Special session of the INGO conference of the Council of Europe

Due to the COVID19 Pandemic this year, it was not possible to hold the Conference’s live summer session, a special online session of the Conference was held on 23 and 24 June with four thematic panels and several speakers, having as main theme the pandemic of the covid-19 and its consequences in the present and in the future. Parents International was represented by our Supervisory Board member, Herminio Correa. Read some highlights of the event below.

1st Panel – Let´s build a better future together! Strengthening Participative Democracy and Civil Society when building the Post Corona World

This panel chaired by Conference President Anna Rurka, had two key speakers to introduce the theme:

Alberto Alemano – EU Law Professor  HEC Paris

Vanja Skoric – Program Director EU Center for Non-Profit Law

Who analysed the role of NGOs during this pandemic period, mentioning some of the difficulties and challenges they had to face and the lessons that need to be learned for the future

Two questions were launched for discussion and analysis by the civil society organizations:

  1. Based on your experience, could you present some concrete impacts of the restrictive measures under state of emergency on CSO and NGO’ activities
  2. Regarding the various expertise present in the public debates during pandemic and post pandemic time, how CSOs and NGOs can reinforce their advocacy in order to make the public debate more diverse and in order to bring their perspective and evidence-based advocacy?

Several organizations reported their work on the ground during the pandemic, highlighting the countless difficulties they had to face not only due to the restrictions they were subjected to in their countries and also due to the increase in the number of people who resorted to them.

2nd Panel- Migrants and refugees the Covid-19 crisis, what lessons for the post-pandemic time?

The panel chaired by Daniel Guéry, featured an introduction by Conference President Anna Rurka, and had as keynote speaker Drahoslav Štefánek the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees of Council of Europe Secretary General.

Four questions were launched for discussion and analysis by the civil society organizations:

1) How can we go beyond declarations regarding respect for Human Rights and Rule of Law in the field of migration?

2) What are the European legal standards, supporting NGO and CSO work with migrants and refuges

3) What are the positive effects and difficulties encountered by NGOs and CSOs working in the field of migration during and out of confinement?

4)From your experience what actions need to be taken to facilitate the work of NGOs/CSOs in this field.

Several and very enriching interventions were made by several registered NGOs, with special emphasis on the SOS Mediterranéen, whose work is extremely important for the rescue of many refugees and which faces constant threats, attacks, and prohibitions by some European governments which violate the Code International. Maritime Law.

3rd.Panel – What lessons from Covid-19 should be taken for education and the digital era?

This panel chaired by Claude Vivier le Got covered 5 topics:

Topic 1: “Data reliability and hate speech”.


William Acker, jurist, blogger, “traveller” of Romani origin (Sinti).

Henri Braun, lawyer, specialized in minority law and the fight against racism.

Hate speech on the Internet is an illustration of conflict among diverse groups, both within and between societies; it is a definite sign that transformative technologies such as the Internet allow both innovative opportunities and challenges, which demand a stable balance between fundamental rights and principles, including freedom of expression, and the defence of human dignity.

Topic 2: “Is the current health crisis and the transformation of society likely to destroy the boundaries of civil liberties? Will data tracking destroy fundamental freedoms?”


Gilbert Flam, President of the “International” Commission of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA).

Henri Braun, lawyer, specialized in minority law and the fight against racism.

In looking at civil liberties and the governmental responses to the current pandemic, there is a significant paradox between the freedom and rights of democracies on the one hand and the security of the State, in terms of the health and welfare of its population and the need for policies of lockdown on the other hand in response to the terror of a global pandemic.

Topic 3: “The right to connection as a fundamental right”.


Sandra Coulibaly Leroy, Deputy Director, in charge of Foresight, Analysis and Strategic Intelligence within the Programming and Strategic Development Department of the International Organisation of La Francophonie.

Lune Taqqiq, author, lecturer, founder of Freebip, member of the Association for Voluntary Action in Europe (AVE).

According to the World Economic Forum, “among the many inequalities exposed by COVID-19, the digital divide is not only one of the starkest, but also among the most surprising. Even in developed countries, internet access is often lower than you might think.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has required immediate and fundamental shifts that influence all perspectives of our lives. Public health policies have been introduced to attempt to control the spread of the virus.

– The result has been to severe limit mobility. Schools, businesses and cultural venues have been ordered to shut and to establish online social communication for work and education.

– This placed an immense reliance on the services offered by the Internet and Cloud Computing through the pandemic.

Topic 4: “Gender equality”.


Isabelle Collet, founder of the Association for Gender Research in Education and Training (ARGEF), professor at the section of Educational Sciences of the University of Geneva.

According to the UN Chronicle, education is a pathway towards gender equality. Karam (2018) suggests gender-based discrimination in education is both a cause and a consequence of deep-rooted differences in society. Disparities, whether in terms of poverty, ethnic background, disability, or traditional attitudes about their status and role all undermine the ability of women and girls to exercise their rights.

Topic 5: “The education industry: between democratization and content control”.

Speakers:  Janice Richardson, expert to the Council of Europe on digital security and education issues.

Sandra Coulibaly Leroy, Deputy Director, in charge of Foresight, Analysis and Strategic Intelligence within the Programming and Strategic Development Department of the International Organisation of La Francophonie.

Even before COVID-19, there was already high growth worldwide in the adoption of education technology. Now, online and recorded courses are a regular part of students’ daily lives. – One can wonder about what this means for the future of learning and whether the content and educational forms of these courses are influencing the students and teachers involved based on the platforms, networks and learning approaches used.


4th Panel – How to reduce inequalities and poverty throughout the upcoming economy and ecological transition?

This panel chaired by Miguel Cabral had six key speakers to introduce the theme:

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director, UCL Institute of Health Equity -“The Social Determinants of Health and COVID-19, was there something we already knew? “

Laurence Lwoff, Head of the Bioethics Unit of the Council of Europe – The role of the Council of Europe in Health and Social Protection before and after COVID-19? Will there be a difference? “

Elisabeth Marie, Caritas Europe, and Maritchu Rall, ESAN – “Documenting and responding to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on marginalised communities.”

Sadia Mir, WUNRN Europe Gender Policy Expert – “The impact of COVID-19 on Women”.

Giada Negri, Advocacy Officer at European Civic Forum – “The role of civic actors to build societies that deliver for all. “

Two questions were launched for discussion and analysis by the civil society organizations:

1) What is happening and what needs to happen to build a fairer society after this pandemic for all groups that tend to be more affected by inequalities?

2) What needs to be put in place so that in future pandemics and other crisis, the most fragile in our communities are protected and cared for?

There were many and varied interventions made by several NGOs, all of them showing a huge concern for the increase in the number of people who resort to their services, the increase in unemployment numbers and the uncertainty that the future presents us.

You can follow all the panels and download some of the statements made by the NGOs at the link below: interventions:


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