The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent and non-judicial institution established in 1999 by the Committee of Ministers. The Commissioner operates under a wide mandate. The rapid reaction capacity is one of the main assets of the institution.

The Commissioner’s mission is to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in member states by encouraging reforms and assisting them in implementing Council of Europe human rights standards.

The Commissioner is in constant dialogue with member states and other stakeholders, including national human rights structures, and carries out visits to member states to monitor and evaluate the human rights situation, addressing key problems and giving precise recommendations through country-specific reports. The Commissioner publishes thematic documents on specific questions, can intervene as a third party in European Court of Human Rights’ proceedings and can address communications to the Committee of Ministers as part of its role in supervising the execution of Court judgments. The Commissioner also contributes during emerging crises or in post-conflict reconstruction efforts.

Civil society and human rights defenders are key partners for the Commissioner: protecting human rights defenders and promoting an enabling environment for their work lie at the core of the mandate. The Commissioner for Human Rights’ specific duty to work on issues related to human rights defenders is highlighted in the Committee of Ministers declaration on action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities of 6 February 2008. Throughout the years, commissioners have used various tools in the framework of their mandate with the aim of improving the situation of human rights defenders, assisting them when they are at risk and promoting their work. A dedicated page on the Commissioner’s website contains information on the institution’s work in this area.

The Commissioner’s meetings with representatives of civil society and human rights defenders are an integral part of visits to member states. The Commissioner also holds thematic consultations with representatives of civil society and draws upon their expertise while preparing issue papers, human rights comments and other publications. Contact the Commissioner‘s office here.