CM(2009)50 prov3 27 April 20091
119th Session of the Committee of Ministers (Madrid, 12 May 2009) – Draft Declaration
This year, the Council of Europe is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Since 1949, our Organisation has played a decisive role in fostering, throughout the continent, a Europe without dividing lines, united by the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It serves as the European reference in these fields which are vital for the stability of our continent. As a pan-European forum for political dialogue and action, it helps on a daily basis to transform these values into a reality for 800 million people.
20 years after the end of painful divisions and the reunification of Europe around shared common values, we, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member states of the Council of Europe, meeting in Madrid on 12 May 2009, reaffirm our commitment to the Organisation. We are determined to take its role forward, as defined in Warsaw by our Heads of State and Government in 2005, on the basis of the following principles and guidelines:
1) The core objective of the Council of Europe is to preserve and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. All its activities should contribute to this objective.
2) Human rights are universal and indivisible. They are the inalienable rights of each and every individual. Ensuring that everyone Europe-wide can fully exercise his or her rights in practice and without discrimination constitutes the priority task of our Organisation. It has many achievements to its credit, including the abolition of the death penalty. It will continue its action to promote human rights in order to respond to the challenges of these changing times.
3) The European Court of Human Rights, guarantor of the implementation of the Human Rights Convention, represents the judicial dimension of this action. The Court has for 50 years been securing the protection in practice of the rights of individuals throughout Europe. We shall ensure that this continues to be the case by guaranteeing the long-term effectiveness of this irreplaceable mechanism. This is why we support the initiative of organising under the Swiss Chairmanship a high-level conference on the future operation of the European Court of Human Rights. We reaffirm the importance of the rapid entry into force of Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights. [Pending this, and in view of the urgency, measures have been adopted to allow provisional application of the key procedural reforms forseen in Protocol No. 14.2] We shall also step up our efforts to improve implementation of the Convention at national level, through the full and complete execution of the judgments delivered by the Court.
4) The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights supplements the Court’s work in an outstanding way through action in the field and sustained dialogue with member states. The Commissioner’s activity has become fundamental, including in times of crisis, and we shall lend it our active support.
5) A commitment to promoting our values, which must guide all the activities of our Organisation, is also essential in the difficult field of the fight against terrorism. Meeting here today in Madrid, a city which has suffered deadly terrorist attacks, we resolutely reaffirm our determination to combat terrorism, paying due attention to victims, with strict respect for human rights and the rule of law. We are convinced that this fight will achieve success in the long term precisely because of our adherence to these values. This is where we see the Council of Europe making its contribution. We welcome the meeting today, also in Madrid, of the First Conference of States Signatories of the Council of Europe Convention for the Prevention of Terrorism.
7) 6) We are committed to strengthening the rule of law throughout the continent, building on the standard setting potential of the Council of Europe and on its contribution to the development of European and international law. This invaluable work will be continued, in particular to respond to the serious threats represented by corruption and money laundering, organised crime and cybercrime. In addition, counterfeit medicines and the unregulated use of biotechnology require a concerted response at European level. At the same time, the Council of Europe will forge ahead with its efforts to make the most of the potential of the new technologies for the protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy.
8) 7) In response to the challenges posed by globalisation, the democratic stability of our societies is paramount. To this end, there must be strong social cohesion and the active exercise of democratic citizenship. There is a need for vigorous action to combat all forms of intolerance, in particular by means of education, prevention and standard-setting,. The Organisation will pursue its action in all these fields, including the promotion of cultural heritage and of intercultural dialogue based on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, as advocated by the Council of Europe’s White Paper. The cooperation initiated with the Alliance of Civilisations will contribute to this effort.
6 ) 8) The Council of Europe will also step up its action to make gender equality a reality. It will continue to promote the rights of children and people with disabilities, and continue its efforts to fight human trafficking and to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. In the context of the economic crisis and the risk of social exclusion, it is more essential than ever to protect the rights of the most vulnerable individuals and groups, especially members of minorities, Roma and Travellers. We invite the Council of Europe Development Bank to study ways and means to increase its support to vulnerable groups.
9) The extent of the tasks to be fulfilled is such that our Organisation must operate efficiently to promote the values it upholds. We shall therefore further strengthen cooperation between the Committee of Ministers and the other organs and bodies of the Council of Europe, in particular the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Council of Europe. Developing – with the help of the Conference of the International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGO) – interaction with civil society, whose outstanding action on the ground we applaud, will also remain one of our priorities.
10) Only by building on its strengths can our Organisation make its full contribution to the European architecture. In this connection, it will intensify its co-operation with other international organisations. We welcome the progress already made to this end since the Warsaw Summit, particularly in respect of co-operation with the European Union, the OSCE and the United Nations. In this context, we support the rapid and effective implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union,
and the memorandum concluded by the Council with the Alliance of Civilisations.
11) However, we remain concerned by confrontations and unresolved conflicts that affect certain parts of the continent, putting at risk the security, unity and democratic stability of member states and threatening the populations concerned. We shall work together for reconciliation and political solutions in conformity with the norms and principles of international law.
12) We reiterate that we look forward to the day when Belarus is ready to join the Council of Europe. We appeal to the Belarus authorities to take significant measures, in accordance with the Council of Europe Statute, to facilitate closer ties with our organisation.
13) In order to achieve our ambitions, and bearing in mind the budgetary constraints facing our Organisation, we must make optimum use of the resources at our disposal. We instruct the new Secretary General, who will be elected in next month, to pursue reforms to further increase the effectiveness and transparency of the Organisation’s action in line with Chapter V of the Warsaw Action Plan. [We also invite him to be alert to member states’ views and explore the possibility of a further meeting of our Heads of State and Government.]
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.
Note 2 Cf. separate statement