The Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law has overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the human rights and rule of law standards of the Council of Europe, including the promotion of democracy through law, the operation of relevant treaties and related monitoring mechanisms and the development and implementation of cooperation activities in these fields.
The Directorate General puts into practice the Council of Europe's unique strategic triangle of standard-setting, monitoring and cooperation. Standards may be legally binding - such as conventions, or not - such as recommendations. Independent, expert bodies evaluate how the standards are implemented in the member States and make constructive recommendations how to improve. Where measures need to be taken in order for the standards to be met, targeted co-operation activities may be agreed with the member States.
The Directorate General is organised in three directorates:
The Human Rights Directorate works to promote, protect and develop human rights and rule of law and to ensure the compliance of the Council of Europe's member states.
For this, the directorate puts into practice the Council of Europe's unique strategic triangle of standard setting, monitoring and co-operation, which establishes mutual links between developing legally binding standards which are monitored by independent mechanisms and supplemented by co-operation and support activities.
The Information Society and Action against Crime Directorate is responsible for the Council of Europe's work on the media, information society and for action against crime. The Directorate's activities comprise standard setting, monitoring and cooperation activities on a wide variety of issues, including freedom of expression, data protection, internet governance, cybercrime, criminal law, fighting economic crime, corruption and money laundering as well as action against drug trafficking and drug abuse. It also promotes transparency and understanding of the functioning of audiovisual industries in Europe from a legal and economic point of view.
The European Commission for Democracy through Law - better known as the Venice Commission as its plenary sessions are held four times a year in Venice - is the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters. It provides legal advice on how to bring legal and institutional structures into line with European standards and international experience. It also helps to ensure the dissemination and consolidation of a common constitutional heritage, playing a unique role in conflict management, and provides "emergency constitutional aid" to states in transition.