C Explanatory memorandum,
by Mrs Ana Catarina MENDONÇA
On 1 September 2005 the Standing Committee, at the
proposal of the Bureau of the Assembly, referred the motion for
a resolution on "the incorporation of equality principles in the
internal work and decision-making mechanisms of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe" (Doc. 10624
) to the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities
for report and to the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women
and Men for opinion.
2. The motion for a resolution states in particular that "the
equal representation of both women and men has not yet reached in
all respects the internal working procedures of the Assembly. Although
national delegations today must include representatives of both
sexes, this requirement does not extend for instance to the composition
of the Bureau of the Assembly or its committees and working groups.
... Therefore we propose that the Assembly should examine the present
shortcomings in the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly with a view
to making amendments to correct the situation".
The Parliamentary Assembly has in its Resolution 1489 (2006)
based on a report of the Committee on Equal Opportunities
for Women and Men:
- agreed to
pursue its efforts to ensure gender-balanced representation in the
Assembly and to reinforce it with binding provisions, amending the
Rules of Procedure of the Assembly if necessary;
- decided to prepare a report on the representation of both
sexes concerning candidatures to the European Committee for the
Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)
and to the posts of Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights,
Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General of the Council of
Europe and Secretary General of the Assembly.
The Committee on Rules of Procedure
and Immunities to which the second matter was referred has agreed
to examine it in this report.
It is to be noted also that in texts on improving selection
procedures for CPT members (Resolution
paragraph 7.2) and on candidates for the European Court
of Human Rights (Resolutions 1366 (2004) and 1426 (2005) paragraph
5) the Assembly has fixed its position concerning the gender balance
for the lists of candidates to these posts. On 17 April 2007 it
again debated on candidates for the European Court of Human Rights,
but did not adopt the draft resolution contained in Document 11208.
5. In spite of some progress, women arc still under- represented
in responsible managerial positions in the bodies which take the
Assembly's political decisions, in particular the Bureau and the
This report will begin by considering how the situation has
developed since 2003Note
as regards the representation of
women in the Assembly and its national delegations, in the political
groups, the Bureau of the Assembly and at the level of Assembly
vice-presidents. The rapporteur will then submit new proposals for changing
the procedure and practice of the Assembly and its organs. In accordance
with the wishes expressed by committee members, the rapporteur will
endeavour to explain why the Assembly organs have an insufficient number
of woman members. Finally, the rapporteur will examine how to take
into account gender-balanced representation for the election procedures
for high-level posts at the Council of Europe. Proposals made in
that respect are to a large extent drawn from the discussions dui
ing a joint meeting between the Committee on Equal Opportunities
for Women and Men and the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities
held on 18 April 2007.
2 The situation of
women in the Assembly and its organs - what has changed since 2003
2.1 Composition of the Assembly
Since the adoption of Resolution 1348 (2003)
on gender-balanced representation in the Assembly, failure
to include at least one representative of each sex in a national
delegation is expressly recognised under Rule 7.1./; of the Rules
of Procedure as procedural grounds for challenging a delegation's
credentials. This is exactly what happened at the January 2004 part-session.
In 2003 about 19% of the members of the Assembly were women.
In 2005 this figure had risen to about 22.5% (see Table 31 of the
"Sex-disaggregated statistics on the participation of women and
men in political and public decision making in Council of Europe
member states", Document CDEG (2006) 15).Note
January 2006, May and August 2007 the Assembly had respectively
24.48%, 24.84% (155) and 24.52% (154) women members. This indicates
a significant change between 2003 and 2006. However, since January
2006 there is a lack of progress. It is to be noted that as of 15
August 2007 there were 73 women Representatives (out of 3161Note
) and 81 women Substitutes
(out of 312) in the Assembly. The European Parliament (EP) currently
has 30.3% of women members and there are no women from Malta and
Cyprus in the EP. About 40% of members of the Nordic Council are
2.2 National delegations
also invited national parliaments, when electing their
representatives to the Assembly to ensure that national delegations
in the Assembly comprise a percentage of women at least equal to
that in their national parliaments, setting a target of at least
30% women. According to the statistics available at 31 August 2007:
- 7 national delegations have
between 50% and 66% women;
- 11 national delegations have between 30% and 49% women;
- 13 national delegations have between 20% and 29% women;
- 11 national delegations have between 10% and 19% women;
- 5 national delegations have less than 10% women.
10. Furthermore, in the same year there may be very significant
fluctuations concerning a national delegation. Earlier in 2007 the
Icelandic delegation had a percentage of women of 66.66%. In August
2007 this had changed to 16.66%. Twelve national delegations include
just one woman (Andorra, Armenia, Cyprus, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland,
Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Switzerland and "the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"). Currently there is no woman in
the Slovak delegation, but the vacant seat will likely be filled
with a woman.
11. In 2003 11, in 2005 13 and in 2007 18 national delegations
had 30% (or more) women members, so an improvement in the situation
can be observed. On the other hand, the number of delegations with
between 10% and 19% women members (11) and less than 10% (five)
has increased in comparison with 2006. Nine of the 47 national parliamentary
delegations are chaired by a woman (19.15%).
12. An improved gender balance at the level of the national delegations
clearly depends on the composition of the national parliaments and,
ultimately, on national electoral systems. The Assembly therefore
welcomes that the European Commission for Democracy through Law
(Venice Commission) of the Council of Europe has adopted a declaration
on women's participation and this reinforces the Code of Good Practice
in Electoral Matters.
13. In Europe the percentage of women in the lower or single house
of parliament has increased and is at present at 19.80% (see Inter-Parliamentary
Union (IPU), women in national parliaments, world and regional averages).
2.3 Political groups
14. Since March 2002 none of the Assembly's five political
groups has been chaired by a woman. As regards women vice-chairpersons,
it is worth noting that one group has appointed six (out of 15 -
one of which is first vice-chairperson) and two others have appointed
respectively three and two. In another group, the position of honorary
chairperson is held by a woman, and one group which includes only
eight women, has no female vice- chairperson. In the European Parliament
(as at 2 May 2007) two of the eight political groups have a woman
co- president. About one third of the vice-presidents of the political
groups are women.
15. Out of a total of 55 political group vice-chairpersons (including
first vice-chairpersons), 11 (10 in 2006, 7 in 2005) are women,
making a total of 20%. Generally speaking, the increase in the number
of women group vice-chairpersons is a good sign for the future.
16. In August 2007, the number of female members of the groups
varied between 16.3% and 31.4%. In this regard, the groups are dependent
on the appointments made by the national parliaments and national
political groups. The five Assembly political groups have respectively
31.4%, 28.11%, 26.7%, 22.9% and 16.3% of woman members. Six women
members do not belong to any political group of the Assembly. One
major political group of the Assembly has a percentage of women
members which is clearly below the average. Therefore the other
groups make an important contribution to ensure a decent number
of women in the Assembly.
17. Four political groups have appointed a total of 11 auditors
and treasurers. Four of them are women and they are members of the
Socialist Group (3) and the EPP/CD Group (1).
2.4 Bureau and vice-presidents
of the Assembly, Presidential Committee
18. The 36 Bureau members are made up of the President,
20 vice-presidents of the Assembly and the chairpersons (or their
representatives) of the political groups and general committees
of the Assembly (Rule 12.2 of the Rules of Procedure).
19. The President of the Parliamentary Assembly is elected by
the Assembly. He or she is generally either a former chairperson
or an eminent member of a political group. The vice-presidents of
the Assembly are proposed by the chairpersons of the national delegations
on behalf of their delegations, taking the gender equality principle
into account (Rule 14.3 of the Rules of Procedure).
Currently, the Bureau has three women members, one of whom
is Vice-President of the Assembly and two are committee chairpersons.
With regard to women's representation, the Bureau is largely dependent
- the national delegations
for the election of the vice-presidents of the Assembly, who are
Bureau members; and
- the proposals of the political groups with regard to the
election of the committee chairpersons who are members of the Bureau.
21. It is recalled that the report by Mr Jurgens on application
and amendment of various provisions of the Assembly's Rules of Procedure
proposes that Assembly vice-presidents should no longer be Bureau
members. Instead, political groups should appoint a number of members
to the Bureau according to the D'Hondt principle in such a way as
to ensure that each group would at least nominate one member. In
so far as the number of group members in the Bureau allows, the
under- represented sex should be included at least in the same percentage
as is present in the respective groups.
22. Whatever will be the outcome of this proposal the rapporteur
sincerely hopes that the representation of women in the Bureau will
improve significantly in the near future. Paragraph 9.2.1 of the
draft resolution included in this report which deals with vice-presidencies,
has been adapted to Mr Jurgens' proposal.
23. The Presidential Committee, which is an ad hoc committee of
the Bureau, is made up of the President of the Assembly, the chairpersons
of the political groups and the Secretary General of the Assembly.
Currently it has no women members.
2.5 Assembly committees and sub-committees
Each committee's bureau comprises the chairperson
and the three vice-chairpersons elected by the committee from candidates
nominated by the political groups, taking into account the principle
of gender equality (Rule 45.1). By 31 August 2007 two out of ten
committee chairpersons (20%) and 12 out of 30 vice-chairpersons
(40%) were women. In April 2005, there was only one chairwoman but
already 12 vice-chairwomen. Distribution is currently as follows:
- four committees have two women
- four committees have one woman vice-chairperson;
- two committees have no women vice-chairpersons.
25. The report by Mr Jurgens on application and amendment of various
provisions of the Assembly's Rules of Procedure proposes that the
political groups should henceforth only agree on the committees
where the chairpersons and/or vice-chairpersons should be members
of their groups and no longer present single candidates for election
by the respective committees.
26. With respect to membership of women and men in committees
the situation as of 20 April 2007 is quite different. The Social,
Health and Family Affairs Committee and the Committee on Equal Opportunities
for Women and Men have respectively 34.5% and 62.7% of women among
their full members. However, the corresponding figures for the Committee
on Economic Affairs and Development, the Political Affairs Committee and
the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities are respectively
20.2%, 21.4% and 22.2%. The Committee on the Honouring of Obligations
and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring
Committee) which is composed of members appointed by political groups
has currently 20.24% of women members. Two political groups have
appointed - proportionally - considerably fewer women members than
is present in these groups.
27. Members of sub-committees are chosen from among the members
of the committees, who currently are proposed by the national delegations.
The rules on the election of chairpersons and vice-chairpersons
of the currently 25 general sub-committees do not mention explicitly
the need to take into account the gender equality principle. In
June 2007, 6 of the 24 sub-committee chairpersons elected (25%)
and 8 of the 23 vice-chairpersons then elected (34.8%) were women.
These were the same figures in April 2005. In October 2006, 6 of
25 sub-committees' chairpersons (25%) and 4 out of the 22 vice-chairpersons
then elected (18.2%) were women.
29. The publication "Reports under preparation in the committees
of the Assembly" shows that as of 16 July 2007, 19.7% of the rapporteurs
of all Assembly committees were women (July 2006: 16.6%. February
30. The list of speakers in debates that took place in
the Assembly in April 2007 shows that the political groups chose
43 men and 10 women (18.87%) to speak on their behalf (January 2005:
17%). Women are rarely appointed for debates on general policy and
more often for debates on social policy.
2.8 Election observation missions
31. Women are also under-represented on the Assembly's
election observation missions if the target is considered to be
at least 30% women. Admittedly, participation in election monitoring
clearly depends to a considerable extent on the availability of
Assembly members and their readiness to stand as candidates for
the purpose. Between January 2005 and May 2007. 17 Bureau ad hoc
committees were created to observe elections, one of which was chaired
by a woman (see AS/Bur (2007) 30).
It is therefore to be welcomed that on 24 May 2007 the Bureau
of the Assembly has adopted the following amendment to the "Guidelines
for the observation of elections by the Assembly":
"Political groups should bear it
in mind that any appointment to an ad hoc committee to observe elections should
aim to ensure the principle of gender balance of such a committee.
Political groups should endeavour to include, in the list of representatives
appointed, members of the under-represented sex in the same percentage
as is present in the group."
3 III. Proposals concerning gender-balance
in the delegations of national parliaments and in the structures
of the Assembly
33. The scope of the proposals to be made depends essentially
on whether the Assembly has the power to change existing practice
or provisions (for example, concerning gender balance in the bureaux
of sub-committees) or not (for example, election of Assembly members
by national parliaments).
3.1 Composition of the Assembly
and of national delegations to the Assembly, role of national parliaments
34. The composition of the Assembly depends essentially
on the provisions of the Council of Europe Statute (Articles 25
and 26) and on the election of members to the Assembly by national
parliaments on the basis of the proposals made by political groups/parties
represented in national parliaments. Additional provisions are contained
in the Parliamentary Assembly's Rules of Procedure (Rules 6 to 9).
Before submitting proposals, it may be useful to consider reasons
for insufficient presence of women in national delegations and solutions found
in other international parliamentary institutions or representative
Council of Europe bodies (for example, the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe).
3.1.1 Reasons for the insufficient
representation of women in the national delegations
Reasons were put forward at several meetings of the
Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities. In particular, members
- the differences
between the political and electoral systems of the member states
are important; their possible consequences on the representation
of women in parliaments are presented in "Sex-disaggregated statistics
on the participation of women and men in political and public decision
making in Council of Europe member states", Document CDEG (2006)
15, mentioned above (paragraph 8);
- national political systems do not sufficiently induce
women to participate in politics; fewer women appear to be attracted
by a career in politics; in some countries women parliamentarians
do not speak foreign languages to a sufficient extent;
- national parliaments do not have enough women who are
suitable as candidates for the national delegations to the Parliamentary
Assembly. The national parliaments of 23 Council of Europe member states
currently have fewer than 19.8% women, which is the European average
in the single house or lower house;
- fewer women parliamentarians than men were interested
in working at the Council of Europe Assembly (sometimes for family
reasons), which involves spending at least one month each year participating
in the plenary sessions of the Assembly and in the meetings of its
committees; the majority of women parliamentarians prefer to stay
in national politics.
36. Finally, it was noted that the national political parties/groups
which are involved in the appointment of the delegations to the
Parliamentary Assembly and which may only propose a single member,
have problems in respecting gender balance.
37. Some of the eight member states with 10 or fewer women in
their parliaments pointed out that several women parliamentarians
carry out important duties at the national level, for example in
government, or that they had children and were accordingly not available
as members of the Assembly.
3.1.2 Measures taken within other
international parliamentary institutions to ensure gender balance
38. Information on the situation regarding the representation
of women in national parliamentary delegations to the Nordic Council,
the European Parliament (EP), the new Euro-Mediterranean Assembly
and the InterParliamentary Union is to be found in an earlier version
of this report (AS/Pro (2006) 5).
3.1.3 Proposals of the Congress of
Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe concerning gender
In the appendix to its Recommendation 162 (2005)
on the revision of the Charter of the Congress of Local
and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the Congress
proposed the inclusion in Article 2 of the revised charter of a
provision on gender balance in national delegations to the Congress.
According to this provision the composition of each member state's
delegation in the Congress should be such as to ensure "equitable
representation of women and men on the statutory bodies of local
and regional authorities in the member state, meaning that all delegations
must include, within the next three years (2008), representations of
both sexes with a minimum participation of at least 30% of the under-
represented sex". The Committee of Ministers has on 2 May 2007 accepted, inter alia,
this provision which
has become Article 2.d
the revised charter (see reply of the Committee of Ministers to Recommendation 162
, CM/Cong (2007) 162 final).
of the Congress'
charter goes much further than the texts of the above-mentioned parliamentary
institutions. It could therefore guide the Assembly's midterm action.
In this connection Resolutions 209 (2006) and 234 (2007) of the
Congress on the verification of new members' credentials and new
appointment procedures should be borne in mind. Resolution 234 (2007)
contains precise proposals concerning women's representation
in certain national delegations. In addition, this text recalls
the need for all national delegations to include, as from 2008,
representatives of both sexes with a minimum participation of at least
30% of the under-represented sex.
3.1.4 Consequences to be drawn from
the current situation in the Assembly
It is most important to encourage, as was done in
Assembly Resolution 1546
on the code of good practice for political parties,
active participation of women in political parties and in European
affairs. The efficient application of good practices for a better
gender balance between women and men in political affairs should
also be promoted. The rapporteur also welcomes that Assembly opinions
to the Committee of Ministers on the accession of new member states
regularly contain a clause inviting the state concerned to take
all necessary steps to ensure equality between men and women in
law and politics.
42. Furthermore, national parliaments should be asked to continue
their efforts for electing more women as members of national delegations
to the Assembly. The rapporteur believes that the fact that there
are only a limited number of women in national parliaments does
not necessarily prevent the latter from trying to elect women to
their delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly.
An analysis of the situation of the national delegations to
the Assembly elected by national parliaments with less than 25 women
parliamentarians reveals that:
parliaments with between five and eight women parliamentarians send
delegations to the Assembly composed, respectively, of 16.66% women
(Malta, Montenegro) while the other delegations (Andorra, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Monaco. San Marino) include
at least 25% women; one third of the women parliamentarians of Bosnia
and Herzegovina and Liechtenstein are also members of the Parliamentary
- six parliaments with between 10 and 19 women parliamentarians
send delegations to the Assembly composed, respectively, of 12.50%
(Armenia) or at least of 25% women (Albania, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Luxembourg,
Slovenia); more than one third of the women parliamentarians of
the Slovenian Parliament are also Assembly members;
- another five parliaments having between 20 and 24 women
parliamentarians, send delegations to the Assembly of 12.50% (Ireland).
16.6% (Iceland), 20% (Moldova) or more than 50% women parliamentarians
(Estonia, Georgia); more than one quarter of the women parliamentarians
of the Georgian parliament are also Assembly members.
Furthermore, the statistics show that two national parliaments
composed, respectively, of 163 and 153 women parliamentarians have
appointed to the Assembly delegations including 3'Note
and 5 women, respectively. Two
further parliaments with 61 and 40 women send delegations to the
Assembly with just one woman parliamentarian.
In these circumstances the committee might propose:
- addressing a new appeal to national
parliaments to ensure when electing the members of their delegation
to the Assembly that it includes a percentage of women at least
equal to that in their national parliament, with the aim of including,
as a minimum, a 30% representation of women, bearing in mind that
the threshold should be 40%;
- launching an initiative concerning the national delegations
which "could do better" with respect to the inclusion of women parliamentarians.
46. As committee members have expressed themselves against fixing
dates for achieving changes to the current situation and have also
pointed out that the Assembly does not deal in a detailed way with
the appointment of national delegations, the rapporteur will make
no proposals in that respect. However, as already indicated above
(see paragraphs 39 and 40) it could be envisaged in the mid-term
to introduce at Assembly level a provision concerning gender balance
in national delegations to the Assembly similar to that adopted
for the Congress by the Committee of Ministers on 2 May 2007. According
to this provision (see Article 2.d of the revised charter of the
Congress) "all delegations (to the Congress) must include as from
2008, representatives of both sexes with a minimum participation
of at least 30% of the under- represented sex".
3.2 Presidency and Presidential
Committee of the Assembly and gender balance
47. Since 1949 one woman has been President of the Assembly
(January 1996 until January 1999). Following its creation in 1993
the Presidential Committee had one female member between June 1994
and January 1999 and another between January 1999 and March 2002.
Currently, four of the Assembly's five political groups have agreed
on a system for the rotation of the Assembly presidency among them.
The practice in the political groups shows that it takes time for
members lo accede lo top posts.
These circumstances have, inter
, to be taken into account for any proposals. During
the joint meeting between the Committee on Equal Opportunities for
Women and Men and the Commitlee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities
on 18 April 2007 the following proposal was considered:
- introduction of a cycle of three
periods of office of the President of the Assembly;
- according to current practice one period of office corresponds
to three years (election for one year, two re- elections for one
- during this cycle the office should be held at least once
by a representative of each sex: if representatives of one sex have
occupied the post of President of the Assembly for two continuous
periods of office within one cycle, only candidates from the opposite
sex shall be admissible for election to the post for the cycle's
third period of office.
49. When it considered the preliminary draft resolution on 14
September 2007 the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities
voted against this proposal by a clear majority. The committee asked
the political groups to give women greater opportunities with respect
to the selection of candidates for the position of President of
3.3 Chairpersons of general committees
and Bureau ad hoc committees
Since the adoption of Resolution 1348
in 2003 little progress has been made towards the aim
of electing more women as committee chairpersons, and this is in
contradiction with the spirit of Rule 45.1 of the Rules of Procedure.
As it is the political groups that propose candidates to chair committees,
the important role they can play in changing the situation should
be pointed out.
51. In his report on application and amendment of various provisions
of the Assembly's Rules of Procedure, Mr Jurgens proposes that political
groups should henceforth only agree on the committees where the chairpersons
and/or vice-chairpersons should be members of their groups and no
longer present single candidates for election by the respective
committees. As it is not yet sure if this proposal will be adopted
by the Standing Committee in Bratislava in November 2007, the draft
resolution included in the present report has to envisage both possibilities,
that is maintaining or amending the current provisions concerning
election of committee chairpersons and vice-chairpersons. With respect
to the first alternative, political groups are invited to provide
in their internal rules for measures to ensure that their candidates
for committee chairpersons and vice-chairpersons include members
of the under-represented sex at least in the same percentage as
is present in the group. Concerning the second alternative (change
of current rule) Assembly committees are asked to elect more women
as chairpersons or vice-chairpersons with a view to ensuring that
the under- represented sex is represented in these posts at least
in the same percentage as in the respective committees.
52. The Bureau of the Assembly should be invited to bear in mind
gender balance when appointing the chairpersons of Bureau ad hoc
In view of the lack of progress made at sub-committee
level since 2003, it could be envisaged to:
- either remind the committees of the need to appoint more
women chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of subcommittees;
- or propose amending, as follows, Rule 48.7, second sentence,
of the Rules of Procedure: "Elections shall be held in accordance
with the procedure laid down in paragraphs 2 to 6 of Rule 45, while
taking into account the principle of gender equality."
The Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities supported
the second variant.
3.5 Political groups
54. The political groups also need to be reminded to
take gender equality into account when electing their chairpersons
and vice-chairpersons. Admittedly, this is more difficult for groups
having only few women members. Proposals concerning the role currently
played by political groups for the election of committee chairpersons
and vice-chairpersons are made above (paragraph 51). Furthermore,
political groups should propose more women for membership of the
Monitoring Committee with a view to ensuring that - if appropriate, over
a given period - women are represented in the Monitoring Committee
at least in the same percentage as is present in the respective
55. Similarly, as the situation has not evolved since 2005, the
political groups should be invited to appoint more women as their
spokespersons in general policy debates of the Assembly.
56. During the joint meeting of the Committee on Equal Opportunities
for Women and Men and the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities
held on 18 April 2007 some participants said that this report does
not go far enough. They would have preferred if a rotation/cycle
system to ensure gender balance (see paragraph 48 above) was also
proposed to apply to the chairpersons of political groups (and even
to vice-presidents of the Assembly). While admitting the logics
of this proposal the rapporteur has refrained from submitting additional
far-reaching proposals. As the vote in the committee on 14 September
2007 has shown, the time for a larger reform has not yet come.
3.6 National delegations/vice-presidents
of the Assembly
57. National delegations' practice concerning the designation
of candidates for the posts of Vice-President of the Assembly is
not satisfactory from the point of view of the gender equality principle
(see paragraph 20 above and Rule 14.3. of the Rules of Procedure).
The delegations could therefore be invited to show more regard for
this provision, especially as currently the composition of the Bureau
of the Assembly depends on them. Some members consider that the
election procedure of vice-presidents should be modified with a
view to offering a choice between different candidates. This could
also improve gender balance. The report of Mr Jurgens on application
and amendment of various provisions of the Assembly's Rules of Procedure
proposes the abandonment of Bureau membership of Assembly vice-presidents
and includes proposals to improve gender equality in the Assembly's
58. Furthermore, the national delegations or competent national
authorities should be invited to elect/appoint more women as their
59. Finally, it would be worthwhile contacting the delegations
concerned to find out why few women parliamentarians are put forward
as candidates for the above-mentioned posts.
In January 2003, the President of the Assembly sent
the chairpersons of the Assembly's general committees a letter informing
them of four criteria to be taken into consideration when appointing
rapporteurs. In order of priority, those criteria are:
- competence and availability;
- political balance in the appointment of committee rapporteurs
(based on the D'Hondt system as applied to committee membership);
- balanced representation of the sexes;
- geographical and national balance.
Bearing these criteria in mind, the alternative would be:
- either to mention the President's
aforesaid letter and the need to take balanced representation of
the sexes into account;
- or to introduce the above four criteria for appointing
rapporteurs into Rule 49.1, on the appointment of rapporteurs.
The Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities supported
the second variant.
4 Proposals concerning election
procedures to high level posts at the Council of Europe in which
the assembly is involved
62. With a view to creating a better gender balance regarding
high-level posts in the Council of Europe, the Assembly has always
insisted on the importance of the selection criteria for candidatures
to posts to be filled by election by the Assembly.
63. In addition to its president and the vice-presidents, the
Assembly elects the judges to the European Court of Human Rights,
the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary General and
Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the Secretary
General of the Assembly. Furthermore, the Assembly is involved in
the appointment procedure for members of the CPT.
64. During the joint meeting of the Committee on Equal Opportunities
for Women and Men and the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities
held on 18 April 2007 one participant underlined that gender balance
should not only be improved at the level of judges of the European
Court of Human Rights and members of the CPT, but also at the Council
of Europe Development Bank, at the Committee of Ministers, the Ministers'
Deputies (with currently 9 women out of 47 ambassadors or charges
d'affaires), the Venice Commission (with 7 women among the (titular)
representatives of the 47 Council of Europe member states) and other
bodies. As these issues are outside the remit of the Committee on
Rules of Procedure and Immunities, they could be followed up by
the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. Statistics on
gender balance in most Council of Europe bodies are to be found
in "Sex-disaggregated statistics on the participation of women and
men in political and public decision making in Council of Europe
member states, Document CDEG (2006) 15, mentioned above).
4.2 Situation concerning judges
to the European Court of Human Rights, the Commissioner for Human
Rights, members of the CPT, the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary
General of the Council of Europe and the Secretary General of the
4.2.1 Judges to the European Court
of Human Rights
The Assembly has already settled - in so far as gender
balance is concerned - the question of the election of judges to
the European Court of Human Rights. In its Resolution 1366 (2004)
as modified by Resolution
it has decided not to consider lists of candidates which
do not include at least one candidate of each sex, except when the
candidates belong to the sex which is under-represented in the Court, that
is to say, the sex to which under 40% of the total number of judges
belong. A new situation arose at the end of 2006, when the Committee
on Legal Affairs and Human Rights considered that the rule fixed
in Resolutions 1366 (2004) and 1426 (2005) could give rise to problems
in exceptional cases, such as the list of candidates in respect
of Malta. After the question of exceptional derogations of Resolutions
1366 and 1426 had first been brought before the Bureau of the Assembly,
a report was prepared on this matter and debated in the Assembly
on 17 April 2007.
Some of the points made in the debate were:
- what should happen if, following
a transparent national selection procedure for judges, a member
state has not succeeded in identifying a female candidate whose
qualifications match the selection criteria of Article 21 of the
European Convention on Human Rights;
- between 1998 and 2004 some 90% of candidates for the post
of judge were men only;
- in 2005 and 2006 the Sub-Committee on the Election of
Judges to the European Court of Human Rights recommended female
candidates as its first choice in three cases out of six and all
three were subsequently elected;
- the composition of all selection bodies for candidates
for the post of judge is male-dominated;
- also the informal networks within the judiciaries of member
states are male-dominated;
- 14 of the currently (August 2007) 45 judges at the Court
Because of the rejection of the draft resolution included
in the report, the rules contained in Resolutions 1366 (2004) and
1426 (2005) are maintained.Note
4.2.2 Commissioner for Human Rights
67. The election procedure for the Commissioner for Human
Rights presents a major difference as compared with that forjudges
to the Court. The list with the candidates for the post of Commissioner
("short list") is submitted to the Assembly by the Committee of
Ministers and not by the high contracting parties as is the case
for the judges. A possible refusal by the Assembly to consider a
"unisex list" could provoke an institutional crisis in the Council
of Europe. The problem stems from the fact that Committee of Ministers Resolution
(99) 50 on the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights establishes
in its Article 9, paragraph 3 that member states may submit candidatures
by letter addressed to the Secretary General, but that Article 10
on the necessary qualifications of candidates is silent on gender
Up till now two commissioners have been elected by the Assembly
and both have been men. While the list of candidates submitted to
the Assembly in 1999 (Doc.
) contained two women candidates that of 2005 included
only male candidates (Doc.
69. To improve gender balance concerning the post of Commissioner,
the Assembly has two possibilities. It can express hopes and expectations
but also try to reach an agreement with the Committee of Ministers
aimed at ensuring that the list of three candidates which the Committee
of Ministers submits to the Assembly includes candidates of both
sexes. Furthermore, the Assembly may recommend to the Committee
of Ministers any changes to Resolution (99) 50.
The proposed change could be:
- introduction of a cycle of three periods of office (six
years each) for the post of Commissioner;
- during this cycle the office should be held at least once
by a representative of each sex;
- if representatives of one sex have occupied the same post
for two continuous periods of office within one cycle, only candidatures
from the opposite sex shall be admissible for election to the post
for the cycle's third period of office.
On 14 September 2007 a clear majority of members voted in
favour of finding an agreement with the Committee of Ministers that
the lists of candidates for the post of Commissioner should always
include candidates of both sexes.
4.3 Members of the CPT
Concerning members of the CPT, Article 5 of the European
Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment (ETS No. 126) stipulates that the national
delegation of each high contracting party in the Assembly shall
put forward three candidates, of whom two at least shall be its nationals.
On this basis the Bureau of the Assembly draws up a list of names
and forwards it to the Committee of Ministers. As national parliamentary
delegations have the right of initiative for candidates and in the
absence of any provisions on gender balance in ETS No. 126 the Assembly
has itself settled the question. In three texts (Recommendation 1323 (1997)
, Order No. 530 (1997) and Resolution 1248 (2001)
it has insisted on the need for national delegations
to the Assembly to ensure gender balance when drawing up the lists
of candidates for the CPT. Lastly, in March 2007, the Standing Committee
adopted Resolution 1540
on improving selection procedures for CPT members, based
on a report presented by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights (Doc. 11182
72. From the currently 45 members of the CPT, as at 3 July 2007,
13 are women. The seats of two contracting parties (Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Ukraine) on the CPT are for the time being vacant.
73. In this connection it may be recalled that the needs for specific
qualifications of CPT candidates change frequently and that the
prison population is in the majority male.
The recently adopted Assembly Resolution 1540 (2007)
reminds member states of their obligation to submit
lists of candidates which respect gender equality and the Bureau
of the need to systematically refuse lists which ignore this principle.
4.4 Secretary General and Deputy
Secretary General of the Council of Europe and Secretary General
of the Parliamentary Assembly
75. The regulations of 1956 relating to the appointment
of the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council
of Europe and the Secretary General of the Assembly, include a specific
provision on the criteria determining the choice of candidates.
However, this provision is silent on gender balance. The regulations
which were adopted by the Committee of Ministers with the approval
of the Assembly have not been modified since 1962. As some of their
clauses are very favourable to the Assembly it should be considered
if it is appropriate to ask for the amendment of the regulations
to include a provision on gender equality.
76. However this problem no longer exists since the Committee
of Ministers decided on 11 May 2007 to revise the procedure concerning
the appointment of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe
in order to enhance the visibility of the work conducted by the
Organisation and its relations with the European Union.
77. A particular feature of the regulations is that different
bodies and personalities are entitled to submit candidatures for
the posts concerned (Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General
of the Council of Europe, Secretary General of the Assembly). Sometimes
there is an agreement on a single candidature for one of these posts
(e.g. for the election of the Secretary General of the Council of
Europe in 1989 and for elections of the Secretary General of the
In these circumstances the Committee on Rules of Procedure
and Immunities could:
launch an appeal to governments and the persons having the right
to submit candidatures to present candidates of both sexes, where
there is more then one candidate;
- or propose a change to the regulations with a view to
introducing a cycle of three periods of office (of five years each)
for the posts of Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General
of the Council of Europe and Secretary General of the Parliamentary
Assembly; during this cycle the office should be held at least once
by a representative of each sex. If representatives of one sex have
occupied one of these posts for two continuous periods of office
within one cycle, only candidatures from the opposite sex shall
be admissible for election to this post for the cycle's third period
- suggest that if the Committee of Ministers according to
paragraph 5.a of the regulations
relating to the appointment of the Secretary General, Deputy Secretary
General and Secretary General of the Assembly, draws up a list of
candidates, it should always contain members of both sexes.
79. After having served for three years (President of the Assembly)
or six years (Commissioner for Human Rights) there is no possibility
for a new term of office for both personalities. The situation is
different for the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General
of the Council of Europe and Secretary General of the Assembly who,
after a first mandate of five years, may be candidates for a new
term of office. In the more remote past two Secretaries General
of the Assembly and one Deputy Secretary General of the Council
of Europe have served for a total of fifteen years. If the holder
of one of these posts decided after two periods of office (ten years)
to run as candidate for a third and last period of five years, this
would raise a problem if the method of "cycles" was introduced.
However, in such a case the cycle should simply be prolonged to
a fourth period of five years, in order to allow for the election
of a candidate of the opposite sex. As there has been no such instance
since 1988 it is not necessary to mention this possibility in the
At its meeting on 14 September 2007 the Committee on Rules
of Procedure and Immunities examined these variants and voted by
a clear majority in favour of:
governments and personalities who have the right to submit proposals
for candidates to the posts of Secretary General and Deputy Secretary
General of the Council of Europe and of Secretary General of the
Assembly ("the specially appointed officials") to present candidates
of both sexes when there is more than one candidate;
- inviting the Committee of Ministers to follow a gender
equality policy which ensures a balanced representation of women
and men in the posts of Secretary General and Deputy Secretary of
the Council of Europe and Secretary General of the Assembly. If,
according to paragraph 5.a of
the regulations relating to the appointment of the Secretary General,
Deputy Secretary General and Secretary General of the Assembly,
the Committee of Ministers draws up a list, it shall endeavour to
present candidates of both sexes.
5 Gender balance and subordinate
committees of the Committee of Ministers
81. In its Recommendation No. R (81) 6 on the participation
of women and men in an equitable proportion in committees and other
bodies set up in the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers
has invited member states to ensure a balanced participation of
women and men in the steering committees and the other Council of
Europe bodies. In conformity with Recommendation Rec(2003)3 of the
Committee of Ministers to member states on balanced participation
of women and men in political and public decision making, the threshold
to be reached is 40%. The Assembly could encourage governments to
take appropriate follow-up action on these texts.
82. It is recalled that the last report of the Secretary General
on equality between women and men in the Council of Europe was published
in 2001. In its comments on the Secretary General's report, as regards
the participation of women in committees of experts and other Council
of Europe bodies, the competent steering committee (Steering Committee
for Equality between Women and Men - CDEG) noted that the number
of women in several committees had increased. It would be appropriate
that a new report be prepared by the Secretary General in order
to assess the situation on the participation of women and men in
an equitable proportion in committees and other bodies set up in
the Council of Europe as stated in Recommendation No. R (81) 6 of
the Committee of Ministers to member states. This report should
also examine how many women are elected chairpersons and/or vice-chairpersons
of the intergovernmental committees and members of their bureaux
in order to ensure a balanced participation of women and men in
decision making. A corresponding proposal has been included in the
draft recommendation contained in this report.
6 Final remarks
83. The Assembly has repeatedly underlined the need to
give women a genuine opportunity to accede to high-level posts in
political and public life at national and European level. This is
particularly important also in the Parliamentary Assembly itself.
Progress has been made in recent years and gender balance in national parliamentary
delegations and in the Assembly's structures has generally been
improved. However, more can and should be done and various proposals
to this end have been considered by the committee in the framework of
the preparation of this report.
84. In some instances the rapporteur would have preferred to submit
more far-reaching proposals than those included in the draft resolution
(see, for example, paragraph 56 above). However, she has abstained from
doing so as there would most likely not be a majority in the committee
to support them. The vote in the committee on 14 September has clearly
shown that the lime for a more far- reaching reform has not yet
come. Some other proposals made in connection with the preparation
of this report (see paragraph 64 above) clearly come under the remit
of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.
85. Moreover, the committee paid attention to ways of raising
the awareness of the national delegations and political groups in
the Assembly regarding the need to improve the gender balance in
the Assembly, in particular in the light of certain unsatisfactory
situations (see paragraphs 45, 50, 54 and 59 above).
86. The Assembly should follow developments in the Congress of
Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe with respect
to the implementation, as from 2008, of the obligation for national
delegations to include representatives of both sexes with a minimum
participation of at least 30% of the under-represented sex (see
paragraph 46 above).
87. The rule changes proposed in the draft resolution should enter
into force at the opening of the January 2008 part-session.