Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
GR-DEM
Rapporteur Group on Democracy

GR-DEM(2010)CB1 18 January 20101
————————————————

Synopsis
Meeting of 12 January 2010

————————————————

1. The Rapporteur Group on Democracy (GR-DEM), chaired by Ambassador Margaret HENNESSY, Permanent Representative of Ireland, considered the following items appearing in the convocation
(cf. GR-DEM(2010)OJ1).

1. Kosovo2:

a. Review of Council of Europe co-operation and assistance activities

      (DSP(2009)15)

2. At the invitation of the Chair, the Director of Strategic Planning outlined the activities appearing in document DSP(2009)15.

3. All the delegations which took part in the discussion expressed their support for both the planned and ongoing activities. Several delegations stressed the importance of ensuring appropriate co-operation with the other competent international bodies. Some delegations also referred to co-operation with the authorities in situ. Emphasis was also placed on the need to be able to count on sufficient operational capacity to implement the projects. On this point, the Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs said that the staff in the Pristina office comprised a Head of office, a Deputy specialising in “human rights and the rule of law” issues and three local assistants. He added that some 15 other members of staff (primarily local) also worked in the office on implementation of the co-operation programmes; the salaries of these staff members were entirely financed out of the resources of the various programmes.

4. The representative of the European Union told delegations that the joint programmes in the field of protecting human rights and the rule of law were being considered by the European Commission and that a decision could be reached shortly. She also informed delegations of the Commission’s decision to offer financial support to a project to resettle Roma living in camps contaminated by lead located to the north of Mitrovica/Mitrovicë. The Commissioner for Human Rights had deplored the situation of these people in a report published following his on-the-spot visit from 23 to 27 March 20093.

5. Reference was made to the consensual approach of the document and the neutrality of the activities regarding the question of the status of Kosovo*, all of which were in strict compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. One delegation said that the local population should not be a victim of the debate over the status and should be given full human rights protection. It called for further development of the activities under Chapter 5 (protection of national minorities) and Chapter 12 (specific activities in post-conflict situations).

6. The Chair noted that there was a common desire to promote the values of the Council of Europe on the ground and welcomed the unanimous support of delegations for the activities in question. The group agreed to submit to the Deputies a draft decision to this effect and called on the Secretariat to report to it in good time.

b. State of play regarding the monitoring of the population and housing census: oral information by the Secretariat

7. The Secretariat informed delegations of the decision by the authorities to postpone the census initially scheduled for April 2010. It was now due to be held between 30 March and 11 April 2011. A communication and awareness raising-campaign on the fundamental principles and aims of the census would begin on 12 February 2010 in order to ensure the broadest possible participation by the different minorities. The International Monitoring Operation (IMO) would be assessing the impact of this campaign quarterly and would be making a final recommendation in October 2010 on the probability of acceptable participation by the whole population, which would make it possible to conduct a reliable census in compliance with the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding.

8. One delegation stressed the sensitive nature of this issue and did not feel that the conditions were right to organise the census. Another delegation said that the census was essential for the purposes of good governance but that it was necessary to ensure the broadest possible participation by minorities.

9. The Chair concluded by asking the Secretariat to keep the group informed of developments over the coming months.

2. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Draft pre-electoral assistance programme

    (DPA/Inf(2009)41)

10. The draft action plan to support the general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2010 (DPA/Inf(2009)41), presented by the Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs, was endorsed by a large number of delegations. The delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina felt that the action plan was complete and represented a high-quality contribution by the Council of Europe to the electoral process taking place. Several delegations welcomed this support.

11. With regard to the funding of the action plan, the representative of the European Union told delegations that the Commission envisaged contributing €200 000. At the request of several delegations, Mr Laurens provided a number of clarifications on the sources of funding and said that a revised version of the financial appendix to the document would be distributed shortly (see DPA/Inf(2009)41 rev).

12. In general, several speakers felt that the Council of Europe’s pre-electoral assistance programmes were a major added value of the organisation which should be developed still further, including in co-operation with the European Union.

13. In conclusion, the Chair noted that there was a consensus to invite the Deputies to adopt a decision supporting the action plan and to instruct the Secretariat to report on its implementation in good time.

14. In reply to questions concerning the consequences of the Sejdic and Finci versus Bosnia and Herzegovina judgment delivered by the European Court of Human Rights on 22 December 2009, Mr Markert, Deputy Secretary of the Venice Commission, said that the impugned provisions of the electoral law reflected shortcomings in the Constitution. He added that in the recent past political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina were not ready to accept the necessary constitutional amendments but that the current thinking on this matter could be assessed at a conference to be organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung at which the Venice Commission would be taking part on 28 January next.

15. At the initiative of the Chair, the group agreed to make reference to this judgment and to emphasise the need to bring the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina in line with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights in the draft decision to be submitted to the Deputies.

3. Moldova: Future Council of Europe co-operation and assistance activities

      (DPA/Inf(2010)1)

16. The Secretariat (DGDAP) presented document DPA/Inf(2010)1 which outlined the future activities which had already been considered by the group and which were to be carried out under a joint programme with the European Union (“democracy package”) together with new proposed co-operation activities in response to the wishes of the Moldovan authorities (“local government reform” and “confidence-building measures for the Transnistrian region”).

17. All delegations endorsed this document. Several speakers felt that implementation of the planned activities would make a useful contribution to the efforts made by the Moldovan authorities in situ since September 2009 to foster the country’s integration into Europe.

18. A number of delegations asked the Secretariat to fine tune certain activities and provide further financial information.

19. In response, the Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs said that not all projects had been developed to the same extent. With regard to the “democracy package”, he said that full details of the activities would be accessible when the aforementioned joint programme was put online and that any changes which partners wished to make to the projects would be contemplated in the relevant procedure provided for in the programme. With regard to the activities in the field of “local government reform”, the Secretariat could be asked to provide the group in the near future with more detailed proposals for activities. Mr Laurens said that the “confidence-building measures for the Transnistrian region” would be drawn up in the light of the experience acquired in the implementation of a similar programme in 2008 and with the support of the Moldovan authorities. He added that – although it would be necessary to establish or strengthen contacts with the authorities and the partners who would be tasked with the implementation of some of these projects – several activities could already get off the ground. He concluded by informing the group that in accordance with the procedure established by the Committee of Ministers, the Secretariat would in spring 2010 present a general report on co-operation with the Council of Europe regarding the honouring of commitments entered into by Moldova.

20. In conclusion, the Chair noted that there was agreement within the group to submit to the Deputies draft decisions along the lines of what had been presented by the Secretariat.

4. Belarus: Future Council of Europe activities

      (DPA/Inf(2010)3)

21. Introducing this item, the Chair drew the attention of delegations to the formal request to accede to the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (ETS No. 197) sent to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe by Mr Martynov, the Belarus Foreign Minister (see DD(2010)6). She said that this request raised the question of an agreement on privileges and immunities with Belarus and that the Secretariat would be able to submit to the group a draft agreement for consideration at the next meeting. It was pointed out that an agreement of this type would be signed with Belarus on 22 January next in connection with GRECO. Consequently, the Chair suggested that the Belarus request to accede to the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings be considered at the meeting of 25 February. The group supported this suggestion.

22. The group held a discussion on document DPA/Inf(2010)3. There was broad support for the general lines of action presented in the document. In particular, the group welcomed the growing number of planned activities which should help bring Belarus closer to the values of the Council of Europe. Nonetheless, two delegations asked for the proposed activities in the field of social cohesion to be formulated in a more operational way. Another delegation felt that co-operation with other international organisations (in particular the OSCE and the European Union) should be further developed. On this point, the representative of the European Union said that the Belarus issue had been discussed at the last quadripartite meeting (27 October 2009) and the Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs said that he had met representatives of the European Union in Belarus during his recent visit to the country and had discussed the possibilities for joint action, in particular regarding the abolition of the death penalty. Several delegations expressed concern that Belarus had still not settled its debts accumulated as a contracting party to the European Cultural Convention. Questions were also asked about recent developments concerning the Council of Europe’s Information Point in Minsk and the holding of an expert meeting which would be discussing the implications of Belarus’s possible accession to various Council of Europe conventions, including the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ETS No. 126).

23. The Chair said that she would raise these questions – and the question of the launching of the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty announced by the Belarus president – at a forthcoming meeting with the Belarus representative.

24. With regard to the Information Point, the Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs told delegations that the Secretariat had recently received statistics on the information campaigns (see Appendix). He said that the financial resources had been secured to ensure the proper functioning of the Information Point in 2010 (subject to the renewal of the agreement which expired in March 2010) but that additional resources would be necessary to expand its activities and means of action. He also said that the majority of planned co-operation activities would be carried out in Belarus and that some of them would be implemented outside the capital.

25. At the end of the discussion, the Chair noted that there was general agreement within the group to transmit the proposed activities to the Minister’s Deputies for approval at their 1075th meeting (20 January 2010).

5. 16th Session of the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government (Utrecht, the Netherlands, 16-17 November 2009) – Report by the Secretary General
(CM(2010)3)

26. The Secretariat introduced the item and presented the draft decisions as set out in the annotated agenda. The draft decisions were endorsed by all speakers. Several delegations welcomed the innovative and dynamic approach of the Netherlands authorities in the organisation of the session. Reference was made to the benefit for the Council of Europe of developing a partnership between the Committee of Ministers and ministers responsible for local and regional government.

27. In conclusion, the Chair noted that there was consensus within the group to transmit the draft decisions to the Ministers’ Deputies for approval, without further debate, at their 1076th meeting (3 and 4 February 2010).

6. Forum for the Future of Democracy: Information by the Secretariat on the evaluation of the Forum and the preparation of the 2010 session of the Forum in Yerevan

28. The Director General of Democracy and Political Affairs said that the next meeting of the Advisory Board would take place on Friday, 29 January 2010 and would be looking primarily at the follow-up to be given to the recommendations made in the evaluation report of the Forum for the Future of Democracy written by an external consultant (see FFD(2009)misc.3). In preparation for this meeting, representatives of the quadrilogue would be holding an informal meeting on 18 January 2010.

29. Several delegations highlighted the thoughtful findings and encouraging proposals contained in the evaluation report. They felt that this initiative was particularly welcome given that, five years after its initiation, the Forum was now at a crossroads. Mention was made of the need to transform the Forum into a genuine “process”, of the value to be gained from giving it a strong direction and of the location of events. The group hoped that these questions would be considered in depth at the meeting of the Advisory Board.

30. Mr Laurens said that, following the work of the Advisory Board, the group could be invited to consider proposed amendments to the Committee of Ministers guidelines for the Forum in the first half of 2010.

31. The Chair asked the Secretariat to keep the group informed of the conclusions of the aforementioned meetings in good time.

7. Other business:

32. None.

8. Date of the next meeting:

33. It was proposed that the next meeting be held on Thursday 25 February 2010 at 9.30 am.

Appendix

Places of distribution

Type and quantity of materials distributed

“Stop Domestic Violence” Campaign
(November-December 2009)

Death Penalty Campaign
(October 2009)

TV-spot

Poster A0

Postcard

Leaflet

TV-spot

Poster A0

Postcard

Leaflet

1. National TV-channels:

STV

RTR

TNT

8-channel

1-MUZ

274

-

-

-

67

-

-

-

2. Business Centers (35)
(LCD-TV-screens)
Minsk

4.620 spots on air per day

-

-

-

4.620 spots on air per day

-

-

-

3. Universities:

Brest

1 university

Vitebsk

3 universities

Gomel

2 universities

Gorki

1 university

Grodno

3 universities

Minsk

10 universities

Mogilev

2 universities

-

60

-

-

-

60

-

-

4. Health Centers
Minsk

-

31

-

-

-

31

-

-

5. Fly-Cards (Net of Distribution):
restaurants, cafes/bars, clubs/bowling, billiard clubs, casino, beauty salons, fitness-clubs, medical centers, shops/boutiques, furniture salons, automobile dealers, travel agencies, companies, banks, business centers (Minsk, Brest, Gomel, Vitebsk, Gorki, Grodno, Mogilev)

-

-

22.500

10.000

-

-

22.500

10.000


Information Campaigns Performance Report – Council of Europe Information Point in Belarus (2009)

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.

2 *All reference to Kosovo, whether 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.

Note 3 See CommDH(2009)23.


 Top

 

  Related Documents
 
   Meetings
 
   Other documents