The Committee of Ministers – the highest organ of the Council of Europe – is meeting tomorrow in Vienna for its annual session. At the invitation of Austria, which held the chairmanship of the Council of Europe from November 2013 to May 2014, the foreign affairs ministers of the 47 member states will take part in a debate on the crisis in Europe, during which they are expected to adopt a report on the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law on the continent. The ministers will also discuss the holding of a summit of the leaders of the member states in 2015, aimed at adapting the Council of Europe's political strategy to the challenges currently facing the continent. Also on the agenda at this session is the adoption of one report concerning the Council of Europe's policy on neighbouring regions and another relating to the reform of the European Court of Human Rights, initiated at the Interlaken Conference in 2010 under the Swiss chairmanship.
As the main intergovernmental human rights organisation on the continent, the Council of Europe sets out the rules and standards in this area. It encourages member states to apply the norms in adhering to the pertinent conventions it has developed and ensures that they fulfil their commitments. To do this it relies on the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and on its monitoring bodies, including the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the Group of States against Corruption. The Committee of Ministers is the decision-making body of the Council of Europe. It is composed of the foreign ministers of all member states or their permanent representatives at the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg.
The start of the session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Vienna falls almost exactly on the anniversary of the signing of the treaty on 5 May 1949 in London with which the Council of Europe gave itself a formal statute. Europe Day is dedicated to this event which took place 65 years ago, and this year as every year it is being celebrated today, the 5 May. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Didier Burkhalter, speaking on a number of occasions about Europe Day, said that this is an opportunity to highlight how important it is for the European continent to act in a concerted manner: peace, stability and prosperity in Europe can never be taken for granted, and our history and our present leave no doubt in our minds that these achievements must be constantly revisited. Switzerland demonstrates its commitment to this in the Council of Europe and elsewhere.
The President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr Didier Burkhalter, on the occasion of Europe Day (5 May 2014)
Speech by the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr Didier Burkhalter, at the Ministerial Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (fr)
“Reversing the Logic of Escalation in Ukraine: Next Steps by the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship”
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