The Conference of International Non-governmental organisations (INGO) took place from 25 to 29 June 2018 in Strasbourg. The Conference itself is a body of the Council of Europe dedicated to representing the state and opinion of the civil society within this house of political dialogue. It was founded in 1954 to ensure that civil society was heard from policy, and provided its contribution to defend Human Rights.
The Conference itself has three focuses, covered by its Committees: Education and Culture, Human Rights & Democracy, Social Cohesion and Global Challenges. These themes are the base for the working groups – performing outside of the conference as well – so during the conference the outcomes of the working groups as well as their conclusions are being presented and discussed. The last day of the Conference is the actual meeting of the members empowered to vote and to discuss relevant changes in civil society within the 47 member states of the Council of Europe.
The June session was attended by the member of the Pool of Representatives, Lukas Findeisen (Germany). The discussion has been very active and a lot of exchanges about the future of citizenship in the digital age, as well as the state of human rights have happened. At the end, an agenda on youth participation for the INGO Conference was adopted (accessible here: https://rm.coe.int/road-map-youth-150618-en/16808b5fbb ). EFIL welcomes very much this initiative: the voice of the youth needs to be heard within all sectors and as young people are the future of Europe they should have opportunities to engage as early as possible.
The whole conference was overshadowed by the cut of budgets within the Council of Europe due to the lack of contribution of Russia and Turkey’s decision to reduce their statute from large donor to the normal contribution.