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27 January 2023 morning

2023 - First part-session Print sitting

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Opening of the sitting No 9

Debate: Emergence of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) and their necessary apprehension through European human rights law


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Dear Colleagues,

The sitting is open.

The first item on the Agenda this morning is a debate on the report titled "Emergence of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) and their necessary apprehension through European human rights law", presented by Mr Damien COTTIER on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

In order to finish by 11:00 a.m., I will interrupt the list of speakers at about 10:45 a.m. to allow time for the reply and vote on the draft resolution.

I call Mr Damien COTTIER, rapporteur.

You have 7 minutes now, and 3 minutes at the end to reply to the debate.

You have the floor.


Switzerland, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

Dear colleagues,

This report was, I must say, essentially the work of our former colleague from the Assembly, Mr Fabien GOUTTEFARDE from France, who was rapporteur until last summer on this subject. He made an important contribution to this work and I was content, in fact, with the indispensable support as always of the Secretariat, to finalise what Mr Fabien GOUTTEFARDE had prepared.

What are we talking about today? A category of new weapons that has been under development for several years: "lethal autonomous weapons systems" or LAWS. Our Assembly is interested in this because such weapons risk transgressing the rules of international humanitarian law and human rights, to the detriment of the protection of human beings. Fifty-four non-governmental organisations have in fact launched a campaign to obtain a preventive ban on these emerging technologies.

Since 2014, the states parties to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons have been holding regular discussions - in Geneva in particular - on autonomous weapons, in order to develop a common definition and a beginning of a framework. They have formed an ad hoc group of governmental experts for this purpose.

LAWS, or lethal autonomous weapons systems, raise new legal issues. The report does not attempt to prohibit their development and use, but to regulate them. And why? After all, the history of mankind, Madam President, shows us numerous examples of how technological advances cannot be stopped by bans, especially in the field of weapons development. In my opinion, the best hope lies in controlling of the use of these weapons, with the main objective of better protecting non-combatants.

This report attempts to define these lethal autonomous weapons systems in relation to automated or remotely piloted weapons such as armed drones. The main difference is that in the case of drones, for example, the target selection or decision to engage lethal force is always made by a human being. In contrast, LAWS are systems that, once deployed and activated, can make target selection and lethal force decisions autonomously, i.e., without human intervention.

The main debate revolves around the degree of autonomy that is permissible for LAWS or, conversely, the degree of human control that must be preserved to ensure compliance with the rules of law. The necessary human control can be exercised at the development stage, including the technical design and programming of the system, at the moment of activation, or during the operational phase of the weapon. In discussions among governments, the need for "meaningful" or "effective" human control - these are the two terms that are used - or appropriate human judgment is mentioned. Whatever terminology is used, the criteria for defining human control must not be disconnected from the realities of war; otherwise, they will simply be ignored.

The report analyses the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The Court has emphasised that Article 2 of the Convention, which enshrines the right to life, must be interpreted in the light of the general principles of international law, including international humanitarian law. From Article 2 follows the need to clearly regulate the use of these autonomous weapons systems.

There is a case, Streletz, Kessler and Krenz v. Germany, concerning the border police regime in East Germany: this case illustrates the need for assessing whether such weapons should be used. The weapons used in this case, anti-personnel mines and automatic firing systems, were not autonomous, a defined in the term LAWS, but because of their automatic and indiscriminate effect, the Court found that their use blatantly violated the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Convention and, in particular, the right to life.

Another necessary assessment is that of proportionality, for example between the value of life and military advantage. It is the responsibility of humans who use these weapons to make such an assessment, which must be part of the so-called "meaningful" human control. The Court emphasised that states that are pioneering the development of new technologies have a special responsibility to strike the right balance in assessing this proportionality.

Whether an attack complies with the principle of distinction or proportionality is based on values, Madam President, not on numbers or technical indicators. Therefore, human judgment cannot be delegated to a machine or an algorithm.

Unlike humans, machines do not have feelings and are not moral agents. If a person commits a crime with an autonomous weapon, it is the person who commits the crime, using the weapon as a tool. Some decisions about the use of weapons therefore require legal and moral judgments. Human beings should therefore retain significant control by maintaining both moral and legal responsibility for the use of these weapons.

The use of LAWS in conflict therefore raises new questions that highlight possible gaps in international law, particularly in terms of liability, and in the case of malfunctioning or poor design. The elaboration of international regulations therefore seems indispensable, especially since the use of such weapons lowers the threshold for the outbreak of armed conflicts, since the risk of human casualties can be greatly reduced.

In view of the latest developments in the group of international experts, summarised in the report, we propose to develop an intermediate solution, between a pure and simple ban and the absence of regulation, a solution with two components:

- first, universal recognition that these fully autonomous weapons that select targets and eliminate them without meaningful human control can never be consistent with international law;

- second, the development of a legal framework for other partially autonomous lethal weapons systems by putting rules in place.

We propose that this be done through an international instrument negotiated within the framework of the United Nations, and that in the meantime a non-binding code of conduct be developed for state behaviour. This can also serve as a guide for the negotiators of a future convention.

I thank you for this.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

The first speaker on our list on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is Mr André GATTOLIN.

Mister André GATTOLIN, you have the floor.


France, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Madam President.

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, on behalf of the ALDE Group, I would like to thank our colleague Mr Damien COTTIER for the quality of his report and the fact that he has taken over, almost immediately, from our former colleague Mr Fabien GOUTTEFARDE, who is an expert on these issues.

According to the definition of the International Committee of the Red Cross to which this report refers, autonomous lethal weapons systems would be defined as "any weapon system that is autonomous in its critical functions, capable of selecting and attacking targets without human intervention".

The moral question is then obvious. While Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights affirms the right to life, can we accept, and if so to what extent, that a weapon system can give death without human intervention in this critical phase? Can safeguards be provided by maintaining appropriate human control and accountability?

Referring to the approach proposed by some European states in the ongoing discussions on the subject, the resolution before us proposes a two-pronged approach. It seems to me to be balanced.

On the one hand, we would affirm that fully autonomous lethal weapons systems, without any meaningful human control, could never be in conformity with international humanitarian law and human rights. They would, therefore, be banned outright.

On the other hand, we would call for the development of a legal framework for other partially autonomous lethal weapons systems, with rules tailored to the particular challenges posed by these weapons, to ensure compliance with the laws of war.

Point 13.2 of the resolution specifies the scope of this appropriate human control throughout the life cycle of the system and affirms the need to maintain human responsibility.

Finally, point 16, while awaiting this new legally binding international instrument which could be created, sets out a code of conduct, which is certainly not binding, but which could serve as a guide for the negotiators of the future convention which we are calling for.

In the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, I was able to gauge the sensitivity of the subject in these two respects, and we will come back to this when we discuss the amendments.

For my part, I fully support the approach proposed to us. It seems to me to be pragmatic and, in fact, more effective, particularly –it must be said– in the geopolitical context we are experiencing, where certain countries dispense with any respect for the rules of international law.

The most important thing seems to me to be to affirm clearly that human responsibility must continue to be exercised, since the responsibility of the state and the individual can never be transferred to machines. This is the case with the text presented.

The ALDE Group supports the proposed resolution.

Thank you very much.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

The next speaker is Ms Olena KHOMENKO on behalf of the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

You have the floor.


Ukraine, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Dear Rapporteur,

Ddear Colleagues,

Talking about autonomous weapons, countries which are victims of aggressive states may find themselves in a very vulnerable position.

Russia conducts a genocidal war against Ukraine not appreciating lives of their own people. Hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers marched to our lands, and many more are to come this year.

This reckless approach leaves a more limited Ukrainian Armed Forces searching for very creative solutions, searching for assistance from our partners.

It also appears that we will experience an arms race during our war too, and it includes autonomous weapons.

Despite our fear of humanitarian considerations, our enemy will not rest to invent new ways to terrorise Ukrainians on a massive scale. Thus, we will employ all legally available tools to our defenders.

Make no mistake, our world is unlikely to make a full introduction of real autonomous weapons into battlefields.

We actively use tools that engage humans in the loop, and come to use weapons, human on the loop.

If it appears that a certain solution, according to our assessment, complies with international humanitarian norms and brings feasible military advantage, we will employ that too.

It is a battle against aggression, aggressors, with genocidal intents. We believe we're in a position to choose means to protect ourselves as we can.

Reflecting on this report, I may doubt the kind of formula for future autonomous weapons. We shall make these weapons very context-specific. Otherwise they will remain very blind to the contextual world.

Most of the contexts would definitely miss the target and lead to massive human rights violations.

However, we may carefully tailor those very narrow cases when it could be essential. Ukraine is ready to contribute and participate in the development of future mechanisms starting with mentioned codes of conduct, and also when it reflects to legal terms.

Let's preserve the humanity within us while hindering the enemies of democracy, and thank all the partners for the protection of democracy against darkness.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I call next Mr Bjarni JÓNSSON on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mister Bjarni JÓNSSON, you have the floor.


Iceland, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Madam President,

I would like to start by thanking the rapporteur for his report and for bringing these vital discussions to the Assembly.

It is of utmost importance that this Assembly in the strongest manner calls for the universal recognition that fully autonomous lethal weapon systems that select targets and eliminate them without meaningful human control can never comply with international humanitarian and human rights laws and are therefore prohibited by international law as it stands now and should be further reinforced in a unified way.

The Icelandic parliament passed a resolution in 2016 expressing support for a ban on the production and use of autonomous weapon systems. This appears to be the first parliamentary resolution on fully autonomous weapons to be passed worldwide. The resolution asked the government to monitor this issue at the United Nations and in other international fora. The Nordic countries have since then taken a lead in this respect and I urge other nations to follow through as well and push for legally binding actions.

There are grave ethical concerns with regard to autonomous lethal weapons systems that we need to keep in mind and I think that this Assembly of all places should take a strong stand against any type of development that lowers the threshold for engaging in conflict and that undermines the fundamental issue of human dignity by allowing humanity and human intelligence to be left out of the decision process of taking a human life.

The detrimental, demoralised ethical indifference associated with the use of autonomous lethal weapons is alarming. Whether they are used in localised conflicts, full-scale war or assassination missions in a faraway location for the elimination of unwanted or dangerous individuals deemed justified and necessary targets, not only are the targets human beings, but so are their families, their neighbours, bypassers and civilians that too often become collateral damage of such missions.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I call next next Mr Christophe LACROIX on behalf of the Socialist Group.

You have the floor.

Mr Christophe LACROIX

Belgium, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you.

Do we want to allow fully autonomous robots to kill humans?

If I oversimplify, this is the fundamental legal, ethical and, dare I say, humanity question that we must answer. Autonomous lethal weapons systems are a threat; a terrible, terrible and current threat to the values that the Council of Europe stands for.

Obviously, the report and the resolution proposed to us today by our colleague Mr Damien COTTIER, whom I would like to thank, provide a series of nuances and definitions that are essential in this eminently complex debate.

Very serious work – and I congratulate you, Mr Rapporteur – has been carried out on the definition of LAWS. We need to find a definition that allows us to prohibit weapons systems which, without any human intervention and in an entirely autonomous manner, are capable of selecting and attacking a human target.

This definition, which is included in the report, makes it possible to frame new technological developments that could raise serious concerns under international humanitarian law, as indicated by the International Court of Justice, without calling into question existing systems that comply with this framework.

Defending human rights: the foundation of the Council of Europe must be and remain our priority. The SOC Group cannot therefore be satisfied with making these human rights conditional on so-called military competitiveness when war is back on the European continent. A whole series of weapons are now banned: dirty weapons, anti-personnel mines, cluster bombs and certain chemical weapons. We intend to continue to fight and to perpetuate a tradition of bans. And technological innovation cannot take precedence over respect for human rights.

Today, these fully autonomous weapons systems are less and less science fiction: we know this. Some rogue states and private companies are working intensively on them, not to mention non-state sectors, mercenaries and terrorists.

Of course, we need an international framework to regulate LAWS, and of course I support - we support - the multilateral approach, but we need to achieve this goal much more quickly. We also advocate that the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly recommend that member states adopt national legislation.

I would like to congratulate Iceland for having taken a resolution on this matter; in my Belgian Federal Parliament, we are a few weeks away from being able to adopt a bill to ban, regulate and control such weapons.

Let us continue to grow by legislating so that the coldness of a machine never, ever prevails over human reason: this is the message we wanted to deliver.

I thank you for this.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And our last speaker on behalf of political groups is Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN from Group of the European People's Party.

You have the floor.


Armenia, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Some 15 years ago, when I was a young researcher, I was invited as an expert to a moot court competition in IHL [International Humanitarian Law] which was titled "Game of Drones". I think that it is something unrealistic. It is impossible to have drones flying, killing, deciding something. It is something which would never happen.

I should confess at that time I was very naïve. I'm not very naive now. I would like just to say that, unfortunately, because nobody knows, we cannot stop the development of what we are calling lethal autonomous weapon systems. States are interested in it, huge corporations are interested in it, armies are interested in it, and we cannot reverse the technological progress.

Everybody knows here that I am fully against using the word "LAWS" when we addressing the autonomous lethal weapon, because I'm afraid in couple of years we would use the word "laws" to identify these machines more often than to identify the statutes, identify the droits as such.

Because some 10 years ago, nobody understood what a drone is; it was a biological term. We should be very careful about this. For sure, from the very bottom of my heart, I would like to wish this kind of weapon, which may be very dangerous, were banned. Whether it is realistic or not, unfortunately I do believe that it is impossible.

I understand the Belgian approach. I know how interested Belgium was in the prohibition of several type of weapons starting from the Martens Declaration in 1899. We should understand that the technologies are developed and technologies require some amendments, for sure.

For every one of us, it's a little bit strange to speak here about "robot killers" or "killer robots", but they may somehow someday become the reality and may change the very essence of the war.

Nobody knows, whether after this the war will be more humane or less humane. Whether it would lead us to catastrophe or allow us to survive, a lot of human lives, but this is the trend of development of technologies.

What should we do? We should, from the very beginning of the process of development of such kind of weapons, regulate ethical, legal, moral, and other aspects of activities of such weapons. Otherwise, we will have the situation of unregulated weapons, which would lead to more catastrophic results, than if we started to regulate them, for sure. Maybe somehow we'll come to the idea that they should be banned, but I do not believe that. A corresponding situation it is possible.

I would like to thank our rapporteur for this report. I do believe that we should be very very interested in this kind of developments. This report should be one of the main activities we should continue in order to regulate the possible development of such weapons.

Thank you so much.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

The next speaker is Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ.

You have the floor.

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC


Thank you, Madam Vice President.

Dear Colleagues,

I had a certain feeling of uneasiness when reading this report, a report that is otherwise a solid and well-constructed work. Well done, Damien COTTIER. No, this deeper feeling is in fact the questioning of the finality, the meaning of all this.

Let's do a little history. Over the centuries, there has been a general tendency for the art of war to evolve. We can imagine the first combatants, with just a weapon, who faced each other. Then came the time of armors, of shields to protect the individual. Then we moved on to projectiles to create distance and less risk. We ended up with tanks, for example. Indeed, gradually, there is an awareness of the importance of human life.

In recent history, we should think of the situation in the United States, which had a very difficult time with the return of the thousands and thousands of American soldiers who died in Vietnam, with great negative reactions from the population. Then there is the landmark example of Israel, which, in its war against Hezbollah, with a few dozen dead, had a very hard time with these few dozen dead, while on the other side, in Hezbollah, there were hundreds and hundreds. Somehow, for the Palestinian people, this did not have the same value.

In the developed, rich countries human life has become so important that, somewhere along the line, they wanted to do everything possible to have weapons that were a means to, as little as possible, risk human life. So came the drones with human control but, effectively, you can kill your enemy from a distance, without risk. Now, LAWS, which, in fact, are drones but with the presence of the autonomy of the weapon until the end.

This report is very thorough in describing all the safeguards necessary to make the use of these weapons acceptable. I have heard the various explanations and, in the expression of most of the speakers, there was always this doubt, where to draw the line, with some also suggesting that a ban would be a good thing. No matter what you do, these LAWS are going to be very high-risk, because there is no final control: risks to civilians, risks of blunders, especially if you want to hit an adult, and then there is a child next door, well, that's it. That's the way it is. You have to think that today's wars are rarely wars like we see in Ukraine now. It is most often in cities that it happens and that it will happen.

I would also like to point out that these LAWS are ideal weapons for terrorism. The only option, for me, is a ban. We have banned anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and chemical weapons. It is true that these LAWS exist, will exist and will develop. We will have to deal with them. We will have to learn how to protect ourselves from them, but, in my opinion, trivialising their use will only make them more commonplace and more frequent. Our goal is to defend human rights, and, truly, these LAWS are not the best way to imagine the defense of human rights.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Our next speaker is Mr Claude KERN.

Mister Claude KERN, you have the floor.

Mr Claude KERN

France, ALDE


Thank you, Madam President.

My dear colleagues,

I would like to thank our colleague Mr Damien COTTIER and, before him, our former colleague Mr Fabien GOUTTEFARDE for this important work on the emergence of autonomous lethal weapons systems and their inclusion under the European law on human rights.

The conduct of the war in Ukraine, after the atrocities committed in Syria or in other battlefields, reminds us how little respect certain states have for international law, and in particular for international humanitarian law. It is in this light that this debate and the proposal before us on autonomous lethal weapons systems must be judged. Whatever one thinks of them, they are bound to develop.

A pure and simple ban on all forms of these systems does not seem to me to be feasible: a number of countries would not follow it. On the other hand, it seems to me essential to define a regulatory approach that would allow clear limits to be set with regard to international humanitarian law and, in particular for us, the right to life affirmed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

To remove all human control and responsibility in the conduct of the act of killing seems to me to be totally impossible on a moral level. It would be absolutely contrary to our values. The resolution proposed to us by our colleague Mr Damien COTTIER is very clear on this point, since point 13-1 states that "LAWS operating completely outside human control and a responsible chain of command are illegal."

The resolution goes on to propose the establishment of an appropriate legal framework for other partially autonomous lethal weapons systems and, in the meantime, advocates the development of a code of conduct that would provide clear direction from the outset. I support this approach, which seems to me to be both in line with the values that we defend in this Assembly and lucid in view of the issues at stake and the practices of a number of states.

We cannot accept the development of killer robots beyond human control. We must therefore affirm clear principles to put human rights back at the heart of our reflections.

I would like to thank Mr Damien COTTIER for having done so as part of this work. I hope that the member states of the Council of Europe will be really active on this sensitive issue.

I thank you.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Our next speaker is Mr Pavlo BAKUNETS.

Mister Pavlo BAKUNETS, you have the floor.


Ukraine, EC/DA


Dear President,

Dear members of the Assembly,

No one in Europe knows more than Ukrainians about the pain and death that weapons bring.

Ukrainians also understand how weapons can help defeat an aggressor.

Everything depends on whose hands the weapons are in.

Paragraph 9 of this resolution has a very clear lesson for us: Autonomous weapons systems must not be used if they are likely to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.

The Russian occupiers made a real massacre in Irpin, Borodianka, Izum. They dropped a 500-kilogram bomb on the Mariupol theatre where at least there were women and children.

Russia launched missiles direct at the mall in Kremenchuk city and an apartment building in Dnipro city.

People can be many times more cruel than machines and, unlike robots, they can enjoy it.

Now imagine how the same government in the future will use LAWS to commit war crimes.

As a result, it will be harder to bring them to justice in a tribunal, because they will say, "It was all robots, it was not us."

On the other hand, LAWS can save many soldiers' lives, which is also very, very important.

Ukraine loses at the front many great citizens every day. The opportunity to save lives is priceless. We understand that.

Therefore, before arming countries with LAWS, we need clear rules for their application and, more importantly, strict punishments for their violation. Thus, a legal framework opened to the participants of all democratic states should be created as soon as possible.

Thank you.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

The next speaker is Ms Petra BAYR.

Madam Petra BAYR, you have the floor.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC


Thank you very much,

Since I will only have thirty seconds to explain my amendment later, I would like to address the issue of codes of conduct here and now. Previous speakers have said how these automated weapons systems are developing incredibly rapidly, and I don't believe we have time for all these legalistic manoeuvres. Rather, we have got to find a straightforward path ahead; we have got to look at how human control can be exercised over these systems and make sure we can do something about it.

Dear colleagues

We have been elected as members of parliaments to make laws at the national level and we are sitting here in a parliamentary assembly of a supranational organisation to try and devise international law that is as binding as possible. We have not been elected to make codes or any guidelines or principles or anything else; we have been elected to make laws. And that is why it is so important in the face of such a serious issue.

Many of you know what happens with codes and principles. If we look at the discussion on corporate responsibility in supply chains, where it is a question of companies not violating labour rights or not devastating the environment, we have been at this for decades, both from the United Nations and from the OECD. We've got a whole raft of conducts and principles, but we still see slavery and child labour and all kinds of environmental destruction. And these codes and principles and guidelines there are, in my view, mainly there to delay the process to really robust legislation.

If we look at how long it took to develop the supply chain law at the EU level, and we still are nowhere near a decision on that. Or look at how many years the United Nations Human Rights Council has been wrangling over the Binding Treaty on State Responsibility and nothing has progressed, because so many people just sit back and say: "We have the Guiding Principles anyway, we have the codes anyway, we have some things that companies can adhere to anyway" - but they don't have to. This is why I, personally, believe codes of conduct are something that slow us up. We have got to negotiate as quick as possible and not waste time, and that's why it's important that we get down to what we were elected to do - which is to make international laws.

None of these voluntary measures are probably enough in the face of these urgent human rights problems. And while I thank you for this report, which I think is really good and important, we will not be able to solve this problem alone like this.

Thank you very much.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Our next speaker is Ms Zeynep YILDIZ.

Madam YILDIZ, you have the floor.

Ms Zeynep YILDIZ

Türkiye, NR


Thank you Madam Chair, dear colleagues,

The acceleration of technological developments based on artificial intelligence necessitates adopting an ethically based approach to this field. With this viewpoint, the establishment of ethical infrastructure of artificial intelligence is also on the agenda of the Council of Europe.

Considering all the usage areas of artificial intelligence, determining a shared ethical use grant will not only benefit those who use this technology, but also those who produce this technology.

The sustainability of this technology is not only possible with compliance with ethical rules. At this point, to protect the right of life which is guaranteed by international conventions, and to use AI-based technologies as a guarantee to this right, it is our common responsibility.

At this point, I would like to thank the rapporteur for the systematic approach to the content.

A concrete definition of lethal autonomous weapons is an important step. The division presumed in the report regarding lethal autonomous weapon systems, which are able to select individual targets without human intervention, provides an important framework for not ignoring the human factor in the use of artificial intelligence.

Again, in addition to the systematic definitions made in the report, we see that some cases are included. These examples are also important in terms of revealing the importance of the defence systems to ensure the protection of the rights and lives of civilians; we see such an example in Ukraine too.

Therefore, as suggested in the report, maintaining the human responsibility and accountability in all circumstances where these autonomous systems are deployed is the key for safeguarding human rights.

We need to take action on that point.

Thank you very much.



Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you. 

Our last speaker is Mr Björn Leví GUNNARSSON.

Mister GUNNARSSON, you have the floor.


Iceland, SOC


Lethal autonomous weapon systems. I will speak candidly here and quote the fictional character John Connor from The Terminator movies, "All my life my mother told me the storm was coming, Judgment Day, the beginning of the war between man and machines". Perhaps a bit dramatic but let us not follow fool ourselves, we are talking about terminator systems. RoboCop would also be a good reference but for the sake of brevity, let us call them "terminators".

Make no mistake. The invention of this technology is inevitable even if we did not directly develop terminators, the wave of other technological advancements will make their development inevitable. As we develop our own autonomous cars and aeroplanes, we automatically create technology that can be used to create terminators. As we create autonomous vacuum cleaners and garbage collectors, we create the same kind of technology that can be used to create terminators. While we do not want terminators, we want automated garbage collectors.

I have, therefore, proposed changes to the resolution, clarifying that human control must be maintained during all activation and throughout all execution of these terminator systems. This is a technical term; I am coming from a computer science background. This means if an autonomous garbage collector is given a gun, it cannot be autonomous anymore. In fact, the system cannot be used to attack what has been described the report with "using force against, neutralise, damage or destroy targets". That part should always be human-operated. The definition to select "that is, search for or detect, identify, track or select" is also affected as these operations must be observed and controlled by a human.

I have heard that the resolution already contains enough safeguards to achieve what I am proposing, but as a computer scientist, I disagree. That only means that adding my amendments to the resolution will only make that even clearer that robots are not supposed to harm human beings. I, therefore, urge you to accept my amendments.

Even though this technology is inevitable, our choice to use this technology is not. We can take a stand and prevent the use of terminators and just being realistic, we will see these kinds of weapons used illegally, just like other illegal weapons are used. But we will be drawing a line – a line between allowing terminators or not. Let us put this weapon in the same category as chemical weapons. Let us instead make robots that were foreseen by Isaac Asimov, where a robot may not injure a human being.



Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

That concludes our list of speakers.

And now I call Mr Damien COTTIER, the rapporteur, to reply to the debate.

You have 3 minutes.


Switzerland, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, Madam Chair.

First of all, I would like to thank all those from the political groups who support this report and who have made compliments.

Mr FRIDEZ, you said "thank you, Damien COTTIER", but you should say "thank you, Fabien GOUTTEFARDE", and you should say "thank you, Günter SCHIRMER" to thank the secretariat support. This is really where the work has been done.

I believe that Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN is right when he says that we will not be able to stop this technology and that, consequently, the wisest thing is to regulate it.

We are in a political and almost philosophical debate. Mr LACROIX, I heard you clearly. Perhaps in an ideal world we should wish for a ban. But I am really convinced that we will be more effective by moving towards international regulation, because a ban is quite simply unrealistic. You have given a relatively pessimistic view, as have others, of the use of these weapons. Of course, let us not be naïve, but let us see that they can also have advantages for the respect of human rights.

Mr FRIDEZ, you said that there can be blunders. If you aim at a soldier, and there is a child next to him, you can hit him today with the types of weapons we have today. With this type of weapon, it is possible to be more precise. Everything behind this is the question of will. Do we want to be more precise and use this technology to better respect human rights, or at least as well, or do we not want to? If there is a will, there may be advantages to this type of weaponry. This is very different from chemical weapons or anti-personnel mines, which some people have mentioned, which are indiscriminate. That is why the European Court of Human Rights has said, in the case of Germany that I mentioned, that it is not possible to use weapons systems that automatically fire as soon as someone passes a certain place, or mines, because any person who passes at that moment can have his or her right to life affected. But with this system of weapons we are talking about, we can achieve a greater degree of precision. We can avoid, for example, the fatigue of the officer or soldier who does not shoot well on the target, because it is the end of the day and he is very tired or his feelings, his irritation. These are things that are possible if you want them.

That is what we must insist on: respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in this context. It is possible to do so. If we introduce prohibitions only for those states that wish so, that have the firm political will to respect international humanitarian law and human rights, what do we do with those who have less of this will? Therefore, there is a better time to have a framework that regulates at the universal level for everyone, obviously inviting all states to respect it rather than hoping to prohibit it. In the end, it will only be done for certain states, and you will have other states –I needn't name them, they are the usual suspects– that will develop this technology on their own and not necessarily in the way we want here.

That is why this report and this motion for a resolution try to be pragmatic with the solutions proposed to you.

Mister GUNNARSSON, perhaps a word about your amendment. In fact, you are in the descriptive part whereas the elements you are asking for come in the active part, later in the resolution, in paragraph 13. You are not only adding something but you are deleting three paragraphs which would really weaken the text. Therefore, I recommend that you not support this amendment.

Thank you.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Does Mr André GATTOLIN wish to speak on behalf of the Committee?

You have 3 minutes.


France, ALDE, Member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights


Thank you very much, Madam President.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a senior member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the oldest here this morning, I have the great privilege of speaking briefly on behalf of the Committee.

I had the opportunity to follow, with great interest, the two hearings of experts organised by our two successive rapporteurs, Mr Fabien GOUTTEFARDE and our current Committee Chairman, and these experts, including representatives of very critical NGOs, who were able to express themselves and put forward all their arguments.

I must also add that the adoption of this report in committee and the discussion of the amendments proposed for this plenary session was of a very high standard, of very high quality and very thorough. I can only congratulate the rapporteur on his work, but also all the members of this committee who have contributed.

I believe that this text will enable us to influence the negotiations under way at the United Nations on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

The committee overwhelmingly followed our rapporteur in his moderate approach. It is much more convenient, it must be said, to take a totally prohibitive approach and ban everything, but will that really help the potential human victims of these "killer robots"?

We know that the major military and technological powers - many of them, and we have some names - will never agree to such a ban. So, perhaps a realistic regulation, with the two-pronged approach proposed to us by the group of European states in the negotiating group - including countries like France, Germany and Scandinavian countries - can safeguard the essentials of respect for humanitarian law and help protect non-combatants from disproportionate use of this technology.

Throughout the week, we have talked a lot about accountability, about verifiability, and for very good reasons: we need to ensure proper human control of autonomous weapons. This is, I believe, what the report of our committee and the rapporteur proposes: regulation that is acceptable to all.

Thank you very much.

Vote: Emergence of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) and their necessary apprehension through European human rights law


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

The debate is closed.

Now we move to the amendments.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft resolution, Document 15683, to which five amendments have been tabled.

I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

I understand that Mr André GATTOLIN, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendment 2 to the draft resolution, that was unanimously approved by the Committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

Is that so, Mr André GATTOLIN?


France, ALDE, Member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights




Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Does anyone object?

There is no objection.

So I declare that Amendment 2 to the draft resolution have been agreed.

I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 1, 3 and 4 to the draft resolution, which were rejected by the committee with a two-third majority be declared as rejected by the Assembly.

Is that so?

That is so.

Does anyone object?

There is no objection.

As there is no objection, I declare that Amendments 1, 3 and 4 to the draft resolution are rejected.

Now I call Mr Björn Leví GUNNARSSON to support Amendment 5.

You have 30 seconds.


Iceland, SOC


My amendment is clear and simple.

Human control must be maintained during all activation and throughout all execution of LAWS functions.

The sub-paragraphs have language like "human control may also be exerted at the point of activation".

These sub-paragraphs will not be needed if the language is, as in my amendment, that human control must always be maintained and observed during all activations.

So, please.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Does anyone object? 

Mister Damien COTTIER, you have the floor.


Switzerland, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, Madam President.

I really ask you to reject this amendment, as there is some confusion here.

We are in the descriptive part: we do not say what we can do or what we should do. We say how these weapons work, we describe them in this paragraph 7 and the recommendations that are made come later, in part 13.

As I said very clearly earlier, for all the weapons that have no human control at all, the Assembly will declare that they are prohibited and, for the others, it will propose to develop international regulations.

It would therefore be a real mistake - even a factual one - to accept this amendment. I ask you to reject it.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Mr André GATTOLIN, what is the opinion of the Committee?


France, ALDE, Member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights


The Committee rejected this amendment by a very small majority.


Montenegro, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I shall now put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The amendment is rejected.


We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 15683 as amended.

A simple majority is required.

The vote is now open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The draft resolution as amended in Document 15683 is adopted.

Congratulations to Mr Damien COTTIER.

Debate: Building the Open Council of Europe Academic Networks (OCEAN)


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

The next item on the agenda is a debate on the Report title “Building the Open Council of Europe Academic Networks (OCEAN)” (Doc. 15675) for which Ms Marta GRANDE was the rapporteur on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media. Ms GRANDE is no longer a member of the Parliamentary Assembly. The report will be presented by Ms KRAVCHUK.

I call Ms KRAVCHUK, Chair of the Committee. You have 7 minutes now, and 3 minutes at the end to reply to the debate.

Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, Chair.,

I'm honoured to present this report on behalf of Ms Marte Grande as a Chair of the Committee on Culture, Educational Media and Sport.

First of all let me thank all of you who are here for the last debate and last resolutions to be adopted in this winter session.

The committee unanimously adopted the report of Ms Marte Grande last December, following numerous hearings organised in Paris, Strasbourg, Rome over the past year.

We would also like to thank Professor Michele Nicoletti, former President of this Assembly, because it was actually his idea of setting up a Council of Europe network of universities.

He presented a very good study in 2020 before the Committee on Culture, Educational Media and Sport, and since then supported this particular idea and this project actively within the Council of Europe member States.

A number of academic experts and researchers have helped the committee better understand the work, potential and future development of the OCEAN Project, as well as the role of national parliaments.

We are now well aware of the role that universities and research institutes can play in upholding the Council of Europe's values, with positive repercussions on European democratic institutions and societies.

This is particularly true during times of crisis.

Our principles must also be cultivated and strengthened within universities, which are the cradle of education and training of future generations.

The globalisation of research and innovation has intensified over the last decade, particularly in terms of collaborative research, technology development, and mobility of researchers.

Universities have a key role to play in addressing Europe's challenges, such as upholding primacy of the rule of law, the fight against corruption, the need to address climate change, and the integration of migrants.

To implement and revise legal instruments in the field of human rights, governments and parliaments can greatly benefit from the co-operation of scholars to better face those challenges.

The Council of Europe must also strengthen partnerships with young generations or students and researchers who are ready to fight for the organisation's values.

The first academic networks are already emerging in many countries.

The Italian Istanbul Convention Network is now acting under the umbrella of OCEAN, and is gradually involving more universities.

OCEAN already reached an agreement with French universities for an anti-corruption network which would be open to other countries and is organising summer schools open to students from all the countries involved.

A book series related to the Council of Europe conventions is about to be launched, along with a dedicated website, which will hopefully strengthen the network's outreach to other universities.

Providing adequate funding is the key to project success and figures among the main recommendations we are about to analyse in detail.

As parliamentarians, we can raise awareness among universities and research institutes about the OCEAN Initiative.

Special attention must be paid to ensuring academic freedom and the autonomy of higher education institutions in Europe, in close co-ordination with the European higher education area.

In our own parliament, we could also organise parliamentary hearings with the participation of representatives of the academic world, and relevant Council of Europe experts to encourage the creation of national thematic academic networks under the OCEAN umbrella, on the basis of the resolution which we will adopt today.

An important objective is also to support universities and young students from countries that are suffering aggressions and violations of human rights, such as my home country, Ukraine.

We can play a vital role in our state, especially by identifying possible interlocutors who could be interested in co-operating with OCEAN.


The impacts and visibility of the Council of Europe must first and foremost be measured on the ground.

Only the wide sharing of common values by society can guarantee the effective implementation of Council of Europe standards.

Researchers, students, social workers and local authorities in various sectors can further embrace our shared values, which in turn have an impact on their work and daily lives.

Everyone contributes, because everyone benefits from the standards developed by the Council of Europe.

The 4th Summit of the Council of Europe Heads of State and Government, which will be held in May in Reykjavik, Iceland, will also offer us the opportunity to call for reformation of member States' commitment to the centrality of the Council of Europe convention system, and to encourage the Council of Europe to further integrate and support independent national actors, such as research institutes and universities under the OCEAN umbrella, with the view of facilitating the implementation of Council of Europe conventions, and building greater unity between Council of Europe member States.

Thank you.

Let's begin the debate.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Madam Yevheniia KRAVCHUK.

We now go to the political speakers for the political groups.

The first of those that I'd like to call is Lord Alexander DUNDEE for the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

Lord Alexander DUNDEE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister President and colleagues.

The Statute of the Council of Europe and the values enshrined therein are just now undermined by the Russian war against Ukraine.

This constitutes the severest challenge to human rights and democracy in Europe since World War Two. It's therefore the right moment now to debate the excellent report of my colleague Ms Marta GRANDE on strategies for defending those values. And to do so by raising awareness of them through the open Council of Europe Academic Networks, using online media and the internet.

The global range of the internet also allows people in Russia, Belarus, and elsewhere to access this open network and to find out what freedom, the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy really mean.

This open network provides a fortress against propaganda, fake news, and distortions of what are the common values uniting our member states and our cultural heritage.

Orwellian thought control or double-speak is best refuted by widely and freely accessible information. As Socrates put it, "Evil and wrong are caused by ignorance".

As former chair of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media and as current rapporteur on promoting online education and research across natural borders I'm very glad to speak on this subject today on behalf of the European Conservative Group and Democratic Alliance.

In fact, my report adopted in Committee yesterday can reinforce and complement this report.

The Reykjavík Summit in May will be the right time for heads of state and government to signal throughout Europe that the Council of Europe has the necessary means to reach each and every one: these are students, learners, and all citizens. And to reach them with information and facts about what the Council of Europe and its Assembly stand for.

Therefore, colleagues, I strongly support Ms Marta GRANDE's report and commend it to be adopted by this Assembly.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Lord Alexander DUNDEE.

Now I call for the Group of the Unified European Left, Mr Kriton-Ilias ARSENIS.

Mr Kriton-Ilias ARSENIS

Greece, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Chairperson.

On behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left, I would like to explain why we are in support of this report. It is obvious, I think, for all of us, that because we live in a society where everything is determined by profit and thus, sciences, humanistic ones that are educating people to protect democracy, human rights, the environment, are not paid in this society. We will always get the lowest salary. 

Whereas sciences that educate people and universities in fields that educate people how to make profit out of liquidising nature, attacking nature, out of not respecting human rights are set to be the principle profit above democracy, human rights and freedom, those are the ones that make the money in society.

To create a network of academics that work for our principles of democracy, human rights and freedom is an effort to fill this gap. It is an effort to give strength to the people who choose and to the society that chooses ethics over money. I think this is one of the essences of why we support, as the left, this report.

I believe that both the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly need these people, but we also have a moral obligation to support these people who chose to stand on and study and give their lives for democracy, human rights and freedom and the environment.

Thank you very much. 


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I now call for the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group, Ms Luz MARTINEZ SEIJO.


Spain, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister President.

On behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group, we'd like to offer our congratulations on this initiative and this report.

Nowadays, you can't have a conceivable university system without co-operation, without networking amongst different institutions.

One of the overriding objectives of the university systems of European countries is to expand internationalisation, so as to improve the quality of teaching, research, and the transfer of knowledge to the benefit of students as well as teachers and research faculties.

Europe has tried and tested experience in participating in international endeavours through the kinds of programmes that have allowed for student and staff mobility over decades, as well as the creation of international networks.

It's important that we move towards ambitious projects such as European universities. That is why we believe that this report is highly relevant, because it advances, while consolidates, these precise objectives in focusing on the role of the Council of Europe, in beefing up its co-operation with universities and research institutes in a mutually beneficial interaction.

Now, there are various fields of research that support the implementation of Council of Europe conventions at national and European levels to allow universities and research institutes in member States to in turn offer ideas to this organisation.

Without a doubt, the relationship between human rights, science and education, is absolutely crucial to rise to the challenges of climate change, data protection, and artificial intelligence, and make it possible for us to improve and broaden some of the functions in the service of society in academic institutions.

Universities remain, of course, the driving force behind innovation and creative thinking. They produce qualified human capital, including the next generation of European political leaders. They also facilitate debate about policy; particularly, they are drivers of change.

For instance, in Spain we are in the process of the finishing touches to a new law on the university system, which strengthens international co-operation, which broadens the rights of the university community overall and also provides for a deepening of democracy across the whole of the university system.

That is why it would be desirable for all universities to role out the internationalisation strategies and consolidate the European higher education area, as well as provide support to other spaces such as the Iberian-American knowledge area.

From the Socialist Group, we share these objectives, and we think that we deserve to expand the project to all 46 member countries, universities. We would like to see the involvement of a higher number of universities in the future.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now for the Group of the European People's Party, Ms Maria-Gabriela HORGA.

Ms Maria-Gabriela HORGA

Romania, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Dear Mister President,

Dear Colleagues.

We are debating a report on the construction of the academic network of the Council of Europe: the Open Council of Europe Academic Networks (OCEAN).

First of all, on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party, I would like to congratulate Ms Marta GRANDE for this excellent report prepared.

The European educational space is changing and universities, and research institutes can play an important role in supporting the values of the Council of Europe. At the same time, the OCEAN project will contribute to a great unity between member States with positive consequences for European democratic institutions.

It is important to mention that the authorities of the member States can benefit from the co-operation between scholars to review the legislation regarding human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

At the same time, the implementation of this programme requires the involvement of people with adequate training including scientists, students, representatives of the authorities, social workers or representatives of non-governmental organisations, thus contributing to the promoting of excellence in higher education, research and innovation, promoting at the same time gender equality, inclusion and equity.

Last but not least, the project will support bringing stakeholders together, strengthening co-operation and the impact of their actions.

Dear Colleagues,

This report contains a number of recommendations that are essential for the success of the project, in particular, that of adequate funding including voluntary contributions from members States and from the European Union. We can help raise awareness of this initiative among universities and research institutions in our countries as parliamentarians.

Thank you. 


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And now, the last of the political speakers.

For the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Ms Sona GHAZARYAN.


Armenia, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, dear Chair.

First of all, I would like to thank Ms Marta Grande for the report and Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK for presenting it.

I think it's a very essential and timely report.

What we have to deal with nowadays is the rise of populism and nationalism that continuously creates social conflicts and challenges the realisation of human rights in our member states.

We, as a group agree that universities should be human rights and democracy incubators, and education plays itself a crucial role in safeguarding rule of law.

The role of academia should also be noted with its strong potential to promote core principles on the European Convention of Human Rights. Hence a strong cooperation between the Council of Europe and academia can help to overcome the challenges we face nowadays. In practice, it can assist the governments of member states along with the legislative bodies in better implementation of conventions.

Here I would like to emphasise the role of OCEAN in improvement of cooperation between member states on such important issues such as fight against corruption or gender-based violence. I see the project of OCEAN as a perfect additional tool to facilitate and raise the visibility of the Council of Europe and the tremendous work that it undertakes to improve the life of citizens in the member states.

We need to push forward non-governmental organisations, local authorities, schools, universities to work together, because only working together we can make a real difference in a society where human rights and democracy should prevail. A multifaceted approach through a joint perspective will help us to build defences of peace in the minds of young generation.

OCEAN is really an important initiative for providing knowledge about the Council of Europe, and it can be used in education training and research. It surely brings this organisation to our families, cities, states.

So what we can do as parliamentarians?

I think, first of all, we need to raise awareness among the universities and youth about this initiatives, and, as a parliamentarian, while going back home I will initiate hearings to encourage the creation of a national academic network under the umbrella of OCEAN.

Thanks once more for this report.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

We now move on to the main list of speakers.

I call Ms Sibel ARSLAN.


Switzerland, SOC


Thank you very much, Mr President,Ladies and gentlemen,I would like to thank the rapporteur for this report, also for going over the various options we have in relation to OCEAN. And we know that one of the challenges of the Council of Europe is the dissemination of our work from here to the respective member states. Of course, globalisation has also shown that there are a number of challenges we need to meet. And in this context, of course, the role of universities and research institutions is very important, that they have a positive impact on society.In particular, in order to address the values of the Council of Europe in an undistorted way in these respective member states, new instruments are important. And it is important that we also discuss such instruments here, because people have a right to information and to the truth.Because academic networks play an important role in addressing these challenges - for example, fighting corruption, promoting social rights, ending gender-based violence, or the need to address climate change, it is also important, of course, that we continue to recognise the crucial role they play. And Project OCEAN and the academic networks can help with that. In this context, not only we here in the Council of Europe would benefit from its institutionalised cooperation, but also governments and parliaments. Particularly because in the legislative process, parliaments can take into account or include human rights, democracy and the rule of law, which are also the values of the Council of Europe.Researchers, scientists, schools, students, regional authorities, social workers, non-governmental organisations are all important players. And, the fact is, when it comes to defending human rights, democracy and the rule of law, they can play a key role in the OCEAN Project. And therefore, of course, I hope that support will be found or provided in the respective states.In particular, of course, financial support is important here, and there is a lack of resources; and consequently, I also ask all of member states here today to also work for the financial support of this project in the respective countries.Best thanks.



United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Ms Yuliia OVCHYNNYKOVA.


Ukraine, ALDE


Dear Mister President,

Dear Madam Rapporteur,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The main principle of the and values of the Council of Europe should be commonly shared across Europe and effectively implemented by the member States, by institutions, by people.

Academia, higher education, plays a critical role here in training young people in these values to create an academic culture based on the principle of academic freedom, ethics and integrity, diversity and inclusiveness, non-discrimination and equality, respect of human rights and rule of law.

Academic values are democratic values. I'm an academic in social activities myself. I truly understand what it means and what happens if these principles and values are grossly violated.

Here I want to honour the memory of all children, young people, students, teachers and professors, whose lives were brutally interrupted by the Russian aggression, who were killed.

Ukraine is tragically losing human potential. Young Ukrainians who could live amazing lives. Like 15 year old Maria Lebed, a smart student promising youth activist, school leader and volunteer. Maria was a ninth student and a ninth-class pupil, and newly elected president of the school's pupil self-government. Hugely supported by the whole school community.

As a school president she advocated for youth activism, youth rights engagement and volunteering for animals. She should have been an amazing university student, inspiring leader. She would do so much for society, for environment, for Ukraine but Maria Lebed will never have this chance because the Russian missile hit her home in Dnipro on 14 January.

Russia brutally kills young bright minds, ours, yours. Our intellectual human capital. Thousands of Ukrainians have died, millions are displaced. Here is the rule for university, for a Council of Europe network to you unite around justice, human rights, fight for democracy.

It's extremely important to remind today that is faith of global challenges, university and research institutes remain the drivers of innovation and creative thinking. It should be considered of universal common European global heritage.

The university produced skilled human capital, including the next generation of Europe policy makers, facilitate policy discussion and drive change. Of course, they have the strong potential for the strengthening the rule of human rights, democracy and rule of law incubators, and creating around the support of implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights.

I do believe that national parliaments of all Council of Europe member States should invite more university research institutions and individual academics for providing expertise to relevant parliament committees, to organise parliamentary hearings with participation of representatives of the academic world and relevant Council of Europe experts.

Thank you very much. I do believe that this will be an umbrella, an umbrella for universities, especially for displaced universities of Ukraine.

Thank you very much.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you. 

Now I pass the floor to Mr Harald WEYEL.

Mr Harald WEYEL

Germany, EC/DA


Thank you Mr President,

I believe that we are witnessing a development that is necessarily not a good one - international organisations are being put on the same footing, and the same goes for the academic networks. This has a huge impact, from a legal point of view, and we are talking about vital matters. And I believe that international cooperation is of course extremely important, both from a continental and intercontinental point of view, but it also leads to the unfortunate state of affairs in which where the academic world is brought into line with all this.

In the past it used to take up to 10 years for any trends, be they in technology, the consumer world, culture or even politics, to come to Europe. There would be a complete about turn, and Europe lagged behind there, repeating the mistakes of the Americans, for example, in many, many areas - and now we see, so to speak, that the same direction is being taken simultaneously, in real time. And I believe that in international cooperation it is incredibly important not only to pay attention to the organisational aspects, so that everyone has the opportunity to get involved, actively and passively, but also to ensure that there is an obligation in terms of content. It cannot be that there is only one opinion on the topic of climate change, which, by the way, is not exactly the same as environmental protection; and we cannot only have one opinion on gender or migration, which, by the way, it is only not how people coming to Europe from elsewhere can be integrated; some people are only there for a while, and one must also ask what this means for the countries of origin, and ensure that it does not become a neo-colonial brain drain - an exploitation of human resources elsewhere.

And the same applies all the more to the issue of Corona, where there is not only one opinion, where we have a very bad balance sheet, as different political and health measures were implemented around the world. If we look at China, Russia and New Zealand, for example, where strict, even authoritarian measures were taken, in comparison to Russia and China. This should all be a warning to us.

And last but not least, of course, this also applies currently to this one opinion on the Ukraine crisis or the Russia problem, et cetera. Of course, we have had important discussions on this, in English, French and Russian: We need to look at the Central Asian space and we shouldn't condemn the Russian language, because it is spoken in other countries as well. And we shouldn't replace propaganda with counter-propaganda; but actually by information based on a very clear idea, not just government propaganda against government propaganda.

Thank you very much. We are more than happy to play our part, and we wish you all a safe trip home.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.



Iceland, SOC


Thank you.

We need a strong network of academic experts who base their expertise on the values of the Council of Europe. We need academic freedom in the face of political pressure.

In Iceland, we have a problem with this. Academic experts in governance are extremely reluctant to go on record and say that the Minister of Finance can't sell his father's shares of a nationalised bank during a closed bidding session.

One of the reasons for that is recently this same Minister of Finance denied the appointment of an academic as an editor for the Nordic Economic Policy Review, overruling an academic appointment, really.

I fully support that we need to build up a better network of this strong academic freedom: a network of academic freedom that academics can look towards for support in phase of political pressure.

I also want to add that we might need to look at both a peer-review process and the replication process in academic research. These these fields, both the peer-review process and the replication process, have been lacking of late. There are development towards strengthening these processes. We've had fields that have come to so-called P-hacking. Due to lack of replication and incentives to academic replications of academic findings we've had problems using the knowledge that is actually not an academic result but the result of P-hacking.

We need to strengthen this network so that people and academics can seek assistance and work as a group, as a whole, towards giving us the clear values that this Council embodies.



United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now is Mr Claude KERN.

You have the floor.

Mr Claude KERN

France, ALDE


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to start by thanking our colleague Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK for the presentation of this report by Ms Marta GRANDE, which reminds us of the role of universities and research institutes in promoting the development of democracy and the rule of law.

At the level of the European Union, initiatives have been undertaken to create some forty European university networks, whose aim is to improve "the quality, inclusion, digitisation and attractiveness of European higher education".

Since the Middle Ages, as our colleague's report reminds us, universities have played a major role in the development and dissemination of humanist values, and thus in the construction of Europe as we know it today.

The OCEAN project aims to strengthen the synergies between the Council of Europe and the academic world. It should allow to promote the Council of Europe conventions and to mobilise the next generation around the common values that are the basis of our Organisation.

Many of the Council of Europe conventions could become important elements of academic work in areas that are particularly relevant to the expectations and challenges of our society. I am thinking of the rule of law, the fight against corruption, the fight against gender-based violence, cybercrime and migration issues. The Oviedo Convention was able to serve as a reference to define a vaccine policy in accordance with the standards of our Organisation during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is certain that law students who have been made aware of the Council of Europe's standards during their studies will then invoke them more easily and help to implement them.

These conventions are very valuable legal instruments. It seems important to me, while respecting academic freedom, to make them better known in university networks so that they can be analysed, understood, and fully appropriated by students.

To allow the development of this OCEAN project, academic and financial support is obviously necessary. It would, therefore, be useful, as the rapporteur proposes, for the European Union to support it insofar as it adheres to many conventions.

At our level, as parliamentarians, we must strengthen our efforts to support this project within our member States.

I will, therefore, vote for this resolution.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Now I give the floor to Mr José María SÁNCHEZ GARCÍA.

He is not here, no.

Then we move on.

Mister André GATTOLIN, the floor is yours.


France, ALDE


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, I would like to congratulate the author of this report, Ms Marta GRANDE, and the member of the committee who has agreed to represent her. It is an extremely important report on several levels, firstly because it goes back to the fundamentals of the European project of the immediate post-war period.

I recall, at the Hague Conference, the creation –in 1949, in parallel with our Council of Europe – of the College of Europe in Bruges, whose founding idea was not so much the convergence but the dialogue of European cultures in order to build European citizens who were also proud of their national identity but concerned about this diversity. This is a project that the European Union itself has somewhat abandoned, playing on economic springs to build the European Union. Going back to the fundamentals of cultural issues is essential today, as we know.

I say this: the budget of the European Union devoted to culture and education represents barely 0.3% of its overall budget. It is therefore important, in the identity of the Council of Europe, that we pay attention, that we set up collaborations where European public policies do not exist.

The second point that I would like to highlight and which I particularly like in this report: it is mentioned in point 10.5, the integration of the evaluation of academic freedom in the OCEAN initiative. This is essential. I remind you that academic freedom is a fundamental right. Unfortunately, it is not subject to a precise legal definition, neither at the level of the European Union nor at the level of the European Council, so that when we have to make decisions, when there are appeals against a reform of the university system in Hungary, as was the case following the 2017 reform, the Court of Justice of the European Union argues about the freedom of enterprise.

Excuse me. A university, does its freedom fall under the freedom of enterprise and, the European Court of Human Rights, the freedom of expression? Certainly, but academic freedom is a concept that poses both the freedom to teach, the freedom to study and the freedom of research.

Two years ago, under the German initiative, we had the Bonn Declaration on Freedom of Scientific Research. We also have many elements in the Bologna Declaration. It is time that we put in place what makes our universities special: precisely the fact that we can express ourselves freely. There is a framework; there is a methodology. We must express our points of view; we must argue. The fact that the OCEAN network can also be the driving force behind the development of this reflection, at the European level, of the academic freedom dear to our Assembly is something, for me, essential. I fully support this initiative.

I thank you for your support.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Merci, Monsieur. ["Thank you, sir." in French]

That brings us to the end of the list of speakers. 

I now call on Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK, Chair of the Committee, to reply to this debate.

You have 3 minutes. 


Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ALDE, Chairperson of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media


Thank you, colleagues,

I really hope that Ms Grande will be able to watch these debates and hear all the valuable contributions that you expressed during these debates. Of course, universities in Europe had been for centuries centres of progress, of free thinking, and of course, now universities give critical thinking to be resistant to propaganda, to populism, and to think about new ideas and how to live in the 21st century.

I am really thankful for the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that already said, as Ms Sona GHAZARYAN said, that they will initiate hearings in our national parliaments because we need to bring this to our national parliaments as well.

I am thankful for Lord Alexander DUNDEE and also to thank him, being the Chair of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media for last year, and we are really waiting for the adoption of his report on online education that was prepared and voted on by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media this winter session.

And I would like to thank Ms Yuliia OVCHYNNYKOVA for her very emotional speech and she did not mention this but she is a university teacher herself and she had to flee from the Donask region in 2014 because of war and the university where she was teaching had to relocate as well. And my own university where I finished in Kyiv, which is the National University of Taras Shevchenko was damaged because a Russian missile came to the centre of Kyiv landing just a couple of hundred metres from the main entrance. And I really hope that Ukrainian universities will join the network and will somehow also benefit from the OCEAN network.

Of course, I would like to thank our Secretariat for preparing this report and for making the ideas of Professor Nicoletti become so visible and discussed. Once again, I am thankful to Ms Grande for her work preparing the report and to Professor Nicoletti for bringing this idea into action.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam KRAVCHUK.

The debate is now closed.

The Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media have presented a draft resolution (in Doc. 15675) to which no amendments have been tabled.

We will now proceed directly to the vote on the draft resolution contained in Doc. 15675. A simple majority is required.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The draft resolution has been agreed to.


Vote: Building the Open Council of Europe Academic Networks (OCEAN)

Progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee (continued)

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Dear Colleagues,

We will now turn to the progress report of the Bureau.

This morning the Bureau has proposed several decisions for ratification by the Assembly. They are set out in the progress report, Document 15685 Addendum 5.

The Bureau proposed several references to committees.

Are there any objections for these references?

If that is not the case, they are approved.


We go to page 20. Thank you very much.

I now propose that the other decisions on the progress report that you'll find in Document 15685 Addendum 5 be ratified.

Are there any objections?

I do not see any.

The progress report is approved.


The final business of today is to constitute the Standing Committee.

The membership of the Standing Committee is determined by Rule 70.3 as follows: the President of the Assembly, the Vice-President of the Assembly, the leaders of political groups, the Chairperson of national delegations, and the Chairperson of general committees, a full list is set out in Document 2023-02.

The Standing Committee is accordingly constituted.


Sorry. It's the last details of this session.

We now have come to the end of our business.

I would like to thank the members of the Assembly, particularly the rapporteurs of the committees for their hard work during this most fruitful part-session.

I would like to thank the Vice-Presidents who chaired during this part-session. I had to make a lot of use of the Vice-Presidents to bring us through the week. Ms Sibel ARSLAN, Mr Bertrand BOUYX, Mr John HOWELL, Ms Elvira KOVÁCS, Mr Marco NICOLINI, Ms Ingjerd SCHOU, Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE, Ms Maja VUKIĆEVIĆ, and Mr Ahmet YILDIZ.

I also would like to thank the staff, the interpreters, both permanent and temporary, who have worked hard to make the part-session a success.

I would like to thank the Secretary General and all the staff for helping us through the week.


The second part-session of the 2023 session will be held from the 24 to the 28 of April 2023.

I declare the first part-session of the 2023 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe closed.

The sitting is closed.

The sitting is closed at 11:45 a.m.

Closure of the part-session