North Macedonia has been taking part in various activities of the Council of Europe since 1993 through its participation in intergovernmental co-operation and assistance programmes notably in the fields of legal reform and human rights. The Council of Europe is currently represented in North Macedonia by the Programme Office in Skopje, which was established in 2012 to co‑ordinate and support project implementation and to ensure co-ordination with both national and international partners present in the field.
The co-operation with North Macedonia was further strengthened in 2016 with the launch of the European Union/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey programme, which assists Beneficiaries in the region with addressing the Council of Europe monitoring and advisory bodies’ recommendations and relevant European Union accession priorities. The programme is currently in its second phase (2019-2022) within which six actions are currently ongoing in North Macedonia. These actions contribute to providing access to higher quality free legal aid services, enhancing the capacities of the penitentiary system and the external oversight mechanism, fighting economic crime, and preventing and combating trafficking in human beings. The Council of Europe also promotes diversity and equality in North Macedonia through awareness-raising campaigns and strengthening the capacities of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination and Ombudsman to address discrimination and hate speech against vulnerable groups, including LGBTI persons. Support is also provided to guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of the media through better protection of journalists and the reinforced capacities of the Media Regulatory Authority.
North Macedonia also plays an active role in the regional actions of the Horizontal Facility, focusing on the following areas: quality and sustainability of justice, judicial training institutes, legal certainty, the fight against economic crime, promotion of diversity and equality, freedom of expression and freedom of the media (JUFREX2). Additional regional actions focus on enhancing penitentiary capacities in addressing radicalisation in prisons, human rights education for legal professionals (HELP) and the quality and sustainability of justice through the Council of Europe flagship initiative based on CEPEJ methodology “Dashboard – Western Balkans”.
North Macedonia also benefits from two 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.
Through the implementation of the aforementioned programmes and actions, the Council of Europe has contributed to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG 4 (target 7), SDG 5 (targets 1, 2 and c), SDG 8 (target 7), SDG 10 (targets 2 and 3) and SDG 16 (targets 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, a and b).
More information: Overview of the Council of Europe Contribution to the UN 2030 Agenda.