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Council of Europe
The Council of Europe (CoE; French: Conseil de l'Europe) is an international organisation focused on promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, covers approximately 820 million people and operates with an annual budget of approximately half a billion euros.
The organisation is distinct from the 28-nation European Union (EU), although it is sometimes confused with it, partly because the EU has adopted the original European Flag which was created by the Council of Europe in 1955, as well as the European Anthem. No country has ever joined the EU without first belonging to the Council of Europe.
Unlike the EU, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws, but it does have the power to enforce select international agreements reached by European states on various topics. The best known body of the Council of Europe is the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Council's two statutory bodies are the Committee of Ministers, comprising the foreign ministers of each member state, and the Parliamentary Assembly, composed of members of the national parliaments of each member state. The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the member states. The Secretary General heads the secretariat of the organisation. Other major CoE bodies include the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines.
- Protection of the rule of law and fostering legal co-operation through some 200 conventions and other treaties, including such leading instruments as the Convention on Cybercrime, the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, Conventions against Corruption and Organized Crime, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, and the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.
CODEXTER, designed to co-ordinate counter-terrorism measures
- The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)
- Protection of human rights, notably through:
- Protection of democracy through parliamentary scrutiny and election monitoring by its Parliamentary Assembly as well as assistance in democratic reforms, in particular by the Venice Commission.
- Promotion of cultural co-operation and diversity under the Council of Europe's Cultural Convention of 1954 and several conventions on the protection of cultural heritage as well as through its Centre for Modern Languages in Graz, Austria, and its North-South Centre in Lisbon, Portugal.
- Promotion of the right to education under Article 2 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights and several conventions on the recognition of university studies and diplomas (see also Bologna Process and Lisbon Recognition Convention).
- Promotion of fair sport through the Anti-Doping Convention
- Promotion of European youth exchanges and co-operation through European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest, Hungary.
- Promotion of the quality of medicines throughout Europe by the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and its European Pharmacopoeia.
- The Secretary General, who is elected for a term of five years by the Parliamentary Assembly and heads the Secretariat of the Council of Europe. Mr Thorbjørn Jagland, the former Prime Minister of Norway was elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe in September 2009. In June 2014, he was re-elected, and his second term in office commenced on 1 October 2014.
- The Committee of Ministers, comprising the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of all 47 member states who are represented by their Permanent Representatives and Ambassadors accredited to the Council of Europe. Committee of Ministers' presidencies are held in alphabetical order for six months following the English alphabet: Turkey 11/2010-05/2011, Ukraine 05/2011-11/2011, the United Kingdom 11/2011-05/2012, Albania 05/2012-11/2012, Andorra 11/2012-05/2013, Armenia 05/2013-11/2013, Austria 11/2013-05/2014, and so on.
- The Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), which comprises national parliamentarians from all member states. It elects its President for a year with the possibility of being re-elected for another year. In January 2016, Pedro Agramunt from Spain was elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly. National parliamentary delegations to the Assembly must reflect the political spectrum of their national parliament, i.e. comprise government and opposition parties. The Assembly appoints members as rapporteurs with the mandate to prepare parliamentary reports on specific subjects. The British MP Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe was rapporteur for the drafting of the European Convention on Human Rights. Dick Marty's reports on secret CIA detentions and rendition flights in Europe became quite famous in 2006 and 2007. Other Assembly reports were instrumental in, for example, the abolition of the death penalty in Europe, highlighting the political and human rights situation in Chechnya, identifying who was responsible for disappeared persons in Belarus, chronicling threats to freedom of expression in the media and many other subjects.
- The Congress of the Council of Europe (Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe), which was created in 1994 and comprises political representatives from local and regional authorities in all member states. The most influential instruments of the Council of Europe in this field are the European Charter of Local Self-Government of 1985 and the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities of 1980.
- The European Court of Human Rights, created under the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950, is composed of a judge from each member state elected for a single, non-renewable term of nine years by the Parliamentary Assembly and is headed by the elected President of the Court. The current President of the Court is Guido Raimondi from Italy. Under the recent Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights, the Court's case-processing was reformed and streamlined. Ratification of Protocol No. 14 was delayed by Russia for a number of years, but won support to be passed in January 2010.
- The Commissioner for Human Rights is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly for a non-renewable term of six years since the creation of this position in 1999. Since April 2012, this position has been held by Nils Muižnieks from Latvia.
- The Conference of INGOs. NGOs can participate in the INGOs Conference of the Council of Europe. Since the [Resolution (2003)8] adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 19 November 2003, they are given a "participatory status".
- Information Offices of the Council of Europe in many member states.
- Non-European states: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritius, Morocco, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Syria, Tajikistan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uruguay, Venezuela and the observers Canada, Israel, Japan, Mexico, United States.
- European states: Kazakhstan, Belarus and the observer Vatican City.
- the European Community and later the European Union after its legal personality was established by the ratification of the EU's Lisbon Treaty.
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