Since the 2011 Tunisian revolution and the adoption of the Council of Europe policy towards neighbouring regions by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CM) in May 2011, the Council of Europe has been accompanying the democratic transition by strengthening human rights, rule of law and democracy. Several framework co-operation documents (Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities for Tunisia 2012-2014, Neighbourhood Partnership with Tunisia 2015-2017 and Neighbourhood Partnership with Tunisia 2018-2021) have since been implemented following official endorsement by the Committee of Ministers and the Tunisian authorities at high level.
Further to the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2013, a Council of Europe Office was established in Tunis, which plays a crucial role in the co-ordination and implementation of co-operation projects to maximise the impact of interventions. Since July 2021, the Tunis office also co-ordinates the implementation of regional projects (South Programme).
Member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) since 2010 and of the North-South Centre since 2016, Tunisia also 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 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.
Tunisia has so far ratified eight Council of Europe conventions and additional protocols, including the Convention on the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention) and Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (Convention 108). Tunisia has been invited by the Committee of Ministers to accede to the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Cybercrime Convention.
For over a decade, co-operation with Tunisia has focused on key areas of expertise of the Council of Europe: the support to 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.
Adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 10 November 2021, the Neighbourhood Partnership with Tunisia for 2022-2025 provides a comprehensive framework for action including priorities agreed with the Tunisian authorities aiming notably to support independent bodies, to combat violence against women and against children, to support the justice reform and its functioning, to fight organised crime and to disseminate human rights values through tools like the European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP Programme).
Since 2012 co-operation has been implemented within the framework of the European Union/Council of Europe country specific joint programmes and the regional joint endeavour South Programmes I, II , III , IV and V and has been also backed by targeted projects funded by voluntary contributions from Council of Europe member States. The South Programme, currently in its fifth 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. Tunisia is also involved in the regional European Union/Council of Europe joint programme CyberSouth, which started in July 2017 with the aim to strengthen legislation and the institutional capacities on cybercrime and electronic evidence in the region in line with human rights and rule of law requirements.
1 South Programme V “Regional Support to Reinforce Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy in the Southern Mediterranean”, total budget: €5.556 million (EU: 89.99%, CoE: 10.01%), September 2022 – August 2025.
2 "Project to Support Independent Bodies in Tunisia" (PAII-T), total budget: €5.556 million (EU 90%, CoE 10%), January 2019 – December 2022
3 “Improving the functioning, performance and access to justice in Tunisia” (AP-JUST), total budget: €5 million (EU 90%, CoE 10%), January 2019 – December 2022
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.