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.

The Council of Europe has had working relations with non-governmental organisations since 1952 when it introduced a consultative status for INGOs.  This status was changed from consultative to participatory in 2003 and since 2016, the status is regulated by Resolution (2016)3 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.  The Resolution sets out the rules for the granting of participatory status to INGOs, gives more information on the background of the status, what it represents, the conditions to be met by INGOs and the possibilities it gives to INGOs to co-operate with the Council of Europe. 

The INGOs enjoying participatory status form the Conference of INGOs which represents civil society at the Council of Europe and works to promote participatory democracy. The Conference meets in its General Assembly twice a year and works in committees on priority themes of the Council of Europe.

If your INGO would like to apply for participatory status please read closely Resolution (2016)3 and refer to the section "How to apply" below.

 Resolution (2016)3

 How to apply

Participatory status is granted once a year.  Applications are now open for 2022.  The completed application form and all supporting documents must reach the Secretariat by 28 February 2022.

Before applying please check whether or not your INGO meets all the conditions conditions listed in paragraph 2 of the Appendix to Resolution (2016)3 If all the conditions are not met, your application will not be accepted.

Participatory status may be granted by the Council of Europe to INGOs:

  • which respect and defend the values and principles of the Council of Europe;
  • which are able, through their work, to support the achievement of that closer unity mentioned in Article 1 of the Council of Europe’s Statute;     
  • which are created on the basis of a constitutive act adopted according to democratic principles;
  • which have a democratic structure and governance;
  • which are particularly representative in the field(s) of their competence, fields of action shared by the Council of Europe;
  • which are represented at European level, that is to say which have members in at least five member States of the Council of Europe;
  • which were created and have implemented activities at least two years before the moment of applying for participatory status;
  • which already have working relations with the Council of Europe;
  • which are capable of contributing to and participating actively in Council of Europe deliberations and activities;
  • which are able to make known the work of the Council of Europe to society.

Applications for participatory status must be submitted on the official form and must be accompanied by the following documents in French or English, and preferably in both of these official languages of the Council of Europe: