The South Programme is a strategic European Union-Council of Europe joint initiative to support and consolidate democratic reforms in the Southern Mediterranean upon request of the countries of the region that are covered by the Revised European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) of the European Union and the Council of Europe’s policy towards neighbouring regions: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine* and Tunisia. Throughout the three editions of the South Programme, the Council of Europe and the European Union have worked together with partners from the Southern Mediterranean region in order to advance democratic governance and human rights in line with the national reform agendas.

Its first edition “Strengthening Democratic Reform in the Southern Neighbourhood (South Programme I)” was launched in 2012 for a period of 3 years (2012-2014). It has proven to be an effective tool to accompany the reforms undertaken by partner countries from the region through strengthened regional cooperation in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy. Initially rolled out in Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan, the Programme has seen a significant increase in demand for support and cooperation from other Southern Mediterranean partner countries in the Council of Europe’s fields of expertise.

The second edition “Towards Strengthened Democratic Governance in the Southern Mediterranean (South Programme II)” covered the period 2015-2017 and further enhanced cooperation between both shores of the Mediterranean. Its core objective was the creation of a common legal area between the Southern Mediterranean and Europe, as well as the support to the development of democratic governance, effective legal frameworks and institutional capacities in accordance with European and international standards. It also fostered regional cooperation in the field of human rights, the rule of law and democracy through exchanges of best practices and experiences involving a series of relevant networks of the Council of Europe.

Based on the success and achievements of the two previous editions, the South Programme III “Ensuring Sustainable Democratic Governance and Human Rights in the Southern Mediterranean (2018-2020)” is currently rolling and aims at ensuring the sustainability of earlier achievements of the South Programme while holding at its main focus the fight against violence towards women.

*This designation shall not be construed as a designation of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of Council of Europe member States on this issue.

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