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Council of Europe in brief @ 28 August 2013 08:26 AM
The Council of Europe is a pan-European organisation of 47 member states. It was established shortly after the end of the Second World War, when ten founding members signed the Treaty of London. When founded on 5 May 1949, the Council of Europe was the first post-war political organisation in Europe.
The core mission of the Council of Europe is to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law across the continent. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is the first Council of Europe’s convention and the cornerstone of all its activities. It was adopted in 1950 and entered into force in 1953. Its ratification is a prerequisite for joining the Organisation. The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg (France).
The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities are the main bodies of the Council of Europe. To ensure the observance of the engagements undertaken by the High Contracting Parties in the Convention and the Protocols thereto, the European Court of Human Rights was set up in 1959. It rules on individual or State applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Individuals can bring complaints of human rights violations to the Strasbourg Court once all possibilities of appeal have been exhausted in the member state concerned.
Numerous conventions of the Council of Europe are prepared and negotiated within the institutional framework of the Council of Europe. Negotiations culminate in a decision of the Committee of Ministers to adopt the final text of the proposed treaty. It is then agreed to open the treaty for signature by member States of the Council and, if necessary, by the other States or organisations who have taken part in its elaboration.
The conventions of the Council of Europe are not statutory acts of the Organisation. They owe their legal existence to the consent of those member States that sign and ratify them.
Furthermore, the great majority of the conventions of the Council of Europe make provision for non-member States of the Organisation to become Parties thereto, upon invitation by the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe and by means of the procedure of accession.
Conventions of the Council of Europe must be distinguished from Partial Agreements which are not international treaties but merely a particular form of co-operation within the Organisation. Partial Agreements allow member States of the Council of Europe to abstain from participating in a certain activity advocated by other member States. From a statutory point of view, a partial agreement remains an activity of the Organisation in the same way as other programme activities, except that a partial agreement has its own budget and working methods which are determined solely by the members of the partial agreement.
Out of more than 200 conventions and protocols of the Council of Europe, the R. of Serbia has ratified 79 Council of Europe conventions so far, and signed 7 (pending ratification), among which the most important are: the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (as basic legal instrument for the protection of human rights in Europe), the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.
The Republic of Serbia is a member of eleven partial Council of Europe agreements, which are an optional form of bringing together states that have expressed special interest in a specific field of CoE activity: Group of States against Corruption - GRECO, European Pharmacopoeia, CoE Development Bank, European Support Fund for the co-operation and distribution of creative cinematographic and audio-visual works - EURIMAGES, European Commission for Democracy through law – Venice Commission, Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sports, North-South Centre, European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA), Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking (Pompidou Group), Youth Card, Cultural Routes.
The European Union is preparing to sign the European Convention on Human Rights, creating a common European legal space for over 820 million citizens.
Five states enjoy observer status: USA, Canada, Japan, Mexico and the Holy See.
The State Union Serbia and Montenegro joined the Council of Europe on 3 April 2003. Following the declaration of independence of the Republic of Montenegro on 3 June 2006, and in accordance with Article 60 of the Constitutional Charter of the State Union, the Committee of Ministers at their 967th meeting adopted a declaration on the continuation of Serbia's membership of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in the Council of Europe.