The Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights
The Council of Europe
Monaco became a member of the Council of Europe on 5 October 2004, becoming the organisation’s 46th member state. Set up in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II, the Council of Europe today has 47 member states and is headquartered in Strasbourg. It is the oldest and the leading human rights organisation in Europe.
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. All member states are parties to the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights, the organisation’s reference text.
The European Court of Human Rights
The Council of Europe’s best known body, the European Court of Human Rights, is the permanent judicial body which guarantees for all Europeans the rights set out in the Convention. It enables each of Europe’s 830 million citizens to bring a case against one of the 47 signatory states for violating their human rights, after all possible means of recourse in their own country have been exhausted.
The Court is made up of 47 judges, one per member state, who are elected for a non-renewable term of nine years. The current Monegasque judge is Ms Stéphanie Mourou-Vikström, who was elected in 2015.
The Committee of Ministers
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.
Mr Gilles Tonelli, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, has been a member of the Committee of Ministers since 2015, and H.E. Mr Rémi Mortier has sat on the Committee of Ministers’ Deputies since that same year.
The Committee takes strategic decisions relating to the operation of the Council. It determines the organisation’s policy and approves its budget and programme of activities through decisions, resolutions and recommendations.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), a statutory body of the organisation, is the "democratic conscience of Greater Europe". A pan-European discussion forum, it comprises 324 members and the same number of substitutes, who represent the national Parliaments of the 47 member States.
Monaco has two members and two substitute members of PACE. The current delegation is led by Mr José Badia.
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
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 full two members, including the Mayor, Mr Georges Marsan, and two substitute members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, who are drawn from the Council of the Commune.
The role of this body 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.
The Commissioner for Human Rights
This independent authority charged with defending human rights was established in 1999. 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.
The activities of the Council of Europe
Since 1949, the Council of Europe has adopted more than 200 agreements on human rights, rule of law and democracy. Monaco has signed three and ratified 52 of these. (Further details details can be found on the Council of Europe website ).
Among the Council of Europe’s main achievements, it is worth highlighting its contribution to abolishing the death penalty, which is now a prerequisite for membership of the organisation. No executions have taken place in any of the 47 member states since 1997.
In addition to its political commitment, the Prince’s Government supports the Council of Europe’s activities through a voluntary contribution formalised in a biennial agreement (2018–2019) totalling at least EUR 240,000. The types of activity supported include safeguarding refugee and migrant children in Europe, tackling violence against women and children in the Southern Mediterranean region, combatting cybercrime, strengthening the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights, Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and protecting Europe’s natural heritage.
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