Back Landmark political declaration reaffirms importance of European Social Charter

Landmark political declaration reaffirms importance of European Social Charter

The high-level conference on the European Social Charter in Vilnius, Lithuania, has adopted a landmark political declaration, reinforcing the commitment of Council of Europe member states to social justice and the protection of social rights. The event, held under the auspices of the Presidency of Lithuania of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, brought together ministers and high-level officials from the fields of social rights and social policy, Council of Europe leaders, representatives of the European Union, the United Nations, the International Labour Organization, civil society, social partners, academia, and national human rights and equality bodies.

Addressing the participants, Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge underlined that “The European Social Charter guarantees our rights to health and education, to work, housing and social security among so many other things. These rights are designed to ensure that we can all live decent and dignified lives and participate fully in our democratic societies.”

For her part, Ingrida Šimonytė, Prime Minister of Lithuania highlighted that “The European Social Charter is comprised of principles and aims that define us - as Europeans and as democracies - and through its ideals, the Charter offers us a roadmap to social justice, inclusion, prosperity and progress. However, these are unattainable without peace, security, and freedom. And whenever peaceful order collapses, attention is inevitably diverted to threats that are existential, and the weak suffer the most. Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified, and brutal war is a reminder that freedom – and everything that thrives thanks to it – cannot be taken for granted. And today, by helping to defend Ukraine’s freedom, we defend our own. We defend values of the European Social Charter.”

On the basis of key principles outlined in the Reykjavik Declaration adopted during the 4th Summit of the Council of Europe in May last year, the political declaration emphasises the importance of a robust social rights framework and the European Social Charter system. It reaffirms the incompatibility of military aggression with human rights obligations, expresses solidarity with displaced Ukrainians, and highlights the need for undertaking further commitments to social rights. The declaration also recognises the role of the Council of Europe Development Bank in enhancing social cohesion, welcomes decisions to improve the Charter system’s implementation and monitoring, and acknowledges the critical role of national executives and legislatures in protecting social rights through legislative action.

In the declaration, the representatives of Council of Europe member states commit to respecting, protecting, and implementing social rights. States Parties to the Charter are urged to address challenges and opportunities in meeting the Charter’s requirements, and member states that have not yet ratified the Revised Social Charter (1996) are encouraged to do so in order to support economic and social progress. President of the European Committee of Social Rights Aoife Nolan stressed that it is vital that states continue to build on the momentum created by the conference to maximise the Charter’s ability to serve as a unified, comprehensive framework for the protection of social rights across Europe.

At the conference, marking the 25th anniversary of the Revised European Social Charter and the 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe, a dedicated treaty event took place. During this event, Iceland deposited its Instrument of Ratification, becoming the 36th state to accede to the Revised European Social Charter. Additionally, Ireland and Andorra committed to being bound by further provisions of the Charter, and several other member states pledged additional commitments under the European Social Charter.

 Press release
Landmark political declaration reaffirms importance of European Social Charter

Council of Europe Vilnius 4 July 2024
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