BIC attends biannual Conference of INGOs at the Council of Europe

BIC attends biannual Conference of INGOs at the Council of Europe

Tala Katarina Ram, BIC Brussels Office
Strasbourg—26 June 2017

“INGOs are the spokespeople of reality on the ground,” said Jean-Claude Gonon, chair of a working group at the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs). “The experiences of INGOs must lead to an outcome: to strengthen intercultural dialogue and trigger a change in culture.”

The Council of Europe hosts the INGO Conference biannually in order to draw on the collective experience of INGOs as representatives of civil society and promoters of democracy and active citizenship in Europe. As part of its aim to develop participatory democracy on a pan-European basis, a series of committees are held during the Conference to cover a broad range of themes relevant to the civil society experience, including human rights, education and culture, gender perspectives, and discrimination and hate speech.

In one such session on migration, Tala Ram addressed the Democracy, Social Cohesion and Global Challenges Committee on behalf of the Bahá'í International Community, Brussels Office, pointing out that the migration cycle may continue endlessly unless the drivers of migration are addressed.

“Part of addressing the drivers of migration is to look to the policies emerging from within Europe, and to gain a deeper understanding of how EU policies are impacting countries of origin,” Ms Ram emphasized, going on to state that for migration policies to be effective, they must be considered in the context of a broader set of issues, such as inequality, human security, and opportunities for realizing human potential.

In another session on human rights and business, Ms Ram stressed “the opportunity and responsibility businesses have to not merely ensure that they are meeting minimum requirements, but to play a unique role in upholding and promoting human rights in the countries with which they engage.”

The President of the Conference of INGOs closed one of the sessions by reiterating the important role of INGOs in rebuilding social confidence in political institution. “Civil society can be the bridge between political and governmental institutions and the public,” Ms Rurka said, “INGOs can be key actors in fostering mutual understanding.”