By Guillaume Tatoueix
Cabinet TATOUEIX, Vice-President of the EYBA
Last year Daniela Valdez (the EYBA President 2016-2017) and I came up with an idea of having the association recognized by European authorities.
During her presidency, Daniela submitted the association’s application to obtain a participatory status at the Council of Europe, and in January 2018 the association was accepted as an official INGO by the Council of Europe.
In January I had the chance to represent the association in Strasbourg during the Conference of INGOs for the first time.
Now let me explain a little about the work of the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe represents the countries of Europe and it is different from the European Council representing the states of the European Union.
At the end of the Second World War, Winston Churchill proposed the construction of the United States of Europe. On May 5, 1949, the Council of Europe was created by 10 founding countries: Belgium, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and France. Today it represents 47 countries including the 28 of the European Union.
The mission of the Council of Europe is to promote human rights, culture, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.
The Council is composed of several bodies, including the Secretary General, the Committee of Ministers (Ministers of Foreign Affairs), the Parliamentary Assembly, and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe – and these bodies are composed of representatives of governments.
But there is also the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Conference of INGOs.
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.
More than 400 INGOs enjoy participatory status. 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.
The Conference represents civil society and is composed of 400 people. It meets twice a year, in January and in June, where the resolutions that have been passed to the meeting are made.The Conference of INGOs is the chief body representing the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe. It decides on policy lines and defines and adopts action programmes. (https://www.coe.int/en/web/ingo)
So in January this year I joined the Conference on behalf of the EYBA. And I had a great welcome! I am certain that our association can contribute to the work on the topic of human rights.
One more thing I’ve noticed was that the average age of the INGOs delegates was quite high. I was one of the youngest participants. As I took the opportunity to talk to the Chairman of the Conference, he told me that he wanted to rejuvenate the composition of the sessions’ attendees.
During the session, the three thematic committees meet, nourished by the work of their working groups. They prepare resolutions and recommendations for adoption in plenary meeting.The session of the Conference of INGOs is held at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg for a week in January and June, in conjunction with the sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly.
These texts and the various meetings organised during the session to lend the voice of INGOs in the Council of Europe and in the 47 member countries of the Council of Europe.
The summer session 2018 is taking place on 25-29 June, and the EYBA Executive Committee members will take part – just in time to share the newest impressions and ideas with all of you at the Summer Conference in Amsterdam!