Over more than seventy years, the 46-member Council of Europe has developed a considerable acquis, encompassing not only standards on civil and political rights, social rights, minority rights, treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, the fight against racism and the fight against corruption and money laundering, but also active European monitoring of these standards.
Such monitoring is carried out by several well-established independent bodies with recognised expertise and professionalism that enable the Council of Europe to identify areas of non-compliance and address recommendations to its member states.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visits places of detention, in order to assess how persons deprived of their liberty are treated. These places include prisons, juvenile detention centres, police stations, holding centres for immigration detainees, psychiatric hospitals.
Respect of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and, in particular, of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), is a crucial element of the Council of Europe's system for the protection of human rights, rule of law and democracy and, hence, for democratic stability and European unification.
The European Social Charter, the natural complement of the European Convention on Human Rights, guarantees social and economic human rights. It was adopted in 1961 and revised in 1996. The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) is the body responsible for monitoring compliance in the states party to the Charter.
The Council of Europe's MEDICRIME Convention is the first binding international instrument in the criminal law field on counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health.
Safeguarding of public health through penal measures against criminal behaviors, protection of victims, promotion of cooperation at national and international levels, and preventive measures are the overarching aims of the Convention.
The trafficking in human organs is a problem of global proportions that violates basic fundamental freedoms, human rights and dignity and constitutes a direct threat to public health, integrity, freedom and often the life of individuals. It is also frequently linked to the activities of transnational organised crime groups, who profit from a vulnerable situation of the donor. The trafficking in human organs is an international problem that demands a response from governments, legislative institutions and international organisations.
The approach of the Council of Europe to address this challenge consists of the two inter-related elements of:
- the common standards of the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs (opened for signature in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in March 2015) as the most relevant international criminal justice treaty to counter this crime
- the Committee of the Parties (CoP) consisting of representatives of Parties to the Santiago de Compostela Convention and responsible for assessing proper implementation of the Convention, preparing Guidance Notes and facilitating cooperation among the Parties.
The Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (CETS No. 205), also known as the Tromsø Convention, is the first binding international legal instrument which recognises a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities and constitutes a milestone in the promotion of democratic governance, openness, participatory democracy and in the exercise of other human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The aim of the Group of States against corruption (GRECO) is to improve the capacity of its members to fight corruption by monitoring their compliance with Council of Europe anti-corruption standards through a dynamic process of mutual evaluation and peer pressure.
The Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) evaluates in-depth the effectiveness of domestic measures to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism in Council of Europe member states which are not members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The Conference of the Parties under the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (CETS No. 198) monitors the proper implementation of the Convention by the Parties and, at the request of a Party, expresses an opinion on any question concerning the interpretation and application of the Convention.
Other Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms within DG2 Democracy and Human Dignity
- Action against Trafficking in Human Beings: Group of Experts of Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA)
- Action against violence against women and domestice violence (GREVIO)
- Combating racism: European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
- Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse: Lanzarote Convention
- Protection of minorities: Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
- Protection of regional or Minority Languages: European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages