CoE: As the Council of Europe is celebrating its 70th anniversary, over 30 Foreign Affairs Ministers from the 47 member states reaffirmed the importance of the Organisation as a unique platform for dialogue and co-operation.
Meeting in Helsinki for their annual session, the Ministers declared that:
- all member states should be entitled to participate on an equal basis in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly, the two statutory organs of the Council of Europe;
- one of the fundamental obligations of member states is to pay their obligatory contributions to the ordinary budget;
- they would welcome that delegations of all member states be able to take part in the next June part-session of the Parliamentary Assembly, considering the importance of the elections of the Secretary General and of judges to the European Court of Human Rights.
While dialogue between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly has increased, the Ministers underlined the need for co-ordinated action, in order to strengthen the Organisation’s ability to react more effectively in situations where a member state violates its statutory obligations or does not respect the standards, fundamental principles and values upheld by the Council of Europe.
In this spirit, a clearly defined complementary procedure, which could be initiated by either the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers or the Secretary General, and in which all three of them would participate, should be developed.
Besides, the Ministers stressed the need to better protect and promote civil society, by improving the participation of civil society organisations and national human rights institutions in the Council of Europe’s work and strengthening the protection of human rights defenders. Finally, they also considered as priority areas: combating trafficking in human beings, guaranteeing freedom of expression online and offline, developing a legal framework for artificial intelligence, addressing increasing inequality, racism, xenophobia, hate speech and discrimination, addressing the challenges arising from global migration, reinforcing social rights, promoting equality between women and men and fighting violence against women and domestic violence