Council of Europe

The EPEA is a member of the Conference of INGOs (recognized as an INGO granted with participatory status). EPEA take part in the Groupings of Education and Human Rights.

The EPEA has taken part in CoE work by

  • member of the Liaison Committee of the Conference of INGOs
  • representative at the Council of Europe is a member of the Bureau of the Liaison Committee with a reporter

EPEA and the Council of Europe
The EPEA is an official Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) with participatory status at the Council of Europe

What is the Council of Europe?

Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe is an organization overseeing intergovernmental cooperation in designated areas such as environmental planning, finance, sports, crime, migration, and legal matters. In 1995 the council had thirty-five members.

Body constituted May 1949 in Strasbourg, France (still its headquarters), to achieve greater unity between European countries, to facilitate their economic and social progress, and to uphold the principles of parliamentary democracy and respect for human rights. It has a Committee of foreign ministers, a Parliamentary Assembly (with members from national parliaments), and, to fulfill one of its main functions, a European Commission on Human Rights, which examines complaints about alleged human rights abuses. If the Commission is unable to achieve a friendly settlement after examining alleged violations, the case may be taken to the European Court of Human Rights

The Council of Europe is an international organisation of 46 member states in the European region. Membership is open to all European states which accept the principle of the rule of law and guarantee fundamental human rights and freedoms to their citizens.
EPEA enjoys participatory status with the Council of Europe

Since its foundation the Council of Europe has developed working relations with non-governmental organisations which:
(i) directly represent the general public,
(ii) are relays for efficient mutual communication,
(iii) can furnish advice and take action.

In most areas, the Council of Europe works in close co-operation with non-governmental organisations which it considers an essential part of the democratic process.

EPEA is a part of the NGOs at the Council of Europe

The NGO Unit
The NGOs are taking part in discussions in a quadrilogue between committee of ministers, the parliamentary commission, the congress of local and regional authorities and the NGOs. 400 NGOs are a part of the NGO Unit and take part in the activities at the COE in Strasbourg. Use the link above to visit the NGO Unit at the web site of the COE.

The Liaison Committee
The Liaison Committee consists of 25 members elected between the 400 NGOs, a third of whom are renewed every two years. The EPEA was elected to the Liaison Committee 2004 and will serve until 2010.
The Liaison Committee’s objectives are determined by the Plenary Conference.
Its duties are:

  • to prepare the Plenary Conference
  • to follow the progress of the sectoral NGO meetings;
  • to arrange for the NGOs to be consulted and provide them with the means of publicising the work of the Council of Europe;
  • to develop the relations established with the Secretariat of the Council of Europe, and in particular with the NGOs Section;
  • to establish new relations with all other organs of the Council of Europe;
  • to foster the setting-up of NGO groupings by areas of interest.

The EPEA take part in two groupings:

Education and Culture
Ninety NGOs which hold consultative status with the Council of Europe have come together in this grouping, which exists to facilitate NGO participation in all the Council’s bodies which deal with issues relating to education and culture in Europe. The person liaising with them is usually from the Directorate of Education.

The grouping has adopted a working method involving ad hoc committees corresponding to current Council projects. These committees liaise with all the grouping’s NGOs. There are currently four such committees, covering the teaching of 20th century history, education for democratic citizenship, media education and culture.

A regular link with the education departments makes close co-operation possible between the NGOs, which contribute their expertise, and the Council. Education issues are so complex that this grouping has links with other NGO groupings and other Council of Europe directorates (human rights, social cohesion, North-South, civil society in the new Europe).
NGOs participate at several levels: project groups, major conferences, seminars, texts and reports, contributing both the experience they have gained in the field and their ideas.

Human Rights
As the name implies, this grouping studies all issues concerning the respect, protection and promotion of human rights.
The heads of the grouping systematically call on Council officials to report on the Council’s activities in the human rights sphere. These bilateral relations are very precious because regular and because of the confidence that reigns. They have, over the past years, focused mainly on the position of the human rights instruments in respect of signature and ratification, on the World Conference against Racism, on the European Social Charter, the reform of the Court, the work of ECRI (on racism and intolerance) and on the work of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

The NGOs, for their part, keep one another informed about their activities, consulting each other about possible joint actions. As such, they have jointly organised seminars, proposed and had adopted during grouping meetings resolutions on, for example, the situation in Kosovo, in the Chechen Republic, the exploitation of children in Europe, the status of conscientious objectors, and also freedom of association for members of the armed forces, the work of the Commissioner, and the appraisal of the working of the Court.

The grouping occasionally decides to hold meetings of select working groups over a specified or unspecified period as appropriate on such themes as “50th anniversary of the ECHR”, “vagrant children”, “psychotherapy and human rights”, “languages and human rights”, “media and human rights”, this work being undertaken under the responsibility of the grouping.

A representative of the grouping is sometimes called upon to address colloquies, seminars or information sessions, in particular those for new INGOs or new INGO representatives, as well as those for civil society representatives in the new member countries of the Council of Europe.

Please contact the EPEA Contact Person and Advisor on affairs of the Council of Europe in case you have suggestions and ideas for the EPEA concerning the Council of Europe