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.

Vision of the Directorate general of Democracy


“Safeguarding and realizing genuine democracy” – is the long-term strategic goal of Directorate General of Democracy.


Its mission


In order to achieve progress towards this long term goal, Directorate General of Democracy invests in democratic security for Europe by working with member states in three main areas:

  • reinforcing democratic institutions and citizens' trust in them;
  • building inclusive societies free from discrimination, hate and violence;
  • helping young people to be confident in a common European future.


This is done by multilateral work, notably in intergovernmental committees , developing policy and legal standards, monitoring and supporting their implementation.

For that purpose, DG Democracy also cooperate with local and regional authorities, civil society, the private sector and other international organisations.


Main objectives


  • To assist and advise the Secretary General on policy issues related to reinforcement of democratic institutions and processes, to the building of European societies free from discrimination and violence and based on common European shared values of Human rights;
  • to provide support and advice to the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress in its fields of competence;
  • to plan and implement relevant programmes to service intergovernmental and other bodies of the Council of Europe, as well as the Conferences of specialised Ministers;
  • to design and implement targeted programmes to assist the member States (as well as the States Parties to the European Cultural Convention (ECC)) to develop their relevant structures and policies and fulfil their commitments under the relevant treaties of the Organisation;
  • to assist in their work the governing bodies of the partial agreements set up in its fields of competence, in accordance with their respective terms of reference, and to provide management and other services for the implementation of their programmes (the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity/”North-South Centre”, the European Centre for Modern Languages, the European Support Fund for the Co-production and Distribution of Creative Cinematographic and Audiovisual Works “Eurimages”, the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement, the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport EPAS, the Partial Agreement on Youth Mobility through the Youth Card, the Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes and the EDQM - Pharmacopeia).


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;
  • 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.

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 the member states in creating a favourable environment for sustainable democracy and democratic security in Europe.

Three directorates and ten 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. In addition, Ms Samardžić-Marković is, on voluntary basis, a member of the Governing Board of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes, of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture, of the UEFA Foundation for Children board of trustees and of the Governance Task Force of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.

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.