Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe - Winter session (22-26 January 2018) report

The Winter Session of the INGOs Conference was marked by several thematic debates, the election of the new Board members, and the creation of the working groups of the various committees. EPA was represented by its current representative Hermínio Corrêa.
Among the several debates organised during the week, some of the highlights were the following:

·   A side event “Human Rights Defenders in the Council of Europe area: current challenges and new responses “sponsored by Egidijus Vareikis, MP (LT, EPP) Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in the Council of Europe, with the participation of several CoE organizations.

A side event “LGBTI in Europe, Think Together” organized by Anne Nègre, Gender Expert of the Conference with the participation of the Parliamentary Assembly General Rapporteur on LGBTI and several NGO’s.

An Intergenerational Forum/Market Place “Digital Society”- Together Let’s Inspire the Image of Tomorrow

The situation analysis of NGO’s in member States with reports from the visits led by the President of the Conference to Estonia and Serbia, with the presence of the respective ambassadors in Coe and representatives of local NGOs.

The Conference adopted a recommendation relating to the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, already adopted by the European Parliament the Council of Europe and the European Commission, concerned by the fact that this text is a political document unaccompanied of a clear implementation plan.

The Conference adopted a recommendation to the Council of Europe, for the French expression "Droits de l’Homme" to be systematically replaced by  "Droits Humain" within the Council of Europe, it’s institutions including the European Court of Human Rights that its texts be revised accordingly, that the translations be in conformity with a non-discriminatory expression towards women in all the languages used and particularly in one of the two official languages of the Council of Europe , French

The Conference also adopted two legal opinion by Expert Council on NGO Law of the Conference about the situation of NGO’s in Romania and Turkey.

At the closing session we had the presence of the recently appointed Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović, who told us about her career at CoE so far and explain us the work of the Commission.

In this session the following Board members were elected for the next 3 years:
President: Anna Rurka
Vice-President in charge of Equality: Anne Nègre

In this session, the working groups of the different Committees were also defined, as follows:
Democracy, Social Cohesion and Global Challenges: 
Participation in political decision
Prevention of corruption that engages the civil society
Protection of the human being and human dignity

Education and Culture: 
Lifelong learning
Intercultural cities
Europe of heritage and creation

Human Rights:
Protection mechanisms for endangered Human rights defenders
Grassroot monitoring toolbox
Poverty discrimination and exclusion

In view of the special and current importance of the topic, it was decided to create another cross-cutting group on “Digital rights and digital future” that each committee will approach according to the area of intervention of each one of them.

The EPA will be part of the Lifelong learning and Digital rights and digital future groups

Lisbon, 26 January 2018.
Hermínio Corrêa

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