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Handbook on “National parliaments as guarantors of human rights in Europe”

For several years, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been working on the need to ensure a more active involvement of Parliaments in the European Convention on Human Rights system, and in particular the need for regular and rigorous parliamentary oversight of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (the Court). Several texts have been adopted by the Assembly on this subject, including the Resolution 1823 (2011) on “National Parliaments: guarantors of human rights in Europe”.

In this context, since 2013, the Parliamentary Project Support Division (PPSD) organised a series of parliamentary conferences and seminars for staff members of parliaments of member States in order to promote and better implement Assembly texts at national level. These activities are carried out in close co-operation with the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights, the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the Court as well as international experts.

As a result of this work, in October 2018, a handbook for parliamentarians from Council of Europe member States was published to help parliamentarians fulfil their responsibilities with respect to human rights. This Handbook presents, in particular, various working methods and examples of best practices drawn from a number of national parliaments.

Thanks mainly to the voluntary contributions of member States (to date: Belgium, Cyprus, Poland, Switzerland) and other external funds, the Handbook will be translated into as many European languages as possible to make it more accessible. For instance, translations in Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian and Serbian were prepared in the framework of the joint European Union/Council of Europe "Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022" and its Action "PACE co-operation with Parliaments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia, with a view to achieving legislative improvements". Translation in Georgian and Ukrainian were done under the Action Plans for Georgia 2019-2020 and Ukraine 2018-2021 respectively.

A new series of conferences and seminars for members of parliament and staff of national parliaments is currently underway for 2020. These activities aim to continue improving parliamentary structures and mechanisms to guarantee human rights in Europe.