A. Kanunnikov (email@example.com),
Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, 11–3, Mokhovaya Str., Moscow 125009, Russian Federation
This article is devoted to the study of the role the Council of Europe played in the development of a civil society after the World War II, when the process of the West-European integration had just begun, with non-governmental organizations of the European countries getting involved more and more actively each year. The Council of Europe has repeatedly addressed the issues of NGOs development and their legal status. So, in 1998, it adopted the “Guidelines to Promote the Development and Strengthening of NGOs in Europe”, and in 2002, – the “Fundamental Principles on the Status of NGOs in Europe”. The logic of these documents is reflected in the European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organizations (No. 124), with regard to national NGOs’ activities. Despite the fact that, according to the Council of Europe regulations, these Fundamental Principles have no legal force, the Committee of Ministers noted them with appreciation in 2003 and recommended to distribute them as widely as possible within the Member States. In addition, in 2003, the Council of Europe conducted a study in the Member States relating to the legal base of the NGOs creation and functioning. This work aimed to analyze national legislation on NGOs from the viewpoint of its compatibility with the above mentioned “Fundamental Principles”. The monitoring results were used in a thematic Secretary-General report on “freedom of association”, which was discussed by the Permanent Representatives of Ministers in October 2005. The article considers in details the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) the Council of Europe framework. It also examines the activities of the Conference of INGOs and its powers. The paper displays the contribution of INGOs to the development and adoption of the European Convention on the Recognition of Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organizations, “Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation” and other documents. It analyzes the conditions that allow the building of a constructive relationship between NGOs and government bodies, based on mutual trust and understanding in matters of participatory democracy. The author concludes that the Council of Europe plays an important role in the development of a civil society in European countries. Its standards and norms for non-governmental organizations are applied not only in the European Union, but also beyond its borders.
Council of Europe, non-governmental organizations, civil society, organized civil society, Conference of INGOs, social development
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