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Since the 2011 Tunisian revolution, the Council of Europe worked closely with Tunisian authorities to identify co-operation priorities aimed at accompanying the Tunisian democratic transition by strengthening human rights, rule of law and democracy, which were subsequently reflected in the Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities for Tunisia 2012-2014 document, officially endorsed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs in April 2012.

The signature of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2013 lead to the launching of a Council of Europe Office in Tunis. An improved political dialogue and stronger technical co-operation with Tunisia ensued, facilitated by the Neighbourhood Partnership with Tunisia 2015-2017 document, adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 4 February 2015.

For the past years, co-operation with Tunisia has focused on a number of areas of expertise of the Council of Europe: the support of constitutional reforms, the set-up and running of new independent governance instances and the promotion of common standards on human rights, the rule of law and democracy, in particular through Council of Europe conventions as the building blocks of a common legal space linking both shores of the Mediterranean and the nurturing of human rights and good governance approaches in new legislation.

Participating in the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) since 2010, Tunisia has also been a member of the North-South Centre since 2016, participates in the Mediterranean Network for Co-operation on Drugs and Addictions (MedNET) of the International Co-operation Group on Drugs and Addictions (Pompidou Group) since 2006 and was granted an observer status with the CEPEJ in 2016. Institutional relations with Tunisia were strengthened when the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (the Congress) granted it a Partner for Local Democracy status in October 2019, which complements co-operation activities developed since 2017 to support the implementation of the decentralisation reform.

Tunisia has so far ratified eight Council of Europe conventions and additional protocols, including the Lanzarote Convention and Convention 108. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CM) invited the country to accede to the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

The progress made having exceeded initial expectations, it was agreed to pursue and broaden the support provided to Tunisia through the Neighbourhood Partnership with Tunisia 2018-2021, adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 21 March 2018 and officially launched on 9 October of the same year. This comprehensive framework for action includes jointly defined priorities of action such as the support to constitutional and independent bodies recently set-up, combating violence against women, improving the functioning of justice, fighting  against corruption and training for legal professionals through the European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP Programme). Based on the progress achieved, the Neighbourhood Partnership with Tunisia for 2022-2025 document was adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 10 November 2021.

Since 2012 priorities have been implemented within the framework of the European Union/Council of Europe country specific joint programmes, the regional joint endavour South Programmes I, II , III and IV and have been also backed by voluntary contributions from Council of Europe member States. The South Programme, currently in its fourth edition, is co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe1 and implemented by the Council of Europe. In addition, since 2019, targeted support provided to the justice sector and to constitutional and independent bodies intensified in the framework of two bilateral joint programmes co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe, and implemented by the latter: the "Project to support independent bodies in Tunisia" (PAII-T)2 and et "Improving the functioning, performance, and access to justice in Tunisia" (AP-JUST)3. Some activities targeting Tunisia have also been funded through voluntary contributions from Council of Europe member States.

Tunisia has been also involved in a variety of regional projects in the framework of the South Programme with the objective of creating networking opportunities and promoting regional dialogue. By supporting partners of the Southern Mediterranean region to co-operate in order to find common solutions to shared challenges, the Council of Europe ensures the sustainability of the results acquired through its co-operation with Tunisia or with other countries of the region.

The Council of Europe Office in Tunis, in place since 2013, plays a crucial role in the co-ordination and implementation of field activities at the national and regional level and contributes to maximise the impact of interventions.

1 South Programme IV “Regional Support to Reinforce Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy in the Southern Mediterranean”, total budget: €3.334 million (EU: 89.98%, CoE: 10.02%), March 2020 – February 2022.

2 "Project to Support Independent Bodies in Tunisia" (PAII-T), total budget: €5.556 million (EU 90%, CoE 10%), January 2019 – December 2021

3 “Improving the functioning, performance and access to justice in Tunisia” (AP-JUST), total budget: €5 million (EU 90%, CoE 10%), January 2019 – December 2021

Contribution to Sustainable Develoment Goals Contribution to Sustainable Develoment Goals

            

Through the actions implemented in 2021, the Neighbourhood Partnership with Tunisia 2018-2021 contributed to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG 3 (target 5), SDG 4 (target 7), SDG 5 (targets 1 and 2), SDG 8 (target 7), SDG 10, SDG 11 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.