Information Document

SG/Inf(2011)4 FINAL

17 February 2011




Priorities 2012-2013


Before the reform initiated by Secretary General Jagland, the intergovernmental activities of the Organisation were spread out over 130 programmes and projects, divided largely along the lines of directorates general. The first stage of reform in 2010 resulted in an initial streamlining: a new, all-inclusive programme and budget for 2011 which comprises 38 operational programmes and presented within three operational pillars: Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy.

Building on these results, the Secretary General wishes to proceed with an in-depth streamlining in the second phase of reform, starting with a definition of the long-term strategic directions. This document therefore proposes an outline of six priority axes that will guide the preparation of the specific activities for the coming two-year programme and which would not be in contradiction with the strategic priorities for the decade (in particular Threats to the Rule of Law, Pan-European Common Standards and Sustainable Democratic Societies). The results will be presented in a draft document in late March (Priorities for 2012-2013 and their Budgetary Implications).

An overall objective of the two-year programme 2012-2013 is to concentrate the activities of the Organisation so that more resources are given to a smaller number of priority activities than at present.  This concerns particularly the intergovernmental activities that represent approximately € 40 Million, ie. the amount left at disposal once existing budget appropriations are allocated to institutions, treaty-based and independent activities.


point of departure

    · Programme based on the existing three-pillar operational structure (Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy), as adopted by the Committee of Ministers;

    · The 6 strategic axes below give a first indication as to the longer-term agenda of the Organisation and constitute the 2012-13 programme priorities;

    · Programme based on a biennial activity cycle and results-based budget;

    · Reduction of total number of programmes to ensure necessary critical mass on priority objectives while increasing the transparency of programmes;

    · A programme and budget review mechanism and effective follow-up of implementation.

    Council of Europe institutions and independent, treaty-based activities are not mentioned in this paper. It concentrates exclusively on the priorities within the intergovernmental activities. The lack of explicit mentioning of an intergovernmental activity in this document does not affect its status, it only indicates that the activity does not constitute a priority for the programme 2012-2013.


    · Streamlining, where necessary, of existing intergovernmental structures;

    · Clearly defined expected results;

    · Increasing the coherence and effectiveness of monitoring, allowing a better integration of monitoring results into the programme of activities;

    · Reinforced partnership with other international actors, in particular the European Union and the OSCE (regular consultations on priorities and objective-setting) ;

    · More flexible use of Partial Agreements (in particular the possibility of transfer of some activities from the ordinary budget to partial agreements);

    · Transversal approach to be promoted where relevant (project groups/taskforces);

    · Decentralisation to external offices of the implementation of relevant co-operation programmes;

    · Overall ratio staff/non staff expenditure should not increase;

    · Mainstreaming of child, youth and equality issues into the programmes (and other dimensions as necessary).

PILLAR 1: Human Rights

      1. Protection and Promotion of Human Rights

The priority will remain the protection and promotion of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms, including social rights. Enhancing the effectiveness of the ECHR system at national and European level (EU accession and execution of judgements) will continue to be a priority. As far as promotion of Human Rights is concerned, capacity- building (awareness and training) continues to play an important part. On the protection side, the rights and the dignity of persons belonging to specific categories of population (such as Roma, persons belonging to minorities, migrants, children, elderly) will be a priority, as well as new action addressing violence against women should lead to innovative activities, both in terms of working methods and substance.

PILLAR 2: Rule of Law

      2. Threats to the Rule of Law

Countering threats to the Rule of Law should be given priority for the next programme and beyond because of their impact on our security and fundamental freedoms. Terrorism and organized crime, as well as corruption and money laundering will continue to challenge the security both of our states and individuals. Particular attention should be given to new forms of criminality such as cybercrime and Medicrime, as well as to criminal activities affecting the individual, such as trafficking in human beings.

      3. Development of Pan-European common standards and policies

The development of a common legal space among CoE member states is definitely one of the main mid- and long-term objectives for the Organisation, which should continue, in this context, to promote respect for international law and the implementation of existing standards. The priority should be given to the development of standards and policies related to the information society (Internet governance, data protection, media etc.), bioethics and issues related to family law.

      4. Justice

As in previous years, the independence and efficiency of justice will remain important. Besides, new initiatives should be developed, for example dealing with dangerous and repetitive offenders (a problem common to many Member States).

PILLAR 3: Democracy

5. Democratic Governance

Within its mandate and in co-ordination with other international actors, the CoE should develop further its capacity to address crisis situations through a better use of its comparative advantages (in particular through civil society initiatives, confidence-building measures and legal assistance).

Good governance at national, local and regional level will remain important, as well as electoral assistance (pre and post elections) as a means to promoting democratic elections.

6. Sustainable Democratic Societies

Living together in sustainable democratic societies implies that we identify and develop appropriate answers to address societal challenges and protect our democracies from the risk of radicalisation and fragmentation. Therefore, addressing xenophobia and racism, as well as enabling our societies to remain ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse is crucial. This is the rationale for our activities in fields such as culture, cultural heritage, intercultural dialogue, including its religious dimension as well as the protection of minority languages and youth work. In this context, promoting better understanding and tolerance through education and culture as well as initiatives to ensure social cohesion will be crucial.

The development of citizen’s awareness, in particular youth participation and education for democratic citizenship and Human Rights, and the strengthening of civil society, are essential. A new quality and dynamism should benefit the interaction with civil society.

In a globalised world, the promotion of democratic values as well as threats to these values are scarcely related to geographical limits. Therefore developing partnerships with the neighbourhood, where appropriate, with a view to developing joint approaches and promoting CoE standards, could be considered, in particular through accession to major Council of Europe conventions and co-operation activities.

Institutions, treaty-based and independent activities are not included. However, statutory and other organs and monitoring bodies should contribute, within the remit of their mandates and in their fields of expertise, to the achievement of the priority objectives.



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