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Council of Europe


FlagStateDate joinedBelgiumFounderDenmarkFounderFranceFounderIrelandFounderItalyFounderLuxembourgFounderNetherlandsFounderNorwayFounderSwedenFounderUnited KingdomFounderGreecea1949-08-09Turkeya1949-08-09Iceland1950-03-07Germanyb1950-07-13Austria1956-04-16Cyprus1961-05-24Switzerland1963-05-06Malta1965-04-29Portugal1976-09-22Spain1977-11-24Liechtenstein1978-11-23San Marino1988-11-16Finland1989-05-05Hungary1990-11-06Poland1991-11-26Bulgaria1992-05-07Estonia1993-05-14Lithuania1993-05-14Slovenia1993-05-14Czech Republic1993-06-30Slovakia1993-06-30Romania1993-10-07Andorra1994-11-10Latvia1995-02-10Albania1995-07-13Moldova1995-07-13FYR Macedoniac1995-11-09Ukraine1995-11-09Russia1996-02-28Croatia1996-11-06Georgia1999-04-27Armenia2001-01-25Azerbaijan2001-01-25Bosnia and Herzegovina2002-04-24Serbiad2003-04-03Monaco2004-10-05Montenegro2007-05-11

Following its declaration of independence on 3 June 2006, Montenegro submitted a request to accede to the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers transmitted the request to the Parliamentary Assembly for opinion, in accordance with the usual procedure. Eleven days later, on 14 June 2006, the Committee of Ministers declared that the Republic of Serbia would continue the membership of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.15 On 11 May 2007, Montenegro joined the Council of Europe as 47th member state.

This coin was issued in Armenia to commemorate Armenia's accession to the Council in 2001.


The Parliament of Belarus held special guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly from September 1992 to January 1997, but this has been suspended as a consequence of the November 1996 constitutional referendum and parliament by-elections which the CoE found to be undemocratic, as well as limits on democratic freedoms such as freedom of expression (cf. Belarusian media) under the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. The constitution changed by the referendum "does not respect minimum democratic standards and violates the principles of separation of powers and the rule of law.16 Belarus applied for full membership on March 12 1993 (still open).

Kazakhstan applied for the Special Guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly in 1999. The Assembly found that Kazakhstan could apply for full membership, because it is partially located in Europe, but granting Special Guest status would require improvements in the fields of democracy and human rights. Kazakhstan signed a co-operation agreement with the Assembly.


Canada, Japan, Mexico, the U.S., and the Holy See have observer status with the Council of Europe and can participate in the Committee of Ministers and all intergovernmental committees. They may contribute financially to the activities of the Council of Europe on a voluntary basis.

The parliaments of Canada, Israel, Mexico and Morocco have observer status with the Parliamentary Assembly and their delegations can participate in Assembly sessions and committee meetings. Representatives of the Palestinian Legislative Council may participate in Assembly debates concerning the Middle East as well as Turkish representatives from Northern Cyprus concerning this island.

There has been criticism concerning the observer status of Japan and the US because both countries apply the death penalty.


Non-member states

The Council of Europe works mainly through conventions. By drafting conventions or international treaties, common legal standards are set for its member states. However, several conventions have also been opened for signature to non-member states. Important examples are the Convention on Cybercrime (signed, for example, by Canada, Japan, South Africa, and the United States), the Lisbon Recognition Convention on the recognition of study periods and degrees (signed e.g. by Australia, Belarus, Canada, the Holy See, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the U.S.), the Anti-doping Convention (signed e.g. by Australia, Belarus, Canada, and Tunisia) and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (signed e.g. by Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal as well as the European Community). Non-member states also participate in several partial agreements, such as the Venice Commission, the Group of States Against Corruption GRECO and the European Pharmacopoeia Commission.

European Union

Relations in general between the CoE and the EU

As mentioned in the introduction, it is important to realize that the Council of Europe is not to be mistaken with the Council of the European Union or the European Council. These belong to the European Union, which is separate from the Council of Europe, although they have shared the same European flag and anthem since the 1980s because they also work for European integration.

Cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe has recently been reinforced, notably on culture and education as well as on the international enforcement of justice and Human Rights.17

The European Union is expected to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). At their Warsaw Summit in 2005, the Heads of State and Government of all Council of Europe member states reiterated their desire for the EU to accede without delay to ensure consistent human rights protection across Europe. There are also concerns about consistency in case law - the European Court of Justice (the EU's court in Luxembourg) is treating the Convention as part of the legal system of all EU member states in order to prevent conflict between its judgments and those of the European Court of Human Rights (the court in Strasbourg interpreting the Convention). Protocol No.14 of the Convention is designed to allow the EU to accede to it and the EU Reform Treaty contains a protocol binding the EU to join. The EU would thus be subject to its human rights law and external monitoring as its member states currently are. It is further proposed that the EU join as a member of the Council of Europe once it has attained its legal personality in the Reform Treaty, possibly in 2010.1

Joint Programs between the CoE and the EU

The Council of Europe and the European Union are based on the same values and pursue common aims with regard to the protection of democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. These common aims have led the Council of Europe and the European Union to develop a very tight network of relations and cooperation links (participation of the European Commission to meet Council of Europe activities, accession of European Union to Council of Europe Conventions, and so on). One significant instrument of this cooperation is the conclusion since 1993 of a number of joint programs, for essentially cooperation with countries which have joined the Council of Europe since 1989. The same countries have developed increasingly close links with the European Union, or have applied for membership. By combining forces in this way, the complementarity of respective activities of the European Commission and the Council of Europe has been enhanced. In April 2001, an important step was taken through the signature by the European Commission and the Council of Europe of a Joint Declaration on Cooperation and Partnership, which, among other things, offers more systematic means of joint programming and priority-setting.18

Country-specific and thematic Joint Programs

Most joint programs are country-specific. They cover Albania (since 1993), Ukraine (since 1995), the Russian Federation (since 1996), Moldova (since 1997), Georgia (since 1999), Serbia, Montenegro, Armenia,and Azerbaijan (since 2001), Turkey (since 2001), Bosnia and Herzegovina (since 2003) and also "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." Other Joint Programs, for instance for the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) have also been implemented in the past. There have also been multilateral thematic joint programs, open to Central and Eastern European countries, regarding, for instance, national minorities, the fight against organized crime and corruption, and the development of independent and multidisciplinary ethics committees for review of biomedical research. There have been other multilateral joint programs, for awareness-raising on the abolition of the death penalty, the preparation of the European conference to fight against racism and intolerance, action to promote the European Social Charter and a program to strengthen democracy and constitutional development in central and eastern Europe with the Council of Europe's Venice Commission.

There is a "Council of Europe Project Office" in Ankara, Turkey since 2004 which implements joint projects of the Council of Europe and the European Union in co-operation with the Turkish government.


The Joint Programs consist of a series of activities agreed between the European Commission and the Council of Europe, in consultation with the governments of the concerned countries, designed to facilitate and support legal and institutional reform. Training courses, expert reports and advice to governments, conferences, workshops, seminars and publication dissemination are all usual working methods. The emphasis has been on training and advice but in some cases Joint Programs have even offered limited material support (for instance with the establishment of the Albanian School of Magistrates and the State Publications Centre).

Programming and funding

The Directorate General for External Relations of the European Commission and the Council of Europe's Directorate of Strategic Planning (as well as other services as applicable) set and match priorities for the purpose of Joint Programs. Sometimes the Council of Europe makes proposals to the European Commission for urgent joint undertakings. EuropeAid is the structure within the European Commission involved in the final selection and administrative follow-up of programs. The Council of Europe counterpart throughout the project cycle is the Directorate of Strategic Planning, in close consultation with the different Council of Europe Directorates General responsible for the implementation of the activities. In recent years the European Commission Delegations in the beneficiary countries have increasingly been implied in the Joint Programs. Equally, Council of Europe Secretariat Offices in the field support planning and implementation.

The European Commission and the Council of Europe provide joint funding for the program, and the Council of Europe is responsible for its implementation. In most cases funding is shared on a 50-50 basis but on some occasions the European Commission has contributed with proportionally more resources. A large number of Joint Programs have been concluded with the EC's European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

Programs have also been concluded with the European Commission's TACIS and CARDS programs. In 2002 a major Joint Program for Turkey became operational, with resources from the EU enlargement funds and the Council of Europe. In 2001 two Joint Programs were established with the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR), a decentralized agency of the European Union that deals with assistance to Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and FYROM.

Program partners

The Council of Europe often works with partner institutions in the country concerned. Partners may include:

  1. The Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs and the Interior
  2. The national and regional Bar Associations
  3. The office of the Public Prosecutor
  4. The Courts and judicial training centers
  5. The national or regional commissioners on human rights
  6. Journalists' unions
  7. Other professional bodies
  8. Human rights protection movements and other non-governmental organizations.

United Nations

The Council of Europe holds observer status with the United Nations and is regularly represented in the UN General Assembly. It has organized the regional UN conferences against racism and on women and cooperates with the United Nations at many levels, in particular in the areas of human rights, minorities, migration and counter-terrorism.

Non-governmental Organizations

Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) can participate in the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe and become observers to inter-governmental committees of experts. The Council of Europe drafted the European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organizations in 1986, which sets the legal basis for the existence and work of NGOs in Europe. Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to freedom of association, which is also a fundamental norm for NGOs.


From a founding membership of 10, the Council of Europe has grown to include 47 states stretching across the Cold War East-West divide. Committed to European solidarity, to raising living standards, protecting human right and ending conflict much of the work of the Council has legal status acquired through Conventions and Charters that constitute international law. However, the Council's aim is not merely to enforce good practice by legislation but to build a culture of peace and dialogue across Europe. It is the main custodian for the values that the post-World War II Europe seeks to nurture, so that these become part of the genetic code.

The Council repeatedly speaks of "common" and of "shared values" as at the center of all its work. Speaking April 4, 2008 Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, "praised the Council of Europe as the custodian of European values." "These include" she said, "democracy, the rule of law, liberty, diversity, tolerance, justice and human dignity." "It was only possible for Europe to emerge at all," she continued, "on the basis of these shared values".19 The founding fathers of the Council and of the European Community wanted to set an example for the world. Aware that two world wars had resulted from centuries of rivalry between the nations of Europe, Europe's leaders wanted to make restitution, to offer the world an alternative possibility. The Council of Europe is set to continue to model good practice as it offers a "sign for other parts of the world."19

See also

  • Europe
  • European Union
  • European Convention on Human Rights
  • European Court of Human Rights


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jean-Claude Juncker, Council of Europe-European Union: A sole ambition for the European continent, Council of Europe. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
  2. ↑ Carlo Sforzathe, Statement by Count Carlo Sforzathe, European Navigator. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
  3. ↑ Winston Churchill, The Zurich Speech, European Navigator. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
  4. ↑ Council of Europe, Winston Churchill and the Council of Europe. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  5. ↑ Council of Europe, Council of Europe Convention for the protection of Human Rights and dignity of the human being with regard to the application of biology and medicine. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  6. ↑ Council of Europe, Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  7. ↑ Council of Europe, Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  8. ↑ Anti-Doping Convention. Council of Europe. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  9. ↑ Council of Europe, Convention Against Spectator Violence. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  10. ↑ Council of Europe, Conference of INGOs. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  11. ↑ Council of Europe, Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Council of Europe, Flag, anthem and logo: the Council of Europe's symbols. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  13. ↑ Council of Europe, Logo of the Council of Europe. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  14. ↑ Council of Europe, Statute of the Council of Europe. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  15. ↑ Council of Europe, Continuation by the Republic of Serbia of membership of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in the Council of Europe. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  16. ↑ Council of Europe, Belarus: a referendum under a 'hardening dictatorial regime. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  17. ↑ Liberty Security, Agreement between the European Community and the Council of Europe on cooperation between the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Council of Europe 2008/579/EC. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  18. ↑ Council of Europe, Joint Programs between the CoE and the EU. December 11, 2008.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Angela Merkel, Council of Europe is the custodian of our common values, Federal Government of Germany. Retrieved December 20, 2008.


  • Haller, Bruno. 2006. An Assembly for Europe: the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly 1949-1989. Strasbourg, FR: Council of Europe Pub. ISBN 9789287160294.
  • Huber, Denis, and Vincent Nash. 1999. A Decade that Made History: The Council of Europe, 1989-1999. Strasbourg, FR: Council of Europe Pub. ISBN 9789287139283.
  • Grosjean, Etienne. 1997. Forty Years of Cultural co-operation at the Council of Europe, 1954-94. Strasbourg, FR: Council of Europe Pub. ISBN 9789287132314.
  • Mroz, John Edwin, Diana Pinto, and Francis Rosenstiel. 1993. Securing the Euro-Atlantic Bridge: The Council of Europe and the United States. New York, NY: Institute for East-West Studies. ISBN 9780913449356.
  • Müller-Rappard, Ekkehart, and M. Cherif Bassiouni. 1993. European Inter-State Co-Operation in Criminal Matters: The Council of Europe's Legal Instruments: Collection of Texts = La coopération inter-étatique européenne en matière pénale: collection de textes. Dordrecht, NL: Nijhoff. ISBN 9780792320968.
  • Robertson, A. H. 1961. The Council of Europe: Its Structure, Functions and Achievements. Library of world affairs, no. 32. London, UK: Stevens.
  • Welsh, Frank. 2008. The Battle for Christendom: The Council of Constance, the East-West Conflict, and the Dawn of Modern Europe. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press. ISBN 9781590201237.

External links

All links retrieved December 11, 2017.

  • Official site.
  • Statute of the Council of Europe.
  • Eurominority map of minorities, native peoples and ethnic groups.
  • Armenia, Azerbaijan join Council of Europe.
  • European Audiovisual Observatory.