CM(2009)50 prov5 5 May 20091
119th Session of the Committee of Ministers (Madrid, 12 May 2009)
– Draft Declaration (Revised version following the meeting of the drafting group of 5 May 2009)
This year, the Council of Europe is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Since 1949, our Organisation has worked to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage. It 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 has established itself 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, [including in the legal and judicial area,] the Council of Europe acts on a daily basis to transform these values into a reality for 800 million people.
Two decades after [the fall of communist regimes,] the end of painful divisions of Europe and its progressive reunification 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 [the Statute and specified 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 guarantees the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and represents the judicial dimension of this action. The Court has for 50 years been securing the protection in practice of the rights of individuals. We shall ensure that this continues to be the case by guaranteeing the long-term effectiveness of the irreplaceable mechanism of the Convention. We reaffirm the importance of the rapid implementation of the measures aimed at improving the ECHR system, and in particular those contained in of Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights. In view of the urgency, measures have been adopted to allow provisional application of the key procedural reforms foreseen in Protocol No. 14. […] We welcome the initiative of organising at the beginning of 2010 a high-level conference on the future functioning of the European Court of Human Rights. 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 carries out his mandate 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 and support 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 a 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, with a view to strengthening our efforts against this scourge which seriously jeopardises human rights and threatens democracy.
6) We are committed to strengthening the rule of law throughout the continent, building on the standard setting of the Council of Europe and its contribution to the development of European and international law. This invaluable work, carried out through legally binding conventions and other instruments, 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.
7) 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 persons with disabilities, and pursue its efforts to fight human trafficking and to prevent and combat violence against women and children and domestic violence.
8) In the context of the economic crisis and 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, involving in particular young people. To avert the risk of social exclusion, it is more essential than ever to protect the rights of the most vulnerable individuals and groups. 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 co-operation initiated with the Alliance of Civilisations will contribute to this effort.
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 action on the ground we applaud, will also remain one of our priorities.
10) Our Organisation will make its full contribution to the European architecture and to the continent’s security and stability, by building on its main strengths. It will intensify its co-operation with other international organisations accordingly. We welcome the progress already made to this end since the Warsaw Summit, particularly with respect to the European Union. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations gave new impetus to the partnership and political dialogue with the European Union, and its implementation must be pursued. This search for synergies with other international actors has also led to closer co-operation with the OSCE and the United Nations. We can only encourage these efforts.
11) 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. [The armed conflict which erupted in Georgia last year unfortunately once again demonstrated that peace is fragile. This grave crisis involves two of our member states which have entered into commitments towards the Organisation. It is a particularly serious challenge to the values of the Council of Europe and international law, including territorial integrity and national sovereignty. The Organisation reacted from the month of August, with on the spot visits. The Chair-in-office gathered together foreign ministers in New York in an informal meeting to discuss the situation. On the ground, it has focused its efforts on protecting human rights, the need to assist all those affected by the conflict and restoring the rule of law. These are the areas where it will continue to take action. The Commissioner for Human Rights set out six principles which must be implemented, including the return of refugees and displaced persons and unconditional access to populations affected by the conflict.] 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 with due respect for the Statute of the Organisation.
13) The difficult economic context and serious budgetary constraints call more than ever for the efficient use of resources. Reforms to this end must be pursued, focusing on the Organisation’s centres of excellence.
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.