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Strengthening the role of the Council of Europe as a guarantor of human rights and the rule of law

Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany

In his address to the Standing Committee today, German Minister of State Michael Roth stressed that strengthening the role of the Council of Europe as a guarantor of human rights and the rule of law was one of the top priorities of the German chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

“How can we ensure that member States comply with their commitments and fully comply with the judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights, without any restrictions?” he asked.

“Another important topic we want to give fresh impetus to is the accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights. It is something that is long overdue. We have resurrected this issue but it is not going to be plain sailing. We need to show compromise and we need to have a fair balancing of the interests at stake.”

He added that he hoped to have an important discussion at the next ministerial meeting in May on EU accession to the ECHR as well as on a possible legal instrument on artificial intelligence “to set a clear and important course in this area”.

Referring to the huge increase in domestic violence during the lockdowns, the Minister of State urged all Council of Europe member States who have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention. “Committing violence against women, committing violence against children, cannot be justified in any way at all by basing ourselves on cultural or religious arguments. This is outrageous,” he declared.

Among other priorities of the German chairmanship, he also recalled the need for guidelines to combat online hate speech as well as discrimination against Roma and Travelers, including through the promotion of their cultural contribution to society.