The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members...» Article 1 - Statute of the Council of Europe
Origins and mission
Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.
The Council of Europe has a genuine pan-European dimension:
- 47 member countries
- 1 applicant country: Belarus; Belarus ’ special guest status has been suspended due to its lack of respect for human rights and democratic principles.
5 observer countries: the Holy See, the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico.
- to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;
- to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity
- to find common solutions to the challenges facing European society: such as discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, bioethics and cloning, terrorism, trafficking in human beings, organised crime and corruption, cybercrime, violence against children;
- to consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform.
The current Council of Europe’s political mandate was defined by the third Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Warsaw in May 2005.
How it works
The main component parts of the Council of Europe are:
- the Committee of Ministers, the Organisation’s decision-making body, composed of the 47 Foreign Ministers or their Strasbourg-based deputies (ambassadors/permanent representatives);
- the Parliamentary Assembly, driving force for European co-operation, grouping 636 members (318 representatives and 318 substitutes) from the 47 national parliaments:
- the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the voice of Europe’s regions and municipalities, composed of a Chamber of Local Authorities and a Chamber of Regions;
- the 1800-strong secretariat recruited from member states, headed by a Secretary General, elected by the Parliamentary Assembly.
English and French are the Council of Europe’s two official languages. German, Italian and Russian are also working languages. Various documents published on this site exist in other European languages.