Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

Recent challenges to security in Europe: what role for the Council of Europe?

Doc. 15541: compendium of written amendments | Doc. 15541 | 20/06/2022 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1The Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, waged in open defiance of international law, has done grievous harm to the international order and unsettled the European multilateral architecture.
2Reacting to this serious violation of the Council of Europe Statute (ETS No. 1), the Committee of Ministers took the unprecedented decision of excluding the Russian Federation from the Organisation, in line with the unanimous position expressed by the Parliamentary Assembly in its Opinion 300 (2022). This war of aggression represents not just a challenge for the Council of Europe, but possibly the greatest test for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) since its creation in 1975, affecting its capacity to carry out its mandate with the consensus of all participating States.
3The historical changes due to the surge of a large-scale military threat in Europe have led a number of Council of Europe member States to abandon their neutrality, increase their military expenditure, and seek membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In parallel, NATO plans to adopt a new Strategic Concept at its Madrid Summit in June 2022, the first in 12 years. Furthermore, the European Union has found a new impetus to develop its Common Security and Defence Policy, with European Union leaders reaffirming their commitment to increase the European Union’s capacity in this area at the European Council meeting on 10-11 March 2022.
4Everyone’s eyes are cast on the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, but in Europe there are a number of other long-term open or frozen conflicts and various situations of tension. Alongside these, new security threats have emerged in the past two decades. Some threats are transnational, such as terrorism and violent extremism. Some rely on technology such as misinformation and disinformation, hacking of digital infrastructures, or interference with electoral processes. Migrants, energy and food are being weaponised in new forms of hybrid war. Some challenges are environmental and man-made, such as climate change. Some, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, can have a global impact on the economy, democratic governance and the exercise of fundamental freedoms.
5In this new security context fraught with risks, Council of Europe member States should renew their commitment to the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. They should reiterate their support for the Council of Europe as the cornerstone European organisation to develop a shared space for these values to thrive, in the pursuit of peace based upon justice and international co-operation. While Europe is experiencing a period of uncertainty, it should reaffirm its unity around the values which are, and should continue to be, the foundation for the multilateral architecture.

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 5, insert the following sentence:

"The political support for the next phases of European enlargement represents a strategic way of reinforcing the core values of the Council of Europe related to democratic security."

6Whereas defence issues are excluded from its remit, the Council of Europe should enhance the comprehensive and long-term security of its member States within the scope of its mandate and contribute to making them more resilient in countering threats and preventing conflicts, while providing a platform which is conducive to mutual trust and the development and consolidation of good neighbourly relations.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 6, insert the following paragraph:

"Our democratic values and the functioning of our democratic institutions are challenged by post-truth narratives, disinformation, narrow agenda-setting powers and recurrent attempts to manipulate public opinion. The answer to human rights violations and the condition of political prisoners in today's Russian Federation is more enforcement of the European citizen's civil and political right to be actively informed of all aspects regarding all stages of the policy-making and administrative/rule-making processes, in order to allow for full democratic participation, and hold public goods administrators to account according to the standards of human rights and the rule of law."

7Security is a wider concept than defence, and rests to a great extent on compliance with democratic processes, human rights and the rule of law. This notion of democratic security, first endorsed by Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe at the 1993 Vienna Summit, as well as the concept of “indivisible security”, included in the OSCE Charter of Istanbul of 1999, are today as relevant as ever.
8In this respect, the backsliding of democracy in Europe should be urgently addressed not only because of its domestic repercussions, but also because of the potential risks for democratic security on the whole continent. Supporting the role of civil society, increasing citizens’ trust in public institutions, innovating democratic practices, finding new ways of involving citizens in decision-making processes, reinforcing adherence to the rule of law and to fundamental rights and freedoms, and safeguarding media plurality and access to information are all essential elements to strengthen the resilience of democracies.
9In the light of these considerations, the Assembly calls on Council of Europe member States to:
9.1as regards democratic security:
9.1.1invest in all aspects of a comprehensive security approach, including deep/soft security, human security and democratic resilience;
9.1.2safeguard their societies from attacks on the good functioning of democracy, including disinformation and misinformation, and particularly from internal or external attempts to undermine, or interfere in, electoral processes;
9.1.3ensure adherence to the rule of law and to fundamental rights and freedoms, so as to build trust in public institutions;
9.1.4promote the role of civil society, finding ways of involving citizens in decision-making processes and safeguarding freedom of association;

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 9.1.4, insert the following paragraph:

"implement in parallel with the consolidation of existing standards set by the Convention on Access to Official Documents (CETS No. 205, "Tromsø Convention"), complementary measures for the effective safeguard of the right to know in accordance with the principles set out in this Convention, and ask NATO to ensure an effective collection and compilation, and timely publication of information of public interest, with a transparency after 30 years from documents' date, disclosing any secret accord establishing clandestine networks such as "Gladio";"

9.1.5ensure that the ability to access and impart information is protected, including by guaranteeing an independent and pluralistic media environment;
9.1.6prioritise good neighbourly relations with each other, and commit to resolving disputes and disagreements through dialogue and diplomacy;
9.1.7support cross-border co-operation and other efforts to defuse tensions and promote understanding at the local level, including with and among civil society;
9.1.8tackle socio-economic inequalities, which threaten the democratic stability of our countries and dent citizens’ trust in politics;
9.2as regards multilateralism:
9.2.1fully subscribe to rules-based multilateralism while striving for its further strengthening;
9.2.2review the European multilateral architecture in order to make it more responsive and effective in tackling the present challenges;
9.3as regards the role of the Council of Europe:
9.3.1give fresh impetus and political support to the central role of the Council of Europe as the guardian of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe and a platform for political dialogue, diplomacy and multilateralism;
9.3.2support the further development of Council of Europe work in the area of democratic security;
9.3.3allocate the necessary financial resources to ensure the financial sustainability of the Council of Europe;
9.3.4support the organisation of a fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, which would address, inter alia, the promotion of democratic security, countering democratic backsliding and its root causes, ways to rejuvenate democracy and spur citizen engagement, and the introduction, within the Council of Europe, of early warning mechanisms to timely address threats to the rule of law, democratic standards and human rights protection in its member States;
9.3.5allocate the necessary resources to ensure that the Council of Europe can expand its work on confidence-building measures to help build the foundations for long-lasting peace.
10As regards its own activities, the Assembly should:
10.1increase its focus on parliamentary diplomacy as a tool to defuse tensions, promote dialogue, reinforce mutual understanding and enhance confidence building and conflict prevention;
10.2contribute to the Council of Europe’s efforts at early warning, in order to address situations which risk posing a threat to the rule of law, democratic security and good neighbourly relations;
10.3in the context of the overall Council of Europe’s reflection on monitoring, consider reviewing its procedure relating to the monitoring of obligations and commitments by member States;
10.4place greater emphasis in its work on new security challenges and how they relate to democracy, human rights and the rule of law;
10.5enhance co-operation on deep/soft security matters, confidence building and conflict prevention with other international parliamentary assemblies, including the European Parliament, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly;
10.6strengthen co-operation and carry out joint activities with national parliaments on deep/soft security, confidence building and conflict prevention.

BDraft Recommendation

1The Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine has done grievous harm to the international order and unsettled the European security architecture. It represents a clash between two approaches to international relations: one based on dialogue, co-operation and a rules-based international order and another based on spheres of interest and imposing options through the use of force.
2In the face of this challenge, it is necessary to assert the unity of Europe around its values and give a new political impetus to the role of the Council of Europe as the cornerstone European organisation aimed at developing a shared space for democracy, human rights and the rule of law to thrive, in the pursuit of peace based upon justice and international co-operation.
3The goal to make the Organisation “fully capable of contributing to democratic security”, as declared by Heads of State and Government at the 1993 Vienna Summit, is today as relevant as ever, given the interdependence between respect for democratic standards domestically and an international position based on the respect for common rules. The Organisation should therefore have a clearer focus on reversing the current backsliding of democracy, proposing ways to rejuvenate the functioning of democracy and promote democratic resilience.
4At the same time, it is important for the Council of Europe to make better use of its bodies and mechanisms which can help enhance democratic security and have greater flexibility and capacity for rapid reaction in the face of negative trends which risk deterioration, sometimes with spill-over effects beyond national borders.
5In light of the foregoing, the Parliamentary Assembly invites the Committee of Ministers to:
5.1set up a Democratic Resilience Initiative which, building on the work of bodies and mechanisms which already exist within the Council of Europe, will monitor democratic developments in member States, and form the basis for enhanced political dialogue to help member States address situations of concern;
5.2enhance the exchange of best practice in all areas relating to democracy and democratic governance;
5.3establish a mechanism to monitor developments related to civil society, freedom of association, and civil participation and engagement in Council of Europe member States;
5.4consider strengthening and expanding the Council of Europe’s activities relating to confidence building measures and conflict prevention, including in its civil society and cross-border co-operation dimensions;
5.5convene a Fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, which would address, inter alia, the promotion of democratic security, how to counter the backsliding of democracy, ways to rejuvenate democracy and spur citizen engagement, and the setting up of a Council of Europe early warning mechanism to address threats to the rule of law, democratic standards and human rights protection.