CM/AS(2011)1 21 January 2011
Communication on the activities of the Committee of Ministers
Report by the Chair of the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly
(October 2010 – January 2011)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Execution of judgments
Rule of law and judicial co-operation
Democracy / Good governance
Education, culture, youth and sport
Co-operation with the United Nations, OSCE, the European Union and external relations
1. Turkey was one of the founding members of the Council of Europe and has always sought to ensure the Organisation’s development and the achievement of its fundamental aims. In assuming the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers on 10 November 2010, Turkey took on this important responsibility for the seventh time since the establishment of the Council of Europe. Its main aim in this context is to bring the Council of Europe back to the forefront of the international stage, by strengthening its political role and its influence in those fields in which the Organisation excels - the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law – and giving a higher profile to its activities. The Chairmanship will also take up the inherent challenges of all multicultural societies. Turkey has therefore set its priorities in five fields: the reform of the Council of Europe, the reform of the European Court of Human Rights, the strengthening of monitoring mechanisms, the EU’s accession to the Convention on Human Rights and seeking solutions for a better shared existence in multicultural societies. One of the key initiatives of the Turkish Chairmanship in this context, is the launching of the Group of eminent persons which took place on 30 September 2010 in Brussels. Since then, this group has held three meetings, successively in Strasbourg in October, in Budapest in December and in Istanbul on 13 and 14 January 2011, tackling issues such as the situation of Roma and key policy priorities for Roma inclusion in Council of Europe member states as well as migration and religious differences and how they shape the way we live together in Europe. The group will conclude its work with recommendations to the Council of Europe in the perspective of the ministerial session to be held in Istanbul in May 2011. As recent tragic events have shown, individuals of all religious confessions are increasingly victims of discrimination and aggression – sometimes at the cost of their lives – only because of their religious beliefs. In this context, the Committee of Ministers has adopted a declaration on 20 January 2011, by which it strongly condemn such acts and all forms of incitement to religious hatred and violence.
2. The Committee of Ministers has continued its work on the follow-up to the High-Level Conference on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights held in Interlaken in February 2010 under the Swiss Chairmanship. The Chairman of the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General in a statement to mark the Human Rights Day on 10 December noted that 2010 was the year of the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, but also the year of consolidation and expansion of its unique mechanism for the protection fundamental rights and freedoms. They underlined that the reform of the European Court of Human Rights is well under way and noted the parallel negotiations on the accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights (see also below).
3. Following proposals made by its open-ended ad hoc working group (GT-SUIVI.Interlaken) set up to steer the Interlaken process, the Committee of Ministers in November 2010 adopted Resolution CM/Res(2010)26 on the establishment of an Advisory Panel of Experts on Candidates for Election as Judge to the European Court of Human Rights and decided that the Advisory Panel is established for an initial three-year period at the end of which it will review its functioning. The task of this Panel will be to advise the High Contracting Parties to the European Convention on Human Rights whether candidates for election as judges of the Court meet the criteria stipulated in Article 21 § 1 of the Convention. The seven members of the panel1 were subsequently appointed in December 2010. The panel will hold an inaugural meeting at the end of January 2011 so as to be operational to review the list of candidates to be submitted in 2011 to the Parliamentary Assembly by the States Parties to the European Convention on Human Rights.
4. Furthermore, in December 2010, the Committee of Ministers agreed on a new procedure to make the supervision of execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights more effective and transparent (see below under “Execution of judgments”).
5. At its last meeting in 2010, the GT-SUIVI.Interlaken examined a report prepared by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) on measures not requiring amendment to the Convention. On the basis of this report, it will be preparing decisions for adoption at the Istanbul Ministerial Session in May 2011. The working party also held an exchange of views with Ms Marie-Louise BEMELMANS-VIDEC, Chair of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights.
6. The GT-SUIVI.Interlaken will shortly be considering some preliminary proposals submitted in December 2010 by the Secretary General as to the possible means of providing comprehensive and objective information to potential applicants to the Court on the Convention and the Court’s case-law.
7. Beyond the measures already adopted, more far-reaching initiatives may need to be taken in order to secure the long-term effectiveness of the human rights protection mechanism afforded by the European Convention on Human Rights. In this respect, a report on measures requiring amendment to the Convention will be prepared by the CDDH in April 2011. The conclusions of this report will be examined by the GT-SUIVI.Interlaken in the perspective of the preparation of possible decisions for adoption at the Istanbul Ministerial Session.
8. The Conference on the follow-up to Interlaken which the Turkish Chairmanship will organise in Izmir on 26-27 April 2011 will be an opportunity to take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the Interlaken Declaration and Protocol No. 14 and to make an input to the ongoing reflection on the future of the Convention mechanism. During the conference, the proposals of the CDDH on measures requiring and not requiring amendments to the Convention will also be examined, with a view to contributing to the preparation of decisions that could be adopted at the Istanbul Ministerial Session.
9. The Committee of Ministers adopted Resolution CM/Res(2010)24 on member states’ duty to respect and protect the right of individual application to the European Court of Human Rights in November 2010.
10. As regards EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) has continued its work to elaborate a legal instrument in accordance with the terms of reference given to it by the Committee of Ministers on this matter. In November 2010, the Committee of Ministers’ Rapporteur Group on Human Rights held an exchange of views with the Chairs of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) and of the CDDH informal Working Group on the Accession of the EU to the ECHR (CDDH-UE), who reported on the progress of the negotiations (see also below under “Co-operation with the United Nations, OSCE and the European Union”). The Turkish Chairmanship hopes that significant progress will have been achieved in the negotiations by the time of the Ministerial Session in Istanbul in May 2011.
11. Also in November 2010, the Committee of Ministers reiterated its strong and urgent call on the Russian Federation, as the only member state which has not yet abolished the death penalty, to take without delay all the necessary steps to transform the existing moratorium on executions into de jure abolition of the death penalty and to ratify Protocol No. 6 and took note of the information provided by the Russian Federation on measures taken to this effect. The Committee also took note of the information provided by Poland on measures taken regarding the signature and/or ratification of Protocol No. 13 and regretted that the other countries concerned had not yet responded to their invitation to provide further information on measures taken to this effect. The Committee of Ministers encouraged those states which have not yet signed or ratified Protocol No. 13 to do so rapidly. At the same meeting, the Committee welcomed recent initiatives on the occasion of the 4th European Day against the Death Penalty. It agreed to resume consideration of this issue at one of its forthcoming meetings, but no later than April 2011.
12. In December 2010, the Committee of Ministers held an exchange of views with the President of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). On the same occasion, it took note of the 20th general activity report of the CPT, for the period 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010.
13. In the field of equality between women and men, the Committee of Ministers has adopted replies to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations 1911 (2010) on “Women and the economic and financial crisis”, 1909 (2010) on “Associating women in the prevention and the solution of unsolved conflicts in Europe” and 1907 (2010) on “The wage gap between women and men”.
14. On the occasion of the 2010 International day for the elimination of violence against women, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers called for action in order to stop violence against women. He also stressed that the future Council of Europe convention in this field will fill a significant gap in human rights protection. At its last meeting in 2010, the Committee of Ministers underlined the importance of the draft instrument under elaboration by the ad hoc committee on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CAHVIO). While recalling its decision of June 2010 where the Committee of Ministers encouraged CAHVIO to finalise its work by 31 December 2010, it agreed that the latter may, if necessary, hold an additional meeting in January 2011. CAHVIO finalised its work on the draft Convention by the end of 2010 and held an additional meeting in January 2011 for the completion of the Explanatory Report. The Committee of Ministers decided on 19 January 2011 to transmit the draft Convention to the Assembly for an opinion.
15. On the occasion of the 2010 International Day for Tolerance, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers underlined that Council of Europe member states are guided in their action towards achieving tolerant societies by their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and by the advice of other Council of Europe bodies, in particular the Commissioner for Human Rights as well was the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). He referred also to the Chairmanship’s initiative to establish a group of “eminent persons” to come up with concrete recommendations in this field as a matter of absolute priority.
16. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers organised a seminar in Ankara (Turkey) on 10 - 11 January 2011, which brought together national and international experts to discuss implementation of ECRI’s recommendations to combat discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious or other bias. This seminar was also a discussion-oriented forum for exchanging information, experiences and ideas on ECRI’s mandate, and for exploring ways to increase synergy between ECRI and its international partners, such as the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the OSCE/ODIHR and the United Nations.
17. The Committee of Ministers has also adopted a reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1900 (2010) on “The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe”. Before it did so its Rapporteur Group on Human Rights held an exchange of views with Mr John Greenway, Chair of the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population.
18. As part of the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, a seminar focusing on the human rights dimension of migration will be organised in February by the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights with the participation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs as well as representatives of IOM.
Execution of judgments
19. At their special Human Rights meeting in December 2010, the Ministers’ Deputies, recalling the decision adopted by the Committee of Ministers at its 120th Session approving the Interlaken Declaration and Action Plan, and instructing the Deputies to intensify their efforts to increase the efficiency and the transparency of the supervision of execution and to complete this work by December 2010, approved the proposals concerning the reform of their working methods under article 46, paragraph 2 of the Convention and decided to implement subject to evaluation after one year, a new twin-track supervision system with effect from 1 January 2011.
20. At the same meeting, the Deputies examined among other cases that of Fatullayev against Azerbaijan. Recalling that in its judgment, the European Court had considered that amongst the means available to the state to fulfil its obligation under Article 46 it should ensure the immediate release of the applicant, the Deputies noted with satisfaction that the convictions criticised by the Court had been annulled by the Supreme Court, thus making it possible in principle for the applicant to be released.
21. They nonetheless noted with concern that the applicant was still in custody and that there were a number of questions concerning the erasure of the consequences of his unjustified detention since his arrest on 20 April 2007. They called on the Azerbaijani authorities to examine rapidly the questions which were raised during the meeting, and in particular to explore all possible means of ending the applicant's detention including, if necessary by alternative, non-custodial measures.
22. In the case of Rantsev against Cyprus and the Russian Federation, the Deputies took note of the information provided by the respondent states on the progress of their domestic investigations, stressed again the evident importance of close co-operation between Cypriot and Russian authorities in this respect with a view to ensuring that an effective investigation is carried out to identify and punish those responsible and encouraged the Cypriot and Russian authorities to continue their co-operation in this respect. They emphasised the importance of ensuring that the applicant is informed of all developments in the domestic investigations and in a position to exercise any rights he may have in this respect.
23. In the case of Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi against the United Kingdom, the Deputies recalled that from the date that the European Court’s judgment became final, the United Kingdom authorities had taken all possible steps to seek assurances from the Iraqi High Tribunal and the President and Prime Minister of Iraq that the death penalty would not be imposed on the applicants and that the United Kingdom authorities were in continued contact with the Iraqi authorities. They nevertheless expressed deep concern that the applicants were faced with the risk of the death penalty and that the Iraqi authorities had so far given no assurances to the United Kingdom authorities that the death penalty would not be applied. Accordingly, they called on the United Kingdom authorities to take all further possible steps to obtain assurances from the Iraqi authorities that the applicants would not be subject to the death penalty.
Rule of law and judicial co-operation
24. The 30th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Justice “Modernising Justice in the Third Millennium: transparent and efficient justice; prisons in today’s Europe” was held in Istanbul on 24-26 November 2010. The Conference adopted resolutions on (1) a modern, transparent and efficient justice; (2) prison policy in today’s Europe and (3) data protection and privacy in the third millennium. These resolutions will be examined by the Committee of Ministers in the coming weeks with a view to taking decisions on their follow-up.
25. As part of the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers with respect to prison conditions and standards, the CPT will organise a workshop on 17-18 March 2011 in Antalya (Turkey).
26. In December 2010, the Committee of Ministers took note of Parliamentary Assembly Opinion No. 276 (2010) on the Council of Europe Convention on the Counterfeiting of Medical Products and Similar Crimes involving Threats to Public Health (Medicrime Convention). On the same occasion, it adopted the Convention and took note of its Explanatory Report. The Committee also invited the Secretary General to disseminate the Convention widely among non-member states that may be interested in becoming parties, in particular among those states with observer status with the European Pharmacopeia and agreed to come back to the issue of the date and place of the opening for signature of the Convention at a forthcoming meeting.
27. Earlier in the autumn of 2010, the Committee of Ministers invited the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) to provide it with an opinion on the criteria and procedure to be followed as regards the accession of non-member states to Council of Europe conventions in the criminal law field, in order to contribute to the extension of these conventions beyond Europe.
28. The Committee of Ministers recently adopted two important recommendations: (1) Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)13 to member states on the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data in the context of profiling (it also noted the wider implications of profiling for society as a whole and invited the Secretary General to make arrangements for a more profound and transversal reflection on the subject, associating the relevant intergovernmental co-operation structures) and (2) Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)12 to member states on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities.
29. The Committee also adopted Guidelines on child friendly justice to serve as a practical tool for member states in adapting their judicial and non-judicial systems to the specific rights, interests and needs of children. In this context, the Committee invited member states to ensure that the Guidelines are widely disseminated among all authorities responsible for or otherwise involved with children’s rights in justice.
30. Furthermore, in the autumn of 2010, the Committee of Ministers took note of the evaluation of the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of non-governmental organisations in Europe carried out by the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) and agreed to transmit the evaluation report to the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe for information.
31. Also in 2010, the Committee of Ministers adopted Resolution CM/Res(2010)12 on the Statute of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL). This Resolution, which entered into force on 1 January 2011, established MONEYVAL as a monitoring mechanism with its own statute, reporting directly to the Committee of Ministers. The Committee decided that those states which are currently evaluated by MONEYVAL will continue to be evaluated under the appropriate provisions of the statute.
32. Within the framework of the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, a Council of Europe Conference on “Prevention of Terrorism: Prevention Tools, Legal Instruments and their Implementation” was organised in Istanbul on 16-17 December 2010. The Conference, which followed the 19th meeting of Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER), brought together national and international experts from the UN, CICA and Interpol and offered participants insight into better prevention of terrorism by addressing issues relating to its changing nature, the incitement and recruitment for terrorism and the prevention of its financing.
33. In November 2010, the Committee of Ministers held an exchange of views with the President of the European Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ). It approved the 2009 activity report of the CEPEJ and took note of its report on “European judicial systems – Edition 2010: efficiency and quality of justice” and of its handbook for conducting satisfaction surveys aimed at court users in Council of Europe member states. The Committee agreed to ensure a wide dissemination of the abovementioned report and handbook among the relevant national institutions and organisations.
34. In another decision, the Committee of Ministers encouraged non-member states with the required legislation and proven co-operation capacity to accede to the Convention on Cybercrime (ETS No. 185, Budapest Convention). It also invited the Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY), in close co-operation with the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), to provide an opinion to the Committee of Ministers on the criteria and procedure to be followed, in conformity with Article 37 of the Convention, as regards the accession of non-members of the Council of Europe to the Budapest Convention.
35. Finally, the Committee of Ministers recently adopted replies to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations 1906 (2010) on “Rethinking creative rights for the Internet age”, 1896 (2010) on “Judicial corruption” and 1889 (2009) on “Improving the quality and consistency of asylum decisions in the Council of Europe member states”. (possibly to be completed with more replies).
Democracy / Good governance
36. The Ministers’ Deputies adopted in November a reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1908 (2010) on “Lobbying in a democratic society (European Code of conduct on lobbying)” in which they welcomed the interest shown by the Assembly with regard to lobbying activities and their potential impact on the functioning of democratic institutions and political decision making on matters of public interest. They indicated that they share the Assembly's view that, while it is legitimate for interest groups to organise themselves in society and take action aimed at furthering their interests, it is also important to ensure at the same time that lobbying activities do not undermine democratic principles and good governance.
37. In the light of the conclusions of the session of the Forum for the Future of Democracy held in Yerevan in October 2010 and the findings of the study which the Venice Commission has decided to carry out, in response to Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1744 (2010) on the expediency of taking standard-setting measures at national and European level with regard to activities of extra-institutional actors in a democratic system, the Committee of Ministers will examine the possible follow-up to the Assembly recommendation to draw up a European code of conduct on lobbying. The Assembly will be notified of the Committee's conclusions on this matter in due course. Furthermore, the Committee of Ministers adopted on 19 January a reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1928 (2008) entitled “Democracy in Europe: crisis and perspectives”.
38. As regards democracy and good governance at the local and regional level, the Ministers’ Deputies, following the reform of the Congress’ structures and activities, adopted on 19 January a new Statutory Resolution on the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and its revised Charter. Furthermore, they took note in October 2010 of the 4th annual activity report of the Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform. They invited the Centre to continue and, if possible, expand its activities – having regard to the resources available – in co-operation with all partners concerned, in particular the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR). They also took note of the adoption by the Stakeholder’s Platform on the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level of the regulations on the accession to the strategy and the granting of the European Label of Governance Excellence (ELoGE).
39. To confirm the Council of Europe’s commitment to improving the situation of Roma in Europe, a high level meeting was held on 20 October 2010, at the invitation of the Secretary General and the Chair of the Committee of Ministers with a view to identifying concrete lines of action to address the challenges faced in member states with regard to Roma. The meeting was attended, amongst others, by representatives of the 47 member states, the President of the Assembly, representatives of the European Union and the OSCE, as well as the European Roma and Travellers' Forum (ERTF). The meeting led to the adoption of the “Strasbourg Declaration” which includes guiding principles and priorities on: a) non-discrimination and citizenship, women's and children’s rights, b) social inclusion including education, housing and healthcare and c) international co-operation. Measures have been taken for 2011 to reinforce the Council of Europe programme on Roma. The Secretary General will present a first progress report on the implementation of the “Strasbourg Declaration” to the Ministerial Session in Istanbul in May 2011.
40. With regard to persons with disabilities, in the framework of the Turkish Chairmanship, a conference took place on 9-10 December with a view to carrying out a mid-term review of the Organisation’s Disability Action Plan. Whilst it was noted that progress had been made in certain sectors such as education and employment, other existing and emerging issues were identified as requiring attention, such as legal protection, participation in political life or mental health and social protection. The conference also identified the need for more work with vulnerable groups, such as women and girls, children and young people, older people, migrants, minorities and refugees which will be the case in the future work of the Council of Europe in this field.
41. Concerning migrants, on 19 January the Committee of Ministers adopted two recommendations to member states which aim to strengthen the integration of migrant populations. They are: Recommendation CM/Rec(2011)1 on interaction between migrants and receiving societies and Recommendation CM/Rec(2011)2 on validating migrants’ skills.
Education, culture, youth and sport
42. In the context of the Committee of Ministers’ activities for the development of intercultural dialogue, the Deputies took note in December 2010 of the report by Stephen Whittle, General Rapporteur on the 2010 Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, held in Ohrid in September 2010. They decided to keep the same theme for the forthcoming 2011 Exchange, ie. media, beliefs and religions2. In addition, in the framework of the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers and of the “Speak out against discrimination” Campaign of the Council of Europe, a European Media Encounter was held in Istanbul from 29 November to 2 December on the theme Media, Intercultural Dialogue & Fight against Discrimination – Cross-reports from Turkey. The event brought together Turkish and other Council of Europe member states media professionals and journalism students who focused on alleviating prejudices and fighting against discrimination through the production of media reports having a real and inclusive intercultural approach. Media professionals from print press, internet, radio and television prepared and produced more than 30 media reports reflecting various point of views on diversity, discrimination and intercultural issues.
43. On 8 December, the Deputies also authorised the establishment of an Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes and adopted Resolution CM/Res(2010)52 on the rules for the award of the “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” certification. As founding members of this new enlarged partial agreement, the representatives on the Committee of Ministers in respect of Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovenia and Spain adopted Resolution CM/Res(2010)53 establishing the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes, which came into force on 1 January 2011.
44. During the period covered by the present report, the Deputies considered the follow-up to be given to several Council of Europe Conferences of Specialised Ministers. In this context they decided to inform the Parliamentary Assembly and other relevant bodies of the texts adopted at the 23rd Session of the Council of Europe Standing Conference of Ministers of Education, held in Slovenia in June 2010, of the 15th Session of the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT), held in Moscow in July 2010 and of the 18th Informal Conference of European Ministers responsible for sport, held in Baku in September 2010.
45. In the field of sport, member states of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (APES)3 adopted Resolution CM/Res(2010)11 confirming the establishment of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (APES).
46. The situation in Georgia following the August 2008 conflict continues to retain the attention of the Committee of Ministers. In November 2010, the Secretary General presented to the Ministers’ Deputies his new consolidated report, covering the period from April to September 2010, on the situation on the ground and the activities carried out by the Organisation. In this context, the Committee of Ministers has taken note of new measures to build confidence and develop human rights standards. An example thereof is the organisation in Istanbul in November 2010 of a training seminar on balanced coverage of politically sensitive events. It was intended for journalists from Abkhazia and other regions of Georgia and for many of the participants, it was the first time they had met colleagues from the other side of the Inguri to exchange points of view and share professional experience.
47. Confidence building for the Transnistrian region of Moldova was the background of a seminar entitled “Cross River Communication and Co-operation” which was held in Istanbul on 5-6 October 2010. This concerned more specifically the civil society part of the confidence-building measures accross the river Nistru/Dniester programme. The seminar involved the participation of 22 civil society NGOs (with 11 from each bank of the river Nistru/Dniester), working in the social field in different regions on the two banks of the river, and 8 representatives of local public administrations. During the seminar, participants from both sides of the Nistru/Dniestr presented their experience and practice of work and co-operation within their respective communities.
48. Regarding Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Ministers’ Deputies decided in December 2010 that, as of 1 January 2011, the review process of Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s outstanding accession commitments will be transferred from their Monitoring Group (GT-SUIVI.AGO), which will cease to exist on that date, to the Rapporteur Group on Democracy (GR-DEM).
49. South-East Europe remains another area of priority attention. In November, the Deputies reviewed the state of implementation of the commitments and obligations undertaken by Serbia vis-à-vis the Council of Europe upon its accession. While welcoming the fact that Serbia is now approaching full compliance with its commitments and its recent efforts which led to a significant improvement in relations between countries of the region, they called on the authorities of the country to take steps in order, in particular, to fulfil the last commitments and obligations taken upon accession to the Council of Europe by ratifying the Madrid Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation and bringing the two remaining fugitives to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), as well as to enact new electoral legislation taking account of the Venice Commission’s recommendations ahead of the next parliamentary elections. The importance of pursuing the reform of the justice system and the fight against corruption and against conflicts of interests, notably in relation to public officials and political parties, was also underlined.
50. More recently, in January 2011, the Deputies conducted the same review regarding the commitments and obligations undertaken by Montenegro, on the basis of a monitoring report prepared by the Secretariat4. Having regard to the progress achieved by Montenegro in the fulfilment of its commitments, they decided that the post-accession monitoring procedure of the Committee of Ministers with respect to this country be replaced by a dialogue-based regular stocktaking of co-operation and progress with regard to the fulfilment of statutory commitments and democratic processes.
51. At the same time, they invited the Montenegrin authorities to fulfil, in the shortest possible time, the remaining accession commitments in line with Opinion No 261(2007) of the Parliamentary Assembly, in relation to the revision of electoral legislation in close consultation with the Venice Commission, strengthening the independence of the judiciary, in particular concerning the appointment to the high judicial functions, the full implementation of the newly adopted Law on Prohibition of Discrimination and finally the development of effective internal monitoring structures for the implementation of the Action Plan on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Displaced Persons (DPs) to ensure an effective enjoyment of the right to return or the meaningful local integration in Montenegro.
52. Still in January 2011, the Deputies adopted a reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1923 (2010) on “The situation in Kosovo5 and the role of the Council of Europe”, in which they confirmed their commitment to the European perspective of all the people living there, who should benefit from the same level of standards for democracy, human rights and the rule of law as all other Europeans. Regarding the monitoring mechanisms for the Convention for the Prevention of Torture and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, currently implemented on the basis of Agreements with UNMIK and NATO, the Deputies indicated that the monitoring process will only be truly meaningful if the relevant and competent authorities in Kosovo* are directly involved in the monitoring process and responsible for following-up the recommendations. Furthermore, they shared the view of the Parliamentary Assembly that the implementation of other Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms is an indispensable component of a Council of Europe contribution to raising standards of democracy, human rights and rule of law in Kosovo*. To achieve this goal, the Committee of Ministers has instructed the Secretariat to prepare a feasibility study.
53. Finally, concerning Belarus, the Committee of Ministers adopted on 12 January 2011 a Declaration calling for the immediate release of the presidential candidates, journalists and human rights activists arrested in the wake of the Presidential elections of 19 December 2010. The Declaration also indicates that the Committee of Ministers will continue supporting the establishment of closer relations between the Council of Europe and Belarus only on the basis of respect for European values and principles.
54. The Deputies adopted the Council of Europe Programme and Budget for 2011 on 23 November 2010. Member states’ contributions to the Ordinary budget amount to € 211.4 million, based on the principle of zero real growth. At the same time, they encouraged the Secretary General to continue the comprehensive reform process underway in the Organisation, including of the programme of activities and intergovernmental structures, reinforcing effectiveness, relevance, impact and efficiency and further streamlining administrative procedures and structures. The Deputies also agreed in principle to move to a biennial budget from 2012.
Co-operation with the United Nations, OSCE, the European Union and external relations
55. Regarding relations with the European Union, the Rapporteur Group on External Relations held an exchange of views with the Chairperson of the Management Board and the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights on 2 November 2010. This exchange of views provided an opportunity to take stock of co-operation between the Council of Europe and the Agency as well as to discuss the prospects for its reinforcement. On the same subject, a reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1935 (2010) on the “Need to avoid duplication of the work of the Council of Europe by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights” is under preparation.
56. Where relations with the United Nations are concerned, the draft Resolution on co-operation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe approved by the Ministers’ Deputies at the beginning of July was adopted, with some modifications, by the UN General Assembly on 13 December 2010. The chairmanship, which co-ordinated the negotiations on the text in New York, welcomes the fact that it acknowledges and encourages the development of co-operation between the two organisations in a number of fields of common interest, including the prevention of torture, the promotion of the rights of the child, the fight against racism and against the trafficking of human beings, as well as the combating of terrorism, transnational organised crime, cybercrime, corruption and money laundering.
57. Co-operation with the OSCE was reviewed in the fields of the prevention of terrorism and of trafficking in human beings on the occasion of a meeting of the Coordination Group between the two organisations, which took place in Vienna in October 2010. The meeting provided the opportunity to note progress made with regard to co-operation, while calling for its reinforcement on issues related to the prevention of terrorism, as well as regarding awareness raising and advocacy, assistance to member states/participating states in the implementation of their anti-trafficking commitments, and the assessment and monitoring of the efficiency of anti-trafficking policies. The Coordination Group will meet in Strasbourg in the first half of 2011 to examine the co-operation concerning the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination.
58. As regards the external relations of the Organisation, the Ministers’ Deputies adopted in November a reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1919 (2010) on “Euro-Mediterranean region: call for a Council of Europe strategy” in which, in particular, they recalled that some projects are already being conducted in co-operation with the European Union in order to develop contacts and co-operation with countries of the Mediterranean basin, in particular through Joint Programmes with the European Commission. Other projects for joint action are currently under preparation. Furthermore, the reply agrees on the importance of promoting accession to the relevant legal instruments of the Council of Europe by states of the Mediterranean basin which share the values of the Organisation, in order to extend the outreach of these instruments. While recalling that some conventions, such as the European Cultural Convention (ETS No. 18), are only open to European non-member states of the Council of Europe, it indicates that the question of them being opened up to non European non-member states is being duly considered in the context of the overall review of the Council of Europe conventions which is currently taking place as part of the reform of the Council of Europe engaged by the Secretary General.
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59. The Council of Europe is a unique forum of pan-European co-operation founded on common, legally binding standards, with independent monitoring mechanisms. It therefore has valuable assets which must be developed simultaneously. The Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers knows it can rely on the Parliamentary Assembly to support its efforts and to constantly reinforce the Council of Europe’s role as a guardian of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe.
1 Ms Katarzyna GONERA (Poland), Ms Renate JAEGER (Germany), Chief Justice John L. MURRAY (Ireland), Mr Matti PELLONPÄÄ (Finland), Professor Sami SELÇUK (Turkey), Professor Luzius WILDHABER (Switzerland) and Mr Valery ZORKIN (Russian Federation).
2 “The role of media in fostering multicultural dialogue, tolerance and mutual understanding: freedom of expression in the media and respect towards other cultural and religious diversity”
3 Concerns the following member states: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, San-Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.
4 See document SG/Inf(2010)22.
5 All reference to Kosovo*, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo*.
* See footnote no. 2