COUNCIL OF EUROPE
    COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS

    Declaration on the Protection of human rights during armed conflict,
    internal disturbances and tensions

    (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 21 January 2004
    at the 869th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

    The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe:

    1. Recalls Resolution No. II adopted by the European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights (Rome, 3-4 November 2000) on the theme “Respect for Human Rights, a Key factor for Democratic Stability and Cohesion in Europe: Current issues”;

    2. Shares the concern expressed in that Resolution about situations of conflict or crisis in Europe, which pose fundamental questions of respect for human rights;

    3. Underlines the importance of appropriate preventive measures of a political and educational nature in order to promote respect for human rights during armed conflict as well as internal disturbances and tensions;

    4. Recalls that in any event states cannot derogate from the peremptory norms of international law or from those of international humanitarian law where applicable;

    5. Firmly condemns all situations of serious and massive violations of human rights;

    6. Welcomes the various activities that have been and are being undertaken as a follow up to the said Resolution as well as the strong interest shown by the Parliamentary Assembly in furthering the effective protection of human rights, as expressed most recently in its Recommendation 1606 (2003) on “Areas where the European Convention on Human Rights cannot be implemented”;

    7. Notes that the main problem of human rights protection in such situations is not one of lack of norms but rather of lack of implementation of, and compliance with, applicable human rights standards;

    8. Urges therefore all member states to take measures to ensure compliance in all circumstances with applicable human rights standards and in particular during armed conflict, as well as in situations of internal disturbances and tensions;

    9. Reiterates its call to member states to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and urges them to take measures to combat impunity generally;

    10. Invites all Council of Europe bodies and institutions active in the field of human rights – each within its own sphere of responsibility and limits of its competence – to pay special attention to human rights concerns in the context of all existing and newly emerging situations of tension or conflict;

    11. Commends the activities already undertaken in this respect, notably by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, with a view to the prevention of human rights violations;

    12. Encourages the Commissioner to continue to pay particular attention to situations where there is a threat or where there are allegations of serious and massive violations of human rights, notably by further developing fact-finding and the formulation of targeted recommendations to which appropriate follow-up should be given;

    13. Agrees to contribute, through the elaboration of appropriate information and training materials, to efforts to ensure better awareness of human rights standards as laid down in relevant Council of Europe instruments:

    - among all relevant civil and military authorities of the member states;
    - among persons protected by such standards,

    so as to promote compliance with those standards also in situations of armed conflict or internal disturbances and tensions,

    14. Agrees to keep under review the question of further Council of Europe action in this area.



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