Ministers’ Deputies

CM Documents

CM/AS(2013)3 19 April 2013



Communication on the activities of the Committee of Ministers

Report by the Chair of the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly
(January – April 2013)



Table of Content

Introduction
1. Human rights
a. European Convention on Human Rights
b. Execution of judgments
c. Other questions concerning human rights
2. Rule of law and judicial co-operation
3. Social cohesion
4. Education, culture, youth and sport
5. Specific co-operation
6. Organisational development and reform, programme and budget
7. Co-operation with the European Union and the OSCE and external relations

Introduction

1. This is the last report of the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly. The Andorran Chairmanship will end on 16 May 2013, at the 123rd Session of the Committee of Ministers, which will have for its main theme “Democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe: strengthening the impact of the Council of Europe’s activities”. The Andorran Chairmanship wishes to take this opportunity to thank the Parliamentary Assembly for its support.

1. Human rights

a. European Convention on Human Rights

2. In the context of the follow-up to the Brighton Declaration, the Committee of Ministers decided in January to transmit to the Parliamentary Assembly and to the European Court of Human Rights (the Court), for opinion, the text of draft Protocol No. 15 amending the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as adopted by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH). The Court’s opinion was received on 7 February 2013 and forwarded to the Parliamentary Assembly for information.

3. In January, the Committee of Ministers took note with appreciation of the CDDH’s report on measures taken by the member States to implement the relevant parts of the Interlaken and Izmir Declarations. It endorsed the recommendations contained therein and invited member States to consider acting on those addressed to them. The Committee of Ministers further invited the CDDH to take account of the report and the recommendations contained therein when preparing its proposals for work regarding possible follow-up in the 2014-2015 biennium. In this respect, the Committee of Ministers agreed to take account of the recommendations for its attention when determining the Council of Europe Programme and Budget for the next biennium.

4. At the same meeting, the Committee of Ministers took note of a CDDH report containing elements to contribute to the evaluation of the effects of Protocol No. 14 and the implementation of the Interlaken and Izmir Declarations on the Court’s situation and invited the CDDH to continue to follow up this question with a view to providing another report by15 March 2015.

5. Following its discussions on measures for improving the supervision of execution of the judgments and decisions of the Court, the Committee of Ministers decided that in future it would make public the list of cases proposed for examination in the draft Order of Business of its Human Rights (DH) meetings and present in a more visible manner positive results achieved in the execution of the judgments and decisions. It was also agreed to discuss these matters further on the basis of proposals to be made by the Ad hoc Working Party on reform of the Human Rights Convention system (GT-REF.ECHR).

6. At the end of January, the Committee of Ministers held an exchange of views with Mr Luzius Wildhaber, Chair of the Advisory Panel of Experts on Candidates for Election as Judge to the European Court of Human Rights. The Committee of Ministers and Mr Wildhaber took stock of the Panel’s work and its impact. It was recalled that the Committee of Ministers would make a more detailed assessment of the functioning of the Panel at the beginning of 2014, three years after it became operational.

7. Mid-February, the Committee of Ministers held an exchange of views with Mr Dean Spielmann, President of the European Court of Human Rights, with particular reference to the implementation of the Brighton Declaration.

8. In the framework of the follow-up to the Brighton Declaration, the Committee of Ministers transmitted the text of draft Protocol No. 16 to the European Convention on Human Rights, to the Parliamentary Assembly for opinion in April. The Committee also transmitted the above-mentioned document to the Court for an opinion and noted that the Secretariat would transmit the opinion of the Court to the Parliamentary Assembly for examination before the adoption of the Assembly’s own opinion.

9. Moreover, the Committee of Ministers adopted a reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 2007 (2013) on “Ensuring the viability of the Strasbourg Court: structural deficiencies in States Parties”.

10. We welcome the outcome of the negotiations at the technical level preparing for the accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights. Indeed, in early April, at the 5th negotiation meeting between the ad hoc negotiation group of the Steering Committee for Human Rights and the European Commission, the two parties reached an agreement on the text of a draft Accession Agreement.

11. Finally, within the framework of its chairmanship of the Council of Europe, Andorra has launched a campaign to promote the European Convention on Human Rights. This campaign will aim to mobilise civil society and, in particular, youth to increase awareness of human rights protection, in accordance with the main theme of the chairmanship, namely the promotion of human rights and democracy through education. To this end, the Andorran Chairmanship has launched the initiative “Nurturing human rights” on the Council of Europe website (http://human-rights-convention.org/nurturing-human-rights).

b. Execution of judgments

12. With regard to the supervision of the execution of judgments of the Court, the Ministers' Deputies held their 1164th meeting (DH) in March 2013. On this occasion, they decided to close the examination of 184 cases (decisions and judgments of the Court).

13. The Deputies resumed consideration of the case Sejdić and Finci against Bosnia and Herzegovina. They deplored the fact that the authorities and political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina have not yet achieved consensus to amend the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Deputies strongly encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to take, without delay, all the measures necessary for the full execution of this judgment. They will come back to this case at the end of April.

14. The Deputies resumed consideration of the case A., B. and C. against Ireland. The Deputies noted with satisfaction the decision of the authorities to implement the judgment through legislation and regulations and welcomed the indicative timetable presented. They also reiterated their invitation to the Irish authorities to take all necessary measures, pending the full implementation of the judgment, and in this context they welcomed the intention of the Irish authorities to put in place quickly the Irish Maternal Early Warning System to standardise the treatment of acutely ill pregnant women.

15. The Deputies also continued their discussion on the Garabayev group against the Russian Federation. The Deputies noted that several applications submitted by foreign nationals were currently pending before the Court concerning alleged violations of their rights and the non-compliance with interim measures indicated by the Court in relation to their forcible transfer from the territory of the Russian Federation. In this context, they invited the Russian authorities to clarify the relevance of measures already adopted in similar circumstances to those described in the judgments Iskandarov and Abdulkhakov and reiterated their call for the Russian authorities to adopt, without delay, the necessary measures to put an end to such incidents. Given this continuing situation, the Deputies also invited the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers to address a letter dated 5 April 2013 to his Russian counterpart to share the deep concern of the Committee. They decided to resume consideration of these issues at the latest at their 1179th meeting (September 2013) (DH), but agreed, however, that should a new similar incident be brought to the Committee’s attention, they would return to it at their first meeting following the reporting of such an incident.

16. In the context of their examination of the case of Alekseyev against the Russian Federation, the Deputies reiterated their concerns in view of the developments in the law and practice in the Russian Federation and of the adoption of regional laws in an increasing number of regions prohibiting the “promotion of homosexuality” among minors. The Deputies expressed serious concerns about the ongoing legislative work aimed at introducing at federal level as well, a ban on the prohibition of the “promotion of homosexuality”.

17. Finally, the Deputies examined the case Lutsenko against Ukraine. They took note of the information provided by the Ukrainian Government on the measures already taken and invited them to provide also information on the measures taken and/or envisaged to ensure compliance with Article 18 in conjunction with Article 5, of the Convention. Concerning individual measures, the Deputies asked the Ukrainian authorities to provide rapidly information on the conclusions drawn by the courts and domestic authorities from the judgment of the Court.

c. Other questions concerning human rights

18. In January, the Committee of Ministers adopted replies to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations 1994 (2012) on “An Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights on national minorities” and 1995 (2012) on “The International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance”. In mid-March, the Committee of Ministers adopted a reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1998 (2012) on “The protection of freedom of expression and information on the Internet and online media”.

19. In the framework of the feasibility study on corporate social responsibility in the field of human rights, the Committee of Ministers instructed the CDDH to prepare a declaration of the Committee of Ministers supporting the UN Guiding Principles and to submit it to the Committee of Ministers by 30 June 2014. The Committee of Ministers also instructed the CDDH to prepare – in co-operation with the private sector and civil society – a non-binding instrument, which might include a guide of good practice, addressing gaps in the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles at European level, and to submit it to the Committee of Ministers by 31 December 2015. The Committee of Ministers furthermore recommended widening co-operation with other international organisations and other bodies specialising in the field of corporate social responsibility and human rights.

20. In February, the Committee of Ministers held its annual exchange of views with experts from capitals on the work conducted within the framework of the United Nations on issues relating to human rights. The President of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, Ambassador Remigiusz Achilles Henczel, attended the meeting and introduced the agenda item “Important themes for the Council for Human Rights 2013”.

21. On 4 March, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Mr Gilbert Saboya Sunyé, took part in the side event on “Violence against women: our concern, our response”, held during the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. In his address, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers recalled the importance of the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. The event was organised by the Council of Europe in partnership with the French Permanent Mission, with the participation of the French Minister for Women’s Rights and government spokesperson, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, and the Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations, and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, Lakshmi Puri. For the Council of Europe, Ms Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe and Mr Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly also took part in the event.

22. On 13 March, the Committee of Ministers adopted a declaration on the recent executions in Japan and the United States of America. The Committee of Ministers deplored the executions that had recently taken place in these countries, both Observer States to the Council of Europe. It stated that the executions ran counter to the growing trend against the death penalty at the international level as shown by the latest resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty adopted at the United Nations. The Committee of Ministers reiterated its unequivocal opposition to capital punishment in all places and in all circumstances. It remained determined to continue its efforts towards global abolition and called again on the Japanese and US authorities to put an end to this inhumane practice.

23. Finally, also in March, the Ministers’ Deputies held a thematic debate on “Ways to improve the impact of the Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms”. A large number of delegations spoke during the debate.

2. Rule of law and judicial co-operation

24. At the end of January, the Committee of Ministers took note of Opinion No. 15 (2012) of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) on “The specialisation of judges” and of Opinion No. 7 (2012) of the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE) on “The management of the means of prosecution services”. It decided to forward them to the relevant bodies in the member States and to the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe in order that they may take account of it in their work.

25. At the beginning of February, the Committee of Ministers agreed to the request by the United States of America to join the Enlarged Agreement establishing the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) and invited this country to appoint a member to sit on the Commission.

26. The Committee of Ministers also invited the Kingdom of Morocco to accede to the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (ETS No. 108).

27. In April, the Committee of Ministers held an exchange of views with Mr Vladimir Nechaev, Chair of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) and took note of the Committee’s annual report for 2012.

28. Moreover, the Committee of Ministers took a number of decisions as a follow-up to the Secretary General’s report on the Council of Europe conventions review (documents SG/Inf(2012)12 and SG/Inf(2012)12 add). These decisions related in particular to measures relating to the promotion and management of Council of Europe conventions, on reservations to these conventions and on the participation of non-member States in these conventions.

29. In this connection, the Committee of Ministers also adopted a framework setting up the principle and defining the arrangements for the financial participation of non-member States in Council of Europe conventions. This framework will provide a structured response to the growing number of non-member States applying to accede to one or more Council of Europe conventions.

3. Social cohesion

30. In March, the Committee of Ministers, in its composition restricted to representatives of the States Parties to the Convention on the Elaboration of a European Pharmacopoeia,1 adopted a Resolution on sexual behaviours of blood donors that have an impact on transfusion safety while taking note of the information note relating thereto, prepared by the European Committee on Blood Transfusion (CD-P-TS).

31. The Committee of Ministers also adopted a reply to Assembly Recommendation 2003 (2012) on “Roma migrants in Europe”.

4. Education, culture, youth and sport

32. In the field of education and youth, the Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport,
Youth and Environment (GR-C) held in March an exchange of views with Mrs Seija Astala, Chair of the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) and Mrs Maria Paschou, Chair of the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ). Participants took this opportunity to praise the activities and to explore the prospects for future action of the Council of Europe on youth policy.

33. On 15 and 16 April last, the 10th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Culture was held in Moscow.

34. In February, the chairmanship organised a high-level conference in Andorra La Vella on “Competences for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue: a political challenge and values”. This conference provided the opportunity to reflect on the objectives of education and the role it can play in teaching future citizens to live in culturally diverse, democratic and sustainable societies. It focused in particular on education for democratic citizenship and human rights, and on the other competences which are necessary for intercultural dialogue.

35. Andorra welcomes the holding of the 24th Session of the Council of Europe Standing Conference of Ministers of Education in Helsinki this week on “Governance and quality education” and hopes that the conclusions of the conference will reflect those of the conferences organised by the chairmanship in Andorra and Strasbourg so as to help the Council of Europe define its strategic policy objectives in the education field for its 2014-2015 Programme of Activities.

36. In Dublin in February, the conference entitled “An intercultural cities milestone event: Making diversity work for cities” was held on the initiative of the Council of Europe, with the support of the Irish Presidency of the European Union and the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. This event provided an opportunity to take stock of the successful outcomes of the Intercultural Cities Programme, which offers cities a comprehensive methodology for intercultural integration, based on the concept of the advantages inherent in diversity. It was attended by the Andorran Minister of Culture.

37. On 27 and 28 March 2013, in Andorra La Vella, the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the European Youth Card Association organised a European Seminar on “Developing better youth mobility for young people and for Europe”. The seminar was attended by the Andorran Foreign Minister and Chair of the Committee of Ministers, Mr Gilbert Saboya Sunyé.

38. From 17 to 21 April, the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers organised in Andorra, once again in conjunction with the Congress and Andorran local authorities, a gathering of Young Ambassadors for Peace, which included training in mediation for young Andorrans working with young people. Andorra was keen to be involved in this pioneering project of the Council of Europe, which is based on the principles of non-formal education in order to offer young people from conflict zones peace training and training in the values of the Council of Europe.

39. Furthermore, the Committee of Ministers adopted a reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 2005 (2012) on “The consolidation and international openness of the European Higher Education Area”.

40. The Committee of Ministers has pressed ahead with preparations for the 2013 Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue to be held in Yerevan on 2 and 3 September 2013, under the forthcoming Armenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers The theme this year will be “Freedom of religion in today’s world: challenges and safeguards”.

41. In the field of sport, the Committee of Ministers took note of the progress made in the work of the Standing Committee of the European Convention on Spectator Violence (T-RV).

42. In addition, the Committee of Ministers, in its composition restricted to the representatives of the States members of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS),2 authorised Malta, Spain and Japan to participate in the negotiation of a possible Council of Europe Convention against Manipulation of Sports Results and notably Match-fixing, conducted by EPAS.

43. In March, the chairmanship, in co-operation with the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) and the Council for Penological Co-operation (PC-CP), organised in Strasbourg a meeting of experts on “Overview of sport in European prisons: how the penitentiary rules in relation to sport are implemented in practice”. This brought together European experts from the prison and sporting authorities in preparation for a political conference on sport and prisons to be held in 2014. The Andorran Minister of Justice and the Interior attended this meeting.

44. On 12 April 2013 in Strasbourg, a seminar entitled “Anti-doping education and prevention: luxury or necessity?” was organised under the aegis of the Monitoring Group of the Anti-Doping Convention, as part of the activities of the Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. The purpose of this event was to initiate reflection so as to focus action against doping on information, education and, ultimately, prevention rather than on sanctions alone, and to assess the institutional consequences that this would entail.

45. In the field of the environment, the Council of Europe held in Strasbourg, on 26 and 27 March 2013, the 7th Council of Europe Conference on the European Landscape Convention in the framework of the Andorran Chairmanship. The object of the Conference was to present models of landscape policies in the States Parties and the progress of work in the implementation of the Convention. The Andorran Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers was represented there by Mr Francesc Camp, the Andorran Minister for Tourism and Environment. The event provided an opportunity for Andorra to present its National Landscape Strategy.

5. Specific co-operation

46. At the beginning of February, the Committee of Ministers approved a programme of assistance to support the parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2013 in Albania. This programme, drawn up in co-operation with the Albanian authorities and in consultation with other international players active in this field, such as the OSCE, includes in particular the provision of expert assistance and advice to the Central Electoral Commission and activities to raise the awareness of voters, aimed in particular at first-time voters.

47. Concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Committee of Ministers reviewed in March the state of implementation of the commitments made by Bosnia and Herzegovina on acceding to the Council of Europe. The Committee welcomed the honouring of all the commitments with regard to conventions set out in Opinion No. 234 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly and other positive developments such as the adoption of Laws on State aid and censuses, the progress made in implementing the strategy for reform of the judicial system and the national strategy on war crimes, and the good level of co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). At the same time, the Committee called on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to increase the effectiveness of institutions at all levels (State, entities, local authorities), to put an end to all ethnic segregation issues in schools, to continue and step up measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity and to continue supporting the process designed to ensure that refugees and displaced persons enjoy an effective right of return.

48. Regarding the Republic of Moldova, the Committee of Ministers approved a confidence-building programme on the two banks of the Nistru/Dniestr River for 2013 and 2014. The aim is to develop contacts and exchanges between people living on both sides through activities in such fields as education, human rights training, inter-municipal co-operation, cultural heritage and the media.

49. Finally, at the beginning of February, the Committee of Ministers approved the Council of Europe’s programme of activities in Belarus for the period 2012-2013. These activities cover a wide range of topics relating to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, including human rights education, the promotion of local democracy and capacity-building for civil society.

6. Organisational development and reform, programme and budget

50. On 27 March 2013, the Committee of Ministers decided to introduce a Third Pension Scheme for staff members employed on or after 1 April 2013, in the context of the reform of the Council of Europe’s pension schemes.

51. Moreover, the Committee of Ministers has held informal discussions on the preparation of the Programme and Budget for the next biennium (2014-2015), with a view to providing the Secretary General with information for the preparation of his priorities 2014-2015 and their budgetary implications.

52. In this connection, it should be recalled that the Deputy Secretary General and the Chair of the Rapporteur Group on Programme, Budget and Administration (GR-PBA) participated in an exchange of views with the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional on the budgetary prospects for the financial years 2014-2015 in Paris on 18 March 2013. The Parliamentary Assembly’s rapporteur on this matter, Mr Rudy Salles, will in turn participate in an exchange of views with the GR-PBA at one of its forthcoming meetings.

7. Co-operation with the European Union and the OSCE and external relations

53. As far as co-operation with the European Union is concerned, the Rapporteur Group on External Relations (GR-EXT) of the Ministers’ Deputies examined on 18 April a report taking stock of the development of this co-operation last year. On this occasion, the group held an exchange of views with Mr Stephan Auer, Director for Multilateral Relations and Global Issues at the European External Action Service.

54. On 17 January last at the Council of Europe Liaison Bureau in Brussels, Mr Gilbert Saboya Sunyé, the Andorran Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, presented the priorities of his chairmanship to members of the diplomatic corps based in Brussels, EU representatives and NGOs. In his presentation, the Minister emphasised the importance of developing fruitful co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union.

55. Co-operation with the OSCE has remained on the Committee of Ministers’ agenda over the last few months. The achievements of the outgoing Irish Chairmanship of the OSCE and the priorities of the incoming Ukrainian Chairmanship were accordingly presented in February to the GR-EXT. In addition, the Co-ordination Group between the Council of Europe and the OSCE met in Strasbourg on 5 April 2013 to take stock of co-operation between the two organisations regarding the protection of rights of persons belonging to national minorities and the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination.

56. As regards Council of Europe policy towards neighbouring regions, the question of the possible establishment of a new status for non-member States with which co-operation has developed under this policy has continued to be debated within the Committee of Ministers.

1 States concerned: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Turkey and United Kingdom.

2 Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.



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