CEC Executive Secretary Rev. Sören Lenz participated in the biannual meeting of the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg from 28 to 31 October in Strasbourg.
One of the main topics discussed were migration, relation between climate change and displacement, and growing hostility towards migrants and asylum seekers on the Internet.
At the meeting special rapporteurs of the Human Rights Committee declared with concern that “the web has become an agora of anti-migrants” that is particularly influencing young people.
In her report, Iamvi Totsi, Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Conference of INGOS explained that “the fear of terrorism was exploited in the context of migration”. She called on the NGOs to continue their engagement on the matter.
“Churches are more than NGOs. With their diversity and different approach, they are contributing to create a just and human society,” said Rev. Lenz, based in CEC’s Strasbourg office. “The conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe allows CEC to build bridges between different opinions and contribute to global discussions with a genuine Christian point of view,” he added.
Rev. Lenz emphacised the importance of the Council of Europe and the conference of INGOs. “It is not only a discussion platform but offers legal binding instruments to protect human rights, develop democracy and strengthen participation of civil society,” he added.
Another important decision at the meeting was the adoption of a declaration on the situation in Northern Syria condemning the invasion of Turkish troops and calling on all member states of the European Council (in particular Turkey) to “immediately provide humanitarian and emergency assistance to the population of the crisis region, drawing on the expertise of NGOs, observers and monitoring organisations, in particular those focusing on the protection of children, the elderly, the physically or mentally disabled and women”.
CEC through its Strasbourg office works in close cooperation with the Conference of Churches on the Rhine in Strasbourg and holds participatory membership with the Council of Europe. CEC has observer status in several intergovernmental bodies (bioethics, education and culture, etc.) and actively participates in the INGOs conference.