Set up by the Committee of Ministers under Article 17 of the Statute of the Council of Europe and in accordance with Resolution CM/Res(2011)24 on intergovernmental committees and subordinate bodies, their terms of reference and working methods.

The terms of reference of the CDCJ set out the main tasks and the expected results of the Committee, its working methods, its composition as well as the specific qualifications of its members.

Type of Committee: Steering Committee

Terms of reference valid from: 1 January 2020 until 31 December 2021

 Terms of Reference of the CDCJ 2020-2021

Pillar/Programme/Sub-Programme

Pillar: Rule of Law

Programme: Rule of Law based institutions

Sub-programme: Legal co-operation

Main tasks

Under the authority of the Committee of Ministers, the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) will oversee the Council of Europe’s work in the field of public and private law and advise the Committee of Ministers on all questions within its areas of competence, taking due account of relevant transversal perspectives. For this purpose, the CDCJ will:

  1. identify new and emerging challenges to member States in areas within its expertise (inter alia justice and rule of law, administrative law, family law, children’s rights, nationality), and plan, supervise and evaluate standard-setting activities in these areas;
  2. promote and facilitate co-operation and understanding between member States within its areas of competence;
  3. follow the implementation of the non-binding instruments that it has prepared and, if appropriate, of others within its area of competence;
  4. promote and facilitate the functioning and implementation of Council of Europe conventions, agreements and protocols;
  5. contribute, where appropriate, to the implementation of co-operation projects and of other activities to support national initiatives within its areas of competence;
  6. contribute (if necessary) to the preparation of the Conference of the Ministers of Justice (subject to invitation), in co-operation with the CDDH and the CDPC, and ensure, as appropriate, the follow-up of any decision taken by the Committee of Ministers subsequent to the conference;
  7. provide legislative advice and training to national authorities on Council of Europe public and private law standards with a view to supporting member States in legal reforms to strengthen judicial independence and impartiality;
  8. raise awareness of national authorities and other relevant bodies of Council of Europe public and private law standards;
  1. take due account of the reports, decisions and conclusions of relevant monitoring mechanisms in the performance of its tasks;
  2. hold an exchange of views annually in order to evaluate its activities and advise the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General on future priorities in its sector, including possible new activities and those that might be discontinued;
  3. take due account of gender and children’s rights perspectives; building cohesive societies and promoting and protecting rights of persons with disabilities in the performance of its tasks;
  4. in accordance with decisions CM/Del/Dec(2013)1168/10.2 of the Committee of Ministers, carry out, at regular intervals, within the limits of the available resources and bearing in mind its priorities, an examination of some or all of the conventions for which it has been given responsibility,[15] in co-operation, where appropriate, with the relevant convention-based bodies, and report back to the Committee of Ministers ;
  5. contribute to the achievement of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular with regards to Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong institutions.

Specific tasks

  1. Develop guidelines with a view to ensuring that online dispute resolution mechanisms are compatible with Articles 6 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  2. Review the implementation of the Sofia Action Plan (Secretary General final report in 2021) on judicial Independence and Impartiality.
  3. Following the conference of Ministers of Justice organised by the French authorities within the French Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers (14-15 October 2019), develop activities in the field of artificial intelligence.
  4. Continue preparing a feasibility study aimed at protecting the profession of lawyer and, subject to the on-going feasibility study and CDCJ and CM decisions, draft an instrument.
  5. Develop guidelines aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of legal aid schemes in the member States in the areas of civil and administrative law.
  6. Develop guidelines on access to translation and/or interpretation in civil and administrative proceedings.
  7. Review protocols and procedures used by member States to determine and resolve cases of statelessness, in particular of migrant children (activity subject to results of the preliminary review in 2019).
  8. Review of policy and practice on how the best interests of the child and their rights are protected in situations of parental separation and in proceedings by public authorities to limit parental responsibilities or place a child in care; and prepare, as appropriate, on the basis of the above-mentioned reviews, guidelines, policy instruments or practical tools, in line with international and European standards and good practice.
  9. Submit to the Committee of Ministers a report on the work so far completed on the conditions of administrative detention of migrants, with proposals for possible avenues for the completion of this work.
  10. Organise awareness-raising activities on powers of attorney and advance directives for incapacity and support member States to implement Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)11 on the issue.
  11. Review progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), as evidenced by monitoring mechanisms and promoted through standard-setting and exchange of experiences and good practices.

Composition

Members:

Governments of member States are invited to designate one or more representatives of the highest possible rank in the field of public and private law, with responsibility at the national level for the planning, development and implementation of policies relevant to the work of the Committee and appointed by their governments to co‑ordinate at national level all elements of government policy relevant to the work of the Committee.

The Council of Europe will bear the travel and subsistence expenses of one representative from each member State (two in the case of the State whose representative has been elected Chair).

Each member of the committee shall have one vote. Where a government designates more than one member, only one of them is entitled to take part in the voting.

In accordance with decisions CM/Del/Dec(2013)1168/10.2 of the Committee of Ministers, in cases where there is no convention-based body including all the Parties, non-member States are invited to take part, with a right to vote, in the committee meetings pertaining to the conventions to which they are Parties.

Participants:

The following may send representatives, without the right to vote and at the charge of their corresponding administrative budgets:

- Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;

- Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe;

- European Court of Human Rights;

- Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights;

- Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe;

- Committees or other bodies of the Council of Europe engaged in related work, as appropriate.

The following may send a representative without the right to vote and without defrayal of expenses:

- European Union (including, as appropriate, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA));

- Observer States to the Council of Europe: Canada, Holy See, Japan, Mexico, United States of America;

- United Nations International Law Commission (ILC);

- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR);

- International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT);

- Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH);

- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);

- Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE);

- Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR);

- International Commission on Civil Status (ICCS).

Observers:

The following may send representatives, without the right to vote and without defrayal of expenses:

- Belarus;

- International Social Service (ISS);[16]

- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).2

Working methods

Plenary meetings:

48 members, 1 meeting in 2020, 3 days

48 members, 1 meeting in 2021, 3 days

Bureau meetings:

7 members, 2 meetings in 2020, 2 days

7 members, 2 meetings in 2021, 2 days

The Committee will also appoint one (two if possible) Gender Equality Rapporteur(s) and one Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities and one Children’s Rights Rapporteur from amongst its members.

The rules of procedure of the Committee are governed by Resolution CM/Res(2011)24 on intergovernmental committees and subordinate bodies, their terms of reference and working methods.

Whenever appropriate, it will prioritise environmentally sound working methods, such as virtual meetings facilitated by information technology and written consultations.

Subordinate structures

The CDCJ supervises its subordinate body:

- Committee of experts on the rights and the best interests of child in parental separation and in care proceedings (CJ/ENF-ISE) (see separate terms of reference).