South programme: a flagship EU-CoE joint programme supporting democratic governance in the Southern Mediterranean


South programme was launched in 2012 as a strategic European Union-Council of Europe joint initiative to support democratic reforms in the Southern Mediterranean upon demand from the countries from the region.

This first-ever Joint Programme between the CoE and the EU in the Southern Mediterranean- has proven to be an effective tool to accompany and consolidate the reforms undertaken by partner countries from the region through strengthened regional co-operation in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy. From legislative expertise to strengthening of institutions’ capacities through peer-to-peer exchanges and networks, the South Programme has contributed to the establishment of a common legal area between the two shores of the Mediterranean. 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 CoE’s fields of expertise.


The Programme’s components

The South Programme I was structured around four components, contributing respectively to:

  • Enhance the efficiency and independence of the judiciary;
  • Promote good governance through increased prevention of corruption and money-laundering;
  • Strengthen and protect human rights, in particular through the prevention of trafficking in human beings;
  • Promote democratic values in the region, building on Council of Europe existing tools and networks. It should be noted that this component (promotion of democratic values has become increasingly significant throughout the programme’s implementation, due to the demand from partner countries for CoE’s support aiming at the reinforcement of democracy.


From South programme I to South programme II: building upon achievements and responding to new challenges

The overall objective of the South programme II is to contribute to reinforcing human rights, rule of law and democracy in Southern Mediterranean partner countries in accordance with European and other international standards, based on a demand-driven approach.

The South programme is more specifically aiming to:

  • Support constitutional processes in Southern Mediterranean countries, the development of new legislation and the setting-up and functioning of human rights institutions and democratic governance structures.
  • Promote the creation and the consolidation of a common legal space between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean by raising awareness on key CoE Conventions and other European and international standards thus strengthening human rights, good governance and democratic values in the Southern Mediterranean region.
  • Promote the exchange of best practices between Europe and countries of the Southern Mediterranean region and within the region with a view to supporting and consolidating on-going democratic reform processes, in particular through the creation of formal and informal networks.
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