The Council of Europe has supported Kosovo* towards the advancement of its reform agenda through co-operation activities since 1999, in full compliance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. The Council of Europe Office in Pristina holds a key role in the implementation of the co-operation activities by facilitating the delivery of support programmes, assisting key institutions in the process of democratic reforms and actively co-ordinating efforts with all relevant local and international actors in the field.
The first Working Group on co-operation between the Council of Europe and the Kosovo* institutions was held in Pristina in November 2013 to initiate discussions on collaborative planning and programming and was followed by seven Working Group meetings which took place between 2014 and 2023. The latest meeting of the Working Group was organised on 13 June 2023 in Pristina in a hybrid format.
The implementation of the Overview of Co-operation activities document provides a framework to the Council of Europe co-operation. It supports the authorities in bringing legislation, institutions and practice further in line with Council of Europe standards in the areas of human rights, rule of law and democracy. In October 2023, the Committee of Ministers took note of the latest version of the Overview document. Co-operation activities implemented in the framework of the Overview of Co-operation activities document are funded by the European Union, Norway, Germany, the United States of America, Belgium, Ireland, the United Nations and the Human Rights Trust Fund.
Based on the tangible results of the actions carried out under the first and second phases of the European Union/Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye”, the third phase of the programme was launched in January 2023. It provides further support to the authorities in the fields of strengthening the efficiency and quality of justice, countering discrimination, as well as enhancing freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
In addition, the authorities also benefit from two European Union/Council of Europe Joint Programmes. The project “Building Capacity for Inclusion in Education - INCLUDE - supports fostering quality education and improving access to education for children from disadvantaged groups and the “Project Against Economic Crime (PECK III)” seeks to enhance anti-corruption practices.
Co-operation activities are also implemented in the field of aligning laws and policies with the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). The Council of Europe supports the strengthening of institutional capacities to prevent and counter violence against women and domestic violence and focuses on the implementation of the most pressing recommendations from the Assessment of the alignment of Kosovo*'s laws, policies and other measures with the standards of the Istanbul Convention based on the methodology of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) .
The Council of Europe supports the Constitutional Court in applying and disseminating European human rights standards. Furthermore, with the second phase of the project “Promoting human rights and non-discrimination principles at the local level”, the Council of Europe provides further support to the capacity-building of municipal authorities and other relevant institutions to monitor and report on human rights in line with international and European human rights standards.
Moreover, the project “Improvement of the treatment of persons deprived of liberty” aims to strengthen the protection of the rights of: convicted persons (with a focus on the healthcare provided in prison), persons detained under involuntary psychiatric hospitalisation and persons with mental disabilities placed in social welfare institutions. The project seeks to strengthen the safeguards against ill-treatment in line with Council of Europe standards and recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), including specific recommendations to significantly improve the psychiatric care provided to prisoners contained in the CPT 2021 report. Moreover, the project on enhancing anti-trafficking actions further supports the authorities in strengthening their institutional capacities to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings, taking into account the findings and recommendations of the second evaluation of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) adopted in October 2021.
Furthermore, the Octopus project multilaterally supports the strengthening of human rights and the rule of law in the cyberspace based on the implementation of the standards of the Budapest Convention and its additional Protocols. It supports the authorities through capacity-building, implementing standards locally, further aligning domestic legislation with these standards, facilitating the handling of electronic evidence, and fostering co-operation with public/private service providers and international co-operation.
Kosovo* also has an active role in the regional actions implemented under the Horizontal Facility in the fields of managing violent extremism in prisons, as well as achieving the quality and sustainability of justice through the Council of Europe flagship initiative based on the European Commission on the efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) methodology (“Dashboard – Western Balkans II”). Similarly, the following topics are also tackled from a regional perspective: economic crime, promotion of diversity and equality and combating racism, freedom of expression and freedom of the media, and women’s access to justice.
The authorities also benefit from three European Union/Council of Europe regional Joint Programmes implemented in South-East Europe. The capacity of the authorities to search, seize and confiscate cybercrime proceeds, prevent money laundering on the Internet and secure internet evidence is further reinforced through the second phase of the regional programme iPROCEEDS 2, while support in promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at a local level is streamlined through the second phase of the ROMACTED regional programme. In addition, the recently launched Joint Programme on Roma integration, which began in May 2023, further enlarged the scope of this intervention in the region. Lastly, the regional HELP in the Western Balkans funded by the Human Rights Trust Fund aims to enhance the capacities and skills of legal professionals for the effective application of European standards in human rights.
*All references to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations' Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.
Through the implementation of these projects, the co-operation activities in Kosovo* contributed to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG 3 (target 8), SDG 4 (targets 1, 5 and 7), SDG 5 (targets 1, 2 and c), SDG 8 (target 7), SDG 10 (targets 2 and 3), SDG 15 (target 7) and SDG 16 (targets 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, a and b).
More information: Overview of the Council of Europe Contribution to the UN 2030 Agenda.