There is no commonly accepted or legal definition of the term 'civil society organisation'. According to European Commission’s standards for consultation, it can nevertheless be used as shorthand to refer to a range of organisations which include:
- the labour-market players (i.e. trade unions and employers federations – the “social partners”);
- organisations representing social and economic players, which are not social partners in the strict sense of the term (for instance, consumer organisations);
- NGOs (non-governmental organisations), which bring people together in a common cause, such as environmental organisations, human rights organisations, charitable organisations, educational and training organisations, etc.;
- Community-based organisations, i.e. organisations set up within society at grassroots level which pursue member-oriented objectives, e.g. youth organisations, family associations and all organisations through which citizens participate in local and municipal life; and
- religious communities.
The term "convention" can have a generic and a specific meaning. The generic use of the term "convention" embraces all international agreements, in the same way as the generic term "treaty". Convention can also be used as a specific term: whereas in the last century the term "convention" was regularly employed for bilateral agreements, it now is generally used for formal multilateral treaties with a broad number of parties. Conventions are normally open for participation by the international community as a whole, or by a large number of states (e.g. The European Convention on Human Rights).
Cross-sector coordination means that different departments and agencies (usually within one member state) coordinate their planning, implementation and monitoring of fundamental rights. This coordination cuts across departments whose competences and tasks are often more specifically and narrowly defined (horizontal coordination). The responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil fundamental rights is shared between different sectors. However, without inter-departmental coordination, there is a clear risk that fundamental rights issues, which commonly require such coordination, are neglected.