Most of the reports debated in plenary session or at the Standing Committee are prepared by a committee.
These nine general committees of the Assembly mostly have sub-committees on specific subjects, and may create ad hoc committees for specific activities. All committees meet during the part-sessions in Strasbourg and most meet at least once in-between part-sessions, usually in Paris.
Many Assembly activities take place at the level of committees. Members may be either a full member or an alternate in committees, but cannot be a full member of more than two committees (except the Monitoring, Rules and Election of Judges Committees).
Most debates in the plenary Assembly and in the Standing Committee take place on the basis of committee reports. The committee reports are prepared (in English and French) and presented by a rapporteur, with the help of the Secretariat.
Several Assembly reports have a high media impact, prompting direct government reactions and triggering political change (e.g. the report on the alleged secret detentions in Council of Europe member states prepared by the Swiss senator Dick Marty).
Once an Assembly text is adopted, this is not the end of the story. Since the Assembly reform of 2011, the rapporteur and the relevant committee are mandated during the twelve months following the adoption of the text to check the implementation of measures proposed therein.
Moreover, committees may appoint general rapporteurs to cover a particular field or topic, in order to promote the Assembly's decisions thereon.
Any member of the Assembly who considers that an issue is relevant for examination and debate by the Assembly may draft a short motion for a resolution or a recommendation outlining the issue. With the requisite support of signatures by twenty Assembly members from five different national delegations, the Presidential Committee and the Bureau will consider whether the issue merits further consideration by a committee. If they agree, the relevant committee is asked to examine the issue by appointing a rapporteur to draft a report.
The draft report, including a draft resolution and/or draft recommendation, will be voted upon by the Committee and then sent to the plenary Assembly or the Standing Committee for debate. At the end of the debate, amendments to the draft resolution or draft recommendation can be considered.
Once the resolution or recommendation is adopted, the rapporteur and the relevant committee are mandated for the next twelve months to ensure the follow-up of the measures proposed therein.