19 November 2015 - 14.00-15.30 - Room 2, Palais de l'Europe, Interpretation: FR/EN - Sponsored by the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe


Civil society space is under pressure in countries where non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are perceived as a threat to security and sovereignty and where insecurity is used as a pretext to dispense with the freedoms of association, assembly and expression. This lab looks for ways of supporting and protecting NGOs by monitoring and analysing the situation, issuing early warnings, and addressing problems through policy prescriptions, advocacy, dialogue and co-operation in intergovernmental settings.

Initiative 1

Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

The FIDH and OMCT created the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in 1997 in order to intervene, prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders.  It is a global programme for monitoring and support aimed at reinforcing the protection and security of human rights defenders. The Observatory  offers emergency protection to human rights defenders (urgent interventions, international missions, material assistance), raises awareness  on cases of harassment and repression (urgent appeals, press releases or letters to authorities),  mobilises the international community, civil society and the media as protection agents for defenders (reports on violations of the rights and freedoms of human rights defenders) and cooperates with national, regional and international intergovernmental protection mechanisms with a view to promoting and reinforcing these mechanisms.


Mr Antoine MADELIN, Belgium, Director for International Advocacy, International Federation for Human Rights

Antoine Madelin is the Director for international advocacy of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), a human rights NGO representing 178 human rights organisations in more than 100 countries. A graduate in law, human rights and in European political studies, Antoine Madelin first worked for the French Prime Minister's office and in the front office of France's Secretary of State for European Affairs. He joined FIDH 14 years ago, as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, and subsequently as Permanent representative to the European Union in Brussels. He now coordinates FIDH's advocacy work, mainly undertaken through FIDH delegations to the UN in Geneva and New York, and to the European institutions in Brussels. He is also responsible for the mapping and development of FIDH's international advocacy to third countries of influence, often referred to as 'emerging powers'.

Initiative 2

Community of Democracies Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society

The Community of Democracies (CoD) is a global intergovernmental coalition of states, founded in 2000 to bring together governments, civil society and the private sector to support and strengthen democratic rules, norms and institutions around the world. The Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society, one of six working groups established by the member states to embody and concretise the values of the CoD , is chaired by Canada and made up of 13 governments, four civil society organizations with expertise in laws governing civil society, three advisory organizations and observers. Since its inception in 2009, the Group has been working to support the essential role that civil society organisations play in a well-functioning democratic society. The Group engages in quiet diplomacy, advocacy and technical assistance activities to prevent the adoption of restrictive laws that target civil society and to foster the development of those enabling laws that allow civil society to thrive. It has been effective in coordinating diplomatic actions to counter legislation that excessively restricts civil society, and its work has contributed to restrictive draft laws in several countries having been shelved or amended.


Ms Suehila ELKATEB, Canada, Chair of the Community of Democracies Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society and Deputy Director, Democracy Division, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Government of Canada

Suehila Elkateb is a diplomat with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), where she is Deputy Director of Democracy Policy, and represents Canada as Chair of the Community of Democracies Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society. As a diplomat since 2003, she has served as Counselor at the Canadian Embassy in Senegal, Deputy Director for Central Africa, and Deputy Director in Canada’s Sudan Task Force. Prior to joining DFATD, Ms. Elkateb worked for the Canadian International Development Agency on peacebuilding in Africa, and with Canadian NGOs in the Middle East, Africa and Asia on human rights, gender, development, and program management. She is fluent in English and French and speaks some Arabic. 


Discussants are invited to take part in the Labs in order to share their experience with the presented democratic initiatives and try to bring broader perspectives to the following discussions.

Ms Bea BODROGI, Hungary, Human Rights Activist, coordinator of an informal alliance of 19 leading Hungarian civil society organisations

Bea Bodrogi is a human rights activist from Hungary. She obtained her LLM in 2000 from the London School of Economics (LSE) with a specialization in human rights, discrimination and alternative dispute resolution. Over the last 15 years, she has served as legal counsel before Hungarian and international courts in the defence of Romas, women, members of the LGBT communities, journalists and other persons who shape public opinion. A trainer and mediator, she has published widely in the field of human rights, and has also co-authored a commentary on the law of equal treatment. Recently, she has published a handbook covering all (Hungarian) legislation on freedom of expression.

Mr David MOORE, USA, Vice-President, Legal Affairs, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

David Moore is Vice President of Legal Affairs with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), where he has worked since 2001. Mr. Moore manages several of ICNL’s global programs, enabling ICNL to monitor developments worldwide and respond flexibly.  Mr. Moore has supported civil society legal reform in a diverse range of contexts, including in Asia (e.g., Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan and Vietnam); in Africa (e.g., Malawi, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe); and in Europe and Eurasia (e.g., Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Moldova, Russia and Turkey). Mr. Moore has published extensively on issues of civil society law and taught Civil Society Law for ten years at the Central European University in Budapest.

Ms Maria POMAZKOVA, Russian Federation/France, Member of the Expert Council on NGO Law of the Conference of INGOs

Maria Pomakova has a legal background and specialises in Human Rights Law. She works for the Conference of European Churches as a legal consultant on Human Rights issues. Ms Pomazkova is a member of the Expert Council on NGO Law of the Council of Europe and resides in Strasbourg

Ms Herdis Kjerulf THORGEIRSDOTTIR, Iceland, Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), Council of Europe, Professor, Faculty of Law, Bifrost University

Dr Herdís Thorgeirsdóttir is an attorney at law in Reykjavík. She was appointed professor of constitutional law and human rights at the Faculty of Law, Bifrost University in 2004. Since 2003 she has been a member of the Network of Legal Experts that ensures the European Commission is kept informed in relation to important legal developments in the field of gender equality at national level, and the impact of these developments. She was elected President of the European Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA) in 2009 and re-elected in 2011. Prior to that, she had been Vice President since 2005. She was appointed member of the Venice Commission, the European Commission for Democracy through Law in 2010 after having been substitute member on behalf of Iceland since 2003. She was chairman of the Sub-Commission on Human Rights of the Venice Commission from 2011 to 2013. In December 2013 she was elected Vice President of the Venice Commission. She is on the Board of Trustees of the European Academy of Law in Trier since 2012.


Ms Anna RURKA, Poland, President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe

Anna Rurka is the president of the Conference of the INGOs of the Council of Europe. A social pedagogue graduate of the University of Warsaw, she is now Senior Lecturer in Sciences of Education at the University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. Within the Conference of INGOs, she represents the European Committee for Home-based Priority Action for the Child and the Family in their Environment (EUROCEF).  Through her professional and volunteer activities, she connects social work, human rights and democratic governance, including the experiential perspective of people living in the context of vulnerability.



Lab 14 - Protection of civic space
Palais de l'europe - room 2 19 Nov., 14.00-15.30
  • Diminuer la taille du texte
  • Augmenter la taille du texte
  • Imprimer la page
Challenges 2015