Overall mandate

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The Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law has overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the human rights and rule of law standards of the Council of Europe, including the promotion of democracy through law, the operation of relevant treaties and related monitoring mechanisms and the development and implementation of activities in these fields.

The Directorate General is responsible for all matters within its competence that are relevant to the fulfilment of the Organisation's statutory objectives. In addition to the general protection of civil, political, economic and social rights, this includes in particular the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; bioethics; the protection of freedom of expression and of information in the information society and of media freedoms; the promotion of independent, pluralistic media; the fight against all forms of crime, including terrorism, corruption, money laundering and cybercrime; the strengthening of international cooperation in criminal matters, including with regard to prisons, and in matters of public and private law, including with regard to nationality, family law and data protection and the promotion of independent and efficient justice.

Main objectives

  •  to assist and advise the Secretary General on matters pertaining to law and policy in the fields of human rights and the rule of law;
  • to provide support and advice on these matters to the Committee of Ministers and all its subordinate Committees, in particular the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ), the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) and, as appropriate, to other Services of the Organisation;
  •  to elaborate and evaluate legal standards (Recommendations, guidelines, handbooks etc. and Conventions) ;
  •  to provide secretariat support and advice to the Organisation's treaty and related mechanisms in the fields of human rights and the rule of law, in particular to the Committee of Ministers in its function of supervision of the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), the European Committee of Social Rights, GRECO (corruption), MONEYVAL (money laundering and financing of terrorism), the European Audiovisual Observatory, the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) and the Pompidou Group (Combating drug abuse and drug trafficking) ;
  •  to support member and/or nonĖmember states in implementing institutional and legal frameworks in compliance with the principles of a democratic state, and at ensuring the observance of human rights and the rule of law.

To meet these objectives, the DG, inter alia:

  •  maintains and develops contacts with the competent committees of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress;
  • co-operates and liaises regularly with other secretariat entities, in particular with the Directorate of Human Rights and Antidiscrimination - Directorate General of Democracy, on human rights and rule of law issues with a view to ensure an overall coherence of the Organisationís policies;
  • liaises and co-operates with the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights on matters of common interest, in particular regarding the execution of the Court's judgments;
  • liaises and exchanges information with the Commissioner for Human Rights so as to optimise the effectiveness of action taken respectively by the DG and the Commissioner;
  • maintains and develops contacts with national authorities and specialised agencies (e.g.  the Human Rights national Institutions and the Government Agents' offices before the European Court of Human Rights) in member and observer states in the field of human rights and the rule of law;
  •  follows closely policies and developments in member and observer states as well as in neighbouring countries which may have implications for human rights and the rule of law and call for action by the Organisation;
  • disseminates information on Council of Europe standards, achievements and activities in the DG's fields of competence;
  • maintains and develops legal relations and establishes appropriate working contacts with the European Union through the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations;
  • implements the agreement between the European Union and the Council of Europe concerning the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA);
  • designs and implements cooperation activities to facilitate the honouring of commitments by member or applicant states, including in the framework of joint initiatives with the European Commission and other partners and of the "Human Rights Trust Fund";
  • develops interaction and synergies between the work of the Council of Europe in the fields of human rights and the rule of law and that of other European, regional and global actors; liaises with the competent services and bodies of the United Nations, the OECD, the OSCE and other Organisations, taking into account the specific responsibilities of the Directorate of External Relations;
  • works with and through non-governmental organisations and relevant professional groups;
  • liaises with Council of Europe offices in the field concerning matters within its sphere of competence, taking into account the specific responsibilities of the Office of the Director General of Programmes.