Human Rights Directorate
The Human Rights Directorate works to promote, protect and develop human rights and rule of law and to ensure the compliance of the Council of Europe's member states.
For this, the directorate puts into practice the Council of Europe's unique strategic triangle of standard setting, monitoring and co-operation, which establishes mutual links between developing legally binding standards which are monitored by independent mechanisms and supplemented by co-operation and support activities.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visits places of detention, in order to assess how persons deprived of their liberty are treated. These places include prisons, juvenile detention centres, police stations, holding centres for immigration detainees, psychiatric hospitals.
Respect of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and, in particular, of the Court's judgments, is a crucial element of the Council of Europe's system for the protection of human rights, rule of law and democracy and, hence, for democratic stability and European unification.
The European Social Charter, the natural complement of the European Convention on Human Rights, guarantees social and economic human rights. It was adopted in 1961 and revised in 1996. The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) is the body responsible for monitoring compliance in the states party to the Charter.
Human Rights Policy and Co-operation
The principal role of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), under the auspices of the Committee of Ministers, is to set up standards commonly accepted by the 47 member States with the aim of developing and promoting human rights in Europe and improving the effectiveness of the control mechanism established by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The activities of the Division cover manifold themes such as partnerships with EU, UN, OSCE bodies and other international organisations, with civil society and independent national bodies that support human rights such as ombudsmen and national human rights commissions or anti-torture mechanisms; migration and internally displaced persons; coordination of Council of Europe support to reforms in Ukraine, human rights policies (such as regarding death penalty, business and human rights). The Division reacts swiftly and effectively to numerous challenges, combining intergovernmental tools with cooperation activities on the ground.
The Oviedo Convention signed by most of the European States, together with its Additional Protocols, sets out the fundamental principles applicable in day-to-day medicine as well as those applicable to new technologies in human biology and medicine.
The Division supports the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights and other European human rights standards at the national level in all Council of Europe member states through cooperation programmes in line with the 2012 Brighton and 2015 Brussels Declarations. The Division provides a combination of legislative expertise and capacity building support, paying attention to impact and aiming at sustainability, both essential and complementary elements to ensure a better protection of human rights at the national level. Through the projects, the Division disseminates good practices and contributes to raising the standards of human rights observance in Europe.
The European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) supports the Council of Europe member states in implementing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) at the national level, in accordance with the Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2004) 4, the 2010 Interlaken Declaration and the 2012 Brighton Declaration
Justice and Legal Co-operation
The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) is an innovative body entrusted with promoting and developing the tools and measures aimed at improving efficiency and quality of user-oriented judicial systems in the member States.
The Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) is an advisory body of the Council of Europe on issues related to the independence, impartiality and competence of judges. It is the first body within an international organisation to be composed exclusively of judges, and in this respect, it is unique in Europe.
Composed exclusively of prosecutors, the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE) is an advisory body of the Council of Europe. It gives advice on issues related to the status of prosecutors and the exercise of their duties, in particular to facilitate the implementation of Recommendation Rec(2000)19 on the role of public prosecution in the criminal justice system.
The European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) is an inter-governmental body which sets new standards – and regularly evaluates existing ones – in the field of public and private law. Its competence is defined by the priorities of the Council of Europe and the needs of member States; it has a well-known expertise notably in the area of family law and and nationality. Moreover, it works in the fields of administrative law, justice and rule of law.