CM/Inf(2013)15 13 May 2013
Stocktaking of the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
(9 November 2012 - 16 May 2013)
First Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
On 10 November 1994, Andorra joined the Council of Europe as the 33rd member state. Practically 18 years to the day later, on 9 November 2012, it took over the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers for the first time. That was in Tirana and we emphasised the “great respect” and “acute sense of responsibility” which guided us. We hope that we have come up to the task.
We added that we wished to continue the endeavours of the previous Chairmanships. “One more link in a chain of which we all form a part”. And it was in that spirit that, together with the Armenian and Austrian Chairmanships, we considered that it made sense broadly to identify some common priorities.
We did so in each of the three pillars on which the Organisation is based: human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
In addition to following on from our predecessors, we therefore started joint work with the succeeding Chairmanships, in a desire, as we said, “to live and work together in harmony”.
On this basis, the key emphasis of our Chairmanship has been safeguarding and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, a remit set out in the founding texts, which took us back to the Organisation’s origins, so to speak. Our priorities have been to address current and topical issues, while following up decisions already taken but not fully implemented, on the one hand, and, on the other, to launch a medium- to long-term reflection process on the development of a strategy capable of implementing mechanisms and, where appropriate, instruments to help member States in their task of safeguarding and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
To this end, we sought to focus on three areas of action: a campaign to promote the European Convention on Human Rights (“the Convention”); activities targeted at young people; education for democratic citizenship and human rights, and intercultural dialogue.
Stocktaking of the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers
I. Addressing current and topical issues, while following up decisions already taken by the Committee of Ministers but not fully implemented
Follow-up to the Interlaken, Izmir and Brighton Conferences. In keeping with the undertakings we made when the Brighton Declaration was adopted and when we started our Chairmanship, here we have sought to ensure effective follow-up here. Draft Protocol No. 15 amending the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is on the agenda for adoption at the 123rd Session of the Committee of Ministers. In the same vein, a draft Protocol No. 16 has already been submitted, for opinion, to the European Court of Human Rights and the Parliamentary Assembly.
EU accession to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. We welcome the conclusion of the preparatory negotiations.
With regard to both of these points, we wish to thank all the players who have contributed to this success, which is the result of lengthy efforts in which all concerned have displayed a spirit of consensus and fully played their part.
Reform to make the Council of Europe more effective.
Human rights meetings. During the Albanian Chairmanship and following the Brighton Declaration, Andorra, which at the time was chairing the CM-DH meetings, proposed that the draft decisions be published in advance, thereby facilitating debate and paving the way for the adoption, at the Deputies’ regular meetings, of the human rights final resolutions relating to the supervision of the execution of judgments which do not raise any particular issues requiring debate.
Review of the conventions. The Committee of Ministers has adopted decisions concerning, in particular, measures relating to promoting and managing Council of Europe conventions, reservations to those instruments, the participation of non-member states and the arrangements for their financial contributions.
Increasing the impact of the Council of Europe’s monitoring mechanisms. The Ministers’ Deputies held a thematic debate on this subject on 14 March 2013, in the light of which the Secretary General and the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers jointly proposed: “Democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe: strengthening the impact of the Council of Europe’s activities” as the theme for the discussion at the formal and informal part of the 123rd Session of the Committee of Ministers.
Co-operation with other international bodies is discussed regularly by the Committee of Ministers. We have sought to keep it on the agenda and step up the co-operation.
The Chairman of the Committee of Ministers went to Vienna on 22 November 2012 to present the Chairmanship priorities to the Permanent Council of the OSCE.
It is in this same spirit that the outgoing and incoming Chairmanships of the OSCE, Ireland and Ukraine, presented to the Rapporteur Group on External Relations (GR-EXT), last February, their achievements and priorities respectively.
On the proposal of the GR-EXT, the Andorran Chairmanship made proposals for giving fresh momentum to the co-operation between the two organisations.
Finally, the CoE-OSCE Co-ordination Group met in Strasbourg on 5 April 2013 to take stock of the co-operation between the two organisations in the fields of protecting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and promoting tolerance and non-discrimination.
The UN General Assembly resolution on co-operation between the two organisations, which was submitted to the UN Secretary General by the Albanian Chairmanship, was adopted by the General Assembly on 12 December 2012. Also, the Committee of Ministers welcomed the adoption by an unprecedented number of States of a resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
The annual exchange of views between the Committee of Ministers and experts from the capitals on the work done at the United Nations on human rights issues was held in February. The President of the UN Human Rights Council, Ambassador Remigiusz Achilles Henczel, introduced the agenda item on “Major themes for the Human Rights Council in 2013”.
Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. The Chairman of the Committee of Ministers spoke in support of the Istanbul Convention during the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. He also took part in the side event on “Violence against women: our concern, our response” held during the session. The event was organised by the Council of Europe in partnership with the French Permanent Mission. The French Minister for Women’s Rights and government spokesperson and the UN Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women took part. The Council of Europe was represented by the Deputy Secretary General and the President of the Parliamentary Assembly. Also in New York, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers praised the convention and called for countries to sign up to it at an event held by the Francophonie organisation.
High-level meeting. On 20 November 2012, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Cypriot Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers and the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers held an exchange of views concerning, in particular, the state of co-operation between Europe and the southern Mediterranean. They stressed that it was in everybody’s interests for the democratic reforms to succeed, notably in the areas of constitutional and judicial reform and the promotion of human rights.
The Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Gilbert Saboya Sunyé, presented the Chairmanship’s priorities to EU representatives, members of the diplomatic corps based in Brussels and think tanks at the Council of Europe Liaison Office in Brussels on 17 January 2013. This initiative, which tied in firmly with the spirit of co-operation that exists between the two organisations, was also in line with the campaign to raise the Council of Europe’s profile undertaken by our Chairmanship through the campaign to promote the convention.
Co-operation with the European Union is particularly important for the Council of Europe. During the 123rd Session, the Committee of Ministers is invited to take note of a document reporting on the state of development of co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union which we support.
On 17 December 2012, the Chairman of the Ministers’ Deputies and the Deputy Secretary General took part in a telephone conference with representatives of the Organisation of American States based in Washington, which focused on co-operation based on the memorandum of understanding signed by the two Secretaries General.
The European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity. Following the withdrawal of certain members from the partial agreement, the Centre found itself facing serious difficulties and it was agreed in November 2012 that an open ad hoc working party would consider its future. The working party will present its proposals on the direction and focus of the centre’s activities to the Committee of Ministers at the end of May.
II. Launching a medium- to long-term reflection process on the development of a strategy capable of implementing mechanisms and, where appropriate, instruments to help member States in their task of safeguarding and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms
A. A campaign to promote the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Convention is the founding text of the European human rights system. The purpose of the campaign is to raise civil society’s awareness of the rights and freedoms covered by the convention. It encourages people to read one or more articles of the Convention on the Internet and seeks to raise the profile of the Council of Europe and its work.
To achieve this aim, we have involved various Council of Europe departments, in particular the youth sector. We hope that the following Chairmanships will carry it forward. http://human-rights-convention.org/nurturing-human-rights/.
B. Activities targeted on work with young people.
The aim of these activities has been to convey the Council of Europe’s values to young people and disseminate the expertise and tools developed by the Organisation in this area. The Andorran Chairmanship was keen to be involved in one of the Council of Europe’s pioneering projects, the goal of which is to provide training to promote human rights and the culture of peace among young people from conflict zones, namely the Young Ambassadors for Peace programme. Andorra hosted one of the seminars, which involved training in mediation. Under the heading, “The role of young people in conflict transformation and intercultural dialogue”, the event brought together young participants in the programme, youth sector workers and young people from Andorra.
In the same spirit and again in Andorra, the Chairmanship organised a seminar on youth mobility in co-operation with the Andorran Youth Card Association.
The two activities were conducted in close co-operation with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and Andorran city councils.
In order to bring the Council of Europe closer to the country’s population, the Chairmanship organised several activities in the three education systems that co-exist in Andorra, in particular with the participation of members of the Parliamentary Assembly.
C. Education for democratic citizenship and human rights, and intercultural dialogue
Considering that education for democratic citizenship and human rights is crucial to the long-term viability of the work of the Council of Europe, we made this our main priority. The Chairmanship is convinced that the conclusions that we have already reached together will be useful in future.
The six months leading up to the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education in Helsinki, which the Prague Forum had started to prepare, were marked by several education-related activities.
In November 2012, in Strasbourg, the Conference on “Human Rights and Democracy in Action – Looking Ahead. The impact of the European Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights” opened our Chairmanship.
The adoption by the Committee of Ministers of Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)13 on ensuring quality education paved the way for the high-level Conference on “Competences for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue: a political challenge and values”. The Conference was intended to focus discussion on the objectives of education and its role in training future citizens to live in culturally diverse, democratic and sustainable societies. The conference conclusions recommend the development of descriptors and of a reference framework to assist member States in implementing a competence-based education for democracy and intercultural dialogue. This proposal was endorsed by the final declaration of the 24th session of the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education, held in Helsinki on 26 and 27 April 2013.
It should therefore be part of the Council of Europe’s programme of activities relating to education for 2014-2015, as should the setting up of a platform enabling information and good practices to be exchanged in the field of ethics and integrity in education, a study of the possible development of indicators to measure the participation of major stakeholders in education in Europe, the drafting of ethical principles of good conduct for teachers and the drafting of specific policy measures promoting access to learning for all pupils and students.
The Andorran Chairmanship was also keen to work on educational activities to be developed in the sphere of sport. Accordingly two seminars were organised:
- “Overview of sport in European prisons: how the penitentiary rules in relation to sport are implemented in practice” (5 March 2013). This activity, organised under the auspices of the Andorran Chairmanship by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), in co-operation with the Council of Europe’s Council for Penological Co-operation (PC-CP), highlighted the positive role that sport can play, not only during detention, but also during prisoners’ rehabilitation after their release.
- “Anti-doping education and prevention: luxury or necessity?” (12 April 2013). This thematic event, organised by the Monitoring Group of the Council of Europe’s Anti-Doping Convention, considered the inadequacy of the current model based solely on the threefold approach through “monitoring, detection and sanctions”, and emphasised the need to educate young athletes and sport’s stakeholders so that they can fight against doping, which breaks the most fundamental rules of democratic societies.
We are convinced that in order to promote harmonious living together in democratic and sustainable societies, it is necessary to make known and to preserve the common heritage, while at the same time fostering cultural diversity. With this in mind, we have co-operated in, taken part in or highlighted other activities:
- “An Intercultural Cities Milestone Event – Making Diversity work for Cities”. This Conference, held at the initiative of the Irish Presidency of the European Union, and placed under the auspices of the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, was an opportunity to take stock of the successes recorded by this programme, which offers cities a comprehensive methodology for intercultural integration, based on the concept of “diversity advantage”. It is to be hoped that the programme will continue to attract many new cities.
- 7th Council of Europe Conference on the European Landscape Convention. This conference, under the auspices of the Andorran Chairmanship, gave States parties an opportunity to take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the Convention and to present their landscape policy models.
- 10th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Culture (15 and 16 April 2013 in Moscow). The ministers agreed on a number of activities concerning “Governance of culture – Promoting access to culture”.
While the priorities presented and defended by the Andorran Chairmanship may, at first sight, not seem very ambitious, we are convinced that they underpin the foundations on which the Organisation stands, insofar as they relate to the education of our younger generations in human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy.
We hope that we have, through the discussions we have begun and which will certainly continue, made our contribution to the shared effort to safeguard the values which bind us all together.
We shall add one final point to this stocktaking. One perhaps more symbolic than education-related, but one that, we feel sure, contributes to the visibility of the Council of Europe, to a better knowledge of its member States and to dialogue with the people of Strasbourg, among other things. This is the ceremony at which the flag of the Chairmanship is raised, introduced for the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, as a result of co-operation between the Council of Europe and the City of Strasbourg; such a ceremony is henceforth planned for every Chairmanship.
Calendar of events
27-31 August 2012: Summer University in Andorra on the theme of “Traces of Europe around the World”.
24 October 2012: prize-giving ceremony for the competition to select a postage stamp for issue representing the Andorran Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, Andorra.
26-28 October 2012: Council of Europe information stand at the Fira d’Andorra la Vella (Andorra la Vella Fair).
9 November 2012: official ceremony organised by the Government of the Principality of Andorra on the occasion of the start of the Chairmanship.
13 November 2012: in the context of Andorra’s national landscape strategy and of the implementation of the European Landscape Convention, presentation of the Guide to the landscaping of Andorra’s downhill ski resorts.
22 November 2012 : Presentation of the Andorran Chairmanship priorities to the Permanent Council of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Vienna.
29-30 November 2012: conference on “Human Rights and Democracy in Action – Looking Ahead: The impact of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education”, Strasbourg.
30 November 2012: presentation of the priorities of the Andorran Chairmanship by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers to the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
6 December 2012: seminar organised by the Council of Europe and the International Institute of Human Rights René Cassin, under the auspices of the Andorran Chairmanship, on the “European Social Charter: discretion of the States”, Strasbourg.
January-March 2013: series of talks entitled “The Council of Europe explained to young people”, at Andorran education centres.
January-April 2013: exhibition in Andorran schools on the Holocaust in Europe, from the rise of Nazism to the Nuremberg trials.
17 January 2013: presentation of the priorities of the Andorran Chairmanship by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at the Council of Europe Liaison Office in Brussels.
21 January 2013: address by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly, Strasbourg.
22 January 2013: raising of the Andorran flag on place Broglie, Strasbourg.
6 February 2013: launch by the Deputy Secretary General of the “Nurturing human rights” campaign, Andorra la Vella.
6-8 February 2013: organisation of a conference under the auspices of the Andorran Chairmanship and the Irish EU Presidency: “An Intercultural Cities Milestone Event – Making Diversity work for Cities”, Dublin
7-8 February 2013: Conference on “Competences for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue: a political challenge and values”, Andorra la Vella.
11 February 2013: meeting of the Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Andorra la Vella.
25-27 February 2013: final of the first Human Rights Moot Court competition, in English, with a contribution by the Andorran Chairmanship, Strasbourg.
27 February - 1 March 2013: seminar on youth mobility through the Council of Europe Youth Card in the context of the Council of Europe Partial Agreement, Andorra la Vella.
4-8 March 2013: promotion of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence: participation by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers in the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, in a side event during that session on “Violence against women: our concern, our response”, and in a meeting of the group of member States of the Organisation of La Francophonie, New York.
5 March 2013: seminar “Overview of sport in European prisons: how the penitentiary rules in relation to sport are implemented in practice”, Strasbourg.
20 March 2013: conference on the theme of “Multiculturalism is not (just) a question of culture”, Andorra la Vella.
21 March 2013: address by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg.
26-27 March 2013: 7th Council of Europe Conference on the European Landscape Convention, under the auspices of the Andorran Chairmanship, Strasbourg.
March 2013: series of talks on “Human rights and freedoms in Europe”, at various Andorran education centres.
12 April 2013: thematic event entitled “Anti-doping education and prevention: luxury or necessity?”, organised by the Monitoring Group of the Council of Europe’s Anti-Doping Convention, Strasbourg.
15-16 April 2013: participation by the Chairmanship in the 10th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Culture, on the theme of “Governance of culture – Promoting access to culture”, Moscow.
15-21 April 2013: seminar on “The role of young people in conflict transformation and intercultural dialogue”, and Young Ambassadors for Peace training seminar, Andorra.
22 April 2013: address by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly, Strasbourg.
25 April 2013: address by the Head of Government of Andorra to the Parliamentary Assembly, Strasbourg.
26-27 April 2013: Council of Europe Standing Conference of Ministers of Education: “Governance and Quality Education”, Helsinki.
8 May 2013: deliberations of the jury concerning the competition “Paroles de Presse” organised on the theme of human rights, Andorra. The prize will be awarded on 4 June.
Throughout the six-month term of office: exhibition of Council of Europe publications at the documentation centre of Andorra’s Ministry of Education and Youth.
15 May 2013: concert marking the end of Andorra’s term of office at Strasbourg’s Cité de la musique et de la danse.
16 May 2013: ministerial session and handover by Andorra to Armenia of the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, Strasbourg.