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Information and Documentation Centre on the Council
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Information and Documentation Centre on the Council of Europe

1997 was an important year for the Council of Europe as it witnessed the second summit of the heads of state and government of the member states in the history of the organization. It also witnessed the development of IDCCES as a focal point for Council of Europe-related and an important resource center for Bulgarian public and private organizations active in the fields of interest to the Council.

I. National Information Network

As outreach throughout the country is crucial to the impact of the work of the IDCCES, continued emphasis was placed on the development of networking with organizations outside the capital of Sofia. Two information workshops with members of the National Information Network were held in June and October with over 50 participants. The workshops included a presentation on "Council of Europe in the eve of the Strasbourg Summit 1997". The workshops also discussed the optimization of the process of exchange and distribution of information on the Council of Europe in the country.

II. Conferences, Lectures, Discussions

This line of activity of the Centre was particularly important in 1997 as it allowed specific target audiences to be reached through pro-active efforts. Some of the major events include:

Social Justice: Public Perceptions and Public Debate, a conference for the experts on the social policy from Bulgarian governmental institutions, media and NGO representatives. The conference focused on issues of the European Social Charter, the mechanisms for its application, and the compatibility with the Bulgarian legal environment.

On May 5, the IDCCES hosted an Award Ceremony for the winners in the national competition Europe at School. IDCCES also provided 10 of the prizes in a number of age categories of participants.

"Practices of the Difference" Europe's week, which was held on May 5-9 at the Sofia University was organized jointly by IDCCES and the Forum for Civil Responsibility and Tolerance. IDCCES was particularly instrumental in the organization of the discussions on the topic of The Bulgarian Position on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the workshop Bulgaria and Council of Europe - 5 Years of Membership. The film This House We Share by Jim Gibbons was shown to the participants.

At the end of May, the IDCCES hosted 4th on-site meeting of the Directors of the Council of Europe information and documentation centres. Two such meetings are held annually - one in Strasbourg and one in each of the host countries in turn. The meeting in Sofia was a valuable networking and coordination exercise and an opportunity for exchange of experience.

For IDCCES, the major public event in 1997 was the international conference The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: Five Years After Ratification held on December 4-5. The conference was preceded by original research and preparation of thematic reports on the compatibility of Bulgarian legislation, administrative practice and institutional structures with the obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), carried out in cooperation with leading Bulgarian and foreign human rights NGOs. As a result, eight research reports were presented and discussed at the conference. The participants outlined various strategies for effective and consistent legal and institutional reform in this area as well as specific legislative recommendations for the necessary reforms to be carried out. The participation of prominent Council of Europe experts allowed the discussion to benefit from the experience of activities held by the Council and from similar compatibility exercises carried out by other member states. The conference is the first event of its kind in Bulgaria and will provide an important impetus for further activities in this area.

As a joint initiative of the Information Centre with the "Future for Bulgaria" Foundation, the Ministry of Justice and Legal Eurointegration, the Committee on Youth, Physical Culture and Sports, and the Youth Cultural Information Centre the first national workshop on the Common Child Care Policies was held on December 8 as part of the project "The Child in Bulgaria". The project aims at enhancing the compatibility of Bulgarian legislation in the field of children and youth with the international standards in this area, as well as to facilitate Bulgaria accession to the European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights.

On December 16-17, IDCCES organized and hosted a Round Table on the European Social Charter (Revised). The purpose was to examine the necessary measures and implications of Bulgaria's accession to the Charter. Participants included representatives of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Public Health, independent experts and Council of Europe experts.

In addition, the IDCCES participated and provided support for the following events:

  • Conference Social Integration and Political Activity of the Bulgarian Youth organized by the Committee on Youth, Physical Culture and Sports in March;
  • Conference Bulgaria's Children and the Role of the NGOs, organised by the Charity Fund Raina Kabaivanska on June 13-14;
  • National workshop Issues of The Introduction of Alternative Military Service In Bulgaria, held on October 6 by the "Tolerance" Foundation;
  • National workshop The Information Society and the Influence of the New Information Technologies on the Democratic Process, organized by the Council of Europe and Bulgarian Committee of Posts and Telecommunications on October 9-10.

III. Publicity Events

  • January 13-17 - Press Launch of the Europe at School National Competition (information provided to the Bulgarian National Radio and Bulgarian Telegraph Agency);
  • February 14 - IDCCES provided the first 3 prizes and promotional materials for the competition "The Idea of Europe in the Art" on the Bulgarian National Radio;
  • March 3 - Press launch of the 3rd Media Action Day Against Racism (21 March 1997);
  • April 1 - Press launch and dissemination of application forms for the 5 Training Session for Young Lawyers from the CEEC (Strasbourg 20-26 September 1997);
  • May 12 - TV premiere of the film This House We Share by Jim Gibbons, on the private cable TV network DEMO Television;
  • July 23 - Press conference of the participants in the Council of Europe mission in the framework of the Octopus Project.

IV. Translations and Publications

The following documents and materials were made available in Bulgarian during 1997:

  • Convention On The Mutual Admission Of The Higher Education Qualifications In The European Region (Project)DECS-HE 97/2
  • Framework Convention on Protection of the National Minorities, together with an Explanatory Report;
  • Case-Law Digest of the European Court of Human Rights. Selected by an editorial committee of leading Bulgarian experts; the two-volume edition will be published in 1998;
  • Human Rights Every Day, a general short guide to the activities and legal instruments of the Council of Europe in the field of human rights. The Bulgarian translation is available at the IDCCES web site at www.cid.bg
  • This House We Share, a film by Jim Gibbons;
  • Human Rights in a Nutshell by Thomas Buergethal and Stanimir Alexandrov;
  • Police Training Concerning Migrants and Ethnic Relations: Practical Guidelines, Council of Europe publication;
  • Europe - Culture and Reality: The Application Case. Council of Europe and Bulgaria, by Emil Varbanov;
  • The Spanish Transition to Democracy - The Political System and the Constitution

V. The Information Services in 1997

In 1997 the IDCCES expanded the scope of its information services by adding electronic aspects to it. The home page in the World Wide Web - www.cid.bg was opened for the Internet users in the first half of May 1997. The mirroring of some key documents from the WWW home page of the Council of Europe is of particular help to users in Bulgaria.

Regarding library services, in 1997 there was a clear trend towards more requests for documents and other materials by government agencies and local experts involved in Council of Europe-related activities.

IDCCES hosted the fourth on-site meeting of the Directors of the Council of Europe information and documentation centres in May. The meeting was attended by Mr. Jean-Louis Laurens (first row in the middle), Deputy Director of Political Affairs of the Council of Europe. IDCCES
 
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