The Declaration of Principles on Equality and activities of the Council of Europe
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Text adopted by
the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 25
November 2011 (see Doc.
12778, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights, rapporteur: Mr Cilevics; and Doc. 12785rev, opinion of the Committee
on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, rapporteur: Mrs Err).
See also Recommendation 1986 (2011).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly reiterates
the crucial importance of the principles of equality and non-discrimination,
as an essential part of the international protection of human rights,
already enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
2. On several occasions, the Assembly has taken a firm stance
on combating all forms of inequality and discrimination of different
persons and groups, including vulnerable groups such as national
minorities or persons with disabilities. In particular, in its Resolution
1547 (2007) on the state of human rights and democracy in Europe,
it has called upon all member states of the Council of Europe to
combat effectively all forms of discrimination based on racial,
ethnic or religious origin, gender or sexual orientation, and to
better protect the rights of persons belonging to national and other
3. The Assembly recalls that Protocol No. 12 to the European
Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 177) entered into force on 1
April 2005, enlarging the scope of the non-discrimination principle
laid down in Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights
(ETS No. 5, “the Convention”). Protocol No. 12 lays down a general
prohibition of discrimination in the “enjoyment of any right set
forth by law”.
4. However, only 18 of the 47 member states of the Council of
Europe have ratified this instrument so far. Nineteen other member
states have signed, but not yet ratified it. The Assembly stresses
that the ratification of Protocol No. 12 by all States Parties to
the Convention is necessary to ensure the full respect of the principle of
non-discrimination throughout Europe and to align the Council of
Europe standards on non-discrimination with the existing universal
norms on human rights protection.
5. The Assembly therefore reiterates its call on the States Parties
to the Convention which have not yet done so to sign and/or ratify
Protocol No. 12, without reservations or restrictive declarations.
6. The Assembly considers that the full realisation of the principle
of equality requires not only legislative measures, but also the
adoption and implementation of policies aimed at erasing and preventing de facto inequalities and protecting
vulnerable groups (such as national minorities, persons with disabilities
or immigrants) from discriminatory practices.
7. The Assembly welcomes the efforts of international non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) and experts aimed at strengthening the idea
of equality and non-discrimination, in particular the Declaration
of Principles on Equality, published in October 2008. Signed initially
by 128 prominent legal practitioners, academics and human rights
activists from 44 countries, including the Council of Europe Commissioner
for Human Rights, it has subsequently been endorsed by hundreds
of signatories (individuals and organisations).
8. The Assembly notes that the declaration defines equality and
the principle of non-discrimination as basic and free-standing human
rights and therefore considers it as a benchmark for progressive
equality norms and policies in the 21st century.
Consequently, the Assembly calls on the Council of Europe
member states to:
and abolish outdated legislation generating or permitting discrimination
towards persons belonging to disadvantaged groups;
adopt effective equality legislation aimed at eradicating
discrimination and promoting equality. Such legislation should,
9.2.1 identify discriminatory conduct and,
as appropriate, penalise breaches;
9.2.2 set out effective remedies available to alleged victims
9.2.3 cover all relevant grounds of discrimination, as well
as its multiple and compound forms;
9.2.4 establish strong independent bodies to combat discrimination
and to promote equality;
9.3 promote and develop effective equality policies, in particular
through the application of positive measures in favour of disadvantaged
persons, when applicable, for a limited period of time;
9.4 implement and develop anti-discrimination measures in
close dialogue and co-operation with civil society.
10. The Assembly calls on member states to take into account the
principles contained in thedeclaration when
adopting equality and non-discrimination legislation and policies.