The long-standing co-operation between Tunisia and the Council of Europe was taken a step further in the wake of the Revolution at the beginning of 2011. The Council of Europe worked closely with Tunisian authorities to identify priorities for cooperation aimed at 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. Tangible results followed, in the shape of the Council of Europe’s support to the Tunisian authorities in the drafting of the new Constitution. An improved political dialogue and stronger technical cooperation 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, the promotion of 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.
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 new comprehensive framework for action includes new 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, the fight against corruption and human rights training for legal professionals through the European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP Programme).
Since 2012 most of these priorities have been implemented within the framework of the European Union-Council of Europe joint programmes, South Programme I, II and III. This programme, currently in its third edition, is funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe, and implemented by the Council of Europe. Some activities targeting Tunisia have also been funded through voluntary contributions from other partners such as Council of Europe member States.
Co-operation between the Council of Europe and Tunisia includes an important amount of bi-lateral work. However its regional dimension involving both shores of the Mediterranean, particularly countries from the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), is significant. Tunisia has been involved in a variety of regional activities, tackling diverse areas of intervention, that have been organised 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 cooperation with Tunisia or with other countries of the region.