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CM/Inf(2012)32 6 November 2012



Priorities of the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
(9 November 2012 – 16 May 2013)



First Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

INTRODUCTION

The Preamble to the Statute of the Council of Europe states that:

    ñ the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage (…) [are] the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy;

Chapter I, Article 1, of the Statute further provides that the aim of the Council of Europe:

    ñ shall be pursued (…) by discussion of questions of common concern and by agreements and common action in economic, social, cultural, scientific, legal and administrative matters and in the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

These same principles are reiterated in the preamble to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, hereinafter “the Convention” and, since then, many declarations, conventions, recommendations, agreements and documents of all kinds have reasserted both the founding principles and the common desire to safeguard and develop them.

When the Principality of Andorra joined the Council of Europe on 10 November 1994 as its 33rd member state, it undertook to pursue these goals.

Practically 18 years to the day later, Andorra now has the honour of taking over the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.

We feel great respect and an acute sense of responsibility here and will do our utmost to measure up to the task before us.

Almost three generations separate today from 5 May 1949.

Living conditions then and now have little in common. The same is true of historic events.

Yet the reasons behind the establishment of the Council of Europe have not changed and, unfortunately, are still relevant today.

That is why, on taking over the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, Andorra feels that it is vital to return to the remit set out in the founding texts, in particular: safeguarding and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Andorran Chairmanship will continue the endeavours of the previous Chairmanships. One more link in a chain of which we all form a part. And it is in that spirit that, together with the Armenian and Austrian Chairmanships, we considered it made sense to broadly identify some common priorities, so as to better ensure this continuity in our work.

COMMON PRIORITIES OF THE ANDORRAN, ARMENIAN AND AUSTRIAN CHAIRMANSHIPS

The core mission of the Council of Europe is to preserve and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law. During their successive Chairmanships of the Committee of Ministers, Andorra, Armenia and Austria will endeavour to move the reflection process forward and to conduct concrete initiatives along these lines. They will pursue the task of promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law through concrete measures, while at the same time safeguarding the continuity and outcome of the processes already begun.

Since the Council of Europe reform is still under way, the three Chairmanships will support the efforts to create a more effective and relevant organisation and to build on the changes introduced.

A. Human rights

The decisions set out in the declarations and action plans adopted at the Interlaken, Izmir and Brighton conferences are designed to ensure the long-term effectiveness of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while recognising the fundamental achievements of the European Court of Human Rights and respecting its primary role in the Convention system. Andorra, Armenia and Austria will thus seek to implement the follow-up to these conferences and to conclude the negotiations on the EU’s accession to the Convention.

Aware of the need for additional efforts to safeguard human rights throughout Europe, they attach great importance to various current projects, such as those relating to new media, and in particular to translating them into practical initiatives. In this context, Andorra, Armenia and Austria note that achievements such as the Convention and the Council of Europe’s current activities lack visibility within our societies. They have therefore agreed to seek to bring this institution closer to citizens and propose, during their Chairmanships, to take measures to remedy this situation through transparent information, rigorous training and education in human rights, so that the Council of Europe’s core values can become part of everyone’s everyday culture.

B. Democracy

During their successive Chairmanships of the Committee of Ministers, Andorra, Armenia and Austria undertake to focus their efforts on education for democratic citizenship. In a society that has become, and is set to remain, diversified, promoting tolerance and non-discrimination, alongside the ability to integrate, are crucial tasks for the Council of Europe.

Andorra, Armenia and Austria are convinced that education and training can and must contribute to such a policy mission by providing the necessary means to acquire the common cultural elements needed for living together, in harmony, in multicultural, democratic societies, with due regard for human rights and the rule of law.

Recognising the considerable importance of local and regional authorities in this context, the three Chairmanships have decided to make promoting local and regional democracy a priority.

C. Rule of law

Andorra, Armenia and Austria are aware that a number of challenges are currently emerging which threaten to undermine our societies and the very foundations of the rule of law. In this context, they attach particular importance to the Council of Europe’s work aimed at promoting democracy through law and ensuring the efficiency of justice, and at combating corruption and trafficking in human beings. During their Chairmanships, they will work together to ensure effective implementation of Council of Europe instruments and policies capable of helping the various states to address these modern-day challenges.

ANDORRAN PRIORITIES

As it takes over the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, Andorra is eager both to follow on from previous Chairmanships and, as it were, to clear the way for its successors, in a desire to live and work together in harmony. In order to do this, we propose:

a) to deal with the Committee of Ministers’ routine business in close co-operation with the Secretary General and any other relevant bodies;

b) to follow up the decisions already taken by the Committee of Ministers but which have not yet been completely implemented: the follow-up to the Interlaken, Izmir and Brighton conferences has not yet been completed; the EU’s accession to the Convention is another on-going project. The inclusion on the agenda of recommendations where follow-up is required, and the action to be taken on the various proposals of the Secretary General approved by the CM and which are being considered by various Rapporteur Groups will all merit attention;

c) to launch a medium- to long-term reflection process on the development of a strategy capable of implementing mechanisms and, where appropriate, instruments to help states parties in their task of safeguarding and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms. To do this, we will draw firstly on a campaign to promote the Convention and secondly on education for democratic citizenship and human rights and intercultural dialogue.

Education in human rights, democracy and the rule of law, in other words, teaching the values that we in the Council of Europe all hold dear, that is our top priority. We propose to accomplish this through various activities relating to:

    · education for democratic citizenship and human rights,
    · promoting the Convention,
    · youth.

A - Education for democratic citizenship and human rights

As already stated in the Committee of Ministers debate last June, we propose to launch a process of reflection on education as a necessary means of creating the common cultural elements needed for living together in harmony in multicultural, democratic societies, where human rights and the rule of law are respected. To do this, we intend to draw on the competences and indicators already identified and used in modern language teaching.

Three conferences related to education will be held during the six months of the Andorran Chairmanship:

- “Human Rights and Democracy in Action – Looking Ahead. The impact of the European Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights” (29-30 November 2012 in Strasbourg). This event will provide an opportunity to take stock of the achievements to date, give real substance to the articles of the Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights and plan future co-operation and possible strategies.

- “Competences for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue: a political challenge and values” (7-8 February 2013 in Andorra-La-Vella). This conference will provide an opportunity to discuss the aims of education and the role it can play in teaching future citizens to live in a democratic and sustainable society. It will focus more specifically on education for democratic citizenship and human rights as well as the other competences required for intercultural dialogue.

- “Governance and quality education” (24th Conference of Ministers responsible for Education, 26-27 April 2013 in Helsinki). We are pleased that this conference is taking place during our Chairmanship. The theme is closely related to our priorities so hopefully this ministerial conference will give us an opportunity to present the outcomes of the other two events and to endorse them, where appropriate.

B –Promoting the Convention

Publicising the Convention is clearly a goal that is shared by all. It is our intention to promote the reading of the Convention among the general public. To do this, we will employ social networks via new technologies and draw on the motivation and activism of existing groups (clubs, associations, schools, youth centres, etc.), while at the same enlisting the help of all kinds of public figures willing to set an example and using them as a springboard.

C – Youth

The values on which the Council of Europe is based are not something innate but rather a form of competence or a culture with which people must be imbued. We therefore consider that initiatives aimed at young people are of paramount importance. Two concrete initiatives to this effect will be conducted in the Principality of Andorra, in close partnership with the Congress, between 15 and 21 April 2013:

Gathering of Youth Peace Ambassadors

Andorra is keen to be involved in one of the Council of Europe’s pioneering projects by hosting a gathering of Youth Peace Ambassadors. This programme is based on the principles of non-formal education and aims to provide training in the Council of Europe’s values and peace to youngsters from conflict-affected areas.

Training seminar on mediation for young Andorrans

This seminar will enable young Andorrans to meet participants in the “Youth Peace Ambassadors” programme. The aim is to raise awareness among key actors in Andorra’s youth sector with regard to the Council of Europe’s activities and to foster co-operation between them.

During the preparations for the Chairmanship, Andorra has already organised three activities, including two in collaboration with the Council of Europe: Summer University, from 27 to 31 August, on the theme Traces of Europe around the world, and an awareness campaign of the work and activities of the Council of Europe to the general public thanks to the Stand at the Fira d'Andorra la Vella, from 26 to 28 October 2012. We also wish to acknowledge the work done in workshops in schools to prepare the exhibition Human Rights in schools: the example of four educational projects.

Other activities will be conducted throughout the Andorran Chairmanship. Below are some examples of those already agreed.

Activity

Date and place

Education in environmental protection.

Presentation of the Guide to landscaping Andorra’s downhill ski resorts

    13 November 2012, Andorra-La-Vella

Janusz Korczak seminar, Purpose, practice and prospects,

organised by Poland, under the aegis of the Andorran Chairmanship

28 November 2012

Strasbourg

Seminar: “European Social Charter: states’ margin of appreciation” organised by the ECSR in partnership with the Institut des Droits de l’Homme René Cassin, under the aegis of the Andorran Chairmanship

6 December 2012

Strasbourg

Conference Making diversity work as part of the Intercultural Cities programme, under the aegis of the Irish Presidency of the EU and the Andorran Chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers

6-8 February 2013,
Dublin

Workshop designed to introduce more effective co-operation in the Council of Europe’s Partial Agreement on Youth Mobility through the Youth Card

February/March 2013
Andorra, Budapest or Strasbourg

Expert seminar on sport in prisons and on reintegrating prisoners into society

5 March 2013, Strasbourg



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