Non-Governmental Organisations

Participatory status

At a glance

Independent non-governmental organisations are a vital component of European society, guaranteeing freedom of expression and association both of which are fundamental to democracy.

Recognising their influence, the Council of Europe provides international NGOs (INGOs) with the opportunity to acquire participatory status.

On this site, you will find information about this status, what it represents, how to make an application, as well as the structures for co-operation between these INGOs and the Council of Europe and the activities of the Conference of INGOs and its committees.

Since its foundation the Council of Europe has established working relations with non-governmental organisations. In 1951 the Committee of Ministers decided “to make suitable arrangements for consultation with international non governmental organisations which deal with matters that are within the competence of the Council of Europe”. This decision of the Committee of Ministers led to the introduction in 1952 of a consultative status for INGOs.

In 2003, in recognition of the increasingly active role played by the INGOS, the Council of Europe decided to change the former consultative status to one of participatory status. In November 2003, the Committee of Ministers adopted Resolution (2003)8 on a participatory status for international non-governmental organisations (INGOs). All INGOs holding consultative status were automatically given participatory status.

Participatory status is granted to INGOs which are particularly representative in the field(s) of their competence at European level, and which through their work are capable of supporting the achievement of closer unity as stated in Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, by contributing to its activities and by publicising its work among European citizens. At present some 400 INGOs hold the status.

Co-operation with INGOs holding participatory status takes many forms, from simple consultation to full-scale co-operation on specific projects. INGO experts may participate in various projects as consultants; they may contribute to the work of intergovernmental committees on an institutionalized or ad-hoc basis, prepare memoranda for the Secretary General, make oral or written statements to the committees of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and address seminars and other meetings organised by the Council of Europe. INGOs enjoying participatory status also disseminate information about the Council of Europe’s aims and activities among their constituencies.

The INGOs enjoying participatory status from the Conference of INGOs and meet four times a year in Strasbourg. Their work is structured around thematic committees and transversal groups. For more information on these committees and groups please refer to the part of this website related to the committees and transversal groups.

Resolution (2003)8 gives further details on the modalities for co-operation and the commitments to be met by the INGOs holding the status.

Link to Resolution (2003)8