26th Annual meeting of the European Network Church on the Move
Strasbourg 25th to 28th May 2017
Report written by Fernand Jehl, leader of the representation of the European Network to the Council of Europe
François Becker, Hugo Castelli Eyre, Robert Simon and Fernand Jehl participated in the three sessions of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe en January and June 2016 and in January 2017. They were also present in the two other sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in April and September 2016 for meetings of the working groups.
In these same periods there have been meetings of the CINGO, Christian International Non Governmental Organisations with participation status.
1. Participation in the sessions of the INGO Conference, at meetings of the thematic committees and at the meetings of the working groups.
1.1. The plenary Conferences now occupy a complete day, on the friday at the end of each session.
Mrs Anna RURKA, president of the Conference, wanted to considerably broaden these Conferences by dedicating an important part of the agenda to the relationship with the other important bodies of the Council of Europe. For this purpose, she invited Mr Thorborn JAGLAND, General Secretary of the Council of Europe and Mrs. Gabriella BATTAINI, Assistant Secretary General. The General Secretariat is particularly interested in making known the political standpoints of the Council of Europe on important topics of international relations maintained within the 47 member States. Similarly, the Conference welcomed the Ambassadors of the Council of Europe (or their delegates) to provide an insight into the work of the Committee of Ministers.
These conferences grant a priority attention to hot topics : « How to guarantee adeq uate conditions of welcome and access by asylum applicants to their rights ? » (24th June 2016) or again « The information society : developments and hazards facing public authorities and NGOs » (27th January 2017).
1.2. The conferences are preceded by the 3 thematic committees : Les conférences sont précédées des 3 commissions thématiques : Human Rights, Education and Culture, Democracy, Social Cohesion and Global Challenges.
It is impossible to name the large number of subjects covered, but, for example, we can mention
For the HR committee:
Madame Lwoff of the Bioethics intergovernmental Committee of the Council of Europe presented work undertaken in the framework of the 20th anniversary of the Oviedo Convention (the Oviedo Convention of Human Rights & Biomedecines, the only legal instrument internationally binding on the protection of Human Rights in the Biomedical area).
For the E & C committee :
The Council of Europe project to develop the skills for a democratic culture. A package of 20 competences, aimed at a specific area with respect to training and intercultural dialogue.
For the « Democracy, social cohesion and global challenges committee » :
Mrs. Gabriella Battaini, assistant SG of the Council of Europe and several international expertes have called for an urgent coordination of the efforts of our societies in favour of the aged. They base this claim on article 23 of the European Social Charter to combat discrimination based on age, including health care and taking appropriate measures against illtreatment inflicted on old persons.
1.3. The working groups (WG).
In each committee, working groups steered by one or more INGOs organize the research on a specific subject in order to present a recommendation for submittal to the Conference and adddressed to the Council of Europe and the member States.
ENRE members have chaired two working groups and have participated in the development of several working groups.
The WG « Human Rights, Codevelopment & Migrations » coordinated by Hugo Castelli Eyre.
The group met on 25th January 2016, 19th April 2016, 21st June 2016, 30th September 2016 and on 24th January 2017. The work was concerned with stressing the importance of the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of 2nd March 2016 « Human Rights and Business »,
The WG also referred to the work of associations and organisms centred on corporate social responsibility (VIGEO, ACTION AID - Peuples Solidaires). The agenda included the preparation of a Side Event scheduled for 25th January 2017 and the guidelines of the WG's recommendation. The attendance register demonstrates the regular presence of some twenty INGOs of the Conference.
The WG « Education for intercultural dialogue for living together in Europe »
The coordinators were Roseline Moreau and Fernand Jehl.
It met on 26th January 2016, 20th June 2016 and 23rd January 2017. The meetings have enabled the usage of the results of a questionnaire submitted to the INGOs on successful educational experiences on training for intercultural dialogue. The WG gave the floor to elected authorities confronted with the dramas of terrorism. Mr. El Khannous senior alderman of the commune of Moelenbeck of the City of Brussels.
The work finished with the publication of a 30 page document « Educate in intercultural dialogue » scheduled for June 2017. It is derived from the Council of Europe project called « Skills for a culture of Democracy in culturally diverse democratic societies »
Other WGs in which ENRE members have participated :
« Extreme poverty »
« Combatting Hate Speech »
« Europe – Mediterranean, Migrations »
« Women and Religions »
« Gender »
1.4. Side Events
(namely : a very short duration seminar of maximum 2 hours, centred on a subject considered important for the Council of Europe and addressed transversally by different bodies of the Council of Europe : representatives of the Committee of Ministers, of the Parliamentary Assembly, of the General Secretariat, of the INGOs of the Conference and by invited experts from outside the Council)
ENRE organised a Side Event on 25th January 2017 from 1pm to 2.45 pmde 13h à 14h45 (to finalise the working group « Human Rights, Codevelopment & Migrations»)
The organization and proceedings of this event were ensured by Robert Simon. Over sixty people participated in the session, presided over by Mrs. Anna RURKA president of the Conference and by Michel Aguilar, president of the « Human Rights »Committee. The proceedings followed the following agenda :
Subject : Controlling the activity of multinationals for a better respect for Human Rights and local development
1) Opening :
Anna Rurka, president of the Conference
Ambassador Guido Bellatti Ceccoli, Permanent Representative of San Marino, President of the Human Rights Rapporteurs of the Committee of Ministers
2) Introduction: Presentation of the problem, its origins and the objectives of the WG.
Robert Simon (European Network Church on the Move)
3) Amnesty International video in French « Don't be an Ostrich! » . Scroll down on the website to find "ce que des multinationales nos cachent: http://faitespaslautruche.org/
4) Rana Plaza : case study of the impacts of the activities of multinacionals and NGO mobilizations
Alice Bordaçarre, Action Aid- peuples solidaires « Choose your country at top right» www.peuples-solidaires.org
5) European and International standards on the civil and penal responsibility of corporations :
- The UN Guiding Principles on the civil responsibility of corporations. Les Luis Espinosa-Salas, counsellor to the Ambassadress of Ecuador conseiller to the United Nations in Geneva (Unfortunately, he could not attend)
- The adoption of standards in Europe and abroad : Anti Slavery Act in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Green Card Initative of the European Parliament, United Nations Treaty...
Danièle Gosteli Hauser, Amnesty International Suisse
- The proposed motion* on the duty of vigilance in the French Parliament
La proposition de loi sur le devoir de vigilance au parlement français : Pierre Yves le Borgn, French member of Parliament, representing French citizens abroad and a member of the PACE,
6) Preparation, presentation and follow-up of the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministrers on « Human Rights and Business) » (CM/Rec(2016)3 of 2nd March 2016) :
Presentation of the recommendation, its drafting and follow-up Ambassador Guido Bellatti Ceccoli, President of the group of HR rapporteurs of the Committee of Ministers and Claire président du groupe des rapporteurs DH du Comité des Ministres, et Claire O'Brien of the Danish Institute of Human Rights, an observer of the drafting group of the CDDH.
- Viewpoint of an OING : Gregory Thuan dit Dieudonné, (Union of European Lawyers)
- Follow-up viewpoint by a member State : Luis Tarin Martin, counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Spain to the Council of Europe
Parliamentarians of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) who organised a motion (30th June 2016) for effectively combatting the negative aspects of European companies operating abroad : Stefan Schennach, an Austrian member of Parliament and a member of the PACE
9) conclusions :
Michel Aguilar, President of the Human Rights Committee. 2 mins.
The WG recommendation (which is on the EN-RE website in French & Spanish) will be tabled in the Conference of the INGOs of 30th June to further the the commitment of the INGOs to lobby the governments of the member States so that they are vigilant in ensuring the respect for Human Rights by corporate organizations. The English version will be uploaded onto the ENRE website shortly.
The Side Event « Women and religions », chaired by Mrs. Anne Negre, gender equality expert of the Conference of INGOs on 21st June 2016.
The name of the event raised the following question : Are religions a space for the emancipation of women ? More precisely, we question the status of the equality of women and men in cultural structures. François Becker participated in the coordination group and organised a questionnaire in the OINGs on this subject. See bilingual version :
2. Other activities of the ENRE representatives in the Council of Europe
2.1. Participation in the meetings of the CINGO :
The CINGO consists of an association of christian international NGOs accredited in the Council of Europe. These INGOs represent the diversity of perceptions and beliefs expressed within the Catholic Church. ENRE frequently expresses its solidarity with reform movements in the Churches with respect to rights, laicity (secular principles), equal dignity of men and women and the respect for the diversity of sexual orientations.
2.2. Presentation of the Council of Europe, the Conference of INGOs, ENRE :
In the AGM of Réseaux du Parvis, in the meetings of Redes Cristianas, in the Semaines Sociales in France.
Article in the revue « PARVIS » n° 74 May – June 2016, pages 18 – 20.
2.3. Publication of the activities of ENRE in the Council of Europe on the website
It is important to mention the communication work carried out on our website by Hugo Castelli and his concern to ensure translation into different languages. See the separate report on the website.
2.4. Reply to the request by the President of the Conference of INGOs :
In her consultation about the positions of members of ENRE with respect to surrogate motherhood, Mrs. Rurka was addressing all members of ENRE. François Becker requested a reply from the representatives of our associations during the summer of 2016 and a summary was sent to Mrs. Anna Rurka on 1st September 2016.
2.5. Quadrennial Report of the INGO ENRE to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. (09/2016)
Following this report, the participation status of the European Network Church on the Move was maintained for the next four years.
Preparation of the 26th meeting of ENRE in Strasbourg from 25th to 28th May 2017 :
Organization of Study Day decidated to the European Social Charter, the request for speakers and interpreters.
Strasbourg, 1st May 2017 Fernand JEHL
* The motion became law in France after favourable votes by the French Assembly & Senate
Translation by Hugo Castelli Eyre