European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights (Rome, 3-4 November 2000)


Ministers' Deputies
CM Documents

CM(2000)172 (Part. II) (Restricted) 21 November 2000
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733 Meeting, 7 December 2000
4 Human rights

4.2 European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights (Rome, 3-4 November 2000)
Report of the Secretary General

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PART I (document CM 2000)172 of 14 November 2000)

 

1.         Text of the two Resolutions and the Declaration adopted by the Conference...................... 3

 

2.         Introductory Report of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe

on sub-theme I: Institutional and functional arrangements for the protection

of Human Rights at National and European levels............................................................ 17

 

3.         Introductory Report of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe

            on sub-theme II: Respect for Human Rights, a key factor for democratic

            stability and cohesion in Europe: current issues................................................................ 31

 

4.         List of Ministers and Heads of Delegation....................................................................... 47

 

5.         Programme of the Conference........................................................................................ 57

 

*          *

 

*

 

PART II (document CM(2000)172 Part II of 21 November 2000)

 

 

6.         Summary Report by the Secretary General........................................................................ 3

 

 

*          *

 

*

 

 

ADDENDUM*

 

7.         Statements made at the opening session

 

8.         Statements by Heads of Delegation

 

9.         Statements made at the Commemorative Ceremony on the occasion

            of the 50th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights

 

10.       Statements made during other events linked to the Conference/Commemoration

 

*     *     *

 

*              For technical reasons, sections 7 to 10 will appear as an Addendum to the Report (CM(2000)172 Part I and Part II), contrary to what was indicated in the table of contents in document CM(2000)172 (Part I) of 14 November 2000.

 


6.         SUMMARY REPORT BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL

 

Introduction

 

1.         The European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights was held in Rome on 3 and 4 November 2000 at the invitation of the Government of Italy, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, opened for signature in Rome on 4 November 1950. 

 

2.         The Conference theme was “The European Convention on Human Rights at 50: What future for the Protection of Human Rights in Europe?”. 

 

3.         All the Council of Europe member States took part, as well as the following non-member States: Holy See, United States of America, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Monaco, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

 

4.         The Conference was also attended by a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Alvaro GIL-ROBLES.  Also represented at the Conference were the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Court of Justice of the European Communities as well as several Council of Europe bodies (the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the European Committee for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CPT), the Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI), the Steering Committee for equality between women and men (CDEG), the European Commission for Democracy through Law and the Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with disabilities (CD-P-RR)). Representatives from several non-governmental organisations also attended the Conference.

 

5.         Heads of Conference Delegations are listed in Part I of this document.

 

6.         The full proceedings of the Conference were open to the press.

 

7.         The Conference was opened by the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Lamberto DINI and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Walter SCHWIMMER.  During the opening session, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Lord RUSSELL-JOHNSTON, also addressed the Conference.   The speeches delivered during the opening session can be found in Section 7 in the Addendum to this Report.


8.         The Secretary General of the Council of Europe then presented the two introductory reports on the two sub-themes of the Conference.  (These reports appear in Part I of this Report). Sub-theme I of the Conference was “Institutional and Functional Arrangements for the Protection of Human Rights at National and European Level” and the first intervention thereon was made by the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Luzius WILDHABER. Sub-theme II was entitled “Respect for Human Rights, a Key Factor for Democratic Stability and Cohesion in Europe: Current Issues” and discussion was launched by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Mr Jozias VAN AARTSEN.   Discussion on each of the sub-themes then took place.  The statements of Heads of Delegation appear in Section 8 in the Addendum to this Report.

 

9.         The Conference was chaired in turn by Mr Lamberto DINI, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and by Mr Piero FASSINO, Italian Minister of Justice.  Mr Jerzy KRANZ, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for Poland was elected Vice-Chairperson.

 

10.       Following the discussions, the Ministers taking part adopted unanimously, and without amendment, two Resolutions and a Declaration.  These texts are set out in Part I of this document.

 

11.       The Conference was followed by the Commemorative Ceremony for the 50th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The speakers during the Ceremony were the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Lamberto DINI, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Lord RUSSELL-JOHNSTON, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Walter SCHWIMMER, President of the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Luzius WILDHABER, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary ROBINSON and the representative of the NGO delegation, Mrs Nuala MOLE, Director of the Aire Centre.   The addresses made during the Ceremony can be found in section 9 in the Addendum to this Report.

 

12.       The Conference thanked the Italian authorities for the excellent organisation of the events.

 

13.       The Ministerial Conference and the Commemorative Ceremony received broad media coverage.

 

*   *   *

 

14.       The following is a summary of the discussions on the sub-themes and the theme underlying the political texts adopted by the Conference (Resolutions I and II and the Declaration, as they appear in Part I.1 of this document).

 

15.       The headings of this summary report correspond to those of the Resolutions adopted; at the end a summary is given of the discussions concerning the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, a topic addressed in the Declaration, and those concerning the horizontal question of complementarity and synergies between the different mechanisms and institutions operating in the human rights field.

  


Sub-theme I: Institutional and Functional Arrangements for the Protection of Human Rights at National and European Level

 

A.        Improving the implementation of the Convention in member States

 

16.       Many Delegations referred to the subsidiary character of the control system established by the Convention and indicated their willingness to pursue their efforts to protect fully the rights guaranteed by the Convention at the national level. The Conference itself identified a number of areas in which the implementation of the Convention by member States should be further improved (see Resolution I, paragraph 14). Thus, member States were encouraged to:

 

-           ensure that the exercise of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention benefits from an effective remedy at national level;

 

-           undertake systematic screening of draft legislation and regulations, as well as of administrative practice, in the light of the Convention, to ensure that they are compatible with the latter's standards;

 

-           ensure that the text of the Convention is translated and widely disseminated to national authorities, notably the courts, and that the developments in the case law of the Court are sufficiently accessible in the language(s) of the country;

 

-           introduce or reinforce training in human rights for all sectors responsible for law enforcement, notably the police and the prison service, particularly with regard to the Convention and the case law of the Court;

 

-           examine regularly the reservations they have made to the Convention with a view to gradually withdrawing them or limiting their scope;

 

-           consider the ratification of protocols to the Convention to which they are not yet Party.

 

17.       In this context, some Delegations stressed, in particular, that they had already introduced systematic screening of the compatibility of draft legislation and regulations with the Convention. For his part, the Secretary General suggested in his Introductory report on sub-theme I to examine the advisability and feasibility of a European support fund or other mechanism to provide States that so wish with targeted training and assistance in the drafting of legislation in conformity with the Convention. He also mentioned the existence of an "intervention fund" within the ordinary budget of the Council of Europe which could be used to assist member States that encounter difficulties, for example, in improving detention conditions in prisons as recommended to them by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

 

18.       Furthermore, several Delegations emphasised the need to ensure a proper dissemination of the case law of the Court among national authorities, in particular the courts, in the language(s) of the country. Some Delegations also referred to issues raised by the length of court proceedings in member States.

 

19.       Follow-up:

 

(i)         In the light of the above-mentioned points, the Deputies could invite the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) to examine ways and means, including the advisability and feasibility of preparing specific recommendations of the Committee of Ministers, of assisting member States with a view to a better implementation of the Convention in their domestic law and practice.

 

(ii)        In particular, the Deputies could invite the CDDH to examine issues raised by the length of court proceedings in the member States, in close co-ordination with other activities under way within the Council of Europe, especially those within the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) and the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC).

 

B.        Ensuring the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights

 

20.       The Conference paid tribute to the exceptional achievements of the former Commission and Court of Human Rights and, over the past two years, the new Court. At the same time, the Conference expressed its strong concern at the situation with which the Court is now confronted.

 

21.       Many Delegations requested that, in the short term, the Committee of Ministers provide the Court with the financial resources which will allow it, for example, to recruit immediately lawyers to prepare the cases and to maintain an efficient information technology system. Nonetheless, there was a unanimous feeling that a revision of the control system (a "reform of the reform of the Court") should be undertaken in the medium term.

 

22.       As regards such a reform, the Conference discussions indicated that the central question to be examined appears to be the future functioning of the system of individual applications, taking into account the workload of the Court. For his part, the President of the Court considered that the individual complaint should remain the backbone of the system. Whilst indicating that the Court had no precise proposals to put forward on reform even if it recognised the need therefore, he stressed the willingness of the Court to study carefully any solution which would not alter the essence of the Convention guarantee.   

 

23.       In conclusion, the Conference called upon the Committee of Ministers to take measures in the short term (to identify without delay the most urgent measures to be taken to assist the Court in fulfilling its functions) and in the medium term (initiate, as soon as possible, a thorough study of the different possibilities and options with a view to ensuring the effectiveness of the Court in the light of this new situation).

 

24.       Follow-up:

 

(i)         It is recalled that, at their 729th meeting (15 November 2000), the Deputies set up an ad hoc working group to examine, in co-operation with the Secretary General, the budgetary needs of the Court for 2001.

 

(ii)        The Deputies might exchange views on the manner in which the reflection on the medium-term reform of the system could be organised. Several formulae could be envisaged in order to associate to this reflection process the various bodies concerned, in particular the Steering Committee for Human Rights, the Liaison Committee between the Committee of Ministers and the Court, as well as the Rapporteur Group on Human Rights. The Deputies could also consider the advisability of consulting some external experts on the understanding, however, that any reform of the system which would imply amendments to the Convention can only be undertaken through intergovernmental discussions. It should also be borne in mind that the Court wishes to be fully consulted and involved in all stages of the reform process.

 

C.        Improving the Committee of Ministers' supervision of the execution of Court judgments

 

25.       Many Delegations referred to the Committee of Ministers' supervision of execution of judgments as the key element of the effectiveness and credibility of the control system of the Convention. To this end, the Conference called upon the Committee of Ministers to:

 

-           continue consideration of the ways in which this supervision can be made more effective and transparent;

 

-           pursue the revision of its Rules of Procedure concerning Article 46 of the Convention;

 

-           pursue examination of issues such as the necessity to keep applicants better informed during the supervision phase, the possible reopening or re-examination of the case, and possible responses in the event of slowness or negligence in giving effect of a judgment or even non-execution thereof;

 

-           keep the public better informed of the result of the supervision phase.

 

26.       In this context, the question was raised of possible responses, political or other, which could be adopted in case of late or even non-execution of a Court judgment by a State Party, as well as the responses in situations where judgments reveal the existence of structural problems in a member State (non-execution of decisions of national courts by the executive; excessive length of proceedings in civil and criminal cases; torture and ill-treatment during police interrogations, etc.).

 


27.       Follow-up:

 

(i)         It is recalled that under terms of reference received from the Committee of Ministers the CDDH has recently finalised draft revised Rules of Procedure which will be submitted to the Deputies for consideration and possible adoption at their 735th meeting (20 December 2000).

 

(ii)        The Deputies might wish to initiate examination of the different points mentioned above within the CDDH and the GR-H.

 

(iii)       It is recalled that, as part of the terms of reference of steering committees, the CDDH is called upon to monitor the implementation of Recommendation N° R (2000) 2 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the re-examination or reopening of certain cases at domestic level following judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

 

D.        Improving the protection of social rights

 

28.       The Conference encouraged member States to accept the greatest possible number of provisions of the European Social Charter and the Revised European Social Charter, to ratify the Protocol relating to collective complaints, to apply fully in their domestic systems those provisions of the Charter which they have accepted and to implement Recommendation N° R (2000) 3 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the Right to the Satisfaction of Basic Material Needs of Persons in Situations of Extreme Hardship.

 

29.       Several interventions indicated the need to reflect on the question of the judicial protection of social rights at European level. From the point of view of the indivisibility of human rights the Conference welcomed the fact that the drafting of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union had resulted in a text which encompasses different categories of rights. As the Introductory report of the Secretary General suggests, the question of the accession of the European  Union to the European Social Charter and the Revised European Social Charter should be borne in mind in the context of a preliminary study of the various questions relating to a possible accession of the European Union to the Convention.

 

30.       Follow-up:

 

(i)         The Deputies are invited to bear in mind the above-mentioned points which could require reflection on the reinforcement of the European Social Charter. The fact that the Deputies need to adopt a reply to two Recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly in this field (1354 (1998) on the future of the European Social Charter and 1415 (1999) on the Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights concerning fundamental social rights) could provide an opportunity to commence this reflection, initially within the GR-H and then possibly within a committee or group.

 

(ii)        It is recalled that, as part of the terms of reference of steering committees, the CDDH is called upon to monitor the implementation of Recommendation N° R (2000) 3 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the Right to the Satisfaction of Basic Material Needs of Persons in Situations of Extreme Hardship.

 

 

 

Sub-theme II : Respect for Human Rights, A Key factor for Democratic Stability and Cohesion in Europe : Current Issues

 

 

A.        Improving the effectiveness of the Council of Europe's response to serious and massive violations of human rights

 

31.       This was one of the main items discussed at the Conference. In Resolution II, the Conference firmly condemned all situations of serious and massive violations of human rights. It requested the appropriate bodies of the Council of Europe (Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly, Secretary General, Commissioner for Human Rights, CPT and other bodies and mechanisms such as the monitoring exercises) to assume fully their respective responsibilities, in accordance with their mandates, so that they can effectively respond to, or prevent, such situations. The Conference also encouraged the Council of Europe to develop a wider range of responses to cases of failure of member States to abide by Council of Europe human rights standards. Furthermore, it considered that it would desirable for the Committee of Ministers to initiate consideration of the protection of human rights during armed conflicts as well as during internal disturbances and tensions, including as a result of terrorist acts, with a view to assessing the present legal situation, identifying possible gaps in the legal protection of the individual and to making proposals to fill such gaps.

 

32.       In their interventions, many Delegations expressed their concern at situations of serious and massive violations of human rights, including in the context of crises and conflicts. These Delegations stressed the need for the Council of Europe to adopt effective responses as well as preventive measures, and proposed that strategies be developed to this effect. Reference was made to the under-used potential of the European Convention on Human Rights in this field (the possibilities offered by Articles 33 and 52 of the Convention), but also to the need to develop a wider range of political responses, beyond the rather limited options currently available under the Statute. In this context, the Introductory report on sub-theme II made the concrete suggestion that the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly organise a joint meeting – possibly in the framework of the Joint Committee – to explore avenues for developing a wider range of responses.

 

33.       During the Conference, support was expressed for the proposal made in the Introductory report on sub-theme II to create and fund a rapid response capacity in the Secretariat in the form of a “human rights task force” which would be financed through the intervention fund.


 

34.       Several Delegations, as well as the Introductory report on sub-theme II, also stressed the need for more emphasis on preventive action with a view to avoiding serious and massive violations, for example through the inclusion of an urgent action element in the Committee of Ministers' monitoring procedure.

 

35.       As regards the protection of human rights during armed conflicts and internal disturbances and tensions, a specific proposal was made by one Delegation to create a regional mechanism for inter-State monitoring of observance of human rights in non-international armed conflict.

 

36.       Follow-up :

 

(i)         The Ministers' Deputies and/or the Rapporteur Group on Human Rights could hold an exchange of views on the general question of the effectiveness of the Council of Europe's response to situations of serious and massive violations of human rights and on the specific recommendation that the Council of Europe develop a wider range of responses to cases of failure of member States to abide by Council of Europe human rights standards. In this context, consideration could be given to the idea of a joint meeting on the subject between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly.

 

(ii)        The Deputies could invite the Secretary General to elaborate further the proposal to create a human rights task force, with a view to holding an exchange of views on the subject.

 

(iii)       The Deputies could hold an initial exchange views on ways of preventing serious and massive violations, and on a possible urgent action element which could be included in the monitoring procedure in this respect. If appropriate, the Secretariat could be instructed to prepare an analysis of different modalities.

 

(iv)       The Ministers' Deputies could instruct the CDDH to consider the protection of human rights during armed conflicts as well as during internal disturbances and tensions, including as a result of terrorist acts, with a view to assessing the present legal situation, identifying possible gaps in the legal protection of the individual and to making proposals to fill such gaps. This consideration could also cover the proposal for a regional mechanism for inter-state monitoring.

 

B.        Abolition of the death penalty, in time of war as in time of peace

 

37.       Many Delegations referred to the urgent need to abolish the death penalty throughout Europe and expressed strong support for the preparation of a new protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights which would exclude the maintenance of the death penalty for crimes committed in time of war (cf. also Resolution II, paragraph 14 (ii)). Resolution II inter alia also urgently requests that member States ratify as soon as possible, if they have not yet done so, Protocol No. 6 to the Convention and in the meantime respect strictly the moratoria on executions.


 

38.       Follow-up :

 

(i)         The realisation of a European death penalty-free area to be achieved through abolition of the death penalty in all member States as called for in Resolution No. 2 has been described as a common goal by the Committee of Ministers (For a European Death Penalty-Free Area, Declaration adopted at the 107th Session on 9 November 2000). In the light of this Declaration and Resolution II, the Ministers' Deputies might wish to invite their Rapporteur Group on Human Rights to hold, at one of its forthcoming meetings, an exchange of views on the prospects for further progress towards the achievement of this common goal. For its part, the CDDH is, in the framework of its general mandate, called upon to examine periodically the state of ratifications of Protocol No. 6 to the Convention.

 

(ii)        The Ministers' Deputies could entrust the CDDH with the task of examining the feasibility of a new protocol to the Convention which would exclude the possibility of maintaining the death penalty in respect of acts committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war.

 

C.        Principles of equality and non-discrimination

 

39.       Many Delegations stressed the need to fight discrimination in all its forms and they welcomed the adoption and opening for signature of Protocol No. 12 to the Convention as an important contribution to this fight. It is a clear measure of the commitment of member States to combat racism, intolerance and indeed  discrimination in general that Protocol No. 12 was signed by no less than 25 States Parties to the Convention on the occasion of its opening for signature in Rome on 4 November 2000. The point was made that this step needed to be followed by speedy ratification as well as by measures of implementation at national level. Some information was provided on first measures of implementation.

 

40.       In the discussions, reference was made to the issue of immigration, and an appeal was launched for a Europe-wide approach to this question, based on respect for intangible rights in the area of political asylum. The point was made that divergent policies of individual countries risk placing Europe in contradiction with the humanistic principles it embraces.

 

41.       The Introductory report on sub-theme II proposes that further steps be considered with a view to reinforcing the independence and legal basis of the mechanism of general and country-specific recommendations on combating racism and intolerance formulated by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), bearing in mind that ECRI's work has been generally acclaimed.

 

42.       In the field of equality between women and men, Resolution No. II adopted by the Conference invites member States to reinforce their co-operation in the framework of the Council of Europe with a view to:

 

-     promoting increased participation of women in particular in decision-making and the balanced representation of women and men in all fields of society;

 

-     combating all forms of violence against women and particularly trafficking in women and young girls;

 

-     envisaging new initiatives in order to eliminate inequalities between women and men.

 

43.       Follow-up :

 

(i)         It is recalled that is a standard element of the CDDH's terms of reference to review regularly the question of ratifications of, and reservations to, the Convention and its Protocols. This also covers Protocol No. 12. Therefore, the CDDH will review regularly the situation concerning this Protocol during its forthcoming meetings.

 

(ii)        The Deputies could request their Rapporteur Group on Human Rights to seek ECRI's views on ways of reinforcing its mechanism and to hold an exchange of views on this issue.

 

(iii)       As regards the three issues concerning equality between women and men mentioned in Resolution II, several activities are already being undertaken by the Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men (CDEG). The Deputies could therefore invite the CDEG to bear this Resolution in mind in its ongoing and future work and to keep the Committee of Ministers informed of the follow-up given to it.

 

D.        Human rights and technological developments

 

44.       In Resolution II, the Conference expressed support for ongoing activities of the Council of Europe in areas such as organ transplantation, biomedical research and human genetics and the protection of the human embryo and foetus. It encouraged the Council of Europe to study appropriate measures in order that technological developments and the uses of such technologies respect human rights requirements.

 

45.       Follow-up :

 

The Ministers Deputies could transmit Resolution II adopted by the Conference to the various steering committees concerned (CDBI, CDCJ, CDMM, CDEG etc.), requesting them to bear these texts in mind in their ongoing and future work.

 


E.         Human rights and civil society

 

46.       A large number of Delegations stressed the need, which is also highlighted in Resolution II (paragraph 40, amongst others), to develop and promote education and awareness in human rights in all sectors of society. Some Delegations referred to initiatives taken in their respective countries. Appreciation was expressed for training activities carried out by the Council of Europe in the framework of its co-operation and assistance programmes in the human rights field. There was general recognition that the establishment of a genuine “human rights culture” in our societies is essential for promoting respect for human rights and preventing violations, and Resolution II stresses the important role played by non-govermental organisations in this regard. The Introductory report on sub-theme II mentions the possibility of creating, within the Council of Europe, a Europe-wide human rights education programme with a view to stimulating and assisting national efforts in this field.

 

47.       In Resolution II, the Conference requested the Committee of Ministers to examine possibilities for creating a focal point within the Secretariat of the Council of Europe in order to consolidate the co-operation with Ombudsmen and national human rights institutions of the member States.

 

48.       During the Conference, support was expressed for ongoing drafting work in the Council of Europe concerning principles on access to official information (see also Resolution II, paragraph 43). The points were made that these basic principles, which are expected to be submitted to the Committee of Ministers in 2001, would serve as an inspiration for States that are preparing (amendments to their) legislation in this field and that work in this area should continue in the future so as to contribute to the further strengthening of democracy.

 

49.       The Introductory report on sub-theme II recalls that there is no concise Council of Europe text which brings together the key principles and elements that characterise a pluralist democracy. Such a text – which would not aim to be legally binding – could be a useful reference and of great educational value in a Europe which is more and more confronted with trends which threaten democratic and human rights values and where there is a widely recognised need to educate young people in the values of democratic citizenship.

 

50.       Follow-up :

 

(i)         The Ministers' Deputies might wish to invite the CDDH to give an opinion on the feasibility of a European programme for human rights education, in consultation with relevant other bodies and sectors of the Council of Europe and bearing in mind the Declaration and Programme on Education for Democratic Citizenship, Based on the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens. This opinion could then be examined within the Rapporteur Group on human rights and the Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture and Sport.


 

(ii)        The Deputies could request the Secretary General to submit proposals for creating a focal point for co-operation with Ombudsmen and national human rights institutions.

 

(iii)       The draft principles on access to official information are currently under preparation in the CDDH. The Deputies might wish to instruct the CDDH to make proposals, to be submitted to the Deputies together with the draft principles once they are finalised, on how work in this field could be continued in the medium-term. The CDDH's current terms of reference on the subject will expire by the end of 2001.

 

(iv)       As regards the suggestion to prepare a text on key principles and elements that characterise a democratic society, the Deputies might wish to consider giving terms of reference to the CDDH, given the past work it has carried out (notably on democratic strategies for dealing with movements threatening human rights).

 

 

 

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European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights

 

 

51.       The Declaration adopted by the Conference welcomes the increased attention given to human rights in the European Union and stresses the need, in regard to the Charter, to find means to avoid a situation in which there are competing and potentially conflicting systems of human rights protection, with the risk of weakening the overall protection of human rights in Europe.

 

52.       These points were reiterated and specified by several Delegations, who expressed their support for accession by the European Community/Union to the European Convention on Human Rights as a parallel and complementary step to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The President of the European Court of Human Rights and the Secretary General called upon the EU to accede to the Convention. On behalf of the EU, it was confirmed that the 15 were profoundly attached to the Convention, which remains the essential reference in the field of the protection of human rights. Thus, the drafting of the Charter should not be interpreted as a threat to the Convention or to the Court.

 

53.       Follow-up :

 

The Ministers Deputies could invite their Rapporteur Group on Relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union to hold an initial exchange of views on the question of accession. It is recalled that the GR-EU has already asked the Secretariat to prepare a reflection paper on various questions related to accession (notably the implications for the Convention). In addition, attention is drawn to the fact that the CDDH intends to discuss the situation resulting from the adoption of the EU Charter, as well as the question of accession,  at its next meeting in February 2001. It would be useful for the CDDH to be informed of the discussions within the GR-EU. The GR-EU itself might wish to revert to these questions after the discussions in the CDDH.

 

*   *   *

 

Complementarity and synergies between mechanisms operating in the human rights field

 

54.       Many Delegations referred to the impressive constellation of human rights mechanisms which has been built up in the past 50 years within the framework of the Council of Europe. Reference was also made to the need for synergy and complementarity between the various institutions and mechanisms operating in the human rights field, both within the Council of Europe and between the Council of Europe and other institutions (UN, OSCE, EU; cf. also the Declaration adopted by the Conference). It was recalled that the need for greater complementarity had been examined in depth at the Conference organised by the Irish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers (Dublin, 3-4 March 2000). The Introductory Report on sub-theme I contains a concrete suggestion for enhancing complementarity within the Council of Europe, namely to organise annual meetings between the human rights treaty bodies of the Council of Europe, along the lines of the practice established within the United Nations system.

 

55.         Follow-up :

 

The Deputies might wish to request the Secretariat to consult the different human rights treaty bodies on this proposal and to inform the Deputies of the results of this consultation.

 

The Rapporteur Group on human rights could be invited to hold an exchange of views on the more general issue of complementarity and synergies.

 

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