The Council of Europe, The European Court of Human Rights
Monaco became a member of the Council of Europe on 5 October 2004.
The Council was set up in 1949, comprises 47 member states and has its headquarters in Strasbourg.
It is completely different from the European Union, since its activities are based on the three pillars of human rights, rule of law and democracy.
The best known of the Council’s institutions is the European Court of Human Rights, which ensures that member states comply with the provisions of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the organisation’s reference text. Every litigant has the right, having exhausted all avenues of recourse in their own country, to appeal to the Court to address an infringement of the above-mentioned Convention by one of the member states.
The Court is made up of 47 judges, one per member state, who are elected for a non-renewable term of nine years.
In accordance with article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the judgements handed down by the Court must be enforced by the states, which undertake to comply with the final judgements.
The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers is responsible for monitoring to ensure that decisions are properly implemented.
The executive body of the Council of Europe is the Committee of Ministers, which comprises the ministers of foreign affairs of all member states and observers, and their permanent representatives to the organisation.
The Committee takes strategic decisions relating to the operation of the Council, and also determines its priorities and adopts decisions, resolutions and recommendations regarding its areas of competence.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is one of the Council’s consultative bodies. It comprises 324 members and the same number of substitutes, who represent their national parliaments. Monaco has two members and two substitute members of PACE.
The Assembly elects the Council of Europe’s Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, the PACE Secretary General, the Commissioner for Human Rights and the judges at the European Court of Human Rights
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is the Council of Europe’s other consultative body. It is a pan-European political assembly made up of 648 members who hold elective office – regional and municipal councillors, mayors and presidents of regional authorities from the 47 member states. Monaco has two members and two substitute members of the Congress, who are drawn from the Council of the Commune.
The role of the Congress is to promote regional democracy, improve local and regional governance and strengthen authorities’ self-governance. In particular, the Congress of the Council of Europe ensures the application of the principles contained in the European Charter of Local Self-Government, to which all member states have signed up. It encourages decentralisation and regionalisation, as well as cross-border cooperation between cities and regions.
An independent authority charged with defending human rights was established in 1999: the Commissioner for Human Rights. The Commissioner is elected for a non-renewable term of six years. The Commissioner conducts monitoring within member states by making country visits, following which he issues recommendations to the relevant governments on improving their legislation or practices.
The Commissioner can also issue opinions on specific points and publish thematic reports.
Since 1949, the Council of Europe has adopted more than 200 agreements on human rights, rule of law and democracy. Monaco has signed five and ratified 46 of these. Since 2000, recent agreements have mostly focused on monitoring mechanisms to check the implementation of the legal instrument by States Parties, and on issuing recommendations.