CM(2007)65 prov. 2 7 May 20071
117th Session of the Committee of Ministers
(Strasbourg, 10-11 May 2007) –
Revised preliminary draft Communiqué
Two years after the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe member States held in Warsaw in May 2005, the 117th Session of the Committee of Ministers, chaired by Mr Fiorenzo Stolfi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of San Marino, reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken at the Summit (…).
The Ministers warmly welcomed their colleague from the Republic of Montenegro, Mr Milan Rocen, on the occasion of the accession of Montenegro as the 47th member state of the Council of Europe.
1. Relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union
The Ministers welcomed the signature during this Session of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union which constitutes the new framework for enhanced co-operation the Heads of State and Government called for in Warsaw. They underlined the importance of this text for achieving greater unity between the states of Europe through respect for the shared values of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, as well as through pan-European co-operation. They called for the swift (…) implementation of the Memorandum. In doing so, they will follow the guidelines adopted by the Third Summit in Warsaw which called for the building of a Europe without dividing lines.
The Ministers expressed their gratitude to the San Marino Chairmanship as well as to the previous chairmanships for their efforts in leading the preparation of the text and welcomed the contributions made by all parties involved in the negotiation.
The Ministers noted with satisfaction that the Memorandum responded to many points contained in the report on the relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union prepared in his personal capacity by Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, at the request of the Heads of State and Government. They discussed an interim report prepared by the High-level follow-up group set up following the previous Ministerial Session on the feasibility of other recommendations in the strategic vision contained in Mr Juncker’s report. [As a first step, and in order to enhance the visibility of the work conducted by the Council of Europe, they decided to revise the procedure concerning the appointment of the Secretary General along the lines suggested in the Juncker report.] It was agreed that work on follow-up to the Juncker report would be intensified and kept under regular review at the next sessions, on the basis of updated reports to be prepared by the High-level group.
The Ministers welcomed the express reference in the Regulation establishing the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, adopted by the Council of the European Union on 15 February 2007, to the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. They also welcomed the fact that this Regulation provides for coordination of its activities with those of the Council of Europe in a sense of complementarity and added value, in order to ensure the coherence of the human rights protection system in Europe. The Ministers took note of the ongoing negotiation of a cooperation agreement between the Council of Europe and the Agency, and underlined the importance that it reflects (…) the goals of added value and complementarity (…). They also emphasised the importance of the sound implementation of the future agreement ( … ) between the Council of Europe and the Agency.
2. Consolidation of the Council of Europe system of human rights protection
The Ministers reiterated their determination to secure the long-term effectiveness of the unique human rights protection system of the European Convention on Human Rights. They paid tribute to the work of the Group of Wise Persons, which had been charged by the Council of Europe’s Third Summit with making recommendations for this purpose. The report prepared by the Group is a valuable source of inspiration for their future consideration of further measures to guarantee the effectiveness of the Convention system.
In this context, the Ministers recalled the significant efficiency and capacity increases that Protocol No. 14 to the Convention would introduce. They expressed their regret that this Protocol had not yet entered into force. Stressing the need for solidarity between all member states as collective guarantors of the Convention, they expressed their strong hope that the Russian Federation will shortly join all other States Parties by ratifying Protocol No. 14 without delay, thereby triggering its entry into force.
The Ministers, stressing the importance of the Report of the Wise Persons’ Group and the need to give it appropriate and speedy follow-up, commended the San Marino Chairmanship for the organisation of the recent high-level colloquy on the future development of the European Court of Human Rights, as the start of a broader multidisciplinary consultation at European level. Important contributions towards further reflection within the Council of Europe have been made by the Parliamentary Assembly, the Court, the Secretary General, the Commissioner for Human Rights and civil society. The Ministers asked their Deputies to continue reflection on measures to guarantee the long-term effectiveness of the control mechanism of the Convention, involving all relevant actors, and also emphasised the importance of including civil society.
The Ministers reaffirmed that they will provide the Court with the necessary support in conformity with the Warsaw Action Plan. This should not, however, be at the expense of accompanying measures in the Council of Europe which contribute to securing the long-term effectiveness of the human rights protection system of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Ministers also reaffirmed their determination to reinforce the institution of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe in conformity with the Warsaw Action Plan. They looked forward to the memorandum on prospects for reinforced cooperation with the European Union, which the Commissioner would submit to their Deputies before the end of the year.
Recognising the important role of the monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe, including the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the Ministers expressed their continued support to the work of these mechanisms in protecting and promoting human rights and reaffirmed their pledge to provide them with the necessary means to carry out this work.
The Ministers took note of an interim report on the state of implementation of their 2006 Declaration on sustained action to ensure the effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights at national and at European levels. Stressing the need for resolute action to ensure full implementation of the 2006 Declaration, including swift and full execution of the Court’s judgments as well as effective action at national level to reduce the need for individuals to apply to the Court, they asked their Deputies to present a comprehensive report at their 118th Session in May 2008, covering not only the follow-up to the 2006 Declaration but also any initial effects produced by Protocol No. 14. They also welcomed the work of the European Commission on the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), both its first report on the efficiency of European legal systems, and those dealing with the length of domestic procedures, which should also contribute to limiting the flow of applications to the European Court of Human Rights.
3. Follow-up to other priorities resulting from the Warsaw Summit
Recalling their determination to ensure complete implementation of the Action Plan adopted during the Warsaw Summit, the Ministers welcomed the progress made in streamlining the Council of Europe’s activities in order to contribute to the fundamental objective of preserving and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law in line with the Warsaw Declaration and Action Plan. They emphasised the evolving character of this process, and agreed to examine achievements as well as possible further steps at their 118th Session.
Council of Europe activities to develop intercultural dialogue
The Ministers recalled their commitment to the promotion of intercultural dialogue as decided by the Heads of States and government in Warsaw and reaffirmed the importance they attached to the implementation of the strategy for developing intercultural dialogue, adopted by the Council of Europe in Faro in October 2005. They noted with satisfaction the progress made. They welcomed in particular the open and inclusive consultations currently conducted with major stakeholders, in the preparation of the “White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue” to be worked out in 2007.
The Ministers expressed their appreciation for the San Marino Chairmanship’s initiative concerning the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue. They noted that the European Conference on the subject held in San Marino on 23 and 24 April 2007 had been a significant step towards establishing a dialogue with religious communities and civil society constituting a crucial contribution to the consultation process on the White Paper. The Ministers were pleased that agreement was reached to hold the “Council of Europe annual exchanges on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue”, in spring 2008 on an experimental basis. This meeting which would provide an opportunity to conduct an open and transparent dialogue with participants representing the religions traditionally present in Europe, non-governmental organisations, academic circles and the media, on a theme relating to the Council of Europe’s values. They agreed to continue considering the framework for the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue. They also noted with satisfaction the official launching of the Kyiv Initiative Regional Programme open to all interested member states and international partners. The Ministers called for enhanced coordination of efforts in the field of intercultural dialogue with all relevant international organisations to avoid duplication and ensure complementarity of work.
Implementation of Chapter V of the Action Plan of the Third Summit
The Ministers took note of the report by their Deputies on the work accomplished since their last session on the reform process of the Council of Europe’s organisational structures and working methods. The work carried out so far has followed the road map for reform presented at their last session and its timetable, focusing on 2008 as a target date. It constitutes a solid basis for further efforts. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance they attach to the reform process and instructed the Deputies and the Secretary General to make increased efforts centred on measures for greater cost efficiency, effectiveness, internal co-operation and transparency. They asked their Deputies to prepare a comprehensive report on the reform process for their 118th Session in May 2008.
Strengthening democracy, good governance and the rule of law in member states
The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to reinforce Council of Europe action for democracy and good governance. They thanked the Russian authorities for the successful organisation of the 2nd Forum for the future of democracy in Moscow on 18-19 October 2006 and expressed their gratitude to Sweden for hosting the next session of the Forum on 13-15 June 2007 on the theme “Power and Empowerment – The interdependence of democracy and human rights“.
Relations with other international organisations
The Ministers noted with satisfaction recent progress made towards greater co-operation between the Council of Europe and other international organisations, which is reflected by the (…) resolution on co-operation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 November 2006. They instructed their Deputies to reinforce this co-operation in the different fields, indicated by the resolution. They recalled in this connection ( … ) the decisions adopted by their Deputies to achieve greater synergy between the activities of the Council of Europe and the United Nations in human rights matters. As regards co-operation with the OSCE, the Ministers welcomed the impetus given over the past two years to co-operation through the Council of Europe/OSCE Co-ordination Group and the organisation of an increasing number of joint activities.
The Ministers noted with satisfaction the forthcoming entry into force on 10 June 2007 of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, as an important legal instrument, giving impetus to international cooperation in preventing the public provocation to terrorist acts. Stressing the necessity of the implementation of the Convention, the Ministers called on the Council of Europe member states, which have not yet done so, to sign and ratify it as soon as possible. They welcomed the ongoing work of the Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER) in the field, in particular as regards the fight against using the Internet for terrorist purposes. They also welcomed the international conference “Why terrorism?”, held in Strasbourg on 25-26 April 2007, underlining the necessity to use its outcome in order to strengthen international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
The Ministers took note of the progress made in the implementation of the various campaigns launched at the Warsaw Summit, in particular that on violence against women, including domestic violence, as well as the youth campaign “All different – all equal”; the progress achieved in the mainstreaming and coordination of children rights issues within the Council of Europe, in particular with the negotiation of a new convention on the protection of children against sexual abuse and exploitation; [and the creation of the Enlarged Partial Agreement in Sport (EPAS) (…) at their present session].
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The Ministers took note of the priorities of the incoming Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, Mr Vuk Drašković.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules set out in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.