25 November 2016: Belgrade, Serbia
On 25 November, ACCESS took part in a seminar on the European Social Charter and the Collective Complaints Procedure, delivering a presentation on the role of civil society organizations and the many innovative features of the Collective Complaints Procedure.
Some of the questions addressed by Antonina Vykhrest, Co-Director of ACCESS during the presentation and in a subsequent exchange with Serbian civil society organizations included:
- Which INGOs can submit collective complaints to the European Social Charter?
- Which countries have ratified the collective complaints protocol?
- What advantages are there to the collective complaints procedure for NGOs and States?
- What are the examples of successful national impact achieved as a result of the decision of the European Committee on Social Rights?
The European Social Charter adopted by the Council of Europe in 1961, is the social and economic rights instrument in Europe, sometimes referred to as the Social Constitution of Europe. It is a democratic mechanism towards sustainable social and economic development in the Council of Europe member States. A complement to the European Convention on Human Rights, it covers a wide range of rights such as the right to education, health, housing and non-discrimination, with a particular focus on the rights of vulnerable persons such as migrants, persons with disabilities, Roma, children and the elderly.
European civil society has a critical role to play in promoting the Charter’s implementation. The Collective Complaints Procedure of the Charter presents an especially important and useful tool for NGOs working with vulnerable populations or social rights more broadly.
The event was organized by the Council of Europe Department of the European Social Charter in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs of Serbia. It was attended by representatives of Serbian institutions working on social rights, including representatives of national civil society.
Other speeches and interventions included that of François Vandamme, member of the European Committee for Social Rights; Riccardo Priore, CoE Department of the European Social Charter Department; Ivan Sekulović, General Manager, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, Government of Serbia; Peter Verhaeghe, Policy and Advocacy Officer, Caritas Europa; Pim Fischer, Lawyer and Representative of Defence for Children International (DCI).
For more information on the event, the program, and the European Social Charter please see the website of the European Social Charter here.