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Special guests, Observers and Partners for democracy

Special guest Status

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 have signed the Helsinki Final Act (1975) and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. The status is now open to parliaments whose member states have applied for membership to the Council of Europe.The decision to grant special guest status is taken by the Bureau of the PACE.

The National Assembly of Belarus obtained the status on 16 September 1992 but it was suspended on 13 January 1997 by a decision of the Bureau. The number of seats allocated to each special guest delegation is the same (although without substitutes) as that likely to be attributed when becoming a full member.

Special guests have many rights in the Assembly and in committees (except in the Joint Committee, the Monitoring Commitee and the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs), with the exception of the right to vote or to stand for election.

Observers

The Assembly may, 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. 

The Assembly shall specify the number of members of Observer delegations (at the moment the parliaments of Canada, Israel, Mexico). The parliaments concerned are not required to submit credentials to the President of the Assembly but, in appointing their delegations, they should reflect the various currents of opinion within their parliaments.

Members of such delegations may sit in the Assembly but without the right to vote. They shall have the right to speak with the authorisation of the President of the Assembly.

They may attend committee meetings as provided in Rule 48.5.
(Source: rule 63 of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly)

Partners for democracy

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 as a means of consolidating democratic transformations and promoting stability, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The national parliaments of all southern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries participating in the Union for the Mediterranean-Barcelona Process and of central Asian countries participating in the OSCE are eligible to request partner for democracy status with the Assembly.

The Assembly shall specify the number of members of partner for democracy delegations (at the moment the parliaments of Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Palestine). The parliaments concerned are not requested to submit credentials to the President of the Assembly but they should appoint delegations composed to ensure a fair representation of the political parties or groups within the parliament.

Members of such delegations may sit in the Assembly but without the right to vote. They shall have the right to speak with the authorisation of the President of the Assembly.

They may attend committee meetings as provided in Rule 48.5 of the Rules of Procedure.
(Source: Rule 64 of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly)