Adressing the Warsaw Conference on the role and position of NGOs in the Council of Europe organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, the Council of Europe and the University of Warsaw, Anna Rurka, President of the Conference of INGOs, stressed the importance to continue increasing the interactions between civil society and the Council of Europe, especially with national and local NGOs that feel isolated from European institutions.
She added that the Council of Europe must reassure increasing distrustful citizens that it speaks on their behalf and must involve and work with civil society organisations that represent them at all levels to ensure that their concerns are listened to and addressed effectively.
To strengthen or regain public trust, society’s voice and contribution, through direct citizen participation and through NGO participation, should be taken into account in all stages of the decision-making process not only in the member States but in the Council of Europe itself. This democratic imperative is priceless and should not be subject to budgetary restrictions. The presence and participation of NGOs in the Council of Europe contribute to the legitimacy of its work.
The President urged the Council of Europe to fully enable a meaningful participation of NGOs in its work by securing and increasing resources to facilitate engagement, by following thouroughly the Guidelines on civil participation in political decision-making in its own work, and by ensuring an independent and free Civil Society in its Member States.