External relations  of the Council of Europe cover co-operation with:

  • other international organisations and institutions; and
  • non-member states.

The Council of Europe has developed its scope for action and outreach beyond its member states. This outreach concerns non-member states and international organisations. 

The main vectors of this global outreach are first and foremost Council of Europe instruments and bodies open to non-member states and/or international organisations, via accession or other forms of participation.  Relations are generally demand-driven, subject to approval of the relevant Council of Europe authorities and, where relevant, subject to financial obligations. 

At present, more than 90 non-member states are Parties to Council of Europe treaties or participants in other Council of Europe instruments. A number of non-member states also have institutionalised bilateral relations with the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly and/or Congress. Observer status is the only available status open, at Committee of Ministers’ level, for non-member states which cannot become members.

In addition, the Council of Europe has relations with around 100 international organisations/international bodies. Most of these relations are based on framework co-operation agreements and/or various sectoral agreements with their individual components. Amongst all these international organisations, the EU, the OSCE and the UN remain Council of Europe key partners.

The Directorate of Political Affairs and External Relations (DPAER) has an overall responsibility for cooperation with other international organisations and non-members States and is the main contact point for the Council of Europe external partners. It assists and advises the Secretary General and the Organisation’s statutory organs, other bodies and Secretariat departments on issues affecting the Council of Europe’s external relations.