During the plenary of its summer session, the Conference of INGOs, welcomed Resolution 2226 (2018) condemning new restrictions on NGO activities in Council of Europe member States that was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on 27 June 2018.
The resolution calls on member States to ensure full observance of freedom of association and repeal or amend legislation that impedes the free and independent work of NGOs, and to ensure that NGOs can receive and use transparent funding, whether domestic or foreign, without undue impediments. Member States must ensure an enabling environment for civil society, by refraining from harassment (judicial, administrative or tax-related), smear campaigns and intimidation of civil society activists.
Anna Rurka, President of the Conference of INGOs, and Cyril Ritchie, President of the Expert Council on NGO Law, expressed their appreciation to Yves Cruchten, rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (PACE) who drafted the report on new restrictions on NGO activities in Council of Europe, which forms the basis of this resolution. They particularly highlighted the proposals in the adopted recommendation to reinforce the dialogue of the Council of Europe with NGOs and welcomed PACE call to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to “establish a mechanism aimed at receiving, analysing and reacting to alerts on possible new restrictions on the right to freedom of association in Council of Europe member States”. The Conference of INGOs is already developing a project to create such mechanism and calls on all Member States of the Council of Europe to support it in this endeavor.
Recommendation 2134 (2018)
New restrictions on NGO activities in Council of Europe member States
Author(s): Parliamentary Assembly
Origin – Assembly debate on 27 June 2018 (23rd Sitting) (see Doc. 14570, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mr Yves Cruchten). Text adopted by the Assembly on 27 June 2018 (23rd Sitting).
1. Referring to its Resolution 2226 (2018) on new restrictions on NGO activities in Council of Europe member States, the Parliamentary Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
1.1. call again on member States of the Council of Europe to implement its Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of non-governmental organisations in Europe and continue to take stock of progress made to this end;
1.2. continue its thematic debates on the “role and functioning of NGOs in the Council of Europe” and its exchanges with the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) on a regular basis;
1.3. strengthen its interaction with civil society representatives through a more developed framework for dialogue with them, including the holding of regular meetings open to the public;
1.4. continue to promote European and international standards relevant for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society as well as to exchange good practices in this area;
1.5. in this respect, continue to strengthen synergies, within the Council of Europe, between all the stakeholders concerned, in particular the Secretary General, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Conference of INGOs and the Assembly;
1.6. establish a mechanism aimed at receiving, analysing and reacting to alerts on possible new restrictions on the right to freedom of association in Council of Europe member States;
1.7. develop and adopt guidelines on foreign funding of NGOs in the member States (on the basis of a study currently being finalised by the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission)), as proposed in the 2016 annual report by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.