Council of Europe

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File:Council of Europe.jpg
The Palace of Europe in Strasbourg

The Council of Europe is an international organisation of 46 member states in the European region. Membership is open to all European states which accept the principle of the rule of law and guarantee fundamental human rights and freedoms to their citizens.

One of the main successes of the Council was the European Convention on Human Rights in 1950, which serves as the basis for the European Court of Human Rights.

The seat of the Council of Europe is in Strasbourg on the Franco-German border. Originally meeting in Strasbourg's University Palace, it is now domiciled in the Palace of Europe on the outskirts of the city centre.

The Council of Europe is not to be confused with the Council of the European Union or the European Council, as it is a separate organisation and not part of the European Union.

Founding

The Council of Europe was founded following a speech given by Winston Churchill at the University of Zurich on 19 September, 1946 (text of speech) calling for a "United States of Europe", similar to the United States of America, in the wake of the events of World War II.

The Council was officially founded on 5 May, 1949 by the Treaty of London when the ten original members signed the statute of Westminster. This treaty is now known as the Statute of the Council of Europe.

Aims

Article 1(a) of the Statute states:

The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress.

The Council concentrates on the following areas:

Institutions

The institutions of the Council of Europe are:

There's also the European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission.

Symbols

Main article: European symbols

The Council of Europe is responsible for the notable European flag with 12 golden stars (upward pointing) arranged in a circle on a blue background since 1955, and the anthem based on the Ode to Joy in the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's ninth symphony since 1972. In 1964, it established the anniversary of its founding on 5 May 1949 as Europe Day. (Europe Day has since been moved to May 9. See European Symbols.)

To avoid confusion with the European Union, which uses the same flag, the Council often uses a modified version with a stylised lower-case 'e' in the centre of the stars which is referred to as the 'Council of Europe Logo' [1].

Membership

File:Council of Europe map.png
Council of Europe membership

Dark green: ten original members
Light green: joined subsequently
Yellow: observer at the Parliamentary Assembly
Orange: observer at the Committee of Ministers
Red: official candidate

Today, there are 47 member states, including nearly every European state. Upon foundation on May 5, 1949 there were ten members:

Members with later admission dates (sorted by date of admission) :

The Parliament of Template:BLR held special guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly from September 1992 to January 1997, but this has been suspended as a consequence of the November 1996 constitutional referendum and parliament by-elections which the CoE found to be undemocratic, as well as limits on democratic freedoms such as freedom of expression (cf. Belarusian media) under the authoritarian regime of President Lukashenko. The constitution changed by the referendum "does not respect minimum democratic standards and violates the principles of separation of powers and the rule of law." [2]. Belarus applied for full membership on 12 March 1993 (still open).

Template:KAZ applied for observer status at the Parliamentary Assembly in 1999. The official response of PACE was that Kazakhstan could apply for full membership, because it is partially located in Europe, but that they would not be granted any status whatsoever at CoE until their democracy and human rights records improved.

The Template:VAT has observer status at the Committee of Ministers since 1970.

Some non-European states also have observer status at Council of Europe institutions:

Template:JPN and the Template:USA have observer status at the Committee of Ministers.
Template:ISR has observer status at the Parliamentary Assembly.
Template:CAN and Template:MEX have observer status at both the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly.

See also

External links

bg:Съвет на Европа br:Kuzul Europa cs:Rada Evropy cy:Cyngor Ewrop da:Europarådet de:Europarat el:Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης es:Consejo de Europa eo:Konsilio de Eŭropo fr:Conseil de l'Europe ht:Konsey d Ewòp is:Evrópuráðið it:Consiglio d'Europa lt:Europos taryba hu:Európa Tanács nl:Raad van Europa ja:欧州評議会 no:Europarådet pl:Rada Europy ru:Совет Европы sl:Svet Evrope fi:Euroopan neuvosto sv:Europarådet uk:Рада Європи