IofC at the Council of Europe
Initiatives of Change International received participatory status at the Council of Europe (CoE) in January 2005. IofC International participates in the Conference of INGOs (International Non-Government Organizations), one of the three consultative bodies of the organization.
The CoE has its headquarters in Strasbourg, Eastern France, was founded in 1949 by ten and now has 47 member states representing a total of 800 million inhabitants. It is made up of the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the conference of Local and Regional Governments and the INGO conference. Among the key CoE topics are Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. A historic achievement is the European Court of Human Rights where any individual has right of appeal beyond his or her own State judiciary. For more, click here.
In 2006-2008 a broad based work began to elaborate a White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue. The Council of Europe proposed this as a way of formulating new policy ideas in an environment of ongoing inter-ethnic and social tensions. For more, click here.
Christoph Spreng, the IofC Representative, was called to help lead the White Paper elaboration from the side of the INGO’s. In July 2008 the Executive of the INGO Conference appointed the IofC Representative as Special Advisor for Intercultural Dialogue. In 2009-11 he was involved with a Joint Programme on protecting Minority Cultures and Languages in the Russian Federation. Since 2011 he coordinates the work for a Toolkit for Conducting Intercultural Dialogue, a practical guide to conduct dialogues where they are most needed. Denzil Nurse, Hope in the Cities – IofC-UK, joined him in this task. In June 2012 the Dialogue Toolkit was launched and facilitators were introduced to the concept. 2013 marks the beginning of the implementation phase.
In view of the statutory elections of January 2018 at the INGO Conference, the IofC representative was asked to stand as a candidate. Subsequently he was elected as one of the Vice Presidents.
He comments that IofC’s experience of enabling the human and moral basis for civic action as well as his experience of networking has come in handy for contributing something in the context of an international organization.
IofC Representative to CoE
CH-6002 Luzern, Switzerland
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Starting the Dialogue Toolkit work at the INGO Istanbul Forum in March 2011 (l to r), Denzil Nurse UK, Christoph Spreng Switzerland, Rui Gomes Portugal, Yulia Zvereva Russian Federation