5 May 2011
Council of Europe: a strategy for values in action
- Activity Report by the Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland
121st Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
Istanbul, 11 May 2011
I was asked to present an activity report outlining main developments in the Council of Europe since the last Chairmanship handover in November 2010. This is not an easy task. On one hand, many of the most important developments concern ongoing and continuous process and their description cannot strictly respect the requested timeline of six months. On the other hand, the reform and, with it, the effort to politically revitalise the Council of Europe have picked up the pace considerably, and this Report therefore cannot pretend to offer an exhaustive list of what has been achieved, but is merely a selection of the main institutional and political developments.
In response to the discussions in the meetings of Ministers’ Deputies, I have included in the Report an overview of the Council of Europe reform, information on the follow-up to the High-Level Meeting on Roma last October – as requested in the Strasbourg Declaration (a more exhaustive account has also been prepared and distributed separately), an update on the process of consolidated reporting on the conflict in Georgia, a report on the co-operation with the European Union, and also as requested a reference to a proposed partnership between the Conference of Ministers responsible for local and regional government and the Committee of Ministers.
I also included an update on the reform of the European Court of Human Rights after the Izmir conference, and a presentation of the report by the Group of Eminent Persons on “Living Together”. The last two items are related to the Council of Europe Neighbourhood Policy and my proposals for Council of Europe measures related to the ongoing massive arrival of migrants from North Africa.
1. Council of Europe reform
I was elected Secretary General with a clear mandate to reform the Council of Europe.
The starting point for me was the following three unique assets that legitimise our role in Europe today:
First of all, the Council of Europe work on defending common European values is free from economic, military and geostrategic considerations and therefore enjoys a high level of trust and legitimacy. However, this non-political and expert-oriented role is not fully exploited.
Secondly, the Council of Europe is the only genuinely pan-European organisation covering the entire continent. The EU does not do that, even when extended to the candidate countries and associated countries. OSCE includes non-European countries which may not have fully identical views on human rights and the functioning of democratic institutions.
Thirdly, the Council of Europe is the only organisation which has the mandate and the necessary tools to effectively and comprehensively monitor the compliance with obligations related to the respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Court of Human Rights, as one, is a unique instrument never seen on any other continent at any time in history.
What we are trying to achieve is a revitalised, more focused and relevant Council of Europe, with four distinct objectives:
1) to sharpen our tools and focus our resources - so that we can implement the rule of law, based on democratic and human rights standards, throughout the entire continent;
2) to build a culture of living together;
3) to broaden our interaction with our partner-countries in our neighbourhood; and
4) to exploit the full potential of co-operation with other international organisations and civil society.
Let me briefly recall some of the achievements of 2010:
· The year started with the ratification of Protocol 14 by the Russian Federation, continued with the Interlaken Conference on the reform of the European Court of Human Rights and with the opening of talks on European Union accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.
· The year behind us also saw an unprecedented intensification of co-operation with our main institutional partners: the United Nations, the OSCE and the European Union. Liaison offices have been established in Geneva, Vienna and our office in Brussels has been strengthened.
· It has been important to expand contacts and co-operation with the United Nations, as we very much share the same aims as regards the protection and promotion of human rights. Over the last year I have had three high-level meetings with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
· Increased co-ordination and co-operation with the OSCE is of fundamental importance to the Council of Europe, so as to avoid duplication and to strengthen the impact of joint efforts. To this end, I have held meetings with the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Secretary General Brichambaut, as well as encouraged best possible ties on a working-level.
· We have now established the basis for a close and regular policy
co-ordination and consultation with the European Union at the highest level, and we have also recently signed the first “facility” envelope of 4 million Euros in the framework of the European Union Eastern Partnership. A shift to an envelope financing – providing a lump sum instead of a large number of small amounts for individual projects - reflects a qualitative improvement in our relationship, allowing for strengthened partnership and long-term strategic planning of our joint activities. Last week we concluded an agreement with Norway/EEA Grants for targeted project activities in 15 EU-member countries.
· In 2010 we succeeded in mobilising a group of personalities with outstanding experience, knowledge and authority on European affairs to examine and report on some of the key challenges our societies face today and will face in the future. The report of the Group of Eminent Persons, led by Joschka Fischer, should help us to plan and act, rather than to react in our work to living together in Europe.
· The High Level Meeting on Roma last October, as well as our mediating role in overcoming the political deadlock in Moldova, demonstrated that the Council of Europe can provide quick, concrete political responses to situations related to our mandate, which is, of course, a precondition for political relevance and impact.
· The adoption of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which is a groundbreaking international legal instrument in this area.
All the achievements above reflect a growing political relevance and impact of the Council of Europe in European affairs.
In parallel with these political achievements we have also undertaken the first stage of the reform.
We have reformed our external presence by reducing the number of offices and reinforced those we really need, namely where we are conducting assistance programmes. If we had not done that, we would have lost our credibility and relevance as partners to important donors on the ground.
We have established a policy planning cell in the Secretariat for being able to anticipate new developments.
We have reached an agreement for a biennial budget.
We have also taken steps to help revamp and revitalise our contacts and
co-operation with civil society.
We have also undertaken measures to contain staff costs. Without this, the mechanical increase of staff costs within a stagnant budget would have threatened the survival of this Organisation.
The second stage of the reform goes deeper.
And it also involves a clarification of the strategic goals for the Council of Europe. I have already started consultations with member states on what should be our political objectives for the next decade.
In my view, the first strategic priority comes from what I have already explained: that at the end of this decade we shall be able to say that we have consolidated and implemented the rule of law in all our member states. And that we have created a genuine common European legal space with a fully functioning and credible, backlog-free European Court of Human Rights at its core.
Because this is the only way of securing popular confidence in the national political institutions and in the European institutions as well. People do not trust institutions that are not able to uphold laws.
Because new and remerging threats like corruption, money laundering, human trafficking, terrorism, cybercrime can only be combated through the rule of law. If we do not do that, these threats will increase, not decrease. And these are huge threats over security that we are facing.
We must put this emphasis on the rule of law also in the context of security. History shows clearly that lasting peace has been achieved only in regions where the rule of law and human rights have been safeguarded. The Council of Europe must therefore be an uncompromising guardian of these values as a part of a broader security strategy for Europe. As the only convention-based pan-European organisation, the Council of Europe should be part of a security concept that goes deeper than the one we have today.
And all this is why another strategic goal should be to use our enormous machinery of monitoring bodies, our expertise in the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, in this Parliamentary Assembly, in our field offices for action.
Another strategic priority must be to find solutions for multi-cultural interactions which actually work, and allow individuals and communities to live with each other, not only beside each other, or even against each other.
The geographic expansion of the Council of Europe resulted in greater cultural diversity. It can never be a goal to reduce the importance of national cultures and identities. But it is all the more important to define clearly what unites us, namely our values.
We need to reach a higher degree of understanding on how to live together in a multi-cultural and multi-religious reality. It is not sufficient to say that we tolerate each other. Living together should mean that we accept cultures as living entities which evolve and prosper through encounters with other cultures. This means that cultures will thrive and command respect not when they are ghettoised and marginalised, but when they openly express themselves and mix with other cultures. We should strive for something that goes beyond multi-culturalism as we know it today.
This is part of the study by the Group of Eminent Persons led by Joschka Fischer.
It should be a priority for the Council to be a leading institution in this field.
At the same time, the Council of Europe should contribute to more social cohesion. In this day and age, it is not difficult to see the connections between democracy, human rights and social rights. When poverty, unemployment and other kinds of social exclusion increases, political extremism and democratic values are under pressure. Achieving more social cohesion should be seen as part of a security concept for Europe that goes deeper than the traditional tools, including military tools.
The Council of Europe should devote special attention to specific categories of persons who are particularly exposed to social, legal, economic, and professional or any other form of inequality, discrimination and marginalisation. There should be no second class citizens in Europe.
This is why we have paid special attention to the Roma people. The Council of Europe now has a decisive role in transforming decades of well-intended speeches into concrete action.
A final strategic goal for this decade, should be to fill the only remaining gap on the European Continent, and include Belarus in our family. We have to reflect together with our partners on how this can be done. We need a pan-European strategy and it would be important that the EU and the Russian Federation work together.
Security policy and economic interests suggest that Europe should strengthen its commitment with countries in its own neighbourhood. This includes Central Asia, as well as the Middle East and North Africa where the Council of Europe can play a greater role.
Our target in this respect should be to get countries from our neighbourhood to accede to Council of Europe conventions, in particular those which are dealing with the new and emerging threats.
2. The state of the implementation of the Strasbourg declaration on
The events of last year showed to the world the true plight of Roma. This crisis was an opportunity for change and the Council of Europe was ideally placed to drive that change.
The High Level Meeting of last October led to a joint pledge to co-operate on Roma issues at all levels (EU, governments, NGOs) and to the development of new directions that would yield concrete results.
This new approach is about partnership, not finger-pointing. We have recognised that together we will move more effectively and quicker to better solutions for Roma.
Our change of tone is already clear. The most practical part of the programme - the launch of our project to train mediators – the “ambassadors of trust” who will build bridges between Roma communities and local public institutions – is already bearing fruit. In the past two months, two hundred and sixty have already been trained and are applying their skills in the field, with more trainings to come in a total of 15 member states. We have a winning formula here – and we will expand the project to other countries. At this very moment, a training session is under way right here in Istanbul.
A Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues acts with his team as the hub for all work being carried out for Roma. It is a prototype of dynamic transversal practice that leads to a sharper focus and a stronger pooling and application of Council of Europe expertise: a positive example of what the general Council of Europe reform is all about.
We have also had the first meeting of the CAHROM, a body that will bring an integrated approach at governmental level. Through its work, member states will be able to exchange policies and practices and share lessons learnt.
Work has begun on a database to pool good practice and provide a “library” of policies that can be taken up and adapted for use in different countries and contexts, sustaining the momentum for continual positive change.
One important key to the success of our project is the work being done at local and regional level. We have high expectations for the Summit of Mayors on Roma issues, to be held in September under the auspices of the Congress. This is, after all, one area where work at grassroots can reap many benefits for the Roma. It is at local level where most problems are and where solutions can and should be found.
Support from the EU was evident from the very beginning, with Commission
Vice-President Reding joining us at the High Level Meeting, and EU involvement in many of the existing programmes. Working in concert is an obvious way to build our collective resources and play to our separate strengths. I welcome the EU’s strategy on Roma and the Commission’s plan to join our mediator-training programme, and will work towards a long-term strategic partnership.
3. Process of consolidated reporting on the conflict in Georgia
Council of Europe reporting on Georgia was one of the first and critically important challenges that I have encountered upon my election as the Secretary General. At the time, there were two separate formats of reports, with different sequencing. Above all, very deep disagreements, particularly between the two most concerned member states, provoked a prolonged deadlock which was not productive for what
I have seen at the time, and continue to see today, as the main objective of our involvement, namely concrete and measurable assistance to the population affected by the conflict, in the areas which fall under the mandate of the Council of Europe.
This is why it was my clear priority to overcome the deadlock and find the broadest possible support for a new, consolidated format of the reporting, which would build on the work of all parts of the Council of Europe, and in particular the Commissioner for Human Rights, with strong emphasis on new, operational activities in the areas affected by the conflict, on both sides of the administrative boundary line (ABL).
The result are the new, consolidated reports on the conflict in Georgia, prepared every six months, with the third one published on 1 April.
The objective of the report is to take stock of the situation in Georgia following the August 2008 conflict, to report on the related activities of the Council of Europe and to propose further Council of Europe action. It is composed of four parts: assessment of statutory obligations and commitments related to the conflict and its consequences; human rights situation in the areas affected by the conflict; current Council of Europe conflict-related activities and their follow-up and proposals for future action.
The new format, while not enjoying from full unanimity on all its aspects, nevertheless allowed us to make significant progress with regard to the key ambition of carrying out concrete operational activities in the areas affected by the conflict.
The first project - the training of journalists from the Abkhazia and other parts of Georgia on standards and principles of balanced coverage of politically sensitive events - took place in Istanbul on 15-19 November 2010 with the participation of 22 journalists representing various public and privately owned media outlets (TV, radio and print media). The Secretariat was informed that regular contacts between the participants have been established and joint initiatives launched as a follow-up of the seminar. A follow-up event to discuss concrete issues and coverage of events related to the conflict in Georgia on both sides of the Enguri River is scheduled to take place in early summer 2011.
The second initiative, aiming at providing civil society groups and selected Abkhaz educational institutions with Council of Europe publications on various human rights issues, is underway: the list of publications has been drawn up and the translation of some of the main documents into the Abkhaz language has been agreed and is being arranged.
All projects are implemented in close co-operation and consultation with other international organisations (in particular the EU, the OSCE and the UN) and other relevant international actors.
The Secretariat visited Georgia in mid-February to discuss the modalities for the implementation of the three projects suggested by the Georgian authorities with the responsible parties. During these discussions, it was also agreed that new proposals aiming at enhancing people-to-people contacts, especially among specific professional groups, are expected to be presented shortly. The project on the “use of new technologies to enhance intercultural communication skills” for relevant target groups, has been discussed with a view to its implementation in late summer 2011. The exact topic and programme are at present being defined with the Georgian authorities.
The reporting is a process and will continue. I will examine all options which could help to extend projects to South Ossetian groups and individuals. Above all, I am determined to continue to work very closely with all parties involved in order to overcome the persisting disagreements and pave the way for an expanded involvement of the Council of Europe in the areas within our mandate.
4. Co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union
For the Council of Europe, the EU is a key partner for the achievement of its aims, both at headquarters and in the field. It is for this reason that we launched a reform of the Organisation aimed at enhancing its political relevance and impact in European affairs, inter alia, through a reinforced partnership with the EU, building on the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding between the two Organisations. This reform process will enable the Council of Europe fully to play a crucial role, in particular by ensuring democratic -”soft”/”deep”- security at pan-European level and by remaining “the benchmark for Human Rights, the Rule of Law and Democracy in Europe”. Below is an overview of achievements and potential for further synergies.
Since my election, I have been able to establish a higher degree of co-operation between the Council of Europe and the EU, resulting in regular policy co-ordination and consultation with EU leaders on topical issues and concerns, such as Roma, pan-European challenges to society, the situation in South Eastern Europe and in the Southern Mediterranean. These high-level consultations have set a framework for much-intensified concertation and collaboration at technical level.
Negotiations on the accession of the EU to the ECHR were launched in July last year, paving the way for an event of historic significance. This process also confirms the ECHR and its “custodian” - the Council of Europe - as the European reference of human rights standards. Accession will also significantly change the nature of Council of Europe-EU relations since it will ultimately lead to EU integration into the Council of Europe pan-European human rights system. The negotiations so far have been marked by a very promising spirit of mutual understanding and constructive outlook, and should, hopefully, soon be brought to a successful conclusion. I would like to stress that although the political decision on the start of an accession process has already been taken and ratified by the EU and by the Council of Europe member states – through the Lisbon Treaty and Protocol 14 to the ECHR - there will nonetheless be a need for the active support of our governments to finalise an agreement on an accession treaty and ensure the necessary ratification process of the Treaty itself.
In addition, we are developing substantial co-operation to address common challenges to society such as international terrorism, corruption, trafficking in human beings, etc. We will be successful only by ensuring not only “coherence of EU law and Council of Europe standards” but also coherence in the evaluation/monitoring of their implementation by our respective member states, building on our respective acquis. In this way, step-by-step, we are creating a common legal space in Europe.
In the context of the EU Eastern Partnership, in December last year, Commissioner Füle and I concluded a € 4 million “Facility” for the Council of Europe to implement multilateral activities with all the partner countries. I have also established regular contacts with Catherine Ashton and senior officials of the new European External Action Service (EEAS).
New impetus to inter-institutional relations has also resulted from enhanced contacts between the Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament and through joint initiatives and statements on major topical events and occurrences.
Joint Programmes between the Council of Europe and the European Commission remain a unique tool to promote and protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Decentralisation of the implementation and management of activities in the field ought also to confirm the Organisation’s relevance as a partner for joint co-operation activities with the EU. Reinforcement of the Council of Europe Liaison Office in Brussels and the opening of the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg also help to consolidate and strengthen co-ordination and partnership.
Together with EU leaders, we have now laid the foundations of a reinforced partnership between “the 47” and “the 27”, building on the EU Lisbon Treaty and the Council of Europe reform process. We have established top-level consultations and regular policy co-ordination. We have also expressed our strong commitment to an early accession of the EU to the ECHR. The journey to ratification may not yet be over, but this historic process is on good track and paves the way for further institutional rapprochement.
5. Proposal for a partnership between the Conference of Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government and the Committee of Ministers
A draft resolution under consideration aims at ensuring that Conferences of Specialised Ministers fully respond to the Organisation’s priorities and continue to give impetus to its work. The draft resolution provides for further involvement of the Committee of Ministers in the preparation and follow-up of the conferences in order to ensure greater coherence and better ownership, from a budgetary and substantive point of view, with regard to the priorities of the Organisation.
In parallel, there has been a proposal by the Finnish government to establish a partnership between the Committee of Ministers and the Conference of Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government.
The proposal contains some aspects that go beyond the solutions envisaged in the draft resolution. It foresees that the Conference would have decision-making powers concerning the substance and would get a budgetary envelope from the Committee of Ministers.
In my view, and without offering any specific or definitive opinion on the proposal,
I consider that it raises some issues of principle, in particular the introduction of two separate formats for Ministerial conferences, and should therefore be considered in the context of the ongoing discussion on the new draft resolution.
6. The Interlaken/Izmir process on the reform of the European Court of Human Rights
It is of fundamental importance to address the challenges facing the European Court of Human Rights.
· At the end of March 2011, there were 149,100 applications pending before the Court; figures for 2010 show that although the Court’s output increased by 16% as compared to the previous year, the number of pending applications has increased by 17%;
· 9 out of 10 of these applications will be declared inadmissible;
· Most of the judgments in which the Court found a violation are what we call clone or repetitive cases: they should not have been necessary because they relate to problems for which the Court had already indicated solutions.
The High-Level Conference on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights, held in Interlaken in February 2010 under the Swiss Chairmanship, adopted a Declaration and an Action Plan setting out measures to secure the long-term effectiveness of the supervisory mechanism of the European Convention on Human Rights in view of its increasing workload.
A number of measures have been implemented by the Committee of Ministers as well as the Court since the Interlaken Conference, which are described in document CM(2011)57 final prepared for this Session.
For my part, in response to the appeal made in the Interlaken Declaration,
I presented some preliminary proposals on means of ensuring that comprehensive and objective information is provided to applicants to the European Court of Human Rights, in particular on the application procedures and admissibility criteria, via inter alia national human rights institutions in member States.
I have also given particular attention to ways of making the Court’s daily functioning more efficient by increasing its administrative autonomy, as requested in the Interlaken Action Plan. The necessary regulatory changes are now under preparation and will be submitted to the Ministers’ Deputies before the summer.
One avenue which should deserve particular consideration in the coming period should be the establishment of a new procedure or mechanism for filtering by the Court, one that goes beyond the single judge procedure and that does not need in the short term any amendment to the Convention.
The recently held Izmir Conference, organised by the Turkish Chairmanship (26-27 April 2011), built on the Interlaken Declaration and helped to keep with the political momentum of the reform of the Court. The Izmir Declaration and Follow-up Plan took stock of the progress achieved so far and gave new impetus to the process.
Ensuring the swift and effective implementation of the Interlaken and Izmir Declaration is vital for securing the long-term viability of the Convention system and, through it, the continued protection of human rights in Europe. This will be only achieved through the commitment of all stakeholders, including State Parties to the Convention, which have an essential role to play to guarantee the application of the Convention at national level.
7. The Group of Eminent Persons on “Living Together – Combining Diversity and Freedom in the 21st Century”
Today, many of our citizens feel that our societies are under threat from the multitude of social, political, cultural, religious and other tensions which foment mistrust and fear.
We must continue to build a culture of living together as a basis for concrete political action. After the Second World War the Council of Europe brought together democracies in the western part of Europe. Today we have to pave the way for pan-European action and build unity on the entire continent.
The Council of Europe has of course a pivotal role to play in this. Our mandate is to safeguard the moral and legal ground for European unity, not only between states, but more importantly between peoples, cultures and religions. Our task is to see to it that Europe is not a fertile ground for extremism, but a fertile ground for political action on a pan-European level.
Equal rights for all are the most fundamental principles at the heart of the European project. It guarantees unity based on shared values within our societies. This must be our point of departure. And this is why I have, together with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu, asked a Group of Eminent Persons, chaired by former German Foreign Minister Fischer, to prepare a report on the challenges arising from the resurgence of intolerance and discrimination in Europe.
8. A proposal for a neighbourhood policy of the Council of Europe
While the mandate of the Council of Europe is, and will remain, geographically focused on Europe, many of its priority activities, including most of its key recent conventions, aim to extend co-operation also beyond the borders of our continent.
Moreover, many of the core issues under the Council of Europe mandate are being influenced by developments outside Europe, and notably in our immediate neighbourhood, in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and in Central Asia.
This is why I included, late last year, the development of a neighbourhood policy as one of my proposals for the main priorities of this Organisation.
The recent and continuous developments in the neighbouring regions are adding urgency to our reflection, and offer a unique historic opportunity for the people of the region to transform their current political systems into genuine democracies.
These developments are reinforcing the need for a review of our existing relations and policies with our neighbours, and for the definition of clear strategic priorities about the way these relations should develop in the future.
We should bear in mind the fact that the political changes which are taking place in several countries in the region are home-grown and spontaneous. This is a very important element of legitimacy and lasting popular support. Our relations with the countries concerned and our action should be perceived and accepted as genuine co-operation and assistance, not interference. While much of the experience in the post-1989 democratic transition in Europe is relevant and can be offered in the form of assistance, the fact that we are not in the logic of membership must be taken into account as it has significant implications on the process, the form and the substance of future relations.
Close co-operation and co-ordination with other international partners will be an imperative. The Council of Europe will focus on areas in which it has a clear and unparalleled added value.
As regards the substance, I offered the following considerations:
First of all, the strategy must be realistic. We must determine what we want to do against the background of what we can do. There are financial, but also other limitations.
Secondly, the strategy must be focused and relevant. We will not be able to do everything and we should therefore concentrate on areas in which we have a clear added value.
Thirdly, our co-operation must be wanted. By this I mean that our contribution must respond to the existence of clearly-expressed interest and concrete commitments from the beneficiary countries.
And fourthly, our strategy must be both flexible and coherent. Flexible because the situation in the Mediterranean basin is substantially different from the situation in Central Asia, but also because there are very significant differences within the two regions. It must be coherent in terms of our values and standards.
Finally, interaction with countries outside our family, should never be at the cost of compromising our common values.
On April 19 this year, I presented an outline of a comprehensive Council of Europe Neighbourhood Policy, building upon the above mentioned considerations.
I suggested the following three objectives of such a strategy:
· to facilitate democratic political transition (constitutional process, electoral legislation, organisation and observation of elections);
· to help to promote good governance in the countries in the Council of Europe neighbourhood, on the basis of the relevant Council of Europe standards, mechanisms and instruments (independence and functioning of the judiciary, fight against corruption, money laundering, etc.);
· to reinforce and enlarge the Council of Europe regional action in combating trans-border and global threats such as trafficking in human beings, cybercrime, organised crime, terrorism, etc.
The proposal also contained concrete modalities and instruments of co-operation, benchmarks and a possible framework for co-operation.
Over the last months more than 23,000 people have fled from Northern Africa, most of them crossing from Tunisia to the island of Lampedusa, in Italy.
I am worried that the situation may evolve into a migration crisis, whose victims will be, first of all, the fundamental rights of the individuals concerned. Europe as a whole should offer a responsible, human rights compatible and co-ordinated response.
It is clear that there are many human rights challenges in the field of migration and that these challenges are becoming more pressing and more difficult to address. We must therefore make sure that our activities are coherent, co-ordinated and visible in order to achieve a better impact. This requires a transversal and integrated approach which goes beyond a mere mechanism of information exchange between institutions and within the secretariat.
The Council of Europe can assist, by providing expert legal analysis to advise member states reviewing their procedures and practices relating to asylum and return, and in regard to training to officials involved. This activity will be
co-ordinated with UNHCR and the EU.
As I see it, we will need to focus on three major areas:
· Integration of Migrants,
· Human Rights dimension of Asylum and Irregular Migration, and
· Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
I also suggest that the Organisation’s work on migration should shift focus from developing new standards, to promoting more effective and responsible use of the standards we already have. This means that emphasis should be put on co-operation activities and that the gap between monitoring findings and co-operation activities should be bridged.
The Council of Europe’s Bank (CEB) has also indicated its willingness to support, in an appropriate form, well-targeted and clearly-defined activities of the Council of Europe in the field of migration.
The Secretariat shall conduct regular consultations with the European Commission on projects implementing the Stockholm Action Plan. Such regular consultations and exchanges have proven efficient in other areas in the recent past (for example, procedural rights of persons accused, trafficking in human beings). I am confident that similar consultation processes will be equally encouraging and conclusive.
The Council of Europe’s work on migration involves almost all its institutions and all its MAEs. The co-ordination of the activities could be facilitated by a Co-ordination Unit which will be responsible for implementing transversal migration-related projects, informing and supporting relevant activities of the various Council of Europe sectors and ensuring external visibility of Council of Europe’s work in this field. The same unit could also ensure effective co-ordination and co-operation with such partners as the EU (especially in the framework of Stockholm Programme), UNHCR, OSCE, CEB, national authorities including National Human Rights Structures, as well as with civil society.