The Standing Committee (*) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) met in Rome on 25-26 November 2021, as Italy began its six-month Presidency of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.
The Standing Committee, which brings together around 60 of the Assembly’s leading members, held an exchange of views with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on the priorities of Italy’s Presidency, and heard welcome addresses by Roberto Fico, President of the Chamber of Deputies, and Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, President of the Senate.
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which fell on the same day, there was an exchange of views on the role of men in stopping gender-based violence. At the same time, the committee approved a report revising the Assembly’s Code of Conduct introducing the explicit prohibition of sexism, sexual harassment and sexual violence and misconduct.
Italian Minister of Justice Marta Cartabia intervened during the discussion of a report on fighting corruption, including general principles of political responsibility.
A current affairs debate on the situation of migrants on the border of Poland and Belarus also took place.
The Standing Committee marked the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions with a report on the increasing synergy between international humanitarian law and international human rights.
A similar report to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention focused on the international protection of refugees, with a separate report on the voluntary relocation of migrants in need of humanitarian protection and the voluntary resettlement of refugees.
Other reports debated included the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education and culture, the best interests of the child and policies to ensure a work-life balance, the gender aspects and human rights implications of pornography, and discrimination against Roma and Travellers in the field of housing.
(*) The Standing Committee, which acts on the Assembly’s behalf between plenary sessions, is made up of the President and Vice-Presidents of the Assembly, the chairpersons of political groups, the chairpersons of national delegations and the committee chairpersons, totalling some 60 parliamentarians from the Council of Europe’s 47 member States.