Non-Governmental Organisations


OING/Conf/2013/Rules

Rules of Procedure of the Conference of International Non-Governmental

Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe

Adopted by the Conference of INGOs on 24 January 2013

    1. Conference of INGOs
    2. Bureau of the Conference of INGOs
    3. Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs
    4. Committees
    5. Elections
    6. Verification and Dispute Committee
    7. Procedure for amendment to the Rules of Procedure

1 Conference of INGOs

1.1 Composition of the Conference of INGOs

1.1.1 The Conference of INGOs comprises the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe.

1.1.2 The meetings of the Conference of INGOs comprise delegates from the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe.

1.1.3 Delegates from national NGOs enjoying partnership status with the Council of Europe may be invited to sessions of the Conference in a consultative capacity.

1.2 Terms of reference of the Conference of INGOS

1.2.1 The Conference of INGOs is the chief body representing the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe.

1.2.2 It decides on policy lines and defines and adopts action programmes.

1.2.3 It adopts positions on fundamental issues and may send them, in the form of Recommendations or Resolutions, to other Council of Europe bodies, to other international or national institutions as well as to the media.

1.2.4 It decides on the number and the titles of its Committees.

1.2.5 It decides to establish Experts Councils and determines their terms of reference and duration.

1.2.6 For the purpose of carrying out its functions, the Conference of INGOs shall approve the activity report of its Standing Committee, and hear the reports of its Committees.

1.2.7 Having informed itself in this way, the Conference of INGOs shall identify the general action needed to organise its participation in the Council of Europe “Quadrilogue”, ensure that participatory status functions correctly, and so help to affirm the political role of civil society at the Council of Europe.

1.2.8 It shall determine the aims of its Standing Committee accordingly.

1.2.9 The Conference of INGOs may award the title of Honorary President of the Conference of INGOs to a former President in recognition of his/her past service and action to promote the position and role of INGOs at the Council of Europe.

1.2.10 The Conference of INGOs, like its Bureau, Standing Committee and Committees, may intervene in matters concerning the participation of individual INGOs in the work of the Council of Europe, for the purpose of supporting and facilitating that participation, only at the express request of the INGO concerned.

1.3 Functioning of the Conference of INGOs

1.3.1 The Conference of INGOs is chaired by its President in office, whom it elects every three years (cf. Rule 5 of these Rules of Procedure). His/her title is “President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe”. The President of the Conference of INGOs shall officially represent the Conference at events to which it or its Standing Committee are invited. He/she may delegate such representation to a member of the Standing Committee.

1.3.2 If the President of the Conference of INGOs is temporarily unable to exercise his/her functions, one of the Vice-Presidents shall replace him/her, with the prior agreement of the members of the Bureau of the Conference. If the President is permanently unable to exercise his/her functions, one of the Vice-Presidents shall replace him/her, with the prior agreement of the members of the Bureau, until the next meeting of the Conference during which new elections will be held.

1.3.3 The Conference of INGOs meets at least two times a year, during ordinary sessions of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.

1.3.4 Meetings of the Conference of INGOs are attended by delegates from the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe which are duly registered with the Conference of INGOs’ Secretariat, and which sign in at the entrance to the room where the Conference is held.

1.3.5 Delegates may register with the Secretariat INGOs which have given them written authority to represent them, each INGO being allowed to represent only one other INGO. The Conference Secretariat gives the delegates one voting card for each of the INGOs present and represented.
1.3.6 INGO delegates cast one vote for each INGO.

1.3.7 Invitations accompanied by the agenda, must be sent out at least one month before the Conference meets. All documents for the meeting shall be made available to INGOs enjoying participatory status at least two weeks before the meeting.

1.3.8 Any proposal which is likely to interest the Conference of INGOs, and which is deposited with the Conference Secretariat forty-five days before the Conference meets, may be put before the Conference of INGOs. On the Standing Committee’s proposal, issues may also be referred to the Conference without a prior waiting period.

1.3.9 All the decisions of the Conference of INGOs shall be taken by a show of hands, and require a relative majority of the INGOs present and represented. A secret ballot may be requested by the President of the Conference or by one-third of the INGOs present and represented.

1.3.10 Decisions shall be valid only if the INGOs present or represented participating in the vote constitute half of those which have registered with the Conference Secretariat. All decisions taken by the Conference must be made available, in writing, to its members not more than forty-five days after its meeting.

2. Bureau of the Conference of INGOs

2.1 Composition of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs

2.1.1 The Bureau of the Conference of INGOs comprises:

      with voting rights:
      - the President of the Conference;

- three Vice-Presidents;
- four Rapporteurs.

      in a consultative capacity:

- the President of “INGO-Service”, who is invited to give his/her opinion on subjects having a budgetary impact.

2.1.2 These nine members, who are delegates from INGOS belonging to the Conference of INGOs, shall sit on the Bureau in a personal capacity.

2.2 Terms of reference of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs

2.2.1 The Bureau implements the decisions of the Conference of INGOs and its Standing Committee

2.2.2 It is responsible for the implementation of the internal and external communication policy of the Conference of INGOs, as defined by the Standing Committee, at international and national organisations, in particular the European Union as well as with the media (cf. Rule 3.2.4 of these Rules of Procedure).

2.2.3 It prepares the agenda for meetings of the Conference of INGOs and its Standing Committee.

2.3 Functioning of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs

2.3.1 The members of the Bureau with voting rights (cf. Rule 2.1.1 of these Rules of Procedure) shall be elected and exercise their functions in a personal capacity, on the proposal of the INGO they represent at the Council of Europe.

2.3.2 If an INGO, whose delegate is a member of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs, ceases to operate or has its participatory status withdrawn, or in the event of a member of the Bureau of the Conference of INGOs being permanently unable to exercise her/her duties, a new election will be held following the procedure described in Rule 5. On proposal of the Bureau the Standing Committee may decide not organise a new election until the end of the term of office.

3. Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs

3.1 Composition of the Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs

3.1.1 The Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs comprises:

      with voting rights:
      - the President, the three Vice-Presidents and the four Rapporteurs of the Conference;
      - the Chairs and two Vice-Chairs of the Committees;
      - the Gender Equality Expert.

      in a consultative capacity:
      - the President of INGO-Service;
      - the Presidents of Expert Councils;
      - the President of the Verification and Dispute Committee;
      - the outgoing President of the Conference of INGOs for three years following the end of his/her term of office to ensure continuity of action;

- the Honorary Presidents of the Conference of INGOs.

3.1.2 The members of the Standing Committee in a consultative capacity speak in debates with regard to the body they represent.

3.1.3 The persons in charge of the Committees’ Working Groups and the official representatives designated by the President of the Conference (cf. Rule 3.3.4 of the these Rules of Procedure) may be invited to attend meetings of the Standing Committee as observers. Exceptionally, other delegates of INGOs enjoying participatory status may also be invited as observers by the President of the Conference to meetings of the Standing Committee, when items on the agenda of the meeting seem likely to match the experience and interests of the said INGOs. The President of the Standing Committee may ask them to give their opinion on agenda items.

3.2 Terms of reference of the Standing Committee of INGOs

3.2.1 The Standing Committee is responsible for co-ordination between the Conference of INGOs and its Committees. It ensures consistency of the Committees’ work and compliance with the major policy lines defined by the Conference. It has a consultative and proposal-making role vis--vis the Conference of INGOs and its Bureau.

3.2.2 It endorses the setting-up of Working Groups within the Committees.

3.2.3 It takes note of draft Resolutions and Recommendations issued by Committees, and submits them to the Conference for adoption, having regard to the overall political strategy of the Conference of INGOs. In urgent cases, and in the absence of a meeting of the Conference, it can adopt Resolutions or Recommendations on behalf of the Conference.

3.2.4 It defines the external relations of the Conference of INGOs at international and national organisations, in particular at the European Union as well as with the media.

3.2.5 It formulates opinions on the list of INGOs to which the Secretary General intends to grant participatory status or from which he or she intends to withdraw such status (Resolution (2003)8, paragraphs 13 and 18).

3.2.6 It facilitates the work of the Committees by:

      - co-ordinating the work of Committees and Expert Councils;
      - organising once every three years the elections of the Chair and Vice-Chairs of each Committee.

3.2.7 It approves the nomination of representatives to the different steering committees and sub-committees.

3.2.8 It encourages the drawing up of written contributions by the Committees. It approves such contributions and ensures that these are sent to the other Council of Europe “Quadrilogue” partners.

3.2.9 It co-ordinates work on administrative and financial questions affecting the Conference of INGOs and its Committees, in consultation with the “INGO-Service”, which is the Conference’s internal financial management structure.

3.3 Functioning of the Standing Committee

3.3.1 The Standing Committee normally meets during sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly, between those sessions when necessary and, if possible, during the sessions of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

3.3.2 The Bureau of the Standing Committee is that of the Conference of INGOs.

3.3.3 Meetings of the Standing Committee are chaired by its President or one of its Vice-Presidents.

3.3.4 The President, after consultation with the Bureau of the Conference, may appoint delegates from INGOs enjoying participatory status, regardless of whether they are members of the Standing Committee, to perform specific tasks for a set period.

3.3.5 All the Standing Committee’s decisions shall be taken by a show of hands, and require a relative majority of the members present (one vote per member). A secret ballot may be requested by the President or by one third of members present who have voting rights.

3.3.6 The minutes of the Standing Committee’s meetings shall be made available in writing to all INGOs enjoying participatory status not later than thirty days after the meeting, and also to the Secretariat Directorates and other bodies concerned at the Council of Europe.

4. Committees

4.1 Composition of the Committees

4.1.1 Every INGO shall be entitled to be a member with the right to vote, of any Committee by signing up via the database of INGOs which is accessible on the web site of the Conference of INGOs. Its delegates may attend meetings of Committees of which it is not a member, but without the right to vote.

4.1.2 Delegates from national NGOs enjoying partnership status with the Council of Europe may be invited to attend meetings of Committees in a consultative capacity, depending on the subjects discussed.

4.2 Terms of reference of the Committees

4.2.1 The Committees’ purpose shall be to facilitate co-ordination between the INGOs in specific interest areas, serve as common interlocutors for all Council of Europe bodies, and ensure more effective participation in the activities of these bodies.

4.2.2 These Committees take into account the Council of Europe’s main concerns and topical issues. They shall plan their work to reflect the general lines and the programme of activities pursued by the Conference of INGOs.

4.2.3 Each Committee deals with its own specific themes, but ensures co-ordination of its work with that of the others.

4.2.4 Each Committee shall decide, subject to arbitration by the Standing Committee, in which Steering Committees, Groups of Experts, Parliamentary Assembly Committees and Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Committees, it will participate.

4.3 Functioning of the Committees

4.3.1 Each Committee is led by a Chair and two Vice-Chairs.

4.3.2 Each Committee may propose to the Standing Committee the setting-up of working groups on specific themes, operating for a limited period of time. Operating under the direct responsibility of the Chair of the Committee, each working group shall receive terms of reference fixing its aims and objectives and shall report regularly on its activities to the Committee Chair. Documents drawn up by the working group shall be submitted to the Chair of the Committee before any possible implementation and distribution.

4.3.3 Each Committee shall be required to present a written report on its activities at the first meeting of the year the Conference of INGOs. The Standing Committee may also ask the Committees to submit interim reports, oral or written, on their activities.

4.3.4 If an INGO whose delegate is the chair or vice-chair of a committee ceases its activities or has its participatory status withdrawn, or in the event of a committee chair or vice-chair being permanently unable to exercise his or her duties, a new election will be held to fill the vacant post following the procedure described in chapter 5 of these Rules. If the vacant post if that of the chair, a vice chair of the committee shall act as chair “ad interim”. On proposal of the Bureau the Standing Committee may decide not to organise a new election until the end of the term of office.

5. Elections

      - General principles
      - Procedure
      - Election of the President, Vice-Presidents and Rapporteurs of the Conference of INGOs
      - Election of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Committees
      - Election of the Expert on Gender Equality

5.1 General principles

5.1.1 All members of the Standing Committee with voting rights (cf. Rule 3.1.1 of the present Rules of Procedure) shall be elected by the Conference of INGOs for a three-year term of office.

5.1.2 Those entitled to stand are delegates from INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe, who are members of the Conference at the time of the call for candidates.

5.1.3 No INGO may simultaneously hold more than one elected office with the right to vote in the Standing Committee. In addition, it may not stand as candidate in two elections taking place in the same session of the Conference.

5.1.4 Each election shall take place in two rounds:

    - in the case of a ballot for a single post, if there is no absolute majority of the votes cast in the first round, a second round, requiring only a relative majority, shall be held between the two candidates having obtained most votes. In the event of a tie in the second round, the candidate whose INGO has the greater seniority in the Conference of INGOs, or in the event of equal seniority the older candidate, shall be elected.

    - in the case of a ballot for several posts, the candidates having obtained an absolute majority of the votes cast in the first round, shall be elected. If all the posts have not been filled, a second round, requiring only a relative majority, shall be held between the remaining candidates. In the event of a tie, the rules mentioned above shall be applied.

      Unlike spoiled votes, blank votes shall be included in the counting of the votes cast.

5.2 Procedure

5.2.1 Ninety days before the session of the Conference at which members are elected, the Secretariat of the Conference shall invite all the INGOs enjoying participatory status, except those which are not entitled to stand (cf. Rule 5.1.1, 5.3.1, 5.3.2 and 5.4.1 of these Rules of Procedure), to nominate candidates.

5.2.2 Candidatures must reach the Secretariat of the Conference sixty days at the latest before the meeting of the Conference at which the members are to be elected. Each INGO presenting a candidate shall complete a candidature form signed by the INGO’s President or Vice-President or Secretary General, and under no circumstances shall it contain the signature of the delegate proposed by the INGO concerned, even if the said delegate occupies one of those functions.

5.2.3 In addition, each candidature for the Presidency must be proposed by the INGO represented and be supported by at least ten INGOs, such support being notified to the Standing Committee. An INGO’s support for a candidate for the Presidency must be declared on its headed paper, and signed by its President or Vice-President, or its Secretary General. An INGO may support only one candidate for the Presidency.

5.2.4 The Verification and Dispute Committee examines as quickly as possible the regularity of each candidature (cf. Rule 6.4 of these Rules of Procedure).

5.2.5 Candidates selected by the Verification and Dispute Committee must be able, in the weeks preceding the elections, to conduct an information campaign among all the INGOs enjoying participatory status. Practical arrangements for this campaign shall be determined by the Standing Committee on the proposal of the Verification and Dispute Committee.

5.2.6 Ballot papers are distributed to the INGO delegates when they sign in, each INGO being able to hold one proxy vote on behalf of another INGO which has given its written authority to represent it (cf. Rule 1.3.5 of these Rules). Election shall be by secret ballot and voting shall take place after each candidate has presented himself/herself to the Conference, speaking time being determined by the Standing Committee, after opinion of the Verification and Dispute Committee, depending on the number of candidatures.

5.2.7 Voting shall be monitored by four tellers appointed by the Conference from among INGO delegates who are not candidates, assisted by a representative of the Council of Europe Secretariat, and in the presence of a member of the Verification and Dispute Committee. The ballot papers shall be counted immediately after the vote.

5.3 Election of the President, Vice-Presidents and Rapporteurs of the Conference of INGOs

5.3.1 The President, the three Vice-Presidents and the four Rapporteurs of the Conference of INGOs shall be elected by the Conference for a three-year term. No member of the Bureau can have more than two consecutive terms of office. A President who has served two consecutive terms may not stand again until a period equal to his/her time in office has elapsed.

5.3.2 The election of the President shall take place before that of the Vice-Presidents which in turn is followed by that of the Rapporteurs.

5.3.3 The presentation of the candidates and voting shall take place after approval of the Standing Committee’s activity report.

5.4 Elections of the Chairs and the Vice-Chairs of the Committees

5.4.1 Each Committee is led and represented by a Chair and two Vice-Chairs, elected for a three-year term of office, no-one being able to have more than two consecutive terms of office in the same Committee.

5.4.2 These Chairs and Vice-Chairs shall be elected by the Conference of INGOs. Only INGOs who are registered members of the Committee in question at the time of the call for candidatures can stand for election.

5.4.3 The election of the Chairs of the Committees shall take place before that of the Vice-Chairs.

5.5 Election of an Expert on Gender Equality

    5.5.1 A “gender equality expert”, a member of an INGO having participatory status with the Council of Europe and a member of the Conference of INGOs at the time of the call for candidatures shall be elected by the Conference of INGOs for a three-year term of office. No expert may exceed two consecutive terms of office. He/she shall sit on the Standing Committee with voting rights.

6. Verification and Dispute Committee

6.1 Every three years, the Conference of INGOs shall appoint, from among its members, on the proposal of the President of the Conference and after opinion by the outgoing Committee, a Verification and Dispute Committee which shall have five members, none of which have the right to vote in the Standing Committee. No-one maybe be a member of the Committee for more than two consecutive terms of office.

6.2 The Verification and Dispute Committee shall appoint its President who shall sit on the Standing Committee in a consultative capacity.

6.3 The Committee’s outgoing President may be invited, in a consultative capacity, to the Committee’s meetings during the three years following his or her last term of office.

6.4 This Committee shall be responsible for:

      - verifying candidatures mentioned in Rule 5 of these Rules and monitoring election procedures in these cases, assisted by a representative of the Council of Europe  Secretariat;

      - settling any dispute which may arise in the application of the present Rules and more largely concerning the functioning of the INGO representative bodies.

6.5 The conclusions of the Committee’s meetings shall be presented to the Standing Committee and subsequently published on the website of the Conference of INGOs.

6.6 If a member of the Committee is standing for election, he or she shall temporarily suspend his or her participation in the meetings of the Committee in which that election is being discussed.

7. Procedure for amendment of the Rules of Procedure of the Conference of INGOS

7.1 All proposals for amendment of these Rules of Procedure must be submitted in writing and sent to all the INGOs enjoying participatory status not later than sixty days before the date of the session of the Conference of INGOs. They must be adopted by a two-thirds majority of the voting members.

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Version approved by the Standing Committee on 19 November 2012