About the Council of Europe
About the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation.
It comprises 46 member states, including all members of the European Union.
All Council of Europe member states have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
SAFEGUARDING HUMAN RIGHTS
The Council of Europe advocates freedom of expression and of the media, freedom of assembly, equality, and the protection of minorities. It has launched campaigns on issues such as child protection, online hate speech, and the rights of the Roma, Europe's largest minority.
The Council of Europe helps member states fight corruption and terrorism and undertake necessary judicial reforms. Its group of constitutional experts, known as the Venice Commission, offers legal advice to countries throughout the world.
The Council of Europe promotes human rights through international conventions, such as the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and the Convention on Cybercrime. It monitors member states' progress in these areas and makes recommendations through independent expert monitoring bodies.
All Council of Europe member states have abolished the death penalty.
The European Court of Human Rights oversees the implementation of the Convention in the member states. Individuals can bring complaints of human rights violations to the Strasbourg Court once all possibilities of appeal have been exhausted in the member state concerned.
The Council of Europe is a leading provider of support for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.
The Council of Europe works in close partnership with the European Union, and co-operates with the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and with partner countries in its neighbourhood and worldwide.
For example, the Council's European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and Healthcare, which plays a key role in combating counterfeit medicines and doping, has agreements with Brazil, China, South Africa and the United States.
Headquarters and offices
The Council of Europe has its headquarters in Strasbourg, France. It employs 2 200 people, and maintains external and liaison offices to other international organisations. The European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest offer training for young people in democracy and human rights issues.
In addition to the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe consists of several working institutions.
- The Secretary General leads and represents the Council of Europe.
- The Committee of Ministers, made up of member states' foreign ministers and their representatives, acts as the main decision-making body.
- The Parliamentary Assembly provides a democratic forum for debate and monitors elections; its committees play an important role in examining current issues.
- The Human Rights Commissioner independently addresses and brings attention to human rights violations.
- The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities promotes democratic self-governance and monitors elections at the local level.
- The Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations represents civil society and promotes participatory democracy.
- Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)
- European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)
- Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA)
- European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)
- Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL)
- European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
- European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR)
- Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
- Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
Since 1950, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been the most important document in the international human rights system. From its first day, the Convention has served as a guide for defining the ideals and values of democratic societies and a foundation for the development of the rule of law.
Since it entered into force, the Convention has adopted 16 Protocols, which have become an integral part of it. The protocols expanded the range of guaranteed human rights and freedoms and improved the mechanism for their protection.
The Convention became the foundation for the creation of a whole set of international legal regulations in the field of human rights and freedoms, protection of its legitimate interests and needs, and observance of the rule of law and democracy.
The European Convention on Human Rights is a living instrument for everyone to protect their rights, as stated in the new Council of Europe booklet.
To date, the Council of Europe has developed and adopted more than 200 conventions and agreements aimed at protecting and realizing the fundamental values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
All 46 member states of the Council of Europe have signed the Convention.
Today, the Convention protects the rights of about 830 million people in Europe, including Ukrainians.
The primary responsibility for respecting the rights enshrined in the Convention rests with the governments, parliaments and courts of each country.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was established to monitor the observance of human and civil rights and freedoms. The Court acts like an airbag.
The Convention guarantees specific rights to everyone, and the ECtHR considers its provisions as rules of direct action.
Individuals can lodge a human rights complaint against any of the 46 member states with the Court in Strasbourg after they have used every opportunity to appeal at a national level.
If the European Court finds that the applicant's human rights have been violated, the State concerned must provide justice for that person. The state may also take measures to ensure that such cases do not recur. The action taken by the national authorities in response to a judgment of the Court is under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
At the same time, the human rights enshrined in the European Convention are protected in various ways in countries. The principles of the Convention and the case law of the European Court of Justice are taken into account in judgments given by national courts, in legislation passed by parliaments, and in decisions of national authorities. Thus, the decision of the European Court is only one of the ways to protect human rights in Europe.
Thus, with the adoption by the Council of Europe of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms on the European continent, the process of creating a qualitatively new European system for the protection of human rights and freedoms began. The Convention has become an essential component of the development of national legal systems of European countries, an extremely influential factor in the involvement in these systems of fundamental values and norms for the protection of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.
Ukraine became the 37th member State of the Council of Europe on 9 November 1995.
The Council of Europe, through co-operation, accompanies the country in its efforts to bring legislation, institutions and practice further into line with European standards in the areas of human rights, the rule of law and democracy and, through this, to support the country in meeting its obligations as a Council of Europe member State.
On July 17, 1997, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the ECHR, which entered into force for Ukraine on September 11 of the same year. Due to this, Ukrainians have the right, after using all national remedies, to file a complaint about the violation of Ukraine's rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention to the European Court of Human Rights.
To support Ukraine in fulfilling its obligations as a member state of the Council of Europe, Action Plans have been implemented since 2005 – strategic program documents with a certain period of validity. The Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine for 2018-2022 is currently being implemented. The Plan implements a number of projects to promote respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine.
The Office of the Directorate General of Programmes (ODGP) coordinates Council of Europe cooperation activities in member states and non-member states in its neighbourhood. These cooperation activities are undertaken to help these countries reach Council of Europe standards in human rights, rule of law and democracy.
ODGP ensures the strategic programming of these activities and mobilises resources for their implementation, while co-ordinating the Council of Europe's action with other organisations and agencies. The ODGP is also responsible for coordinating the Council of Europe Offices and Programme Offices, which play an active part in identifying and implementing projects and in raising funds for their execution.