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Humanitarian consequences of the war between Georgia and Russia: follow-up given to Resolution 1648 (2009)

Reply to Recommendation | Doc. 12171 | 11 February 2010

Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 1076th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (3-4 February 2010) 2010 - March Standing Committee
Reply to Recommendation
: Recommendation 1869 (2009)
1. The Committee of Ministers first of all refers to its replies to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations 1846 (2008) and 1857 (2009), in which it clearly stated that the international community in general, and the Council of Europe in particular, had an important role to play in order to protect and promote human rights and humanitarian law following the conflict in August 2008. The Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers, Ms Calmy-Rey, has reiterated this and expressed the Council of Europe’s readiness to fulfil this role during her visit to Georgia on 16 and 17 January 2010. The Committee will continue to give particular attention to this question.
2. With regard to contacts with the other international organisations referred to in the Assembly’s recommendation, the Committee of Ministers would point out that the question of the aftermath of the August 2008 conflict has been on the agenda of all the Council of Europe/European Union quadripartite meetings held since those events, and of the last “2+2” meeting between the Council of Europe and the OSCE, held in September 2008. These contacts at the highest political level will be maintained in order to optimise co-ordination of the Council’s efforts with those of the international community. It is in the same spirit that the Secretary General’s regular reports on the human rights situation in the areas affected by the conflict have been forwarded to all interested international bodies.
3. An overview of the Council’s own action in this context was presented at the handover meeting of the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers from Slovenia to Switzerland on 18 November 2009, based on a report prepared by the outgoing Chairman. On that occasion, the Secretary General stated his intention to propose a new approach to give greater prominence to this action. The Assembly will be kept informed in good time of any decisions taken by the Committee of Ministers in this connection once it has received the Secretary General’s proposals.
4. As the Parliamentary Assembly is aware, the Committee of Ministers attaches great importance to and fully supports the activities of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the areas affect by the conflict. The Committee is ready to consider any request for additional support that it may receive from the Commissioner in this context.
5. The Committee of Ministers believes it essential to strengthen dialogue in order to establish trust between the parties to the conflict. The Council of Europe has already taken a number of initiatives to this effect, in particular by organising meetings between representatives of Russian and Georgian civil society and youth organisations. Nonetheless, more could be done. Particular attention will be focused on stepping up this action when the Committee of Ministers considers the proposals to be submitted by the Secretary General referred to above.
6. With regard to support for civil society in order to promote a strong human rights culture in the areas affected by the conflict, the Committee of Ministers agrees that this too is a question that warrants its attention. Nevertheless, in this matter as in all cases of assistance on the ground, the Council’s ability to take action will depend, as the Parliamentary Assembly is aware, on the possibility or lack thereof of access to the areas in question in order to provide assistance to those who need it. In this respect, the Committee can only reiterate its appeal to all the parties involved to facilitate such access. The Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers, Ms Calmy-Rey, reiterated the importance of access on the ground during her visit to Georgia on 16 and 17 January last.