Protecting Rule of Law in Europe

Presidency of the Committee of Ministers Strasbourg 18 February 2019
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Protecting Rule of Law in Europe

A Conference on “How can we protect the rule of law in Europe” was held at the University of Tampere on 5th February as a part of Finland’s presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The event gathered together hundreds of participants to discuss about the ways of protecting the European system of the rule of law. The speakers were high-level experts in the judicial field. Among them were, for example, Judges of the European Court of Human Rights, Judges of the Supreme Courts as well as academics.

The previous day, in a workshop hosted by All Youth Panel, a group of young students had formulated their recommendations for the Council of Europe. The recommendations were handed over in the conference to the representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice. One of the recommendations was that the various international instruments for protecting human rights should complement each other. In addition, the climate change was highlighted as it is seen to cause challenges also for the rule of law. The full recommendations can be found from:

Caption 1: The All Youth Masterclass students handed over their recommendations for Director Johanna Suurpää (MoJ) and Unit Director Nina Nordström (MFA). Photo: Merja Lahtinen.

Caption 2: The Judges panel. From left Kari Kuusiniemi, Matti Pellonpää, Ineta Ziemele, Päivi Hirvelä, Nina Betetto and Janneke Gerards.

The climate change’s effect on human rights and the rule of law was discussed also during the Judges panel. Additionally, the judges gave their own promises, which were related for example to impartiality, for protecting and safeguarding the rule of law.

During the day, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe was brought up to the discussion several times. Especially its “Rule of Law checklist” was praised as an excellent tool for monitoring the execution of the rule of law and democracy.

One of the speakers was Dr Kaarlo Tuori, a member of the Venice Commission, who among other things pondered the definition of the concept of “The Rule of Law”.

The conference brought together leading European experts in the field of the Rule of Law to discuss the current challenges in this field as well as share good practices on measuring and monitoring the application of the Rule of Law, including tools and indicators available. All in all, the discussions were very constructive and fruitful. The priority of the Finnish presidency programme is to support and strengthen Europe’s system of human rights and the rule of law. The presidency continues until 17th May.