Human rights – Democracy – Rule of law - Education - Culture – Protection of the environment – European values - 47 states - 800 million people - One Europe


The Council of Europe was founded to:

- Defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law
- Develop continent-wide agreements to standardise member countries’ social and legal practices
- Promote awareness of a European identity based on shared values and cutting across different cultures

Since 1989, the main job of the Council of Europe has become:

- Acting as a political anchor and a human rights watchdog for Europe’s post-communist democracies
- Assisting the countries of central and eastern Europe in carrying out and consolidating political, legal and constitutional reform in parallel with economic reform
- Providing know-how in areas such as human rights, local democracy, education, culture and the environment

The Council of Europe’s Vienna Summit in October 1993 set out new political aims. The heads of state and government cast the Council of Europe as the guardian of democratic security – founded on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Democratic security is an essential complement to military security, and is a pre-requisite for the continent’s stability and peace.

During the Second Summit in Strasbourg in October 1997, the heads of state and government adopted an action plan to strengthen the Council of Europe’s work in four areas: democracy and human rights, social cohesion, the security of citizens and democratic values and cultural diversity.  The Organisation continues to grow while at the same time increasing its monitoring to ensure that all its members respect the obligations and commitments they entered into when they joined.

The Council of Europe decided to open an Office of the Secretariat of the Council of Europe in Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 1996 in Sarajevo based on Annex 6 (Agreement on Human Rights) to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, signed in Paris on 14 December 1995, under which it was to contribute to the establishment of the Human Rights Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina, help the Institution of Human Rights Ombudsman and appoint foreign judges in accordance with Annexes 4 and 7 to the Dayton Peace Agreement.

In addition to providing active assistance with the implementation of Annex 6 to the Framework Agreement, the task of the Office initially was to help prepare Bosnia and Herzegovina for reaching the standards necessary for full membership in the Council of Europe following the application it submitted in April 1995, and also to promote the values of the Council of Europe. Over time the Office expanded its activities and today, in addition to the initial activities that have been accomplished, it covers more or less all areas in which the Council of Europe is active.  

The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation. It includes 47 member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union. All Council of Europe member states have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Visit the interactive map prepared on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of our organisation: