OING CONF (2008) CR3

Conference of INGOs

Report of the meeting of 25 June 2008

(9.30 am – 1 pm)

1. Opening of the meeting by the President, Annelise Oeschger

The meeting was opened by the President.

2. Adoption of the agenda [OING Conf (2008) OJ3]

Annelise Oeschger proposed, at the request of Anje Wiersinga (Vice-Chair of the Gender Equality Grouping), adding to the agenda a presentation on the results of the campaign to combat violence against women, including domestic violence.

The agenda was adopted.

3. Approval of the report of the meeting of 15 April 2008 [OING Conf (2008) CR2]

The report was approved.

4. Results of the European Youth survey conducted as part of the “Building a Europe for and with Children” campaign

Jenny Schuler (member of the Bureau) presented the results of this survey, begun one and a half years previously, to which 2,010 young people had responded. The results were available in hard-copy form and there was also a DVD.

5. Reorganisation of the structures and working methods of the Conference of INGOs

Annelise Oeschger said that the three aspects of the reform submitted for consideration and decision were the new rules of procedure, reorganisation of the thematic work, and the transitional provisions. The main thrust of the reform was to consolidate the position occupied by the Conference of INGOs in the Council of Europe in order to be able to convey more effectively citizens’ expectations and aspirations and to make the Council of Europe’s activities more widely known and acknowledged in the outside world.

5.1 New Rules of Procedure of the Conference of INGOs: for discussion and adoption

With regard, first of all, to the new Rules of Procedure, the President paid particular tribute to the invaluable contribution from the rapporteur, Claude-Laurent Genty (Honorary Founding Chair of the Liaison Committee) which had led to a single text for the proposed rules of procedure, available on the Conference website since 25 April 2008. At the Liaison Committee’s meeting of 23 June, it had also been stressed that the role and rights of the transversal groups should be more apparent in the rules of procedure. Annelise Oeschger then gave the floor to the rapporteur to present the proposed amendments.

Claude-Laurent Genty said that the new rules of procedure were partly based on the two previous sets of rules of procedure, but introduced two major structural changes which were the setting up of committees in place of groupings and the transformation of the Liaison Committee into a Standing Committee. He said that seven INGOs had forwarded proposed amendments.

Claude-Laurent Genty presented the 28 proposed amendments received, one by one, rule by rule, in the light of the document distributed to all members of the Conference of INGOs. The President then put each proposed amendment to a vote:

Rule 1:

The President put to the vote the whole of Rule 1. This was adopted with one vote against.

Rule 2:

The President put to the vote the whole of Rule 2, which was unanimously adopted.

Rule 3:

The President put to the vote the whole of Rule 3 of the Rules of Procedure. This was adopted, with three abstentions.

Rule 4:

The President put to the vote the whole of Rule 4 of the Rules of Procedure. This was adopted, with one abstention.

The President put to the vote the whole of Rule 5 of the Rules of Procedure, for which there had been no proposed amendments. This was adopted, with one abstention.

The President put to the vote the whole of Rule 6 of the Rules of Procedure, for which there had been no proposed amendments. This was adopted unanimously.

The President put to the vote the whole of the Rules of Procedure. These were adopted.

5.2 Transitional provisions: for discussion and adoption

Claude-Laurent Genty explained that the proposed transitional provisions were a result of time-table constraints and were designed to enable the INGO Conference to function satisfactorily in the period between the adoption of the Rules of Procedure in June 2008 and the gradual introduction of the new structures in October 2008 and January 2009. He then presented the transitional provisions.

The President put the transitional provisions to the vote. These were adopted, with one abstention.

Claude-Laurent Genty thanked all members of the working group responsible for drawing up the new rules of procedure, the INGOs that had tabled amendments and the Secretariat, especially Jane Crozier (Civil Society/NGO Division) and all the representatives of the INGOs present. He thought that the new rules of procedure conferred upon the INGO Conference the attributes of a genuine pillar of the Council of Europe.

5.3 Thematic reorganisation: for discussion and adoption

Annelise Oeschger presented document OING Conf (2008) INF2 which contained two main proposals. The first, from the President, was to set up five new committees (human rights, culture and education, civil society and democracy, social cohesion and eradication of poverty, sustainable territorial development) and two transversal groups (gender equality and Europe and global challenges). The President then gave the floor to Jean-Claude Gonon (member of the Bureau) to present the second proposal which was to set up three committees with global but interacting approaches to current trends in society. In his view, the committees should not be confined to an exhaustive list of topics, but added that he was in agreement with the President’s proposal and therefore wished to withdraw his own.

Several members emphasised the need to clarify the role of the transversal groups and their rights vis-à-vis the committees. It was also stressed that the terms of reference of the transversal groups should be drawn up by the INGO Conference, that their chairs should be appointed democratically and that they should meet after the committees in order to address the topics discussed by the latter. A case was made for retaining an “Equality” committee, but this was rejected by the Conference.

Annelise Oeschger said that the transversal groups could become involved in the work of the INGO Conference committees and send representatives to the intergovernmental steering committees. She made it clear that everything would be done to ensure that the transversal groups had the standing they deserved.

With regard to the names of the committees, the INGO Conference decided, following a discussion, that the French name of the human rights committee should be “droits humains” rather than “droits de l’homme” and that the culture and education committee should be “culture, science and éducation”.

The President’s proposal was put to the vote, with the changes concerning the committee names, but without the suggested thematic lists per committee. The proposal was adopted, with two votes against and eight abstentions.

6. Appointment of the Verification and Dispute Committee

Annelise Oeschger said that three members of the current committee were standing again. These were Janine Duprey-Kennedy (member of the Bureau), Giuseppe Guarneri (Intercenter) and Gilbert Nerson (B’Nai B’Rith “International Council”). There were therefore two new candidates: Maritchu Rall (Chair of the Extreme Poverty and Social Cohesion Grouping) and Rémi Berthier (International Union of European Guides and Scouts).

The President put the appointment of the five candidates to the vote. These appointments were approved, with two abstentions.

7. Civil society and local and regional democracy

Annelise Oeschger wished to extend special thanks to Anne-Marie Chavanon (FIHUAT) for having agreed to represent the Conference at the Stakeholders’ Platform on the Council of Europe’s Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level, the first meeting of which was to be held in Strasbourg on 26 June 2008.

8. Civil society and fundamental rights: co-operation with the European Union

With regard to relations with the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency, Annelise Oeschger referred to the meeting in Strasbourg on 18 June between the new Director of the Agency, Morten Kjaerum, Gabriel Nissim and herself. It was Mr Kjaerum who had wanted to meet the INGO Conference and the meeting had been particularly valuable for reaching a better understanding of the Agency’s objectives and the possibilities for co-operation with the Conference.

In addition, the President wished to thank Marie-José Schmitt (European Action of the Disabled) for the publication she had produced on the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, with the assistance of the Civil Society/NGO Division.

9. Draft Guiding Principles on “Extreme poverty and human rights: the rights of the poor” of the United Nations Human Rights Council: draft recommendation of the Conference of INGOs

Annelise Oeschger presented the draft recommendation of the INGO Conference on these draft guiding principles, calling on the Council of Europe member states to endeavour to secure the adoption of the principles by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009.

The draft recommendation was adopted unanimously.

10. INGO Conference support for the voluntary sector: draft resolution of the Conference of INGOs

The President said that the Education and Culture Grouping had drawn up a draft reference text on voluntary action, which was of direct relevance to the INGO Conference. The resolution which had resulted from the reference text put forward a precise definition of voluntary action, called for the European bodies to proclaim 2011 “European Year of Voluntary Action” and invited the INGO Conference to form a working group to draft a recommendation on the voluntary sector.

The draft resolution was adopted, with two abstentions.

11. 3-year framework programme for strengthening civil society and citizen participation in the Russian Federation

Annelise Oeschger said that this framework programme followed on from the meeting on this subject held at the INGO Conference April session. She provided some information on this three-year programme drawn up with partners from Russian civil society, in consultation with the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

12. 2nd Forum on Civic Partnership for Citizenship and Human Rights Education, Strasbourg, 9-10 October 2008

Alain Mouchoux (Chair of the Education and Culture Grouping) outlined the objectives of the Forum and its implications for the INGO Conference. He reminded participants that the deadline for registration for the Forum was 31 July 2008.

13. Date of the next meeting: 28 January 2009.