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Interview with Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General

15 March 2005

Question: What are your expectations in the run-up to the Summit of Heads of State in Warsaw?

Maud de Boer-Buquicchio: I very much hope that the Summit of Heads of State and Government will provide an opportunity for reinforcing the common bedrock of standards and values that underpin all our action. We have reached a crucial point in time not only for the Council of Europe but also for the whole European integration enterprise, and I would be delighted if Warsaw could serve as the Summit of European unity.

By this I mean that the event should be an opportunity for the Heads of State and Government to create a new awareness of the essential equality among all our member States. This also means that the Heads of State and Government must shoulder responsibility for ensuring solidarity among all our member States. I am hoping that the integration project will not prove in any way divisive. The question is how the Heads of State and Government should express this determination.

In my view, one highlight will be the adoption and opening for signature of a convention dealing with a global issue relevant to all our member States, namely trafficking in human beings. There are also other fields in which it is absolutely vital that all our member States should feel bound by the same commitments.

However, where the Convention on trafficking in human beings is concerned, I think it is important to realise that as an organisation protecting human rights, the Council of Europe has a duty to defend the rights of trafficking victims, and this is indeed the aim of the Convention drawn up by the Council of Europe, namely the protection of victims. In this connection I always refer to the “three Ps”: Protection of victims, Prosecution of traffickers and Prevention, which is in fact another factor which we hope to use to eradicate trafficking in our member States.

So this kind of international treaty should exemplify the Council of Europe’s ability to ensure that all member States work together on an equal footing. It also means that the commitments entered into by member States must be monitored by means of a mechanism applicable to all member States, and it is one of the Council of Europe’s great advantages that when it lays down standards it also undertakes to ensure that these standards are respected. To get back to the very important matter of the Summit, there must be, and I am convinced there will be, a realisation that this momentous event will be the Summit of European unity.