Chair of the CDDH

Hans-Jörg BEHRENS (Germany)

The Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), set up by the Committee of Ministers at the end of 1976, is composed of experts representing the forty-seven member States of the Council of Europe. Other experts, in particular Representatives from the civil society attend also these meetings. Under the authority of the Committee of Ministers, and bearing in mind the Council of Europe legal standards as well as the relevant jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, the CDDH conducts the intergovernmental work of the Council of Europe in the human rights field, advises and gives its legal expertise to the Committee of Ministers on all questions within its field of competence.

The Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) starts its 41st year of activity ; a journey guided by the Committee of Ministers and presenting great achievements like an important number of European treaties as well as protocols to the European Convention of Human Rights. In addition to this large amount of basic binding legal standards there are a number of recommendations and guides to good practice. They helped to make progress in the intergovernmental between our 47 member States. Our work are conducted in synergy with other bodies and with representatives of the civil society in a variety of fields such as the concrete measures to improve the Convention System; the protection of human rights of elder people, migrants, Human Rights defenders, or victims of terrorist acts; stengthening social rights or freedom of expression; fight against discrimination of vulnerable groups, or discussions on Human Rights and business, or on Human Rights in our culturally diverse societies.

© CDDH group picture

In particular, the CDDH works on the protection, development and promotion of human rights in Europe in order to contribute to enhancing the protection of human rights.  A permanent priority of its agenda is the improvement of the effectiveness of the control mechanism of the European Convention on Human Rights and the implementation of the Convention at national and European levels. Furthermore, the CDDH:

  • provides effective responses at the normative and general policy levels to the challenges posed to human rights in European societies;     
  • follows the implementation of the non-binding instruments that it has prepared as well as conventions for which it has been given supervision by the Committee of Ministers;
  • advises other bodies of the Organisation to ensure that their activities concerning human rights duly reflect the requirements of the Convention and the relevant jurisprudence of the Court;
  • contributes to co-operation and support activities to national initiatives in the field of the protection, development and promotion of human rights;

The CDDH holds plenary meetings as well as meetings in the framework of more specialised and smaller sub-committees, which it supervises and whose work it directs. These sub-committees can be committees of experts or ad hoc working groups, the latter being dissolved once they have completed their specific function, linked to a particular issue of the Steering Committee’s work.The CDDH is assisted by a Bureau (CDDH-BU) and by a Secretariat.