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Since 1972, the European anthem has been an excerpt from the prelude to the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th Symphony

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The Council of Europe's 47 member states form a death-penalty-free zone. Since 1985, the abolition of the death penalty has been a requirement for membership of the Council of Europe.

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The 10 000 pharmaceutical products manufactured and sold in Europe are subject to strict controls thanks to the work of the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare.

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Eurimages, set up in 1988, is the first European cinema support fund.

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In 1964, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe declared 5 May Europe Day.

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The Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse is the first instrument to establish the various forms of sexual abuse of children as criminal offences, including abuse committed in the home or family.

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The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is a political assembly whose members represent over 200 000 local and regional authorities throughout Europe.

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The 1996 Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine is the first binding international instrument in the field of bioethics. An additional protocol bans human cloning. 

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Workers' and employers' organisations can appeal to the European Committee of Social Rights if rights enshrined in the European Social Charter are not respected by member countries which have accepted the complaints procedure.

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The Council of Europe is a separate organisation from the 28-member EU. No country has joined the EU without first joining the Council of Europe. 

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The Commissioner for Human Rights, acting as an independent institution, has had the task of promoting awareness of and respect for human rights in all Council of Europe member states. 

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The Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention adopted in 1989 is the only international legal instrument in this area to date.

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Five countries have observer status with the Council of Europe: the Holy See, the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico. 

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The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence makes it clear that violence against women and domestic violence can no longer be considered as a private matter and that states have an obligation to prevent violence, protect victims and punish the perpetrators.

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English and French are the official languages of the Council of Europe. German, Italian and Russian are used as working languages. 

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The judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights are binding on the countries concerned and have led the 47 member states to amend their legislation and practice in many areas.

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All residents in Council of Europe member states may bring cases before the European Court of Human Rights against states which have breached their commitments under the European Convention on Human Rights.

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The European flag with 12 gold stars in a circle on a blue background was chosen by the Council of Europe in 1955. The number of stars does not change, twelve symbolising perfection. In 1986, the same flag became the emblem of the European Community, which is now the European Union.

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The parliamentarians who make up the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe come from the national parliaments of the Council's 47 member states. They speak on behalf of the 820 million Europeans who elected them.

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The Committee of Ministers is the Council of Europe's decision-making body. It is made up of the Foreign Ministers of all member states or their permanent representatives in Strasbourg.

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The number of indigenous languages in Europe is put at some 225. Basque is believed to be the oldest European language spoken today.

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The Council of Europe has produced over 200 treaties and conventions in many areas, including conventions on banning human cloning and the suppression of terrorism.

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The Convention on cybercrime of 2001 can be used to prosecute cybercriminals and tackle child pornography. An additional protocol criminalises racist and xenophobic acts committed through computer systems.

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The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages provides for the protection and promotion of these languages so as to maintain and expand Europe's cultural traditions and heritage.

 Did you know?
The 1996 Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine is the first binding international instrument in the field of bioethics. An additional protocol bans human cloning. 

QUIZ

According to the European Centre for Modern Languages, a Council of Europe body based in Graz (Austria), how many indigenous languages are there estimated to be in Europe?
  1. Under 100
  2. Between 100 and 200
  3. Over 200
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