Celebrating Europe Day and the founding of the Council of Europe, home to 47 member States and more than 830 million Europeans, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly made the following statement:
“The Covid-19 crisis has brought about unprecedented, multi-faceted, wide-ranging and no doubt lasting consequences for the social, economic and political life of our societies. But it has also taught us very valuable lessons on which we can draw to tackle the challenges ahead of us.
First, we can no longer ignore the intrinsic link between our health and the safety and the health of our planet. The right to a safe, clean and healthy environment should be embedded into solid legal foundations that give it substantive protection. To achieve this, I shall continue to advocate for the drafting of an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.
At the same time, we will continue our work to respond to needs arising from the occurrence of a new generation of rights, such as the effective protection of human rights in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
Second, the global pandemic confirms that the virus knows no geographical or political frontiers. Only by standing united in solidarity will we be able to rise to the immense challenges we are facing. Multilateralism remains the most effective way to make progress and identify sustainable long-term solutions to face future problems, and to make sure that the health crisis does not turn into a democracy crisis.
Third, the challenges and growing attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms call for strengthening our work to uphold, promote and preserve the Council of Europe convention system and all that it represents: high-level, progressive standards to guarantee the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens.
To overcome these challenges, we need to show courage and political leadership, and make effective use of multilateralism and parliamentary diplomacy, rooted in agreed equal standards and based on dialogue, trust and mutual respect.
Today more than ever, as Europeans, let us unite and stand for the fundamental values and freedoms at the core of the Council of Europe and its aim “… to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage”.