Since the founding of the Council of Europe in 1949, its member States have been devoted “to the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage of their peoples and the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy” (Statute of the Council of Europe). All entities of the Council of Europe are working on the basis of these principles.

Ms Snežana Samardžić-Marković is the Director General of Democracy at the Council of Europe since 2012. Under her responsibility, the Directorate General works to help our member states in creating a favourable environment for sustainable democracy and democratic security in Europe.

Three directorates and eight partial agreements under her responsibility are providing guidance, assistance and innovation in the areas of democratic governance, participation and diversity. Her responsibilities include the policy areas of education and youth, local democracy, cultural policies, election assistance, the protection of human dignity, gender equality, children’s rights, and the rights of minorities, work against discrimination, democratic citizenship and democratic responses to crisis situations.

Previously, Ms Samardžić-Marković has held numerous positions in the Serbian Government including as Deputy Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Neighbouring Countries; Assistant Minister of Defence (2005-2007) and Co-President of the Serbia-NATO Defence Reform Group; member of the Foundation Board of WADA, Minister of Youth and Sports (2007-2012) and President of the Fund for Young Talents.

Mandate of the Directorate generale of Democracy

The overall mandate of the Directorate General of Democracy is to support the Council of Europe action in fields which are critically important for the sustainability of democracy and for ensuring human dignity:

  •  To ensure the respect for human dignity of all without discrimination and on the basis of human rights standards
  •  To improve the functioning of democratic institutions and to secure compliance with democracy and human rights standards
  •  To strengthen the democratic competencies of the citizens and their willingness to engage themselves in the democratic process
  •  To democratically manage the inner diversity of European societies in a spirit of solidarity and tolerance based on the political and legal standards of the Council of Europe.

To meet these objectives, the DG Democracy

  • provides secretariat services for the planning, implementation and assessment of intergovernmental standard-setting, monitoring and co-operation activities in accordance with the general instructions and guidelines issued by the Secretary General;
  • advises and assists the Committee of Ministers and its relevant rapporteur groups and/or rapporteurs;
  • assists and advises the Secretary General on the implementation and follow-up of existing policies and standards, as well as monitoring the conventions (where applicable) in its area of competence;
  • maintains and develops contacts with national authorities and specialised agencies in member States, with other States Parties to the ECC (where applicable) and, as appropriate, other States;
  • designs and implements assistance activities to facilitate the fulfilment of commitments by member and applicant States, including in the framework of joint programmes with the European Union and other partners;
  • develops interaction and synergies between the Council of Europe and other international institutions, taking into account the specific responsibilities of the Directorate of External Relations;
  • works in partnership with non-governmental organisations and relevant professional groups on issues in its field of competence;
  • works through the permanent co-management structures in the youth field and makes full use of its European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest, to implement Council of Europe's youth policies;
  • cooperates with the SRSG for Roma Issues, and provides technical support to the SRSG Support Team, notably regarding financial administration and human resources management;
  • organises, in co-operation with partners and with the support of the Directorate of Policy Planning, the Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy
  • follows the decisions of the European Co-ordination Forum and the Committee of Ministers with regard to the Council of Europe's relations with the World Anti-Doping Agency;
  • liaises, within its field of competence, with the external offices of the Council of Europe in close co-ordination with the Office of the Directorate General of Programmes.