Some regions in Europe suffer from the consequences of recent or frozen conflicts. Education, media, culture and social issues provide a non-political frame where dialogue can take place within post-conflict societies and reconciliation can progress. This reconciliation can only take place if a sufficient level of mutual trust is created between populations which were formerly opposed. Confidence Building Measures designed and implemented by the Council of Europe aim at creating this required level of mutual trust, by addressing common concerns to the entire population and pointing at their peaceful future rather than memorising their divided past.

As a tool to establish bridges between the above-mentioned population groups and enhance human rights protection in the post-conflict regions, Confidence Building Measures complement the work of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, as well as the political debates held within the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly.

The Council of Europe has a wide knowledge of the situation in the regions at stake, notably because of the two-decade long membership of the states involved. Not only do the experts involved in the technical assistance projects have extensive international experience, but they also have local knowledge of the area in which the assistance is carried out.

Through its intergovernmental work among the 46 member States, the Council of Europe elaborates conventions and other legal texts which define numerous human rights and rule of law standards, to which member States are bound. A variety of monitoring mechanisms follow up the compliance by member States with these standards which constitute the basis for European democracies. These standards and the recommendations by the relevant monitoring mechanisms constitute the benchmarks used for the implementation of the CBMs programme.