Dear Followers and Friends of the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade,

Today 71 years ago, on 5 May 1949, the Statute of the Council of Europe was signed in London by the ten founding states of our organisation. The then British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin concluded his inaugural address with the following words: "This agreement lays the foundations of something new and hopeful in European life. We are witnessing today the establishment of a common democratic institution on this ancient continent of Europe."

The Statute and the aims of the new International Organisation continue to inspire the peoples of today's 47 member states. Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić in her statement today highlights the relevance of the Council of Europe' achievements, in particular of the European Convention on Human Rights providing indispensable protection and guarantees for the full realisation of fundamental rights and freedoms of every person in a Council of Europe member state.

The European Convention on Human Rights was signed on 4 November 1950 in Rome. This year, we will hence mark its 70th anniversary together with the 70th anniversary of the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman's proposal leading to today's European Union, which will be marked on 9 May. When we mark those important dates for European unity, we cannot forget that they are inseparately linked to 8 May 1945 and the victory of the Allied Forces and liberation of Europe from the terror of Nazi Germany. The archive film, thankfully provided by the University of Luxembourg, shows the early days of the Council of Europe in 1949 following the Congress of the European Movements held in The Hague in May 1948 and gives us an idea of the hopes and aspirations during those momentous times:  

The current COVID-19 pandemic, when seen in historic perspective, provides us with an important yet not unsurmountable challenge. During the last weeks, the Council of Europe has published a number of useful documents, guidelines and recommendations as well as compilations of text to help member states steer through these testing times, respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

At the occasion of our anniversary, I am pleased to be able to provide you on behalf of the whole team of the Council of Europe in Belgrade with a number of useful links to these documents, many of which we have also translated into Serbian and other languages. These texts are living testimony of the achievements of the Council of Europe over the last decades and shall help us to orient our action in the coming period.

Happy Europe Day!

Head of the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade
Chef de Bureau du Conseil de l'Europe à Belgrade

- Message of Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

- Respecting democracy, rule of law and human rights in the framework of the COVID-19 sanitary crisis – A toolkit for member states

- Compilation of Venice Commission opinions and reports on States of emergency the Venice Commission

- The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) guidelines

- Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty (by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)

- Freedom of expression and information in times of crisis

- The Council of Europe Covid-19 portal dedicated to Human Rights in times of crisis

- Visit our human rights training programme, the HELP, traditionally meant for lawyers and legal professionals, is now accessible for everyone

Video Video


Film on the European Court of Human Rights