At EU level, our advocacy work covers numerous initiatives and while the work of the EU institutions might seem remote to many citizens, decisions taken by the European Union have a direct impact on victims’ lives. VSE aims to bring the voices and experiences of victims and NGOs to negotiations, consultations, and debates about new legislation, to consultations and debates. We facilitate contact between NGOs and governments across Europe to ensure the exchange of good practices and peer-to-peer learning which allows for informed and sustainable decision-making.
Over the past few years, VSE has broadened and intensified its work with the European actors. We have established new connections within several European Commission DGs and EU institutions. We work with various EU agencies, and in 2019, we were given consultancy status with the Council of Europe, whose policy work we support and with whom we collaborate on several projects. Some of our key partners include: institutions, including the European Commission, European Parliament, European Economic Social Committee, The European Committee of the Regions, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, European Institute of Gender Equality, EEAS, Europol, Eurojust, CEPOL.
To support policy developments at the EU level, VSE has most recently submitted its recommendations for an EU Gender Equality Strategy and a Victims Rights Strategy. These documents will determine the EU’s measures for victims for the next five years. You can find VSE’s comments here:
VSE’s Contribution for the EU Victims’ Strategy 2020-2024 Download
VSE’s Comments on Possible Approach and Priorities – EU GENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY, 2020 Download
The Manifesto for Europe (under the EP elections) Download
Cooperation with the Council of Europe
Council of Europe (CoE) is the largest European intergovernmental organisation, whose principal mandate is to safeguard human rights of all Europeans. The European Court of Human Rights, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance are just a few of the bodies of the CoE.
For years, VSE has been building its relationship with the organisation, which was crowned in 2019 by VSE officially becoming a member of the CoE’s Conference of International NGOs – a rather exclusive club of civil society organisations which aim to influence CoE’s work through advocacy, policy and litigation.
This cooperation is already bearing fruit. In 2019, VSE was invited to speak at the Workshop organised by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) under the aegis of the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers on the Protection of Victims of Terrorist Acts.
See the video interview of VSE’s Deputy Director, Aleksandra Ivankovic, that she gave during the event.
VSE’s collaboration with European NGOs
In 2018, VSE began developing stronger links with NGOs and other organisations in Europe. VSE has established an annual EU NGO Round Table bringing together organisations workings with groups particularly vulnerable to crime, to collaborate on solutions for those victims. We also work with NGOs from all fields to help them identify victim priorities in their work and to develop a victim-centric approach. Increasingly, we collaborate on joint events and projects with like-minded organisations.
Our current NGO partners are: AMBER Alert Europe, Ilga Europe, Inclusion Europe, AGE Platform Europe, Missing Children Europe, PICUM, FENVAC, European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ), Transgender Europe, Confederation of European Probation (CEP), Fair Trials, European Women’s Lobby, Cavaria, La Strada International, International Network for Hate Studies, European Network Against Racism (ENAR), A Jewish Contribution to Social Europe (CEJI), End FGM, Women Against Violence Europe, Mental Health Europe, International Federation for Haman Rights (FIDH), European Disability Forum (EDF), European Network on Victims Rights (ENVR), Security and Crisis Center by ECJ (SACC), EDMR Europe, European Disability Forum, V-Europe, UNIA.
Joint Statements and Campaigning-in-Collaboration
With our EU NGO partners we are developing common advocacy language and resources, including joint statements and campaigns-in-collaboration, which do two things:
1) raise awareness on EU priorities in victims’ rights, highlighting critical gaps
2) provide information on the tangible impact of the implementation of victims’ rights in all EU member States.
Campaign-in-collaboration ‘Crime Is Crime. Even Online‘, 2019
Campaign-in-collaboration ‘One Voice – One Cause‘, 2020
VSE works in close partnership with PICUM and The University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) on the theme of safe reporting for undocumented victims of crime and those living with precarious residence status. This collaboration has resulted in ongoing discussions with the European Commission.
In October 2019, VSE participated in the final event of the be.safe project, an initiative Inclusion Europe launched together with project partners from Czechia, North Macedonia, Poland and Portugal, which aims to tackle Internet safety, by providing appropriate guidelines. VSE presented the campaign Crime is crime. Even online.
In September 2019, VSE participated in an event organised by REDRESS and Fair Trials in The Hague. The two-day meeting gathered stakeholders from 15 EU Member States to discuss how to improve the rights of victims of violent crime experienced in pre-trial and immigration detention.
In May 2019, the University of Ferrara’s Law Department was the stage for a day of presentations and discussions on the implementation of the Palermo Convention, which took place 15 years after its implementation. VSE, the only NGO invited, presented ‘The Obligations of Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Victims of Crime’, which identified the gaps between the obligations established in the Convention, and the measures of support and protections available to victims of crime.
La Strada International has joined with VSE, PICUM and COMPAS to focus on compensation for migrant workers. A Roundtable event, hosted by Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Victim Support Europe, La Strada International and PICUM at the European Commission aimed to:
a) Engage with returning and newly elected MEPS and key institutional actors on the barriers to accessing compensation and unpaid wages for migrant workers subjected to exploitation and violence, including human trafficking.
b) Discuss concrete measures that the new European Parliament and European Commission can take, including the specific recommendations of the Special Adviser on compensation for victims of crime.
On the occasion of the 12th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, on 14 June 2017, Victim Support Europe organised a workshop with the Council of Europe, the European Commission and AGE Platform Europe to explore how to increase reporting of abuse to, and improve the protection of, victims.
To mark the 5th anniversary of the Victims Rights Directive in November 2017, in collaboration with End FMG EU, to support victims of violence against women and girls (VAWG) we produced an infographic on Female Genital Mutilation – a form of VAWG.
VSE uses the Notfound.org web app, which converts 404 website error pages into posters of missing children. The ingenious web app was developed in 2012 by Missing Children Europe and Child Focus with the help of FamousGrey and has been downloaded by over 5,700 websites. The aim of #NotFoundDay is to encourage website owners and companies to download this smart piece of technology to help find missing children in a very simple way. More information here.
EU-Russia Civil Society Forum
In January 2020, VSE was accepted as a member of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.
EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (Forum, or CSF) is a network of thematically diverse non-governmental organisations from the European Union and Russia, established as a bottom-up, non-partisan civic initiative. The Forum serves as a platform for members and supporters in articulating common positions, providing support and solidarity, and exerting civic influence on governmental and intergovernmental relations. These goals are pursued by bringing together CSF members for joint projects, research and advocacy; by conducting public discussions and dialogues with decision-makers, and by facilitating people-to-people exchanges. As of today, the Forum has 174 member and supporter organisations from Russia and 20 EU Member States.
Active membership in this international network helps VSE develop awareness-raising initiatives and advocacy efforts focused on victims rights, gender equality, terrorism, cyber and hate crimes, and other areas relevant to VSE’s core activities.
The work of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum is structured according to the topics and the areas of interest of individual Forum members and supporters or Forum entities. The topics are addressed by Working Groups.
VSE joined the Gender Equality Group, which brings together participants from Russia and the European Union, who have significant expertise and hands-on experience in the field of promoting and protecting gender rights and combating gender discrimination.