Council of Europe
The Council of Europe unites 47 member-states. Its headquarters is located in Strasbourg (France). Russia joined the Council of Europe on February 28, 1996.
Canada, Japan, Mexico and the USA possess an observer status.
The Council of Europe was founded on May 5, 1949 by ten Western European states that signed the Statute of the Council of Europe (London Treaty of 1949) in order to "achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress" (Article 1 of the Statute). The Council of Europe is distinguished by the development and adoption of legally binding international conventions covering a wide range of "soft security" sectors such as suppression of terrorism, criminal justice, personal data protection, education, culture, sports, health, protection of children etc.
The Action Plan and Warsaw Declaration of the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe which took place in Warsaw in 2005 updated and expanded the aims of the Council of Europe. Environmental protection and information and communication were added to the area of responsibility of the Council of Europe. Attention is paid to protecting people from new challenges, including terrorism, money laundering, corruption, trafficking in human beings, trafficking in human organs and violence against children and women. The political issues such as stronger democratic stability in the continent has also become one of the priorities of the Council of Europe.
The position of the Secretary General was established by the Statute of the Council of Europe. He is appointed on the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers. The Secretary General has the overall responsibility for the strategic management of the Organisation and represents the CoE in international relations. Ms. Marija Pejčinović Burić, current Secretary General was elected in 2019. Ms. Pejčinović Burić heads the Secretariat which assists him in fulfilling the functions of a Secretary General.
Mrs. Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni has occupied the position of the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe since 2012 (in 2015 she was re-elected for the second term of office). She moniutors the implementation of the initiatives of the Secretary General according to the decisions and priorities of the Committee of Ministers.
The Organization's budget is formed on a biennial basis from contributions of the member-states. The main payers are Russia, France, Germany, Italy and Great Britain. The total budget of the Council of Europe for 2021 is 333 028 800 Euro.
Russia’s contribution to the budget of the Council of Europe including partial agreements amounts to 33 949 208,77 Euro in 2021. Russia's contribution to the regular budget of the Council of Europe makes up 27 915 904,11 Euro.
The main bodies of the Council of Europe are the Committee of Ministers (CM), the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRA), the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The Committee of Ministers is the only organ which acts on behalf of the Council of Europe (Article 13 of the Statute). The meetings of the CM at the level of the ministers of foreign affairs are held annually in May, usually in the capital of the state, which chairs the Council of Europe. The CM meetings are held weekly at the level of permanent representatives of the member-states of the Council of Europe between the ministerial sessions.
The CM decisions take shape of resolutions and recommendations. The CM’s decisions on the functioning of the Council of Europe are mandatory, while the CMCE recommendations to the member states of the Council of Europe are not legally binding. The Committee of Ministers can also adopt declarations on current political issues.
The CM supervises and coordinates more than a hundred specialized committees and groups of various levels.
The CM is chaired by the member-states on a rotational basis in English alphabetical order for six months. The Russian Federation chaired the CM from May 19 till November 10, 2006.
The Council of Europe holds the conferences of sectorial ministers (of the interior, justice, local governance, youth policy, media, spatial planning, etc.) bi- or triennially.
The summits of the Council of Europe ("CoE summits") are held on the ad-hoc basis to take the principal decisions on the goals and the activities of the Council of Europe for the future. Three summits of the Council of Europe have been held up to now (in Vienna on October 8-9, 1993, in Strasbourg on October 10-11, 1997 and in Warsaw on May 16-17, 2005).
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is a statutory consultative body of the Council of Europe. It can debate matters within its competence and present its recommendations. The Assembly consists of the members of parliaments of the member-states. Plenary sessions are held quarterly.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is a consultative body of the Council of Europe which consists of the representatives of local and regional authorities. According to the Statutory Resolution (94)3 relating to the setting up of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the CM and PACE consult with the Congress on issues which are likely to affect the responsibilities and essential interests of the local and regional authorities in the European countries. The CLRA consists of the Chamber of Regions and the Chamber of Local Authorities and includes 318 elected representatives of local and regional authorities and the same number of their deputies. The CLRA, like the PACE, is a consultative body. Plenary sessions are held twice a year (in March and October).
The Conference of International Non-governmental Organisations of the Council of Europe studies the practical experience of the Council of Europe on cooperation with international and national NGOs, other institutions of the civil society, as well as recommendations and legal instruments of the Council of Europe aimed at strengthening the role of NGOs in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the member-states.
Membership in the Conference can be granted to non-governmental organizations which are represented at European level in at least five member States of the Council of Europe; which are particularly representative in the field(s) of their competence, fields of action shared by the Council of Europe which are capable of contributing to and participating actively in Council of Europe deliberations and activities.
The Conference of INGOs includes about 400 organizations. The plenary meetings of the Conference of INGOs are held twice a year during January and June sessions of the PACE.
The main activity of the Council of Europe is to establish a pan-European legal area. To that end the conventions are developed which define the principles and directions of cooperation between the member-states in all the areas within the competence of the Council of Europe. More than 210 legal documents (multilateral conventions, treaties and additional protocols to them) form a legal basis of the Council of Europe at the moment. Russia has ratified 65 legal acts of the Council of Europe. Another 16 conventions and protocols have been signed and are waiting for ratification (as of October 2017).
The most important of them envisage that special monitoring bodies are established. These bodies comprise a monitoring system of the Council of Europe.
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which was opened for signature in 1950 and entered into force in 1953 plays a key role for the functioning of the Council of Europe. All the states are obliged to sign the European Convention on Human Rights when joining the Council of Europe.
The Convention also establishes an international enforcement machinery. To ensure the observance of the engagements undertaken by the Parties, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has been set up. The Parliamentary Assembly elects one judge from each member-state of the Council of Europe. The decisions of the Court are final and binding. Control over their implementation is carried out by the CM.
The post of the Commissioner for Human Rights was established in May 1999. The Commissioner is elected for a non-renewable term of office of six years by the Parliamentary Assembly from a list of three candidates drawn up by the Committee of Ministers.
The Commissioner is considered as a non-judicial institution established to monitor human rights in the member states of the Council of Europe. Although the Commissioner cannot act upon individual complaints, the Commissioner can study any information regarding human rights situation in the member-states of the Council of Europe.
The Commissioner closely cooperates with the CM and PACE on the human rights issues, facilitate the activities of national ombudsperson institutions and other human rights structures and actively cooperates with them, cooperates with other international institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Commissioner submits quarterly and annual reports to the CM.
Other monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe play an important role. They are Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
Under the auspices of the Council of Europe, there are fourteen platforms for cooperation in specific fields. They have their own budgets. The legal basis for their creation and functioning is the Partial agreements, acting in accordance with the Statutory Resolution No. (93)28 on partial and enlarged agreements. Currently Russia participates in eight of them:
and in the European Pharmacopoeia as an observer.