Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is an international intergovernmental organisation which is located in Strasbourg, France and has currently 45 democratic states as its members. (The Council of Europe should not be confused with the European Union. The two organisations are quite distinct. The 28 European Union Member States, however, are all members of the Council of Europe.)

Any European State can become a member of the Council of Europe provided, it accepts the principle of the rule of law and guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms to everyone under its jurisdiction.

  • to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;
  • to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity;
  • to seek solutions to problems facing European society (discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, environmental protection, human cloning, Aids, drugs, organised crime, etc.);
  • to help consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform.

The Council of Europe covers all major issues facing European society other than defence. Fields of activity: human rights, media, legal co-operation, social cohesion, health, education, culture, heritage, sport, youth, local democracy and transfrontier co-operation, the environment and regional planning.

Decision-making bodies and statutory organs

  • The Committee of Ministers is the Council of Europe’s decision-making body, and is composed of the Foreign Affairs Ministers of all the Member States (or their Permanent Representatives).
  • The Parliamentary Assembly is the organisation’s deliberative body, the members of which are appointed by national Parliaments.
  • The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe is a consultative body representing local and regional authorities.

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