*The special guest status of the Belarus National Assembly was suspended by the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly on 13 January 1997.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) consists of a number of individual representatives from each member State.
Whilst in the Committee of Ministers each member State has one vote, in the Parliamentary Assembly the number of representatives and consequently of votes is determined by the size of the country. The biggest number is eighteen, the smallest two. As there are an equal number of representatives and substitutes, the total number of members of the Assembly is therefore 648, plus 30 Observers and 30 Partners for democracy.
In order to facilitate the process of accession of the countries from Central and Eastern Europe, the Assembly introduced in 1989 a so-called special guest status, applicable to all national legislative assemblies of European non-member states, which had signed the Helsinki Final Act (1975) and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. The status is now open to parliaments of states which have applied for membership of the Council of Europe.
The Assembly may also, on the proposal of the Bureau, grant Observer status to national parliaments of non-member states of the Council of Europe which meet the conditions set out in paragraph 1 of Statutory Resolution (93) 26 of the Committee of Ministers on Observer status.
Finally, by its Resolution 1680 (2009) the Assembly decided to establish a "partner for democracy" status. This status aims at developing co-operation with parliaments of non-member States of neighbouring regions.