Brussels: World NGO Day by the CoE Conference of INGOs

28 February 2020 – The Council of Europe’s Conference of INGOs has organized a seminar to mark World NGO Day, highlighting the importance of civil society as an essential democratic actor, whilst facing too many restrictions today. 

The workshop entitled “From the Past to the Future: A Living Civic Space for Living Democracy” gathered some 50 people representing NGOs, civil and social movements, international organizations like the UN and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, independent human rights institutions and think tanks. “At a time when populism is placing liberal democracy in a critical situation, the work of NGOs should be all the more recognized and protected,” says Anna Rurka, president of the Council of Europe’s Conference of INGOs.

Anna Rurka (left) with co-founder of the Yellow Vest movement in France, Priscillia Ludosky. Photo: C Spreng

In her Panel contribution Priscilla reflected whether the lack of clear structure or leadership in the Gilets Jaunes leaves it too vulnerable to appropriation or misrepresentation by others. She succinctly sketched the 15-month-old movement’s drive arising from the fuel tax rise, then swiftly flowing to major ecology and equality issues. She had published an online petition against the fuel tax rise, which was signed by the thousands. Later the Yellow Vests conducted an internet-based citizen’s vote that came up with over 1’000 proposals, topped by 59 key findings from over 1 Million entries. This process was accompanied by university analysts; for more please see LE VRAI DEBAT (trad. The True Debate, alluding to the Great National Debate initiated by French President Macron).

At the World NGO Day event Priscilla summarized: “We have a big question about transparency (ed. regarding public governance)”. And behind that was the issue of how to restore Trust, she concluded. 

World NGO Day is an important annual marking point for NGOs to celebrate their achievements, as well as allowing small, grassroots organizations to gain the recognition they deserve.

See the complete programme here .

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