Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Human Rights
GR-H(2007)8 17 April 20071
Message of the Committee of Ministers to committees involved in intergovernmental co-operation at the Council of Europe – Contributions from committees in the human rights field on the implementation of the Warsaw Action Plan
Document prepared by the Chair of the GR-H after the Group’s meeting of 12 April 2007
The Ministers’ Deputies received replies from the three committees working in the human rights field and in accordance with their decision, these replies were examined by the competent subsidiary group of the Committee of Ministers (the Rapporteur Group on Human Rights (GR-H)) and forwarded to the Follow-up Committee on the Third Summit (CM-SUIVI3), with a view to the elaboration of a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Action Plan for the 117th Ministerial Session. The contributions are contained in document GR-H(2007)4.
The GR-H appreciated the efforts made to provide exhaustive answers in line with the indications of the Deputies’ Message, but noted that a uniform presentation of the contributions would have been preferable. It considered that the activities of the three committees were clearly in line with the objectives of the Warsaw Action Plan.
It was underlined in the GR-H that the examination of the contributions received in reply to the Deputies’ Message, was a separate exercise from and did in no way prejudge the examination of the programme of activities of the Organisation for 2008. It was noted, however, that the contributions received could be useful also in that context. With respect to future evaluations by steering committees of their activities, the point was made that a critical evaluation should be carried out of past activities with a view to drawing lessons for ongoing and future activities.
As regards the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), the GR-H underlined its important contribution to the aim of the Action Plan of guaranteeing the effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights and in particular the long-term effectiveness of the Court. This work was being closely followed by the Committee of Minister, having adopted very precise terms of reference for the CDDH in particular in the context of the follow-up to the 116th Ministerial Session.
The Group noted that the CDDH has also undertaken activities in relation to other Action Plan priorities such as the development of intercultural dialogue, by focussing on two aspects of human rights protection in a multicultural society: issues concerning hate speech and the wearing of religious symbols in public areas. It is furthermore finalising a draft Convention on access to official documents, which comes within the framework of the Action Plan on the consolidation of democracy, good governance and the rule of law. Work is also underway on the protection of human rights defenders.
The Group emphasised the added value of the CDDH in helping member states to elaborate, promote and implement national legislation and policy in the field of human rights in full compliance with the fundamental values of the Council of Europe.
With respect to the contribution received from the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communications Services (CDMC), the GR-H noted that the Action Plan adopted by the 7th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Kyiv, 10 and 11 March 2005) was incorporated as integral part into the Summit Action Plan and that the CDMC has been energetically engaging in the joint implementation of both these action plans.
A large number of recommendations and declarations have been elaborated which are relevant also to other priorities of the Action Plan, in particular to the general objective of strengthening democracy, good governance and the rule of law in member states, but also for example to the programme “Building a Europe for and with children”. The ongoing as well as the future work of the CDMC announced in the document is also relevant for the implementation of both the above-mentioned Action Plans (Kyiv and Warsaw).
Through the work of the CDMC, the Council of Europe is the only international organisation committed to the development, refinement and updating of freedom of expression and information standards in the pan-European space, with a unique and substantial contribution in this field to which follow-up at national level should be ensured.
Finally, as regards the contribution made by the Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men (CDEG), the GR-H observed that the CDEG is the intergovernmental committee which oversees by far the major part of the activities of the Council of Europe to combat trafficking in human beings, in particular in the context of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings launched in 2006. It also coordinates the activities to combat violence against women and, in this context, the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence, which was launched on 27 November 2006 in Madrid.
The CDEG also carries out standard-setting work and other activities for the achievement of gender equality which was considered as a priority in the Warsaw Action Plan. The 6th European Ministerial Conference on equality between women and men (Stockholm, June 2006) adopted a Resolution on “Achieving gender equality: a challenge for human rights and a prerequisite for economic development” and an Action Plan on “Achieving gender equality in all spheres of society”. The GR-H noted that the Action Plan could be implemented until 2010 only if adequate resources were allocated.
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 up in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.