meeting held on 25 January [CONF/SC(2010)SYN1] and 27 January 2010 [CONF/SC(2010)SYN2].

1. Meeting of the Bureau of the INGO Conference (Strasbourg, 26 April 2010) – report

    Took note of the report of this meeting, which had mainly concerned the reform of the Council of Europe and its consequences for the INGO Conference;

2. The reform of the Council of Europe and its impact on the INGO Conference
 

    Took note of the steps taken by the President of the INGO Conference and the Bureau in this connection;

    Held an exchange of views during which the members of the Standing Committee underlined the following;

    o The INGO Conference is a unique body for representing civil society within an intergovernmental organisation; the INGOs take part in the Council of Europe's activities on a mainly voluntary basis an derive their legitimacy from their diversity and the large number of NGOs which some of them represent;

    o For the last 30 years, the INGOs have sought to organise and institutionalise their contribution to the Council of Europe’s activities and the INGO Conference, despite the fact that it has no legal basis, but is acknowledged de facto by the other bodies of the Organisation ;

    o With regard to its impact on the INGO Conference, the reform taking place at the Council of Europe lacks transparency and is apparently being conducted without prior consultation or negotiation. The INGO Conference would like to make an active contribution to the reform but in order to do so it needs financial resources. The drastic reduction that has been announced with regard to its 2011 budget is therefore contradictory, particularly given that one of the priorities of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe is precisely to strengthen co-operation with the NGOs and civil society;

    o The INGO Conference would like to develop the collective work of the INGOs still further and cannot accept the Secretary General's proposal to co-operate individually with certain INGOs as this proposal threatens the very existence of the INGO Conference;

    o One member of the Standing Committee nevertheless pointed out that the current reform of the Council of Europe concerns the whole organisation and seeks to increase the effectiveness of its action; the INGO Conference ought therefore to take part in the reform effort and prove the added value of the INGOs' work.

    Took note of a statement by Jean-Louis Laurens, Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs, in which he said that with regard to the interaction of civil society and the NGOs with the Council of Europe, the reform was still at the discussion and consultation stage and that no decisions had yet been taken. The Secretary General wished to involve representatives of the INGO Conference as closely as possible in the discussions. In January 2010, the Secretary General had had the opportunity to present his draft reform to the INGO Conference and there had also been two meetings between the Secretary General and the president of the INGO Conference and between the latter and the Secretary General's Special Representative for Organisational Development and Reform. The Secretary General had also invited the President of the INGO Conference to take part in the task-force set up to consider the possibility of more strategic and effective cooperation between the Council of Europe and civil society.

3. Final document on the policies and priorities of the INGO Conference

4. Information on INGO-Service

    Took note of the information transmitted by Michel Muller, chair of INGO-Service, concerning the reorganisation of INGO-Service, which had been temporarily interrupted in view of the reform taking place at the Council of Europe and its impact on the INGO Conference. With regard to the membership fees received for 2010, the situation was better than in 2009 at the same date.

5. Draft Charter of Governance of INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe

    Decided to defer consideration of this item to its meeting in October 2010 for discussion and decision on the action that might be taken.

6. Draft opinion of the Conference of INGOs on Recommendation 1893(2009) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the future of the North-South Centre

    Adopted the draft opinion with a view to forwarding it to the Committee of Ministers.

7. Date of the next meeting: Thursday 24 June 2010 (2.30 to 5.30 pm)