In an annual end-of-year message, Rik Daems, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has recalled some of the successes and challenges of 2021.
“It is with both setbacks and achievements that we summarise the year 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic still has Europe and the world in a tight grip. More than ever, it is essential that parliaments remain the guardians of respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law, making sure that all protective measures do not challenge our fundamental freedoms,” the President said.
Reviewing the Assembly’s work over the year, the President highlighted its recent action on the environment: “For our Parliamentary Assembly, 2021 also marks a year of significant achievements. Most notably, perhaps, is our unanimous vote to recognise that living in a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a fundamental human right that should also be recognised as such in reference legal texts such as the European Convention on Human Rights. This represents a paradigm shift in environmental protection, and I am proud that our Assembly has taken the lead on this issue – not least by showing respect for the wishes of young people and future generations.”
The President went on to point out that in 2022, the Parliamentary Assembly must intensify its work. “The common challenges ahead of us are many. Following up on our work to ensure the right to a healthy environment, ending violence against women by the effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention, and turning the tide on the rise of authoritarianism – we have our work cut out for us.”
“When we as Europeans come together, parliamentarians, presidents, ministers, and activists, we really have a chance to make a difference. We have done it before, and we can do it again,” the President concluded.