Strasbourg, 10 November 2010
FOR THE ATTENTION OF MEMBERS OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE
The Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs, meeting in Strasbourg on 6 October 2010 (from 2.30 to 5.30 pm, in camera from 4 pm), with Jean-Marie Heydt in the Chair:
· Adopted the agenda [CONF/SC(2010)OJ5], only item 1 below of which was discussed in the presence of the Secretariat;
· Adopted the synopsis of the meeting held on 24 June 2010 [CONF/SC(2010)SYN4].
1. Contribution of the Conference of INGOs to the reform of the Council of Europe
· Held a discussion in the presence of Jean-Louis Laurens, Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs, during which the following points were underlined in particular:
o It was important for the views of the Conference of INGOs to be heard in the context of the discussions and proposals concerning the reform of the Council of Europe and for this not to be confined to involvement in a task force on civil society; it was illogical to have the threat of the disappearance of the Conference of INGOs hanging in the air at the very time when the Council of Europe and hence also the Conference of INGOs were being asked to move forward;
o In the discussions concerning the Conference of INGOs which were taking place at the Council of Europe, had the views of those in charge of the intergovernmental steering committees and the ministerial conferences about the Conference been sought? Why had the seven previous Secretaries General of the Council of Europe promoted co-operation with the INGOs and maintained direct exchanges with civil society representatives? Could an extraordinary meeting of the Standing Committee with the Secretary General be arranged? Was Resolution 2003 (8) on participatory status, which involved additional institutional recognition of the INGOs at the Council of Europe, no longer regarded as a valid document?
o With regard to the budget of the Conference of INGOs, the question was why it was due to suffer a much larger cut in 2011 than those demanded of the organisation’s other pillars (10% for the Assembly, 5% for the Congress)?
o In reply to the various comments and questions, Jean-Louis Laurens underlined that the current discussions at the Council of Europe focused on the following question: what was the best way of involving civil society and INGOs in the Council’s work, given the limited budgetary resources available? Was the Conference of INGOs the best mechanism for representing civil society and co-operating with it? The Conference of INGOs was free to put forward any proposals which it wished in this respect. The purpose of the “civil society” task force within the reform process was to prepare recommendations for the attention of the Secretary General. The “civil society” task force was actually a notable exception; through the participation of the President of the Conference of INGOs, it was the only one of the task forces to include representatives from outside the Secretariat. It should also be noted that the Secretary General had met the President of the Conference of INGOs twice and had addressed the plenary conference in January 2010. To date, neither the Bureau nor the Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs had officially requested to meet the Secretary General. As far as the budget allocated to the Conference of INGOs in 2011 was concerned, it was necessary to bear in mind the particularly difficult budgetary situation for the whole Council and the very limited room for manoeuvre regarding operational activities. The Committee of Ministers would take the final budgetary decisions at the end of November 2010 on the basis of the budgetary proposals. €50 000 would be available for the Conference of INGOs’ operational activities in 2011, with a roughly equivalent amount allocated for administrative and operating expenses (on top of which would come the staff expenses of over €300 000).
2. Date of the next meeting: Strasbourg, Wednesday 8 December 2010 (time to be confirmed)