Cooperation with International Institutions and Civil Society
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OHCHR / United Nations - Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The UN is a major partner for the Council of Europe and an ideal platform for global outreach. The universality of values shared by the member states of the Council of Europe constitutes the basis for co-operation. The Council of Europe explores all possibilities stemming from its status of an “Intergovernmental organisation having received a standing invitation to participate as an observer in the sessions and the work of the United Nations General Assembly”.

Due to its global nature both in thematic and geographical terms, the UN constitutes an “across the board” partner for the Council of Europe. Relations focus on human rights in a broad sense. Co-operation in this field has been guided by the need for more interaction between regional and global human rights mechanisms and the recognition of a greater role for the former and their standards in the UN context. The Council of Europe shows its potential to act as an informal consensus building forum, going beyond regional blocks, for common positions on the important human rights issues under consideration at the UN. To this aim, the Committee of Ministers organizes every year since 2002 an exchange of views on the United Nations human rights issues with experts coming from the capitals.

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The Council of Europe also contributes to the Universal Periodic Review conducted by the UN Human Rights Council by submitting information relative to its member States about the conclusions of the various Council of Europe monitoring bodies, as well as other relevant information from the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights or from other Council of Europe bodies. The growing relations with the Geneva-based UN bodies and specialised agencies, in particular with the OHCHR, raised the need of more regular contacts and of a permanent presence of the Council of Europe in Geneva.

To this aim, since 2007 the Human Rights Law and Policy Division organises inter-secretariat coordination meetings at least once a year on specific human rights topics for raising awareness of respective activities and improving co-operation. The appointment, since 2009, of a Special Representative of the Secretary General to the United Nations Office and other international organisations in Geneva contributes to strengthen co-operation and regular exchanges of information.