The main object of the Winter session of the INGO Conference was to discuss and vote on the amendments of the Rules of Procedure which the Standing Committee has been working on over the last two years in order to align the INGO Conference with the other departments of the Quadrilogue (PACE = Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe, Congress of local and regional authorities and Committee of Ministers (of Foreign Affairs of the 47 Member States).
Eleven INGOs had tabled a total of 54 Amendments and most of these had been rejected by the Standing Committee. Some of them called for delaying Approval, alleging lack of time to discuss the revised rules. Along with 140 other heads of delegation of INGOs, I voted in line with the recommendations of the Standing Committee, amendment by amendment, and in all cases my vote was identical to the majority of votes. This process took up most of Tuesday 15th. On Wednesday 16th a formal vote was taken to approve the revised text and the result was substantially larger than the required 2/3 majority of votes cast. So now you can read here the final version of the Revised Rules of Procedure in English and French.
In the debate following the approval, I asked the Chair (Anna Rurka) how it was possible that of the 320 INGOs registered in the Conference, 179 of them did not register to vote. I also asked if the Revised Rules of Procedure will now allow the Conference to achieve the formal status so that its recommendations and other adopted texts will require study by the other members of the Quadrilogue as opposed to the existing situation of just goodwill. She did not comment on the formal status question but thanked me for EN-RE's work in translating documents of the Conference into Spanish and English.
A member of the Standing Committee had suggested that each INGO should work with the parliamentarians of the PACE corresponding to the Member States where we (EN-RE) have member groups so I have started by sending the attached email to the 12 representatives to the Spanish delegation to the PACE. Each representative has a substitute but I did not include the substitutes in my email. The Council of Europe requires that each member of a delegation or an INGO visiting Strasbourg, physically or via internet, has either English or French as a working language. You can find the PACE list of MPs per Member State delegation, click on Parliamentary Assembly then position the mouse on Composition and slide the mouse onto Member States under National Delegations, then by clicking on Spain, for example, you find the names, political parties and email addresses of the Deputies and Senators who are representatives or substitutes.
See below my email of 21st December 2020 to the Spanish delegation in the PACE:
"Dear Deputies and Senators of Spain in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
I am sending this identical email to all the representatives of Spain's delegation to the PACE, grouped by Political Parties.
I am the delegate of EN-RE in the Conference of INGOs. EN-RE is a European NGO of grassroots christians accredited in the Council of Europe under the names of European Network Church on the Move and Réseau Européen Eglises et Libertés. EN-RE's Spanish associate is Redes Cristianas.
Due to Covid-19, the Conference of INGOs celebrated its Autumn 2020 session in two parts via internet. In the second part on 15th and 16th December, the most important event was the debate and adoption by an ample majority of its Revised Rules of Procedure with the object of integrating better with the projects of the Council of Europe and with the other pillars of the Quadrilogue, like the PACE.
Consequently,. as a Spanish citizen I feel it is my duty to inform you about the texts adopted in the General Assemblies of 2020 by the Conference of INGOs.
Although I have seen that you all use English, my native tongue, as a working language, I considered it was important to translate into Spanish Recommendation CONF/PLE(2020)REC2 in support of the Istanbul Convention to make it known in Spain, due to my participation in the working group Gender Perspectives in Political Processes and because I believe that all men and women must make the greatest efforts to eliminate the gender violence that affects so many women and girls.
A Dutch colleague in this working group informed the Conference about The European Network for the work with Perpetrators of Domestic Violence. This NGO has a single member group in Spain, Conexus, in Barcelona, and I found on its website a text (in Spanish), of the Generalitat de Catalunya, with recommendations for men on how to avoid acts of gender violence and I wonder how far this initiative has been introduced in other Spanish Autonomous Communities and whether it would be worthwhile to introduce a helpline, similar to the 016¹, for those men who recognise their inability to control their tendencies to acts of gender violence.
I take advantage of this email to send you the link to Human Rights and Religions , the book published by the Conference of INGOs in English and French, elaborated by the former working group Droits de l'Homme et Religions, whose rapporteur, François Becker, is a member of EN-RE. This contains links to the detailed Rapport Provisoire and its recent English translation Provisional Report. A Spanish translation is in the process of being edited.
Best wishes for Christmas and New Year 2021
Hugo Charles Castelli Eyre, DNI (Spanish identity card)"
¹ Spanish emergency number for women facing gender violence
Update 8th February 2021: Male violence against women and girls is such a major issue worldwide both domestically and in war that everyone should support all methods available to teach men that gender violence not only destroys families, it also destroys them too.