The Council of Europe and Non-Governmental Organisations
Since the introduction of consultative status for INGOs in 1952, the Council of Europe has developed even closer and fruitful relations with NGOs as representatives of civil society. The introduction of participatory status in 2003 has enabled INGOs to increase active participation in the policies and work programme of the Council of Europe, and to reinforce co-operation between the Council of Europe and the various associations in member States.
The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe
More than 400 INGOs enjoy participatory status and make up, since 2005, the Conference of INGOs which constitutes civil society’s pillar in the Council of Europe “quadrilogue” with the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Through this status, the Council of Europe includes INGOs in intergovernmental activities and encourages dialogue of members of parliament and local and regional authorities with associations on challenges facing society. The Conference of INGOs is now recognised as an institution of the Council of Europe.
Mandate of the Conference of INGOs
The Conference of INGOs is the chief body representing the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe and as such identifies 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. It decides on policy lines and defines and adopts action programmes.
The Conference of INGOs meets in Strasbourg twice a year during the ordinary sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Dr Jean-Marie HEYDT, President of the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe
Jean-Marie HEYDT is the permanent representative of the European Social Education Training Association (FESET), a European federation of higher education institutes and universities which provide training in education and social work.
He was elected President of the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) in January 2009. In June 2012, he was elected Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Council of Europe’s European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (more commonly known as the North-South Centre). Both of these activities are voluntary.
He is Director General of the Association Générale des Familles du Bas-Rhin in Strasbourg (France). This public-interest organisation set up in 1946 works with families in all areas of life and employs around 400 people in over 40 units. Key aspects of his work have been a major overhaul of the departments and the introduction of a new conceptual and structural policy, along with staff restructuring and measures to restore financial balance, in particular in terms of public funds.