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Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe has its seat in Strasbourg and it is the oldest political organisation in Europe. It was established on 5.5.1949 by the Treaty of London. Its aim was “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.” Today, the Council of Europe has 47 member countries. The Holy See, the United States, Japan, Canada, and Mexico have been granted observer status. Israel, Canada and Mexico attend the proceedings of the CoE’s Parliamentary Assembly as observers. The main aim of the Council of Europe is the protection of human rights, parliamentary democracy, and the rule of law in its member states.
To this day, the Council of Europe has drawn up a substantial number of legally binding European Conventions, which form the basis for reforming and harmonizing member-state legislation on a series of issues, such as human rights, combating torture, organised crime, personal information, cultural cooperation, etc.
It has also contributed to drafting policy guidelines on legal, health, educational, cultural, sport, and other issues.
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights – European Court of Human Rights
Indisputably, the most important contribution of the Council of Europe in the field of human rights protection is the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (ECHR), which was adopted in 1950 and entered into force in 1953. The Convention recognises a series of human rights that member states are under an obligation to safeguard on their territory.
The European Court of Human Rights is responsible for enforcing the obligations entered into by Contracting States. It is the first international court for the protection of human rights. Complaints can be brought against Contracting States either by other Contracting States or by individual applicants. The Committee of Ministers is in charge of enforcing the faithful implementation of ECHR judgments by member states.
The ECHR’s seat is in Strasbourg.
Greece and the Council of Europe
Greece actively participates in the institutional procedures, but also on a voluntary basis in the Organisations programmes. Our country attributes particular significance to the Council of Europe’s role, whose main objective is the protection of human rights, of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law as the basis for international peace, democratic stability in Europe and cooperation between its peoples.
Greece attaches particular importance on three issues:
• The CoE reform process: we support streamlining and modernizing the screening and monitoring mechanisms, without adding up new structures and in a spirit of fiscal prudence,
• The current migratory/refugee crisis: we cooperate with the CoE, including through the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees of the Secretary General and the Council’s Development Bank (CEB) in addressing the acute challenges of this crisis, aiming at fully respecting all migrant/ refugee rights, as stemming from our participation to the ECHR,
• Combating Violent Extremism and Radicalization Leading to Terrorism (VERLT), while respecting our common human rights norms and fundamental principles.
During 2016 several visits of CoE officials have taken place.
The Secretary General, Mr. T. Jagland,
the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Mr. P. Agramunt,
the Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. N. Muznieks,
the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees, Mr. T.Boček (twice),
the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT - twice).
The Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, visited Strasbourg and addressed the Parliamentary Assembly, while he had meetings with high officials.
Last but not least, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, visited Strasbourg and addressed the Parliamentary Assembly, while he had meetings with high officials.
On 25th January 2017, Greece has signed the Convention on Cybercrime and its Protocol for crimes through internet or other informational networks.
On 19th May 2017 Greece has signed the Council of Europe Convention on Offences related to Cultural Property.