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The Conference of INGOs is a collective body of the 320+ international non-governmental organisations from across Europe that have a participatory status. It is one of the four pillars of the CoE “quadrilogue” (Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, and the Conference of INGOs). It is led by a President of the Conference, elected every three years, who represents the civil society policy and action priorities and positions on fundamental issues.
These delegates of civil society can contribute directly to the CoE twice a year during sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly in a consultative capacity via:
- Thematic committees: human rights; democracy, social cohesion and global challenges; and education and culture
- Expert councils (to carry out thematic and country studies)
- Gender Equality expert
- INGO-Service (its financial contributions arm)
- The Bureau
- Standing Committee
The Conference of INGOs is responsible for (OING/Conf/2013/Rules):
- Deciding on policy lines and defining/adopting action programmes
- Adopting positions on fundamental issues and sending Recommendations or Resolutions to other CoE or institutional bodies, or the media
- Deciding on the scope and work of its committees and expert councils
- Identifying the means and content of civil society’s full participation in the “quadrilogue” and political role at the CoE
- Potentially intervening in matters of supporting and facilitating the participation of individual INGOs in the CoE
Want more? Read the Conference of INGOs’ Rules of Procedure and learn more about its work
How does it help tackle violence against women?
The Conference of INGOs has undertaken work to prevent and combat VAW through the establishment of Working Groups on VAW within the Human Rights Committee and its Gender Equality Expert. It has held roundtables and events, promoted state ratification of the Istanbul Convention and encouraged efforts to tackle VAW on the ground (through the work of INGOs).
The Conference of INGOs has also adopted recommendations and decisions related to combatting VAW, which include:
- Recommendation CONF/PLE(2014)REC1 on gender based violence as a political weapon: This recommendation urges the Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly and its members, and the Congress of Local and Regional authorities to condemn the use of gender-based violence as a political weapon; promote measures to combat and prevent politically motivated gender-based violence; and support awareness-raising activities at the local, national and international level.
- Recommendation CONF/PLE(2013)REC1 on gender equality – a condition for success of the Arab Revolutions: This recommendation urges the CoE, European Union and member states to listen to women from the MENA region and their representatives and bring their views to the attention of the authorities in the countries concerned; and to use the demands and priorities produced by civil society organisations as priorities and indicators for policy-making and evaluation. Combating VAW was recognised as one of these priorities.
- Recommendation CONF/PLE(2012)REC5 on “Gender Equality: a universal value, principle and human right to be respected and promoted in all fields”: This recommendation calls on all organs of the CoE and its member states to universally apply the international instruments related to gender equality (e.g. Beijing Platform for Action, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Istanbul Convention) – within which VAW in all forms must be eliminated.
Gender Equality Expert
The Gender Equality Expert is elected by the Conference of INGOs to serve for a three year term. This Expert is responsible for ensuring issues of gender equality are addressed throughout the Conference of INGOs and its related bodies, and sets the agenda for the Conference of INGOs work on gender equality. The Gender Equality Expert’s Action Plan 2015 – 2017 evaluates the Conference of INGOs role in promoting the Council of Europe Transversal Programme on Gender Equality adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 2013. The Transversal Programme identifies 5 strategic objectives to achieve women’s empowerment and the “effective realisation of gender equality in Council of Europe member states by supporting the implementation of existing standards.” One of these strategic objectives includes preventing and combating violence against women. In the Gender Equality Expert’s Action Plan, objectives for the Conference of INGOs in support of the Transversal Programme include:
- Developing a questionnaire to collect information from INGOs on equality * Training and exchanges between the Gender Equality Rapporteurs and Gender Equality Experts
- Lobbying for the appointment of members of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO)
- Host events related to:
- 24 June 2015: Civil society, driving force of the Istanbul Convention
- January 2016: Women in the boardroom
- June 2016: Women and religions
- November 2016: State procedures to prevent genital mutilation