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					BACKGROUND NOTE ON THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE Prepared by the Department of International Affairs Council of Europe Established in 1949  Members The Council of Europe serves roughly 800 million citizens throughout 47 democratic countries in Europe to promote the democratic principles of the European Convention on Human Rights. Founded in 1949, it is the oldest international organization for the promotion of European integration. Member nations include: Albania; Andorra; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Moldova; Monaco; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; San Marino; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Turkey; Ukraine; and, the United Kingdom. Five nations hold observer status in the Council including the Holy See; the United States; Canada; Mexico; and, Japan. Currently, Belarus is considered an applicant nation after its special guest status was suspended in 1996. The Council of Europe holds observer status with the United Nations.
Three OAS Member States hold observer status in the Council, namely: Canada, Mexico, and the United States. All but eleven Council of Europe member nations have permanent observer status in the OAS, namely: Albania; Andorra; Iceland; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Macedonia; Malta; Moldova; Monaco; Montenegro; and, San Marino.

 History The Council of Europe was established in May 1949 by the Treaty of London. It is the pre-eminent organization in Europe for the promotion of human rights, and democratic processes and institutions. Initially, the treaty was signed by only ten states. Since then, it has grown to include 47 member states. In November 1950, the Council adopted its foundational text, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, also known as the European Convention on Human Rights. This was the first legally binding international agreement that directly served to protect human rights. Over time, it has added various institutions and taken on a variety of projects designed to further its missions. In 1993, the Council held its first summit of heads of states and government in Vienna, Austria. Subsequently, two other summits have been held in Strasbourg, France in 1997, and Warsaw, Poland in 2005.


 Mission / Objectives The core values and objectives of the Council were enumerated in the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950. This document established the European Court of Human Rights, and set out the obligation of governments and members of the Council to ensure the fair and humane treatment of all citizens within its member states. It specifically provides legal protection of basic and fundamental human rights; the right to respect of privacy; freedoms of thought, expression, and religion; the right to assembly; the prohibition of discrimination; and, other enumerated protections (pp 1-39, see Annex). These principles are parallel to those outlined in the OAS American Convention on Human Rights. Promulgated in 1969, this document established the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the foundations for the human rights protections that are promoted by the OAS today. Since then, the primary objectives of the Council, which stem from the Convention, have been the following: i) ii) iii) protect human rights and the rule of law; support constitutional and legal reforms to strengthen democratic processes and institutions in Europe; ameliorate complex social issues, namely: discrimination, xenophobia, human trafficking, organized crime, cybercrime, terrorism, and domestic violence, among others; foster a unified European cultural identity and celebrate diversity.


 Structure The Council is composed of seven main organs. These organs are responsible for maintaining and furthering the objectives of the Council of Europe, and contribute to the promotion of multilateral cooperation and regional unity. These organs include: i) The Committee of Ministers: The main decision-making body of the Council which is composed of the 47 member states’ Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the permanent diplomatic representatives. The Committee meets once a year. -OAS equivalent: the closest equivalent is OAS Permanent Council; however, the Committee has no permanent members. The Parliamentary Assembly: The forum for co-operation, common action, agreements, and debate between representatives from every member nation. The number of representatives and votes a member is allowed is dependent upon its size. The Assembly meets four times a year for one week at the end of January, April, June, and the beginning of October in Strasbourg, France. The process by which a representative is appointed to the Assembly is determined by the member state. However, the appointee must have either been elected by their respective national or federal Parliament or appointed from Parliament. A national delegation must also exhibit a balance of political parties that exist within that member state. The appointees are then submitted to the Committee of



Ministers and vetted by the current Parliamentary Assembly. The appointee the must be invited by the Committee of Ministers in order to obtain full membership into the Parliament Assembly. -OAS equivalent: the OAS General Assembly ii) The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe: The body of the Council is composed of two smaller bodies, the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions. These bodies bring together the elected local leaders (the Chamber of Local Authorities), and regional leaders (the Chamber of Regions) from throughout the member states. It foundational text from which it derives its driving principles is the European Charter of Local Self- Government of 1957. With its focus on sustainable self-governing, the Congress organizes conferences open to the public to encourage civic involvement and foster true democratic values, and acts on mandates created cooperatively by the Congress. Both bodies meet three times a year for a plenary session in May or June in Strasbourg, France at the Palace of Europe, an autumn session in November, and a spring session in March. The Congress is directed by four specific mandates, including: i) The Institutional Committee- Responsible for creating ―monitoring reports‖ examining democratic institutions within member states and applicant states to ensure the European Charter of Local Self-Government and its principles are being followed The Culture and Education Committee- Deals with all matters related to youth, media, education, sport, and communication The Committee on Sustainable Development- Responsible for all aspects of the environment, and spatial and urban planning The Committee on Social Cohesion- Concerned with issues involving employment, citizenship, community relations, public health, and gender equality





The European Court of Human Rights: The judicial instrument responsible for all aspects of the legal process concerning accusations of human rights violations filed with the court by member states. The Commissioner for Human Rights: Headed by Thomas Hammarberg, the Commissioner for Human Rights is considered an ―independent institution‖ within the Council responsible for creating awareness and compliance with human rights standards among the member states. Mr. Hammarberg travels extensively for ―country visits‖ to meet with various Heads of State, discussing human rights policy, and drafting public



correspondences with these Heads of State to highlight their respective human rights issues. He focuses his efforts on co-operation with national human rights structures, eliminating discrimination, and protecting the rights of immigrants. -OAS equivalent: Inter-American Court of Human Rights v) Conference of International Non-Governmental Organizations: The Council offers all NGOs the opportunity to apply for participatory status within the Council of Europe. As a whole, these NGOs work cooperatively to create resolutions, initiate and participate in dialogue within the Conference, and exchange views with official outside of the Conference. These activities serve the varied public interests of NGOs and deal with issues ranging from the status of members of the GLBT community, fundamental human rights, human rights violations within member states, and reinforcing democratic principles. The Conference meets four times a year in January, April, June, and October The Secretariat: Headed by Secretary-General Terry Davis, the Secretariat is divided into several directorates which are responsible for managing the many projects that the Council of Europe initiates and are involved in.


 The Secretariat There are six main directorates that operate within the Secretariat as well as a variety of other directorates and secretariats that are responsible for facilitating communication, coordination, and other logistical or managerial aspects that do not directly serve the main objectives of the institution. These directorates and secretariats include: the Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers; the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly; the Secretariat of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe; the Directorate of Communication and Research; the Directorate of Strategic Planning; the Directorate of Protocol; the Directorate of Internal Audit; the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights; and, the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights. The six Directorate Generals are charged with advising the Secretary General with respect to projects, treaties, and conventions that are specifically designed to satisfy the overall objectives of the Council of Europe. The Directorate Generals include: i. Directorate General of Political Affairs- Responsible for advising and assisting the Secretariat or any other organ of the Council with implementation, follow-up, and evaluation of political analysis and recommendations for action. ii. Directorate General of Legal Affairs- Seeks to increase respect and compliance with the legal standard, established by the Council, among member states. iii. Directorate General of Human Rights- Develops and implements human rights policy, and advises the Secretary


General in decision-making with respect to the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Committee of Ministers’ supervision of judgments made by the European Court of Human Rights and their execution. iv. Directorate General of Social Cohesion- Promotes the betterment of standards of living throughout Europe, the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, the reduction of inequality, and ethnic and cultural diversity. v. Directorate General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport- Seeks to enhance and preserve the cultural and natural identity of Europe, and expand opportunities for involvement for young people. vi. Directorate General of Administration and Logistics- Provides the administrative, technical, and logistical support necessary to implement the Council’s programs and objectives. The Secretary-General is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly and holds the office for a five-year term. The current Secretary-General, The Right Honourable Terry Davis, was elected in 2004 and will finish his term at the end of 2009. According to regulations put forth by the Committee of Ministers, the Secretary General can be re-elected as long as he is officially submitted as a candidate at least six months before the expiry of his current term, and ―his term may always be renewed for a period specified in advance by agreement between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers in the Joint Committee‖.1  Relationship of the Council of Europe to European Union Institutions Both the Council of Europe and the European Union have worked extensively to increase co-operation and foster closer ties between European countries as well as between the two institutions. In addition to the European Union’s accession to the Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights, the two institutions (specifically, the European Commission) have worked closely on a number of country-specific joint programs concentrated mainly in Central and Eastern Europe. Both institutions provide funding for these programs on a shared basis, and the Council of Europe is responsible for organizing and implementing them. The programs vary widely, but all are designed to strengthen democratic institutions and reinforce national infrastructure in an effort to create sustainable democratic development. There are also a number of activities initiated in conjunction with national governments to facilitate legal and institutional improvements.  Budget The Council is funded by contributions from member states. The size of the contribution is dependent upon population and size of GDP. In 2007, the Council’s total budget was

―Regulations relating to the appointment of the Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General and Secretary General of the Assembly having the rank of Deputy Secretary General‖, Article 7b.


US$250 million. For 2008, the total budget is US$350 million. The five largest contributors in 2008 each contributed 12% of the budget, namely: France; Germany; Italy; the Russian Federation; and the United Kingdom.  Main Areas of Work The Council of Europe focuses its efforts on specific projects and committees that deal directly with its stated goals. Some of these relevant projects are as follows: i) ―Human Rights for Everyone‖ i. The European Court of Human Rights- Established by the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms/European Convention on Human Rights, it created a venue for the European community to prosecute human rights violators under international law ii. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture- Works to ensure that treatment of prisoners is monitored and humane. iii. The Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine- Brokered the first international agreement to prohibit the misuse of biotechnology and medicinal techniques such as human cloning. iv. The Framework Convention for the Protection of National MinoritiesThe first legally binding multilateral agreement to specifically protect the rights (culture, identity, language, etc) of national minorities v. A Charter for Regional or Minority Languages vi. The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance vii. The Commissioner for Human Rights ii) ―Building Democracy‖ i. The Council of Europe Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission)- offers advice and oversight on the legal aspects of developing and maintaining democratic institutions as well as its functioning ii. The European Charter of Local Self-Government- A model text for new democracies to incorporate into their pre-existing constitutions iii. The Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities- a legal framework that ensures collaboration on urban, local, and regional levels concerning recovery from natural disasters, rural development, better infrastructure, and public services. iii) ―Social Cohesion and Social Rights‖ I. The European Social Charter- safeguards fundamental social and economic human rights not guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights such as gender equality, safe working conditions, medical assistance, and union membership ii. The European Committee for Social Cohesion- Establishes standards and monitors member states’ legal compliance with conventions


iv) ―Protecting Citizens‖ i. The European Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism- Seeks to mitigate the difficulties in the extradition of terrorists, and make the overall process more expedient ii. Criminal and Civil Law Conventions on Corruption iii. The Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime iv. Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings v) ―Cultural and Natural Heritage‖ i. The European Cultural Convention- Stipulates measures to appreciate the individual cultural contributions of member nations to a collective European identity ii.The Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe and the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage iii. The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Heritage iv. The European Landscape Convention vi) ―Education for Democratic Citizenship‖ i. The European Youth Centers in Strasbourg and Budapest ii. The European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehavior iii.The Anti-doping Convention iv. Programs on human rights and citizenship vii) ―Partial Agreements‖- Semi-autonomous institutions whereby smaller groups of member states as well as non-members can collaborate on specialized activities of common interest i. The Council of Europe Development Bank- Headquartered in Paris, France, the CEDB is the oldest international financial institution in Europe. The Bank has its own legal status and financial autonomy that is directly under the control of the Council of Europe. Its primary functions are granting loans, financing public projects, and assisting in emergencies, especially within LDCs throughout Europe. Activities and general functioning is funded solely from the Bank’s capitals and reserves as well as gains made through financial markets, not taxes or member-nation contributions. ii. The European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity- Seeks to create more collaboration between Europe and worldwide LDCs iii. The Pompidou Group- a European forum to ameliorate the issues surrounding global drug abuse and trafficking iv. the European Pharmacopoeia v. Eurimages vi. the European Audiovisual Observatory vii. the European Centre for Modern Languages viii) ―Europe-wide Campaigns‖- Established at the Third Summit of Heads of States and Government in Warsaw, a declaration was signed to take action on solving specific problems plaguing European society which led to the


launch of three programs: i. ―Children and Violence: Building a Europe for and with children‖ ii. ―All Different – All Equal‖ European Youth Campaign for Diversity, Human Rights and Participation iii. Violence against women and domestic violence  Recent Events/ Meetings of Note The most recent Summit of the Heads of States and Government of the Council of Europe was held in Warsaw in May 2005. Summits are not held in regular intervals. There have been only two other summits: Vienna 1993; and, Strasbourg 1997. In addition to the summits, certain organs of the Council have their own regular schedule in which they hold sessions throughout the year. Notable past events include: Third Summit of Heads of States and Government— Warsaw May 16-17, 2005 The main aims of the summit were to: confirm the Council’s commitment to protect and promote human rights as well as democracy and rule of law throughout Europe; develop transnational political dialogue at all levels of government; reform operations at the European Court of Human Rights to hasten the both decision-making process by the Court and the application process; facilitate and develop activities that promote social cohesion, intercultural dialogue, and democratic citizenship; and strengthen the Council’s ties to the EU, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the United Nations. The Summit culminated with the drafting of the Warsaw Declaration. This document not only solidified the aims of the Summit but also exhibited a concentrated commitment to good governance, member-nation compliance to the principles and decisions of the Council, the fostering of a stronger European identity, and the condemnation of discrimination in any form. Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe(PACE) and European Parliament Leadership Meeting —Strasbourg, March 11-12, 2008 PACE President Lluís Maria de Puig and European Parliament (EP) President Hans-Gert Pöttering met to discuss the EU’s support for the European Convention on Human Rights, the Lisbon Treaty, and furthering co-operation between the two organizations. ii) Spring Congress Session—Malaga, Spain, March 12-14, 2008 The Congress dedicated its Spring Session to discussing issues surrounding regional development and its sustainability, democracy in Spain and Turkey, regional co-operation within the Black Sea Basin. Election observation reports were reviewed from Kosovo and Bosnia Herzogovinia, also. Official Visit to Norway by Secretary-General Terry Davis to discuss Human Rights—March 13-14, 2008 Secretary General Davis met with the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, in Oslo to sign an agreement that will establish the Human Rights Trust Fund. SG iii) i) i)


Davis also gave a lecture to an audience at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs on the topic of human rights in Europe. iv) 74th Plenary Session of the Venice Commission – March 14-15, 2008 During this session, the Commission adopted a multitude of draft opinions including one on the Constitution of Bulgaria; the draft law on the High Court Council of Serbia and draft laws on judges and structure of the courts; the Constitution of Finland; the draft law on Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its governmental institutional conflicts of interest. They also adopted an interim joint draft opinion on Azerbaijan’s electoral code and its amendments, and a draft report on the ―democratic control of the armed forces‖.2 Council of Europe Ministers of Foreign Affairs 118 Ministerial Meeting – Strasbourg, 7 May 2008 During this meeting, the Council of Europe’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs launched the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue – “Living Together as Equals in Dignity”. The White Paper is meant to respond to an increasing demand to clarify how intercultural dialogue may help appreciate diversity while sustaining social cohesion. It seeks to provide a conceptual framework and a guide for policymakers and practitioners. However, intercultural dialogue cannot be prescribed by law, rather it is intended to represent an open invitation to implement the principles set out in the document, to apply flexibly the recommendations presented, and to contribute to the ongoing debate about the future organization of society. v) First Conference of Ministers Responsible for Social Cohesion: “Investing in Social Cohesion - Investing in Stability and the Well-Being of Society” – Moscow, 26 – 27 February 2009 The Conference encouraged renewed political commitment to social cohesion. Since its Second Summit of Heads of State and Government in 1997, the Council of Europe identified social cohesion as "one of the foremost needs of the wider Europe and ... essential complement to the promotion of human rights and dignity". It was determined that this requires active and integrated policies involving different levels of government, the private sector and civil society in a transversal approach. Relevant measures, they resolved, including new approaches in line with the Council of Europe’s High-Level Task Force report, should be foreseen to respond to present challenges and strengthen citizens’ confidence in the future. vi)  Areas of Overlap with OAS Mandates and Work The Council of Europe and the OAS are organizations with very similar mandates, whose work overlaps in several areas. Geographically, the Council of Europe focuses its efforts on multilateral cooperation between European nations, while the focus of the OAS is on multilateral cooperation in the Western Hemisphere. However, the Council’s objectives run parallel to those of the OAS. Both seek to promote sustainable democracies and democratic processes, human rights, and to foster multilateral cooperation among their members in carrying out their mandates. Possible areas of collaboration between these two institutions include:

Draft Annotated Agenda for the 74th Plenary Session of the Venice Commission



Work on promoting awareness of human rights and monitoring Compliance with human rights conventions (The Commissioner for Human Rights) Work on social and cultural development (The Secretariat—Directorate General of Social Cohesion/ Directorate General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport) Work on the prevention of terrorism (The Secretariat—Directorate General of Legal Affairs, specifically the European Committee on Crime Problems) Work on electoral oversight (The Council of Europe Commission for Democracy through Law/ the Venice Commission) Work on eliminating corruption (The Council of Europe Commission for Democracy through Law/ the Venice Commission) Work on the rights of women and children (The Secretariat—Directorate General of Human Rights, ―Children and Violence: Building a Europe for and with children‖ established by the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in Warsaw 2005)







Secretary-General Terry Davis Mr. Davis was elected into the office of Secretary General of the Council of Europe by the Parliamentary Assembly in 2004. Before serving as SG, he was a member of British Parliament for 28 years serving as the official spokesperson of the Labour Party in Parliament for 7 of those years. He was also a leader of the United Kingdom Delegations to the Council and Western European Union Assemblies of Europe from 1993 to 2004. During this time, he championed the protection of human rights, the promotion of rule of law, and sustainable democratic institutions. In 1999, he was appointed to the Privy Council to the Queen of England at the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Mr. Davis received his law degree from University College London and his postgraduate degree in Business Administration, summa cum laude, from the University of Michigan.


 Contact Information Council of Europe Avenue de l’Europe 67075 Strasbourg Cedex Tel. +33 (0)3 88 41 20 00 Website:

 Text of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms/the European Convention on Human Rights: ean+Convention+on+Human+Rights+and+its+Protocols/


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