memorandum, by Mr David Wilshire
1. On 30 June 2005, a motion on
“Compliance of observer countries with the values of the Council
of Europe” was tabled with the Assembly. It was referred to the
Political Affairs Committee for report on 1 September 2005. In November
2006, the committee modified the title of the report to “Compliance
by observer countries with the standards of the Council of Europe”.
2. I was appointed as rapporteur on 14 March 2006, following
the resignation of my predecessor, Mr Mihkelson.
3. In April and June 2006, I held informal conversations with
parliamentarians from observer countries, which made it clear that
the wording of the motion, if taken in a narrow sense, caused them
concern. Believing that observer status is meant to be a framework
for positive co-operation and added value, I suggested to the committee
that it broaden the scope of the report.
4. Once the committee had approved my proposal at its meeting
in November 2006, I contacted representatives of the observer countries
once again in a more formal manner, in order to discuss the issues raised
in the motion on a new basis.
5. To date, I have had meetings with parliamentarians from Japan,
Canada, Mexico and Israel. The Canadian delegation made a written
contribution to the report; the Mexican delegation has also offered
to make one, which is yet to come.
6. On the governmental side, I met Mr Ryûichi Shoji, Consul General
in Strasbourg and Permanent Observer of Japan, Mrs Laurette Glasgow,
Ambassador of Canada in Brussels, in her capacity as Permanent Observer
of Canada to the Council of Europe, and Mrs Ana Rocío Arizmendi,
Deputy Permanent Observer of Mexico to the Council of Europe.
7. Unfortunately, I have not been able to arrange a meeting with
the United States Ambassador in Paris who acts as the United States
Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe. The United States Embassy
in Paris promised a written response to my questions with regard
to the United States attitude towards the Council of Europe. It
has not yet been received.
8. My contacts with observers show that there is a fundamental
disagreement between the Council of Europe and the observers about
what are the observers’ obligations arising from their status. This
difference of opinion is controversial and fundamental, and needs
to be resolved by agreement so as to avoid any misunderstanding
in future. Furthermore, I came to the conclusion that in the current
framework, which contains no formal specific commitments by observers,
there is no legal ground to talk about compliance by observers with
the standards of the Council of Europe. I therefore suggested a
new title for the report, “The Council of Europe and its observer
states: the current situation and a way forward”, which the committee approved
at its meeting on 13 November 2007.
9. I also think that the lack of involvement by parliamentarians
from the United States and the limited involvement by parliamentarians
from Japan in their countries’ co-operation with the Council of
Europe weakens the potential for mutual benefit. I am therefore
disappointed that the Bureau refused the request that I visit Japan
and the United States of America to explore possibilities for improving
relations with those two countries.
2 General information on observer
10. It is important to distinguish
between observer status with the Council of Europe as a whole and
national observer parliaments with the Parliamentary Assembly.
The observer status with the Council of Europe is based on
Statutory Resolution (93) 26Note
of the Committee
of Ministers adopted in 1993. Article I provides that “Any State
willing to accept the principles of democracy, the rule of law and
the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights
and fundamental freedoms, and wishing to co-operate with the Council
of Europe may be granted by the Committee of Ministers, after consulting
the Parliamentary Assembly, observer status with the Organisation.”
In addition, the Committee of Ministers approved on 7 July
1999, the “criteria for the granting of the observer status”.Note
there have been no new applications for the observer status since
1999, and in accordance with generally accepted principles, these
new criteria should not be retroactively applied to those observers
having received the status prior to the introduction of the new
13. Currently, five states enjoy observer status: the United States
of America (since December 1995), Canada (since April 1996), Japan
(since November 1996), Mexico (since December 1999) and the Holy
See (granted the status in 1970, that is, before the statutory resolution).
14. Observer status with the Assembly is based on Rule 60 of the
Assembly’s Rules of Procedure: “The Assembly may, on the proposal
of the Bureau, grant observer status to national parliaments of
non-member states of the Council of Europe which meet the conditions
set out in paragraph 1 of Statutory Resolution (93) 26 of the Committee
of Ministers on observer status.”
15. There are three observer parliaments: from Canada, Mexico
and Israel (the latter was granted the status before the statutory
3 Criteria for assessment
16. Statutory Resolution (93) 26
does not contain any direct reference to the Council of Europe’s
specific standards which an observer state would commit itself to
in order to comply. Instead, it refers to the will of the state
concerned to accept the principles of democracy, the rule of law
and the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human
rights and fundamental freedoms. While being at the heart of the
Council of Europe values, these principles are not the exclusive
“property” of our Organisation, and representatives of observer states
refer to them as being their own values. Additionally, it would
be presumptuous of the Council of Europe to claim that its detailed
interpretation of these principles is universally superior to all
17. On the other hand, specific Council of Europe standards are
enshrined in a number of core conventions, such as the Convention
for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which
are only open for signature and ratification to member states.
18. Thus, we are faced with a dilemma. Do we consider the performance
of the observer states on the basis of universal principles, or
assess them against the Council of Europe’s conventions – of which
these states cannot become parties?
19. As rapporteur, I am strongly in favour of the former option.
Moreover, my contacts with the observer representatives have shown
that the latter would be wholly unacceptable to them.
20. More generally, while stressing the adherence of their states
to the basic principles on which the Council of Europe is built,
those observers do not seem to consider that their states are bound
by any specific commitments or obligations arising from their observer
status – as they were not required to agree to any when applying
for observer status.
However, both the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee
of Ministers seem to consider that the observers are bound by formal
obligations. Let me quote, as an example, the reply from the Committee
of Ministers to Assembly Recommendation
on the position of the Parliamentary Assembly as regards the
Council of Europe member and observer states which have not abolished
the death penalty.Note
will also draw attention to the obligation for observer states to
meet the requirements of Statutory Resolution (93) 26, the additional
criteria adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 7 July 1999, and
relevant international legal standards.”
22. Although I am not a lawyer, I suspect that the legal grounds
for the above interpretation are not very strong. When a number
of member states fail to comply with formal and written commitments
they have signed upon accession to the Council of Europe, it is
difficult to argue that observers must comply with norms which they
did not sign. Therefore, a way has to be found to reconcile these
23. A clearly defined set of standards, which a state seeking
observer status would commit itself to comply with, would make it
possible to assess the compliance on a solid ground of concrete
legal terms. I would recommend this approach in the case of new
applications for observer status but I realise that this might create two
types of observer state.
24. It would also be preferable if the existing observers could
agree to commit themselves to comply with Council of Europe standards
in more specific terms than those, too general, contained in Statutory
Resolution (93) 26. I understand that convincing them to do so would
be a hard task.
25. I believe that, until a clear and mutually acceptable solution
is found, it would be unhelpful to try to assess the compliance
by observer countries with the standards of the Council of Europe
as suggested by the motion. Instead, it would make sense to carry
out regular and structured reviews of their performances in the
fields of democracy, the rule of law and respect of human rights
and fundamental freedoms. This is the approach that I intend to
take in this report. In future, by providing international comparisons,
this could become a valuable contribution to the review of the state
of human rights and democracy in Europe which the Assembly held
for the first time in April 2007 and which is to develop into a
26. However, the fact that the observers are not signatories to
key Council of Europe conventions should not prevent this Assembly,
the Committee of Ministers, or other Council of Europe bodies, from
continuing to question observer states and comment on matters that
cause concern where there appears to be a disregard of principles
which we in the Council of Europe believe to be fundamental.
4 Overview of democratic performance
4.1 Preliminary remarks
27. Firstly, I will intentionally
limit myself to a brief overview of the functioning of democracy
in observer states, and I would suggest leaving it to my colleague,
the Rapporteur for Opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and
Human Rights, to cover the issues of his committee’s competence,
such as the rule of law and the enjoyment by all persons within
the state’s jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
28. Secondly, the Holy See represents a special case. Without
questioning the observer status which it enjoys, and fully recognising
the important role it plays in international affairs, I believe
that it cannot be assessed on the same basis as all the other observers
because it simply does not have basic democratic institutions.
29. All four other states enjoying observer status with the Council
of Europe, that is, the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico,
as well as Israel which only has an observer position in the Parliamentary Assembly,
are fully-functioning representative democracies based on political
pluralism, though presenting a variety of political systems and
forms of government.
4.2 Background information
30. The United States is a constitutional
republic with three levels of government (federal, state and local) and
the classic separation of power between three branches. The legislative
power belongs to the bicameral Congress composed of the Senate (100
senators) and the House of Representatives (435 representatives). The
president, who is the head of state, also has executive power, which
he exercises via the administration. The judiciary includes the
Supreme Court and federal courts. Judges are appointed by the president
and approved by the Senate.
31. United States citizens have universal suffrage from the age
of 18 regardless of race, sex, or wealth, and both Houses of Congress
are directly elected. Members of Congress are elected for a four-year
term. The presidential election is indirect. Presidential electors
who form the United States electoral college are selected on a state-by-state
basis as determined by the laws of each state.
32. Though the United States has a well-established electoral
system, the presidential elections in 2000 and 2004 showed its limits
and undermined its credibility. In the 2000 election, which was
one of the most controversial in the history of the country, the
winning candidate, George W. Bush, received fewer popular votes
than his competitor, Al Gore, but obtained more electors. In both
2000 and 2004 elections, a number of irregularities were reported,
and doubts were expressed about whether the election was fair. The
Parliamentary Assembly has never been invited to observe elections
in the United States.
33. The political life in the country is dominated by two main
parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, and the “winner takes
all” principle of selection of presidential electors has in fact
created a two-party system where third parties have little chance
of winning an election.
34. Canada is a constitutional monarchy with Her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, as head of state. It is a parliamentary
democracy with a federal system of parliamentary government. The
constitution divides the power between the federal and provincial
governments. The Queen is represented by the governor general, who
formally appoints the prime minister and his cabinet. Traditionally,
the position of prime minister belongs to the current leader of
the political party which can obtain the vote of confidence in the
House of Commons.
35. The federal parliament consists of three components: the Sovereign
and two chambers, the House of Commons (308 members directly elected
by the people) and the Senate (105 members appointed on a regional
basis by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime
minister). General elections are at least held at least every five
years. Members of the Senate serve until the age of 75.
36. The judiciary includes the Supreme Court of Canada, consisting
of nine members appointed by the governor general on the advice
of the prime minister, and three branches of jurisdiction: federal,
provincial and military, with two or three levels of hierarchy.
37. The electoral system seems to function quite smoothly and
I am not aware of any reports of irregularities or election fraud.
To my knowledge, the Assembly has never observed elections in Canada.
38. Four political parties are currently represented in the House
of Commons: the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party
of Canada, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois and two
in the Senate (the Conservative Party of Canada and the Liberal
Party of Canada). In addition, several members of the House of Commons
and the Senate sit as independents, and three senators sit as progressive
conservatives. The political landscape includes a number of smaller
parties which have had parliamentary representation in the past.
39. Japan is a constitutional monarchy. The emperor, who is the
head of state, is defined by the constitution as “the symbol of
the state and of the unity of the people”, but does not play an
active role in day-to-day politics. Japan is a parliamentary democracy,
where the executive power is held by the cabinet, the head of which
is the prime minister appointed by the emperor after being designated
by the parliament from its members. Most members of the cabinet,
appointed by the prime minister, must also be members of the parliament.
40. The Japanese Parliament consists of the House of Representatives
(480 seats, elected by popular vote for a four-year term), and the
House of Councillors (242 seats elected by popular vote for a six-year
term). The constitution requires that the legislation passed by
the parliament be promulgated by the emperor, without, however,
granting him the power to oppose it.
41. The judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court, the chief
justice of which is appointed by the emperor as designated by the
cabinet and 14 members of which are appointed by the cabinet, and
two levels of lower courts.
42. The main political force in Japan, the Liberal Democratic
Party, has been in power for most of the time since 1955. The second
largest and main opposition party is the Democratic Party of Japan.
Other major parties are the New Komeito Party, the Japanese Communist
Party and the Social Democratic Party.
43. Mexico, whose official name is the United Mexican States,
is a federal republic with three levels of government: the federal
union, the state governments and the municipal governments.
44. At the federal level, the legislative power belongs to the
bicameral Congress of the Union, composed of the Senate (128 seats
elected by popular vote every six years) and of the Chamber of Deputies
(500 seats elected by popular vote every three years).
45. The President of the United Mexican States is head of the
state and government. The president is elected by popular vote for
one non-renewable six-year term. He appoints the cabinet.
46. The Supreme Court of Justice is composed of 11 judges appointed
by the Senate from lists presented by the president.
47. The three main political parties of Mexico are: the National
Action Party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party and the Party
of the Democratic Revolution. Five smaller parties currently have
seats in the congress.
48. The Assembly observed the Mexican general election held in
49. Israel is a parliamentary republic which does not have a constitution
but a set of basic laws. The legislative power belongs to a unicameral
parliament, the Knesset (120 seats elected by popular vote for a
four-year term via a proportional representation voting system).
The President of Israel, as the head of state, appoints the leader
of the majority party to the position of prime minister who forms
the cabinet. Its composition must be approved by a vote in the Knesset.
50. The judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court of Israel (currently
14 judges), as well as of lower (district and magistrate) courts.
The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President of
Israel upon the nomination of “the Judges’ Nominations Committee”.
The Nominations Committee is composed of nine members: three justices
of the Supreme Court (including the president of the court among
them), two ministers (one of them being the minister of justice),
two members of the Knesset and two representatives of the Israel Bar
51. Some 12 political parties are currently represented in the
Knesset, and another 20 participated in the last parliamentary elections
held in 2006 but did not pass the electoral threshold. The electoral
system is considered to provide conditions for free and fair elections.
The Assembly has not been invited to observe elections in Israel.
4.3 General assessment
52. The Committee of Ministers,
when adopting resolutions granting observer status to the United
States, Canada, Japan and Mexico, considered that those states “share
the ideals and values of the Council of Europe”. The Assembly expressed
similar views in its statutory opinions on respective requests for
53. Even if the functioning of democratic institutions in these
states may have a number of shortcomings, these do not challenge
the fundamentally democratic character of Council of Europe observer
54. I therefore conclude that, with the exception of the Holy
See, all other observers fulfil the condition of the Statutory Resolution
(93) 26 as regards the acceptance of the principles of democracy.
55. Subject to the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and
Human Rights, I assume that the observers are also in compliance
with the principles of the rule of law.
In contrast, the respect by some observers of human rights
and fundamental freedoms as defined by the Council of Europe is
a matter of controversy and concern. The Assembly has dealt with
some specific problems in this field in its resolutions and recommendations.Note
most controversial issue is undoubtedly the refusal, by the United
States and Japan, to adhere to the Council of Europe’s fundamental
position on the death penalty. I look forward to a detailed contribution
on this and other matters by the Rapporteur for Opinion of the Committee
on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
5 Co-operation with Council
of Europe institutions
5.1 Committee of Ministers and
its expert committees
57. Statutory Resolution (93) 26
offered the observers the possibility to follow activities of various
Council of Europe committees of experts. Though with varying degree
of involvement depending on particular interests, observers have
been active in this practical form of inter-governmental co-operation,
and have contributed to the elaboration of a number of Council of
58. Since September 2006, the observers can also be represented
at regular meetings of the Ministers’ Deputies.
59. Representatives of the observer states are regularly invited
to attend conferences of specialised ministers organised by the
Council of Europe.
60. A number of Council of Europe intergovernmental activities
receive voluntary financial support from observers. For instance,
the Canadian voluntary contribution to Council of Europe programmes
and projects amounted to more than €2.3 million in 2005-06, with
special focus on judicial and prison reforms in the Balkans (Bosnia
and Herzegovina and Serbia) and history teaching in South-East Europe.
Japan has provided voluntary contributions to various projects,
in particular in the Balkans and Moldova, which amount to more than €860
000. The United States is a major financial contributor to the activities
of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering
5.2 Parliamentary Assembly
61. Parliamentarians from the Council
of Europe observers Canada and Mexico, as well as the observer delegation
of the Israeli Knesset, are actively involved in co-operation at
the parliamentary level. Their valuable contribution to the Assembly
debates, as well as to the activities of the Assembly committees,
is highly appreciated.
62. Delegations from the Japanese Parliament regularly take part
in the annual enlarged debate on the activities of the OECD. These
delegations also took part in the Assembly debates on the United
Nations (2000) and on terrorism (2001). However, this once-a-year
presence does not allow for a sustained dialogue with the Assembly,
and remains confined to the problems of the world economy. Moreover,
the composition of the visiting delegations changes from one year
to another. For the dialogue to become more structured and meaningful,
it would be suitable to encourage the Japanese Parliament to ensure
a presence in Strasbourg at least twice a year, and to engage with
63. As regards the United States Congress, according to my information,
there have been no direct contacts at Assembly level in years, even
if the United States Government’s request for the observer status
in 1995 was supported by leading members of the Congress. One exception
was the Inter-parliamentary Forum on Transatlantic Dialogue organised
by the Political Affairs Committee in 2004. Though the Congress
may participate in the enlarged debate on OECD activities, it does
not show an interest in using this opportunity, preferring to focus
on the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,
where they enjoy full member-ship. The Assembly should perhaps take
a new initiative in this direction.
5.3 Other Council of Europe
64. Observers actively co-operate
with various Council of Europe partial or enlarged agreements. For instance,
all Council of Europe and Assembly observers have observer status
with the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission),
and have actively participated in various activities organised in
65. In addition, the Venice Commission was involved in the process
of revising the Mexican Constitution.
66. The United States has full member status with the Group of
States against Corruption (GRECO).
67. Canada has been following since 1991 the activities of the
European Pharmacopoeia and the Partial Agreement in the Social and
Public Health Field.
68. Japan is observer to the Co-operation Group for the Prevention
of, Protection Against, and Organisation of Relief in Major Natural
and Technological Disasters.
69. The Holy See is member of the Council of Europe Development
Bank (since 1973) and of the European Centre for Global Interdependence
and Solidarity (North-South Centre).
6 Participation in Council
of Europe conventions
70. The Council of Europe legal
instruments are undoubtedly among the best assets of our Organisation. There
are some 200 conventions and additional protocols, of which 148
instruments are open for signature and ratification by non-European
non-member states, though none are specifically designed for observer
states. Only 40 instruments are exclusively open to the Council
of Europe member states.
71. However, as shown by the following statistics, observer states
seem rather reluctant to join the Council of Europe legal area.
72. The United States has signed five Council of Europe treaties
and ratified three of them. Another 16 treaties are open for signature
by the United States.
73. Canada has so far signed seven conventions, of which it has
ratified two. It can sign 14 more conventions.
74. Japan is party to only one convention, and has signed another
one, while there are 13 instruments open to this state.
75. Mexico has signed three conventions, of which two have entered
into force. It has the right to sign seven treaties and has been
invited to accede to three more acts.
76. The Holy See has signed eight conventions, six are in force
and one denounced. It has the right to sign 22 conventions.
77. Israel has signed 10 conventions, eight are in force and one
denounced. It has the right to accede to five treaties.
78. Moreover, the dynamics of observers’ participation in the
Council of Europe conventions have not increased since these countries
obtained the status. These facts call for serious reflection, and
I intend to raise them in my forthcoming contacts both with representatives
of observers and the Council of Europe officials, so as to see what
can be done to improve the attractiveness of our legal instruments
7 Evaluation and improving
the functioning of observer status
7.1 Position of government representatives
79. In addition to my contacts
with representatives of Canada, Japan and Mexico, I have received
written contributions from two observers, Canada and Japan, on their
countries’ position with regard to the Council of Europe.
80. The Canadian contribution states that Canada fully shares
the same basic values that form the core mandate of the Council
of Europe: human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It is involved
with the Council of Europe in fields such as health, justice, culture
and social development. For Canada, the Council of Europe is a valuable
partner on key policy issues and standards, and a forum for exchange
of information in several fields on the latest developments and
best practices with experts from like-minded countries. It also
provides an opportunity to sensitise the development of legal instruments
in Europe to Canadian realities.
81. The Japanese contribution also stresses that Japan shares
fundamental values with the Council of Europe, such as human rights,
democracy and the rule of law, and is interested in strengthening
co-operation with the Organisation to promote these values. The
Council of Europe provides a forum for dialogue and the sharing
of information between Japan and Europe which contributes to harmonising
approaches to common issues. Japan provides support to Council of
Europe programmes through voluntary contributions. It also works in
parallel with the Council of Europe in achieving common objectives,
in particular, in the Western Balkans.
82. The Mexican representative has also underlined the importance
for her country to be in dialogue and co-operation with an organisation
based on the values and ideals that Mexico shares. The European
experience is of particular interest for Mexico and can have a positive
influence on its policies. One concrete example is the abolition
of the death penalty in Mexico following the granting of observer
status to the country.
83. Unfortunately, I have so far received no input from the United
States and the Holy See.
7.2 Position of Parliamentary
The Canadian parliamentary
observer delegation is globally satisfied with their co-operation
with the Assembly, even if some specific experiences may have been
rather disappointing. The written contribution by the delegation
raises the following specific points.
i In general, greater expectations regarding the involvement
of observer countries and delegations, including compliance with
the standards of the Council of Europe, would have to be accompanied
by the increased participatory rights of observers.
ii Consideration could be given to extending the Rules of
Procedure for enlarged Assembly debates on the activities of the
OECD to other committee meetings and debates on issues of special
interest for observers, or international organisations in which
observer states are members. The annual meeting of the Committee
on Economic Affairs and Development at the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development (EBRD) and the Assembly debate on the EBRD are mentioned
iii Observers to the Assembly should be given the opportunity
to participate more fully in studies, debates and votes, when these
directly affect the interests of their country. For example, the
Assembly could consider allowing observer delegates to propose revisions
to draft reports, move and support amendments to draft resolutions
and recommendations in committees and in the Assembly.
iv It would be helpful to have clearer rules, and a more
consistent and transparent interpretation of the rules by the secretariat,
with regard to the participation of observer delegations in meetings
of committees and in the Standing Committee. In this context, it
may be helpful for the Assembly secretariat to provide committee
secretariats and observers with written instructions that take into
account the above comments and best practices in committees where
observers have traditionally participated on a regular basis.
85. The Mexican parliamentary observer delegation appreciates
the possibility of dialogue with European parliamentarians sharing
the same values, but would like to have more opportunities to speak
in the Assembly and to enrich the European debate by presenting
a view from the outside. I have been promised a written contribution
from this delegation and I am looking forward to receiving it.
86. The Israeli Knesset observer delegation attaches great importance
to its participation in the Assembly debates and in committee meetings,
which represent for it an essential channel of communication with
Europe at the parliamentary level. Obviously, activities and discussions
related to the situation in the Middle East, and in particular the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are the issues to which the Israeli
observers pay the most attention. However, they show interest in
various other issues dealt with by the Assembly and would appreciate
a wider and more diversified co-operation with its committees.
87. The Japanese parliamentary representatives positively assess
their experience with the Assembly and have shown some interest
in extending the dialogue beyond issues related to the economy.
However, they seem to be worried that these discussions might be
dominated by the fundamental difference of views between the Assembly
and Japan on the issue of the death penalty. Moreover, the distance
between Tokyo and Strasbourg makes it difficult for them to be more
present in the Assembly.
88. Statutory Resolution (93) 26
creates an institutional framework for co-operation between the
Council of Europe and non-member states sharing the Organisation’s
ideals and values. Though the degree of involvement by different
observers in Council of Europe activities varies according to their
interests, one can conclude that the relationship between the Organisation
and observers has been globally positive and mutually beneficial.
89. However, the statutory resolution contains no formal commitments
and foresees no monitoring procedures. Observers are not legally
bound by specific Council of Europe standards as enshrined in its Statute
and core conventions and as upheld by various monitoring mechanisms.
This situation is a source of misunderstanding between the Council
of Europe and some observers on what the precise commitments of the
90. Yet, with the exception of the Holy See, states enjoying observer
status with the Council of Europe, and those whose parliaments have
observer status with the Assembly, are democracies committed to
human rights and the rule of law. It would therefore seem to be
appropriate to include these states, subject to their agreement,
in the framework of the Assembly reports on the state of human rights
91. On the other hand, the current situation where the granting
of observer status entails no formal commitments needs revision
before any new applications for observer status may be considered.
One approach would be to attach to the general criteria set out
in the statutory resolution a clearly defined set of standards to
which a state seeking observer status would commit itself to comply
with. The states already enjoying observer status could be invited
to undertake the same commitments on a voluntary basis. The draft recommendation
contains specific proposals to this effect to the Committee of Ministers,
including a call for the amendment of the statutory resolution,
and for the introduction of different categories of observers according to
the degree of their commitments.
92. All observer states should be encouraged to make full use
of the opportunities provided by involvement with the Council of
Europe as a forum for sharing experiences and best practices, a
framework for seeking common answers to challenges that both the
member and the observer states are facing, as well as a standard-setting
body, particularly in the fields of democracy, the rule of law,
human rights, and, if they so wish, in other areas of Council of
93. They should also be encouraged to participate more actively
in the work of the Committee of Ministers and all other Council
of Europe bodies and mechanisms open for their participation, including
the Forum for the Future of Democracy, to sign and ratify those
Council of Europe conventions which are open to non-member states,
and to support the Council of Europe in various international fora.
94. At the parliamentary level, observers should integrate more
effectively into the work and political processes in the Assembly,
its committees and political groups. Committees should be invited
to show more flexibility in dealing with issues of special sensitivity
to observers. At the same time, rules on observers’ participation
in committees should be applied uniformly.
95. Conditions must be created for parliamentary observers to
be better heard and to have more influence in the Assembly. To this
effect, the Political Affairs Committee could serve as a day-to-day
interface between observer delegations and the Assembly, and regularly
inform it of the state of co-operation. Moreover, observer delegations
should have an opportunity to present to the Assembly their views
on this co-operation.
96. The overall goal of suggested changes, both at the intergovernmental
and the parliamentary levels, is to create conditions for an enhanced
co-operation with observers on the basis of broader possibilities
and strengthened commitments to common values.
Statutory Resolution (93) 26 on
observer status(adopted by
the Committee of Ministers on 14 May 1993 at its 92nd Session)
This document is available on the Council of Europe Internet
Information Document CM/Inf(99)50
– 27 July 1999Criteria for the granting of observer status
with the Council of Europe
This document is available on the Council of Europe Internet
Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee. Reference
to committee: Reference No. 3125 of 1 September 2005.
Draft resolution and draft recommendation unanimously adopted
by the committee on 11 December 2007.
Members of the committee: Mr Abdülkadir Ateş (Chairperson),
Mr Konstantin Kosachev (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Zsolt
Németh (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Giorgi Bokeria (Vice-Chairman), Mr Miloš Aligrudić, Mr Claudio Azzolini,
Mr Denis Badré, Mr Radu Mircea Berceanu,
Mr Andris Bērzinš, Mr Alexandër Biberaj,
Mrs Guðfinna Bjarnadóttir, Ms Raisa Bohatyryova, Mr Predrag Bošković,
Mr Luc Van den Brande, Mr Lorenzo
Cesa, Mr Mauro Chiaruzzi, Ms Elvira Cortajarena,
Ms Anna Čurdová, Mr Rick
Daems, Mr Dumitru Diacov, Mr Michel Dreyfus-Schmidt, Ms Josette Durrieu, Mr Frank Fahey, Mr Joan
Albert Farré Santuré, Mr Pietro Fassino (alternate: Mr Pietro Marcenaro), Mr Per-Kristian Foss,
Ms Doris Frommelt, Mr Jean-Charles Gardetto, Mr Charles Goerens,
Mr Andreas Gross, Mr Davit Harutiunyan, Mr Serhiy Holovaty,
Mr Joachim Hörster, Mrs Sinikka
Hurskainen, Mr Tadeusz Iwiński,
Mr Bakir Izetbegović, Mrs Corien W.A. Jonker, Ms Darja Lavtižar-Bebler,
Mr Göran Lindblad, Mr Younal Loutfi, Mr Mikhail Margelov (alternate:
Mr Victor Kolesnikov), Mr Tomasz
Markowski, Mr Dick Marty, Mr Frano Matušić, Mr Murat Mercan, Mr Mircea
Mereută, Mr Dragoljub Mićunović (alternate: Mr Željko Ivanji), Mr Jean-Claude Mignon, Ms Nadezhda Mikhailova, Mr Aydin
Mirzazada, Mr João Bosco Mota Amaral,
Ms Natalia Narochnitskaya, Mrs Miroslava Nĕmcová, Mr Hryhoriy
Nemyrya, Mr Fritz Neugebauer, Mrs Kristiina Ojuland, Mr Theodoros
Pangalos, Mr Aristotelis Pavlidis, Mr Christos Pourgourides, Mr John
Prescott (alternate: Mr John Austin),
Mr Gabino Puche, Mr Lluís Maria
de Puig, Mr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, Mr Andrea Rigoni, Lord Russell-Johnston, Mr Oliver Sambevski, Mr Ingo
Schmitt, Ms Hanne Severinsen,
Mr Samad Seyidov, Mr Leonid Slutsky,
Mr Rainder Steenblock, Mr Zoltán Szabó, Baroness Taylor of Bolton
(alternate: Mr Denis MacShane),
Mr Mehmet Tekelioğlu, Mr Mihai
Tudose, Mr José Vera Jardim, Ms Birutė Vėsaitė, Mr Björn Von Sydow,
Mr Harm Evert Waalkens, Mr David Wilshire,
Mr Wolfgang Wodarg, Ms Gisela Wurm, Mr Boris Zala, Mr Krzysztof Zaremba.
Ex officio: MM. Mátyás
Eörsi, Tiny Kox.
NB: The names of those members present at the meeting are
printed in bold.
See 6th Sitting, 23 January 2008 (adoption of the draft resolution,
as amended, and draft recommendation, as amended); and Resolution 1600 and Recommendation