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Council of Europe
Conseil de l'Europe
""Council of Europe logo (2013 revised version).png
""Council of Europe (orthographic projection).svg
Formation "Treaty of London 1949
Type "Regional "intergovernmental organisation
Headquarters "Strasbourg, "France
Official languages
"English, "French
Other working languages: "German, "Italian, "Russian
Secretary General
"Thorbjørn Jagland
Deputy Secretary General
Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni
President of the "Parliamentary Assembly
"Michele Nicoletti
President of the "Committee of Ministers
"Anders Samuelsen
President of the "Congress
"Jean-Claude Frécon

The Council of Europe (CoE; "French: Conseil de l'Europe) is an "international organisation whose stated aim[1] is to uphold "human rights, "democracy, "rule of law in "Europe[2] and promote "European culture.[3] Founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, covers approximately 820 million people and operates with an annual budget of approximately half a billion "euros.[4]

The organisation is distinct from the 28-nation "European Union (EU), although it is sometimes confused with it, partly because the EU has adopted the original "European Flag which was created by the Council of Europe in 1955,[5] as well as the "European Anthem.[6] No country has ever joined the EU without first belonging to the Council of Europe.[7] The Council of Europe is an official United Nations Observer.[8]

Unlike the EU, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws, but it does have the power to enforce select international agreements reached by European states on various topics. The best known body of the Council of Europe is the "European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the "European Convention on Human Rights.

The Council's two statutory bodies are the "Committee of Ministers, comprising the foreign ministers of each member state, and the "Parliamentary Assembly, composed of members of the national parliaments of each member state. The "Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the member states. The "Secretary General heads the secretariat of the organisation. Other major CoE bodies include the "European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines.

The headquarters of the Council of Europe are in "Strasbourg, "France. "English and "French are its two "official languages. The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the "Congress also use "German, "Italian, "Russian, and "Turkish for some of their work.



Plaque commemorating the first session of the Council of Europe Assembly at "Strasbourg University

In a speech at the "University of Zurich on 19 September 1946, Sir "Winston Churchill called for a "kind of "United States of Europe" and for the creation of a Council of Europe.[9][10] He had spoken of a Council of Europe as early as 1943 in a radio broadcast.[11]

Session of the Council of Europe's Assembly in the former "House of Europe in Strasbourg in 1967. "Willy Brandt, "German minister for Foreign Affairs, is speaking.

The future structure of the Council of Europe was discussed at a specific congress of several hundred leading politicians, government representatives and civil society in "The Hague, "Netherlands, in 1948. There were two schools of thought competing: some favoured a classical international organisation with representatives of governments, while others preferred a political forum with parliamentarians. Both approaches were finally combined through the creation of the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly under the Statute of the Council of Europe. This dual intergovernmental and inter-parliamentary structure was later copied for the "European Communities, "North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the "Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by the "Treaty of London. The Treaty of London or the Statute of the Council of Europe was signed in London on that day by ten states: "Belgium, "Denmark, "France, "Ireland, "Italy, "Luxembourg, the "Netherlands, "Norway, "Sweden and the "United Kingdom. Many other states followed, especially after the democratic transitions in central and eastern Europe during the early 1990s, and the Council of Europe now includes all European states except "Belarus,[12] "Vatican City[13], Kazakhstan and European territories "with limited recognition such as "Artsakh, "Abkhazia, "South Ossetia, "Northern Cyprus, "Transnistria, and "Kosovo.

Aims and achievements[edit]

Article 1(a) of the Statute states that "The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress."[14] Membership is open to all European states who seek harmony, cooperation, good governance and human rights, accepting the principle of the rule of law and are able and willing to guarantee democracy, fundamental human rights and freedoms.

While the member states of the European Union transfer part of their national legislative and executive powers to the "European Commission and the "European Parliament, Council of Europe member states maintain their sovereignty but commit themselves through conventions/treaties ("international law) and co-operate on the basis of common values and common political decisions. Those conventions and decisions are developed by the member states working together at the Council of Europe. Both organisations function as concentric circles around the common foundations for European co-operation and harmony, with the Council of Europe being the geographically wider circle. The European Union could be seen as the smaller circle with a much higher level of integration through the transfer of powers from the national to the EU level. "The Council of Europe and the European Union: different roles, shared values."[15] Council of Europe conventions/treaties are also open for signature to non-member states, thus facilitating equal co-operation with countries outside Europe.

The Council of Europe's most famous achievement is the "European Convention on Human Rights, which was adopted in 1950 following a report by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, and followed on from the United Nations '"Universal Declaration of Human Rights' (UDHR).[16] The Convention created the "European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The Court supervises compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and thus functions as the highest European court. It is to this court that Europeans can bring cases if they believe that a member country has violated their fundamental rights and freedoms.

The various activities and achievements of the Council of Europe can be found in detail on its official website. The Council of Europe works in the following areas:

Building of the "European Court of Human Rights


The institutions of the Council of Europe are:

The CoE system also includes a number of semi-autonomous structures known as ""Partial Agreements", some of which are also open to non-member states:

Headquarters and buildings[edit]

Aerial shot of the "Palais de l'Europe in Strasbourg
Council of Europe's Agora building

The seat of the Council of Europe is in "Strasbourg, France. First meetings were held in Strasbourg's "University Palace in 1949, but the Council of Europe soon moved into its own buildings. The Council of Europe's eight main buildings are situated in the Quartier européen, an area in the northeast of Strasbourg spread over the three districts of Le Wacken, La Robertsau and Quartier de l'Orangerie, where are also located the four buildings of the "seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the "Arte headquarters and the seat of the "International Institute of Human Rights.

Building in the area started in 1949 with the predecessor of the Palais de l'Europe, the House of Europe (demolished in 1977), and came to a provisional end in 2007 with the opening of the New General Office Building, later named "Agora", in 2008.[33] The Palais de l'Europe ("Palace of Europe) and the "Art Nouveau Villa Schutzenberger (seat of the "European Audiovisual Observatory) are in the Orangerie district, and the "European Court of Human Rights, the "European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and the Agora Building are in the Robertsau district. The Agora building has been voted "best international business center real estate project of 2007" on 13 March 2008, at the "MIPIM 2008.[34] The European Youth Centre is located in the Wacken district.

Besides its headquarters in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe is also present in other cities and countries. The Council of Europe Development Bank has its seat in Paris, the "North-South Centre of the Council of Europe is established in "Lisbon, "Portugal, and the Centre for Modern Languages is in "Graz, "Austria. There are "European Youth Centres in "Budapest, "Hungary, and in Strasbourg. The European Wergeland Centre, a new Resource Centre on education for intercultural dialogue, human rights and democratic citizenship, operated in cooperation with the Norwegian Government, opened in "Oslo, "Norway, in February 2009.[35]

The Council of Europe has offices in "Albania, "Armenia, "Azerbaijan, "Bosnia and Herzegovina, "Georgia, "Moldova, "Montenegro, "Serbia, and "Ukraine; information offices in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, "Bulgaria, "Czech Republic, "Estonia, Georgia, "Hungary, "Latvia, "Lithuania, Moldova, "Poland, "Romania, "Russian Federation, "Slovakia, "Slovenia, the "Republic of Macedonia, and Ukraine; and a projects office in "Turkey. All these offices are establishments of the Council of Europe and they share its juridical personality with privileges and immunities.

Due to persistent budgetary shortages, the Council of Europe is expected to cut down significantly the number of its activities, and thus the number of its employees, from 2011 on. This will notably affect the economy of the city of Strasbourg, where a total of 2,321 people (on 1 January 2010) are doing salaried work for the CoE. Most offices in foreign countries are expected to be closed as well.[36]

Member states, observers, partners[edit]

The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by "Belgium, "Denmark, "France, "Ireland, "Italy, "Luxembourg, "Netherlands, "Norway, "Sweden and the "United Kingdom. "Greece and "Turkey joined three months later, and "Iceland and "West Germany the next year. It now has 47 member states, with "Montenegro being the latest to join.

Article 4 of the Council of Europe Statute specifies that membership is open to any "European" State. This has been interpreted liberally from the beginning (when Turkey was admitted) to include "transcontinental states such as Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

Nearly all "European states have acceded to the Council of Europe, with the exceptions of "Belarus ("human rights concerns), "Kazakhstan ("human rights concerns), and the "Vatican City (a "theocracy), as well as some of the territories "with limited recognition.

Besides the status as a full member, the Council of Europe has established "other instruments for cooperation and participation of non-member states: observer, applicant, special guest, and partner for democracy.


Non-member states[edit]

The Council of Europe works mainly through conventions. By drafting conventions or international treaties, common legal standards are set for its member states. However, several conventions have also been opened for signature to non-member states. Important examples are the "Convention on Cybercrime (signed for example, by Canada, Japan, South Africa and the United States), the "Lisbon Recognition Convention on the recognition of study periods and degrees (signed for example, by Australia, Belarus, Canada, the "Holy See, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, New Zealand and the United States), the Anti-"doping Convention (signed, for example, by Australia, Belarus, Canada and Tunisia) and the "Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (signed for example, by Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal as well as the "European Community). Non-member states also participate in several partial agreements, such as the "Venice Commission, the "Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), the "European Pharmacopoeia Commission and the "North-South Centre.

Invitations to sign and ratify relevant conventions of the Council of Europe on a case-by-case basis are sent to three groups of non-member entities:[37]

European Union[edit]

Council of Europe Schengen Area European Free Trade Association European Economic Area Eurozone European Union European Union Customs Union Agreement with EU to mint euros GUAM Central European Free Trade Agreement Nordic Council Baltic Assembly Benelux Visegrád Group Common Travel Area Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Union State Switzerland Iceland Norway Liechtenstein Sweden Denmark Finland Poland Czech Republic Hungary Slovakia Greece Estonia Latvia Lithuania Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg Italy France Spain Austria Germany Portugal Slovenia Malta Cyprus Ireland United Kingdom Croatia Romania Bulgaria Turkey Monaco Andorra San Marino Vatican City Georgia Ukraine Azerbaijan Moldova Armenia Russia Belarus Serbia Albania Montenegro Macedonia Bosnia and Herzegovina Kosovo (UNMIK) Kazakhstan
A clickable "Euler diagram showing the relationships between various multinational European organisations and agreements.

The Council of Europe is not to be confused with the "Council of the European Union (the "Council of Ministers") or the "European Council. These belong to the "European Union, which is separate from the Council of Europe, although they have shared the same European flag and anthem since the 1980s because they both work for "European integration. The Council of Europe is not to be confused with the European Union itself.

The Council of Europe is an entirely separate body[38] from the European Union. It is not controlled by it.

Cooperation between the "European Union and the Council of Europe has recently been reinforced, notably on culture and education as well as on the international enforcement of justice and Human Rights.[39]

The European Union is expected to accede to the "European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). There are also concerns about consistency in case law – the "European Court of Justice (the EU's court in "Luxembourg) is treating the Convention as part of the legal system of all "EU member states in order to prevent conflict between its judgements and those of the "European Court of Human Rights (the court in "Strasbourg interpreting the Convention). Protocol No. 14 of the Convention is designed to allow the EU to accede to it and the EU "Treaty of Lisbon contains a protocol binding the EU to join. The EU would thus be subject to its human rights law and external monitoring as its member states currently are.[40][41]

United Nations[edit]

The beginning of co-operation between the CoE and the UN started with the agreement signed by the Secretariats of these institutions on 15 December 1951. On 17 October 1989, the "General Assembly of the United Nations approved a resolution on granting observer status to the Council of Europe which was proposed by several member states of the CoE.[42] Currently Council of Europe holds "observer status with the "United Nations and is regularly represented in the "UN General Assembly. It has organised the regional UN conferences against racism and on women and co-operates with the United Nations at many levels, in particular in the areas of human rights, minorities, migration and counter-terrorism. In November 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus Resolution (A/Res/71/17) on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe whereby it acknowledged the contribution of Council of Europe to the protection and strengthening of human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law, welcomed the ongoing co-operation in a variety of fields.

Non-governmental organisations[edit]

Non-governmental organisations ("NGOs) can participate in the "INGOs Conference of the Council of Europe and become observers to inter-governmental committees of experts. The Council of Europe drafted the "European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations in 1986, which sets the legal basis for the existence and work of NGOs in Europe. Article 11 of the "European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to freedom of association, which is also a fundamental norm for NGOs. The rules for "Consultative Status for INGOs appended to the resolution (93)38 "On relation between the Council of Europe and "non-governmental organisations", adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 18 October 1993 at the 500th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies. On 19 November 2003 the Committee of Ministers changed the consultative status into a participatory status, "considering that it is indispensable that the rules governing the relations between the Council of Europe and NGOs evolve to reflect the active participation of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) in the Organisation's policy and work programme".[43]


Privileges and immunities[edit]

The General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe grants the organisation certain privileges and immunities.[44]

The working conditions of staff are governed by the Council's staff regulations, which are public.[45] Salaries and emoluments paid by the Council of Europe to its officials are tax-exempt on the basis of Article 18 of the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe.[44]

Symbol and anthem[edit]

The Council of Europe created, and has since 1955 used as its official symbol, the "European Flag with 12 golden stars arranged in a circle on a blue background.

Its musical anthem since 1972, the ""European Anthem", is based on the ""Ode to Joy" theme from "Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ninth symphony.

On 5 May 1964, the 15th anniversary of its founding, the Council of Europe established 5 May as "Europe Day.[46]

The wide private and public use of the European Flag is encouraged to symbolise a European dimension. To avoid confusion with the "European Union which subsequently adopted the same flag in the 1980s, as well as other European institutions, the Council of Europe often uses a modified version with a lower-case "e" surrounding the stars which is referred to as the "Council of Europe Logo".[46][47]

Criticism and controversies[edit]

In recent years, the Council of Europe has been criticised for doing too little to stand up to the transgressions of some of its members. In 2013 "The Economist agreed, saying that the "Council of Europe's credibility is on the line".[48] Both Human Rights Watch and the European Stability Initiative have called on the Council of Europe to undertake concrete actions to show that it is willing and able to return to its "original mission to protect and ensure human rights".[49]

Issues have been raised regarding "Azerbaijan's relationship to the Council of Europe, including allegations that Azerbaijan has, over a sustained period, provided bribes to Council members to vote down criticism of the authoritarian rule of the "Aliyev regime and support motions advantageous to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe in 2001. In September 2014 "Human Rights Watch, said that Azerbaijan's "systematic crackdown on human rights defenders and other perceived government critics shows sheer contempt for its commitments to the Council of Europe".[50] In 2017 Council member and Italian politician Luca Volontè was accused by Italian prosecutors of receiving over 2.3 million euros in bribes in exchange for working for Azerbaijan in the parliamentary assembly, and that in 2013 he played a key role in orchestrating the defeat of a highly critical report on the abuse of political prisoners in Azerbaijan.[51][52] The money was paid to Volontè in monthly installments of 100,000 euros, starting in 2013, via four anonymous offshore companies. The payments stopped in 2014 when Volontè's bank reported them as suspicious transactions to the Milan prosecutor's office.[53] "Arif Mammadov, former head of the Azerbaijan representation at the Council of Europe, has stated that Azerbaijan's delegation at the Council had 25 million dollars available to "bribe members of the delegations and "Pace generally".[54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Values". The Council of Europe in brief. Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  2. ^ "BBC News - Profile: The Council of Europe". 
  3. ^ Anonymous (16 June 2016). "The European flag". European Union – European Commission. 
  4. ^ Council of Europe, Budget, Retrieved: 21 April 2016
  5. ^ Council of Europe The European flag, Retrieved: 18 April 2016
  6. ^ Council of Europe The European anthem, Retrieved: 18 April 2016
  7. ^ Council of Europe How to Distinguish Us, Retrieved: 18 April 2016
  8. ^ "Intergovernmental Organizations". 
  9. ^ "Winston Churchill and the Council of Europe". Council of Europe: Archiving and Documentary Resources. Council of Europe. 6 April 2009. Retrieved 18 November 2013. , including audio extracts
  10. ^ "European Navigator (ENA)". Retrieved 4 April 2011.  Including full transcript
  11. ^ "Winston Churchill and the Council of Europe". Council of Europe: Archiving and Documentary Resources. Council of Europe. Retrieved 4 April 2011.  Including audio extracts
  12. ^ See Applicants section.
  13. ^ The Holy See is currently observer to the "CoE Committee of Ministers.
  14. ^ "Statute of the Council of Europe". Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "The Council of Europe and the European Union". 
  16. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". 
  17. ^ "Full list". Treaty Office. 
  18. ^ "Full list". Treaty Office. 
  19. ^ "Full list". Treaty Office. 
  20. ^ "Search on Treaties". Treaty Office. 
  21. ^ "Council of Europe Convention for the protection of Human Rights and dignity of the human being with regard to the application of biology and medicine". 
  22. ^ "Microsoft Word - Convention 197 Trafficking E.doc" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2008. 
  23. ^ "Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse". 
  24. ^ "Full list". Treaty Office. 
  25. ^ "Anti-Doping Convention". 
  26. ^ "Chairmanship". Committee of Ministers. Retrieved 2017-12-13. 
  27. ^ "PACE: News". Retrieved 2017-11-04. 
  28. ^ "In brief". Congress
    of Local and Regional Authorities
    . Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  29. ^ "History". Congress
    of Local and Regional Authorities
    . Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  30. ^ "Home - Commissioner for Human Rights". Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved 2017-12-13. 
  31. ^ "A word from the President on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe". 
  32. ^ "Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport". Council of Europe. 
  33. ^ "Inauguration of the Agora Building" (PDF) (Press release) (in French). Council of Europe. 30 January 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2008. 
  34. ^ "2008 List of MIPIM winners". ["permanent dead link]
  35. ^ "European Wergeland Centre". Archived from the original on 18 April 2009. 
  36. ^ "Conseil de l'Europe – Réduction drastique des activités à Strasbourg". L'Alsace. Mulhouse. 19 June 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010. ["permanent dead link]
  37. ^ "CoE Conventions". 31 December 1998. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  38. ^ "Council of the European Union". "European Union. Retrieved 2012-05-19. 
  39. ^ "The Council of Europe and the European Union sign an agreement to foster mutual cooperation". Council of Europe. 23 May 2007. Retrieved 5 August 2008. 
  40. ^ "Juncker, Jean-Claude (2006). "Council of Europe – European Union: "A sole ambition for the European continent"" (PDF). Council of Europe. Retrieved 5 August 2008. 
  41. ^ "Draft treaty modifying the treaty on the European Union and the treaty establishing the European community" (PDF). "Open Europe. 24 July 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 5 August 2008. 
  42. ^ "The Council of Europe's Relations with the United Nations". Retrieved 2017-08-25. 
  43. ^ [1] (Resolution Res (2003)8)
  44. ^ a b General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe, Council of Europe
  45. ^ Resolutions on the Council of Europe Staff Regulations, Council of Europe
  46. ^ a b "Flag, anthem and logo: the Council of Europe's symbols". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008. 
  47. ^ "Logo of the Council of Europe". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 2011-01-02. Retrieved 5 August 2008. 
  48. ^ The Economist (23 March 2013). "Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  49. ^ European Stability Initiative. "What the 2014 Havel Prize says about the Council of Europe – and what should happen now" (29 September 2014). ESI web. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  50. ^ Human Rights Watch (29 September 2014). "Azerbaijan: Government Repression Tarnishes Chairmanship Council of Europe's Leadership Should Take Action". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  51. ^ Jennifer Rankin, Council of Europe urged to investigate Azerbaijan bribery allegations, The Guardian, 1 February 2017 [2].
  52. ^ Matthew Valencia, Heaping on the Caviar Diplomacy
  53. ^ Gabanelli, Milena. "Il Consiglio d'Europa e il caso Azerbaijan tra regali e milioni". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 2017-01-30. 
  54. ^ Jennifer Rankin, Fresh claims of Azerbaijan vote-rigging at European human rights body, The Guardian, 20 April 2017 [3].

External links[edit]

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