The European Social Charter, the human rights treaty on social and economic rights, guarantees the right to protection of health in Article 11 which complements Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights - as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights - by imposing a range of positive obligations designed to secure its effective exercise. The rights relating to health embodied in the two treaties are inextricably linked, since “human dignity is the fundamental value and indeed the core of positive European human rights law – whether under the European Social Charter or under the European Convention of Human Rights - and health care is a prerequisite for the preservation of human dignity”.

States Parties to the Charter must ensure the best possible state of health for the population according to existing knowledge. Health systems must respond appropriately to avoidable health risks, i.e. ones that can be controlled by human action. The main indicators are life expectancy and the principal causes of death. These indicators must show an improvement and not be too far behind the European average. Infant and maternal mortality are good indicators of how well a particular country’s overall health system is operating. States Parties must provide appropriate and timely care on a non-discriminatory basis, including services relating to sexual and reproductive health. The cost of health care must not represent an excessively heavy burden for the individual. Out-of-pocket payments should not be the main source of funding of the health system and steps must be taken to reduce the financial burden on patients from the most disadvantaged sections of the community. The number of health care professionals and equipment must be adequate.

Under Article 11 of the Charter, there must be free and regular consultation and screening for pregnant women and children throughout the country. Free medical checks must be carried out throughout the period of schooling. There should be screening, preferably systematic, for all the diseases that constitute the principal causes of death. States Parties must operate widely accessible immunisation programmes and must demonstrate their ability to cope with infectious diseases, such as arrangements for reporting and notifying diseases, special treatment for AIDS patients and emergency measures in case of epidemics. State Parties must put in place effective anti-tobacco and anti-alcoholism measures as well as measures for drug addiction. Under Article 11 of the Charter, States Parties must take steps to prevent accidents such as road accidents, domestic accidents, accidents at school and accidents during leisure time. Accidents at work are examined under Article 3 of the Charter.

In addition, the right of every worker to a safe and healthy working environment is a widely recognised principle, stemming directly from the right to personal integrity, one of the fundamental principles of human rights. Article 3 of the Charter applies to the whole economy, covering both the public and private sectors. The right to health care of elderly is guaranteed by Article 23 of the Charter, while Article 8 of the Charter guarantees the right of employed women to protection of their maternity.

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) monitors the implementation of the Charter, not only in law, but also in practice. The ECSR examined the situation on health (Article 11) and health and safety at work (Article 3) in most of the States Parties to the Charter in its Conclusions 2021

The ECSR by its decision of 5 December 2018 on the merits of the complaint European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Bulgaria (No. 151/2017) held that there was a violation of Article E (non-discrimination) in conjunction with Article 11§1 (right to protection of health) of the Charter as regards the access to health insurance and health care for Roma women in respect of maternity.

As of Spring 2020, the Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issue (ADI-ROM) has placed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Roma and Traveller communities as a recurrent item for topical and urgent debate on the agenda of its meetings. In related debates, it has shared experiences and examples of good governmental practice to mitigate the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic and put together a compilation of best practices in member States.

In the difficult context of the COVID-19 pandemic, on 21 of April 2020, the European Committee of Social Rights adopted a Statement of interpretation on the right to protection of health in times of pandemic. The ECSR recalled that in times of pandemic, during which the life and health of many people are under serious threat, guaranteeing the right to protection of health is of crucial importance, and governments should take all necessary steps to ensure that it is effectively guaranteed. It called upon the States Parties to: (i) take all necessary emergency measures in a pandemic (measures to prevent and limit the spread of the virus such as testing and tracing, physical distancing and self-isolation, the provision of adequate masks and disinfectant, as well as the imposition of quarantine and ‘lockdown’ arrangements having regard to the current state of scientific knowledge and in accordance with relevant human rights standards); (ii) take all necessary measures to treat those who fall ill in a pandemic, including ensuring the availability of a sufficient number of hospital beds, intensive care units and equipment and ensuring that an adequate number of healthcare professionals are deployed and that their working conditions are healthy and safe (in line with Article 3 of the Charter); and (iii) take all necessary measures to educate people about the risks posed by the disease in question in line with Article 11§2 of the Charter (through public awareness programmes so as to inform people about how to mitigate the risks of contagion and how to access healthcare services as necessary).

The Committee wished to recall that many of the above measures are required to comply not only with the obligation to protect the right to protection of health under Article 11, but also with other Charter obligations related to health, including obligations in respect of the right of workers to safe and healthy working conditions (Article 3), the right of persons in need of social and medical assistance (Article 13), the rights of the elderly to protection and health care (Article 23), the right of children and young persons to protection and health care (Article 7§§9-10 and Article 17§1).

During a pandemic, States Parties must take all possible measures as referred to above in the shortest possible time, with the maximum use of available financial, technical and human resources, and by all appropriate means both national and international in character, including international assistance and cooperation. Furthermore, States Parties must be particularly mindful of the impact that their choices will have for groups with heightened vulnerabilities as well as for other persons affected, including especially their families on whom falls the heaviest burden in the event of institutional shortcomings (International Association AutismEurope v. France, Complaint No. 13/2002, decision on the merits of 4 November 2003, §53).

The Committee recalled that the right to protection of health includes the right of access to healthcare, and that access to healthcare must be ensured to everyone without discrimination. This implies that healthcare in a pandemic must be effective and affordable to everyone, and that groups at particularly high risk, such as homeless persons, persons living in poverty, older persons, persons with disabilities, persons living in institutions, persons detained in prisons, and persons with an irregular migration status must be adequately protected by the healthcare measures put in place.

The ECSR recalled that under Article 11§3 States Parties must operate widely accessible immunisation programmes. They must maintain high coverage rates not only to reduce the incidence of these diseases, but also to neutralise the reservoir of virus and thus achieve the goals set by the WHO to eradicate a range of infectious diseases. Vaccine research should be promoted, adequately funded and efficiently coordinated across public and private actors.

In its Conclusions 2021, the ECSR adopted a General Question on Article 11 and gender identity. The Committee invited States Parties to provide information on the access of transgender persons to gender reassignment treatment (both in terms of availability and accessibility). It asked whether legal gender recognition for transgender persons requires (in law or in practice) that they undergo sterilisation or any other medical requirements which could impair their health or physical and psychological integrity. The Committee also invited States Parties to provide information on measures taken to ensure that access to health care in general, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, is provided without discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

HELP course on Key human rights principles in Biomedicine developed jointly with the Division on Human Rights and Biomedicine of the Council of Europe. It has the following modules:

  • Introduction
  • Free and Informed Consent
  • Medical Confidentiality and Protection of Health Related Data
  • Protection of the Embryo and Procreation
  • End of Life
  • Genetic Testing
  • Biomedical Research
  • Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues

The Council of Europe is also running dedicated co-operation programmes and projects  aimed at improving health care (including mental health) in prisons and other closed institutions, with the aim to ensure that health care services provided to inhabitants of such institutions is of the same standard as that available to the community at large.

Trafficking in human organs violates human dignity and the right to life and represents a serious threat to public health. There is a real need to put in place measures to protect the most vulnerable individuals. The Council of Europe drew up a Convention, the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs, aimed at criminalizing the trafficking in human organs, protecting the rights of victims and facilitating co-operation at both national and international levels. In 2022, the Committee of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs held its first meeting. The Convention, in force since 1 March 2018, is open to member and non-member States alike.

Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention), which aims at ensuring equitable access to healthcare, is particularly relevant in a context of public health crisis, economic crisis, socioeconomic gaps in society and scarce resources. Appropriate measures implemented pursuant to this provision will contribute to the goal of providing equitable access to quality health care.

Equity has been defined by the Steering Committee for Human Rights in the fields of Biomedicine and Health (CDBIO) as a essential pillar of its Strategic Action Plan on Human Rights and Technologies in Biomedicine (2020-2025), ensuring, inter alia, that human rights of particularly vulnerable groups are better protected. The Council of Europe’s Strategic Action Plan on human rights and technologies in biomedicine (SAP 2020-2025) is designed to protect human dignity, human rights, and individual freedoms with regard to the application of biology and medicine. Divided into four main pillars with corresponding strategic objectives and actions, it focuses on inter alia governance, equity, and integrity in the field of health/healthcare.

During the public health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the pillar of the SAP concerning equity in healthcare was particularly relevant. The first objective of this pilar is promoting equitable and timely access to appropriate innovative treatments and technologies in healthcare. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDBIO addressed as priority the following actions.

  1. Elaborating the Statement on COVID-19 and vaccines: Ensuring equitable access to vaccination during the current and future public health crises[ML1] . In January 2021, faced with a scarcity of vaccines in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDBIO made recommendations to member States, to put in place strategies to avoid generating discrimination of persons who are systematically disadvantaged in accessing healthcare. The Committee also underlined the importance of strengthening transparency, information, and communication as tools for building trust and ensuring that every person for whom the vaccine is recommended is provided with a fair opportunity to access vaccination.
  2. As second step, the CDBIO elaborated a draft recommendation on equitable access to medicinal products and medical equipment in a situation of shortage[ML2] , to promote equitable access to these products and equipment and to protect the fundamental rights of people in need of them for serious or life-threatening health problems. The Recommendation lays down general human rights and procedural principles to ensure, inter alia, the absence of discrimination, through, for example, prioritisation based on medical criteria and compliance with the principles of accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness. It also recommends ensuring that there is a system in place to prevent and mitigate situations of shortage and to better prepare for such shortages. The Recommendation applies to access to medicinal products and medical equipment certified through an appropriate regulatory process provided for by law, which are needed for patients with serious or life-threatening health conditions. In February 2023, the Committee of ministers adopted the recommendation.

The pilar - Equity in healthcare has also a second objective. It regards combating health disparities created by social and demographic changes in Council of Europe member State with action to develop a Guide to health literacy which includes regard for persons in vulnerable situations in order to empower them to access health care of appropriate quality on an equitable basis with other groups in society.

The other pillars of the SAP concern governance of technology and physical and mental integrity.

The pillar on governance of technology pursues two strategic objectives. The first objective has regard to embedding human rights in the development of technologies and comprises three actions. The first is to examinate Article 13 of the Oviedo Convention in the light of developments in genome editing technologies. The second is to assess the relevance and sufficiency of the existing human rights framework to address the issues raised by the applications of neurotechnologies. In respect to this action the CDBIO issued a consultant report on the impact of artificial intelligence on the doctor-patient relationship. The third action concerns the development of a report on the application of AI in healthcare, in particular regarding its impact on the doctor-patient relationship.  The CDBIO released the rapporteurs’ report of the round table “Neurotechnologies and Human Rights framework”. The report reflects the main findings, positions, conclusions and recommendations of the roundtable.

The second strategic objective of the first pillar on governance, refers to fostering public dialogue to promote democratic governance and transparency in the field of biomedicine. It comprises two actions. The first is to translate into numerous languages and to disseminate the Guide to public debate on human rights and biomedicine. The second is promoting dialogue amongst the public, practitioners, and policy makers to ensure that patient and public interest is a key priority in the development and regulation of genomic medicine. The CDBIO organised a workshop on promoting dialogue on genomic medicine.

The SAP’s pillar on physical and mental integrity pursues three strategic objectives. The first on strengthening children’s participation in the decision-making process on matters regarding their health, and comprises action on a guide to good practice concerning the participation of children in the decision-making process. The CDBIO, jointly with the Steering Committee on the Rights of the Child, is preparing the Guide and launched a video clip on encouraging the participation of children in the health decision-making process.

The second strategic objective of the pillar on physical and mental integrity has regard to safeguarding children’s rights in relation to medical practices which have future or long-term implications for them with action to organise a seminar on relevant legislation and good practices with regard to early intervention on intersex children. 

The third strategic objective has regard to safeguarding the rights of persons with mental health difficulties comprising two actions. The first is to elaborate an Additional Protocol to the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine to protect the human rights and dignity of persons with regard to involuntary placement and/or involuntary treatment in mental healthcare services. The second is to develop a compendium of good practices to promote voluntary measures in the field of mental healthcare.

In 2018, the Committee of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health (MEDICRIME Convention) held its first meeting. The Convention, in force since 1 January 2016, is open to member and non-member States alike. By criminalizing certain types of conduct, the MEDICRIME Convention helps countries stop the counterfeiting of medical products and other similar crimes in order to protect public health.

The Council of Europe Development Bank’s (CEB) in the framework of its unique social mandate, co-finances social investment projects in its member countries. 

Access to, affordability, and quality of healthcare are not evenly distributed across and within countries. Healthcare investment needs remain high and are expected to grow as the European population ages. The CEB maintains the particular focus on the health and social care sector and part-finances investments targeting, among others, construction and/or rehabilitation of public or private hospitals and infrastructure, medical and non-medical equipment, specialised centres dedicated to assisting vulnerable populations, nursing homes for the elderly and welfare centres, health-related research and development facilities.

The Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine caught European societies unprepared. Vulnerable groups have not only been most at risk of adverse health outcomes, but also from the broader fallout from the crisis, including income losses and poverty. The CEB is acting rapidly in favour of vulnerable persons displaced by the war in Ukraine and of host communities, with projects related to, among others, health and social care sector of activity.


The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals remain a transversal focus for the activities one of the 2023-2025 Work Programme of the Enlarged Partial Agreement Pompidou Group, the Council of Europe drug policy cooperation platform. Drug policies are complimentary to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDA) and they can be key in achieving some Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to social, economic, environmental, health, justice and human rights issues. Substance addictions are specifically included in SDGs under Target 3.5: "Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol" and thus are clearly identified as obstacles to sustainable development.

The SDA recognises and underlines that drug policy development goes hand-in-hand with strategies which (i) improve access to treatment and health, (ii) provide better education for children insuring the development of their life skills, and (iii) reduce gender inequality and the gender-gap. At the same time the SDA promotes better institutions, justice, governance and peaceful societies.

As a contribution to the efforts in achieving SDGs, the Pompidou Group, at the initiative of the government of Mexico, organised an International conference on ‘International cooperation in aligning drug policies with Sustainable Development Goals’ in late 2019. A series of key messages were elaborated in the course of the discussions during this important event. These conclusions support all national efforts in aligning drug policies with sustainable development and provide inspiration for next activities aimed at reaching those goals.

In April 2020 the Pompidou Group launched an online platform ’Save Lives - Protect People’, with a view to collecting and presenting innovative ideas and practical interventions that aim to contain the spread of COVID-19 and prevent harm to people who use drugs and those in contact with them. This way practical examples for rapid actions were widely disseminated.

The Pompidou Group organised as structured session on 'Assessment of drug policies in the light of  Sustainable Development Goals and human rights’ at the 2022 Lisbon Addictions conference. In this context, the new self-assessment tool on drug policy compliance with human rights standards, developed by the Pompidou Group, was introduced to a global audience. This unique tool addresses, among other aspects, crucial health related questions in assessing drug policy compliance with human rights. By linking health issues and other topics to human rights standards, it provides a practical framework to investigate and assess the human rights implications for drug laws, policies and practices.

Widespread Addictions are among the key public health challenges for the near future. The revised mandate of the Pompidou Group, adopted in 2021, recognizes the need for international responses to mitigate the effects of addictions beyond drug use.  Under its new work programme 2023-2025 the Group has started in 2023 exploring how to reduce the associated risks related, stating by looking at the health harms and risks of online gaming and gambling.

The Steering Committee on Anti-discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI) developed Guidelines on upholding equality and protecting against discrimination and hate during the COVID-19 and similar crises, which were adopted by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on 5 May 2021, which also took note of the Explanatory Memorandum to those Guidelines. The CDADI furthermore compiled promising and good practice examples in this field. All this work is based on the Study COVID-19: An analysis of the anti-discrimination, diversity and inclusion dimensions in Council of Europe member states. All those documents cover the area of access to healthcare and other services for persons belonging to vulnerable groups.

The draft Recommendation on equality for Roma and Traveller women and girls submitted to the Committee of Ministers for adoption provides for measures addressing inequalities regarding healthcare and sexual and reproductive rights.

The thematic report of the Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues (ADI-ROM) on Substance use: Prevention and Treatment in hard-to-reach communities, adopted in May 2023 also contributes to ensuring access to health and well-being.

In 2023, the CDADI carried out a review centred on evaluating the accessibility of healthcare services for LGBTI persons. It involved a national roundtable in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and five multistakeholder discussions focusing on trans-specific healthcare, older LGBTI persons, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and mental health. A European Report will be published in the second semester of 2024.



The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS)  contributes to promoting healthy lifestyles and well-being for all, at all ages, by supporting its member states in making sport fairer, safer and in conformity with high ethical standards. EPAS achieves those objectives by organising events and implementing projects to raise awareness on safe and healthy sport environments and to promote the well-being of those who do sport, with a particular focus on combating child abuse in sport in the framework of the Start to Talk project. EPAS carries out this work in particular, in the context of the revised European Sports Charter which promotes values-based sport and sport for all amongst other key areas. As the UN recognises that sport contributes to well-being, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, EPAS has an important role to play by supporting its member states and by facilitating co-operation at local, national and international level, in particular through the implementation of the revised European Sports Charter.

The Council of Europe also ensures the implementation of the Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events (CETS No. 218) and the Anti-Doping Convention (ETS No. 135), which safeguard the health and well-being of athletes, and in respect of the Saint-Denis Convention, also of spectators other participants at sporting events.

Furthermore, sport contributes to improving health and also has an important role in ensuring that health is protected. Combat sports, close contact team sports and motorsports are just a few examples of sports where injuries are frequent. Sport organisations need to adopt policies and take measures to protect the health of athletes. In addition, States parties to the Anti-Doping Convention are concerned by the growing use of doping by athletes and the consequences thereof for the health of participants and the future of sport. Standards and coordinated actions are developed with an aim to reduce those risks.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, through its Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, is actively supporting the work of EPAS in promoting healthy lifestyle and values of sport. In its Resolution 2131(2016) Sport for all: a bridge to equality, integration and social inclusion, it encourages a more integrated and dynamic approach to promoting access to sport, notably through increased co-operation between stakeholders and through establishing effective monitoring mechanisms of any form of discrimination in sport. It also calls on the International Olympic Committee to develop a comprehensive programme for the promotion of sport for all and the fight against discrimination.

On the same line, Resolution 2421 (2022) on “Sports policies in times of crisis” invites member States to incorporate sport into recovery and resilience mechanisms and to integrate sport support measures into economic and social sustainable development strategies, and to support the recovery of grassroots sport. Efforts should be made to: promote the development of sports infrastructure; help low-income families to access sporting activities; adopt incentive measures to improve provision and value sport and physical education in the context of education systems.On 21 June 2023, The Assembly adopted Resolution 2503 (2023) on “Social inclusion of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons through sport”, based on a report by Nigar Arpadarai (Azerbaijan, EC/DA), in which it has called on member States to adopt legislation prohibiting discrimination in sports and provide equal opportunities for “most vulnerable people, including migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, to have proper access to sporting facilities and activities” considering factors like finances, age, gender, and ability. The Assembly also highlighted the benefits of using sport to “build mutual respect and encourage team spirit” for both host societies and refugees, migrants and IDPs. It suggested that governments should bear the additional expenses of providing free access to sports, rather than burdening sports organisations. It also proposed measures such as coach training “to detect migrants’, refugees’ and displaced persons’ vulnerabilities and overcome them”. Language courses for refugees participating in sports, and assistance for refugee athletes to travel to sports events, were among other recommendations. Finally, it also underlined that there should be campaigns that promote the participation of migrants, refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in sports, with an emphasis on women. These campaigns should address cultural and psychological barriers that women may encounter, encouraging their active involvement. The Assembly also acknowledged the efforts of the UNHCR and the IOC to promote sport activities for refugees, including the participation of refugee athletes at the Paris Olympics 2024 through the Refugee Olympic Team and the work of the Council of Europe. In its view, member States and sports organisations should be encouraged to join international instruments and initiatives, including those of the Council of Europe, such as the European Sports Charter and the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport.

The European Landscape Convention (ETS No. 176) is the first international treaty to be exclusively concerned with all aspects of landscape. Its Parties declare themselves “concerned to achieve sustainable development based on a balanced and harmonious relationship between social needs, economic activity and the environment”. They acknowledge that “the landscape contributes to the formation of local cultures and that it is a basic component of the natural and cultural heritage, contributing to human well-being” and that “the landscape is an important part of the quality of life for people everywhere: in urban areas and in the countryside, in degraded areas as well as in areas of high quality, in areas recognised as being of outstanding beauty as well as everyday areas”. The Work Programme of the Convention implements the Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)7 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the contribution of the European Landscape Convention to the exercise of human rights and democracy with a view to sustainable development. The publication “Council of Europe Landscape Convention: Contribution to human rights, democracy and sustainable development” (presents the Recommendation and a Conceptual reference report. “Principles for the participation of the public in the definition and implementation of landscape policies, as defined in the European Landscape Convention” were also prepared and included in the publication. (Council of Europe Publishing, 2018, ISBN 978-92-871-8486-3) [« Convention du Conseil de l’Europe sur le paysage : contribution aux droits humains, à la démocratie et au développement durable » (Editions du Conseil de l’Europe, 2018, ISBN 978-92-871-8485-6)

The entrance into force of the Protocol amending the European Landscape Convention will allow non-European States to become Parties to the Council of Europe Landscape Convention.


Recommendation CM//Rec(2016)7 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on young people’s access to rights recommends that youth policies facilitate young people’s access to rights with a special emphasis on, inter alia, social and health-care services that cater for the specific needs of young people. Even though health is not primarily a youth policy issue, advice on youth policy development and other support measures will be given to member States. The recommendation is available in EnglishFrenchCzechDutchEstonianPortugueseRussianSlovakTurkish and Ukrainian.

The Youth Partnership commissioned two research projects on young people’s right to assemble peacefully and on young people’s access to rights and non-discrimination to support the in preparation for the future review of CM/Rec(2016)7.

The youth sector has also been looking at young people’s rights – in particular freedom of association and assembly – by means of a consultative meeting on the shrinking space for youth civil society.  One important consequence of this meeting was the adoption, in 2022, of Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)6 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on protecting youth civil society and young people, and supporting their participation in democratic processes.

The Youth Partnership explored the impact of Covid-19 on young people’s mental health and psychological well-being. A literature review was published and the topic was addressed in issue 32 of Coyote youth work magazine.

The European Youth Foundation funded 130 youth projects in 2023, of which 31 were projects that facilitated young people's access to rights, including education on information, data and media literacy with children and young people, as well as human rights education and access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights.

Mental health of young people is a recurring concern for many youth organisation, especially when it intersects with other factors, such as discrimination and environmental degradation. Two study sessions on these issues have been held at the European Youth Centre, including with the International Youth Health Organisation.

A seminar organised by the Partial Agreement on Youth Mobility through the Youth Card on Mental health in digital environments - the role of the European Youth Card explored services which are needed to identify, guide and support young people facing mental health challenges.

The Parliamentary Assembly addresses questions of public health as a human rights issue, in particular through its Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. In this context, it adopted a number of key texts, including Resolution 2168 (2017) and Recommendation 2104 (2017) on Human rights of older persons and their comprehensive careRecommendation 2115 (2017) on The use of new genetic technologies in human beingsResolution 2219 (2018) on Drug-resistant tuberculosis in EuropeResolution 2249 (2018) on The provision of palliative care in EuropeResolution 2286 (2019) on Air pollution – a challenge for public health in Europe Resolution 2291 (2019) on Ending coercion in mental health: the need for a human rights-based approach.

Recommendation 2156 (2019) on Anonymous donation of sperm and oocytes: balancing the rights of parents, donors and children, and Resolution 2284 (2019) on Addressing the health needs of adolescents in Europe. In 2020, the Assembly adopted Resolution 2327 (2020) on Organ transplant tourismRecommendation 2173 (2020) on Combating trafficking in human tissues and cellsRecommendation 2185 (2020) on Artificial Intelligence in health care: medical, legal and ethical challenges aheadResolution 2353 (2020) on Supporting people with autism and their families, as well as Resolution 2329 (2020) and Recommendation 2174 (2020) on Lessons for the future from an effective and rights-based response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, the Assembly adopted Resolution 2361 (2021) on Covid-19 vaccines: ethical, legal and practical considerationsResolution 2366 (2021)Recommendation 2196 (2021) on the Impact of labour migration on “left-behind” children, in addition to Resolution 2373 (2021) on Discrimination against persons dealing with chronic and long-term illnesses.

In 2022, the Assembly adopted Resolution 2455 (2022) and Recommendation 2243 (2022) on Fighting vaccine-preventable diseases through quality services and anti-vaccine myth-busting, Resolution 2241 (2022) and Recommendation 2233 (2022) on Addiction to prescribed medicines and Resolution 2474 (2022) and Recommendation 2243 (2022) on Securing safe medical supply chains.

In 2023, Resolution 2504 (2023) and Recommendation 2255 (2023) on Health and social protection of undocumented workers or those in an irregular situation, Resolution 2521 (2023) and Recommendation 2263 (2023) on Mental health and well-being of children and young adults, Resolution 2520 (2023) and Recommendation 2262 (2023) on Preventing addictive behaviours in children and Recommendation 2264 (2023) on Heritable genome editing in human beings were adopted.

Goal 3 includes the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), with Target 3.8 covering protection against financial risks, access to quality essential health services, and access to safe, effective, high-quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines. In its recent Resolution 2500 (2023) “Public health emergency: the need for a holistic approach to multilateralism and health care”, the Parliamentary Assembly has called on member States to invest in primary health care and provide UHC to all persons present on their territory, regardless of their legal status, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, including mental disability, state of health, socio-economic background or other relevant status. The Assembly will continue working in this field through a report currently under preparation on "Promoting universal health coverage".

Report is also currently (January 2024) being prepared on  “Long Covid” and access to the right to health”.

In 2020, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 2335 and Recommendation 2177 on “Drug policy and human rights: a baseline study”. It also adopted Resolution 2344 and Recommendation 2184 on “The brain-computer interface: new rights or new threats to fundamental freedoms?”

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights also works to improve member States’ implementation of common detention standards. In this context, the Assembly adopted texts on “Protecting human rights during transfer of prisoners”:, Resolution 2266 (2019) and Recommendation 2147 (2019),  on “Improving follow-up to CPT recommendations: enhanced role of the Parliamentary Assembly and of national parliaments”,  Resolution 2264 (2019) and Recommendation 2146 (2019), and on “Allegations of systemic torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in places of detention in Europe, Resolution 2528 (2024).

With respect to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Assembly adopted Resolution 2337 (2020) on Democracies facing the Covid-19 pandemic and Resolution 2470 (2022) on Protecting the pillars of democracy during health crises based on reports prepared by the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy (SDGs 3, 16.6 and 16.7). Furthermore, the Assembly adopted resolutions on the basis of reports by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on human rights and the rule of law”, (Resolution 2338 (2020)) and on “Covid passes or certificates: protection of fundamental rights and legal implications” (Resolution 2383 (2021)) on  ”Preventing vaccine discrimination” (Resolution 2468 (2022) and Recommendation 2240 (2022),  on The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on prison population in Europe” (Resolution  2472 (2022) and Recommendation 2242 (2022)) and on “The impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on civil society space and activities” (Resolution 2471 (2022) and Recommendation 2241 (2022)).

The Assembly also adopted Resolution 2339 (2020) on “Upholding human rights in times of crisis and pandemics: gender, equality and non-discrimination”, following a report by the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.

Between 2015 and 2019, the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Person run a  Parliamentary Campaign to End Migration Detention of Children. In this context, it also elected a General Rapporteur on Conditions of Reception of Migrants and Refugees, responsible for examining and denouncing degrading conditions and promoting the humanitarian reception and well-being of migrants in Europe. The parliamentary campaign, also organised national seminars, and produced recommendations and guidelines on alternatives to migration detention of children.

In 2023, the Assembly adopted Resolution 2490 Innovative approaches to sexual and reproductive health and rights” on the basis of a report by the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination. A new report on health-related issues is under preparation in this Committee, on “Preventing and combating gender discrimination in health”.

The Council of Europe is also running dedicated co-operation programmes and projects  aimed at improving health care (including mental health) in prisons and other closed institutions, with the aim to ensure that health care services provided to inhabitants of such institutions is of the same standard as that available to the community at large.


As an assembly representing 150,000 local and regional authorities and building on its expertise and proximity to citizens, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is responsible for the territorial dimension of the SDGs within the Council of Europe. The Congress, which is the sole body responsible for monitoring the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, regularly assesses the quality of local and regional democracy in the Organisation's 46 member states. It also contributes, through a wide range of activities in the field, to the construction of inclusive, resilient and sustainable societies.

The Congress' approach is based on three key principles: achieving SDGs is the shared responsibility of all levels of government; local and regional authorities must have the necessary competences and financial autonomy to achieve the goals in their respective areas; citizens must always remain at the heart of the action. The co-operation programmes and projects of the Congress also contribute to the fulfilment of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, as do its thematic activities.

Through its engagement at all levels of government, the Congress aims to reduce inequalities in access to health services and inequalities related to citizens’ place of residence. These rights, conditioned by economic and social rights must be provided by the competent authorities.

The Congress adopted the following texts in relation to SDG 3:


Recent work of the Commissioner for Human Rights relating to good health and well-being for all at all ages includes reminding member states of the importance of maintaining universal access to health-care services for all, including irregular migrants, and addressing the protection of women´s sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Commissioner published on 19 February 2021 an Issue Paper on ‘Protecting the right to health through inclusive and resilient health care for all’.

See Commissioner’s thematic webpage on social rights: health.

See also:


The 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Reykjavík on 16-17 May 2023, adopted the Reykjavík Declaration including the Appendix V on "The Council of Europe and the environment", and underlined “the urgency of additional efforts to protect the environment, as well as to counter the impact of the triple planetary crisis of pollution, climate change and loss of biodiversity on human rights, democracy and the rule of law”, while committing the Council of Europe to strengthening its work “on the human rights aspects of the environment and initiate the Reykjavík process of focusing and strengthening the work of the Council of Europe in this field”.

The Reykjavík process gathered steam in 2023 throughout the organisation, culminating in the creation of a Department on the Reykjavík process and the Environment in the Directorate General on Human Rights and Rule of Law on 1 January 2024, as well as an Inter-Secretariat Task Force on the Environment which will develop a Strategy and an Action Plan on the Council of Europe and the Environment, in liaison with member States.