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18 April 2024 afternoon

2024 - Second part-session Print sitting

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Opening of the sitting num 13

Debate under urgent procedure: Draft Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


The sitting is open.

Dear colleagues, the first item of business this afternoon is a debate under urgent procedure on the Draft Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.

It is Doc. 15971 and Doc. 15951.

Presented by Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

I call Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, rapporteur, to take the floor.

Dear Sunna, you have 7 minutes now, and 3 minutes at the end to reply to the debate.

Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR

Iceland, SOC, Rapporteur


Dear President,

Dear colleagues,

The Committee of Ministers transmitted to the Assembly a draft Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, which was prepared by the Committee on Artificial Intelligence on 20 March.

We were invited to give our statutory opinion on a text as soon as possible, because it is no secret that the Committee of Ministers wishes to introduce this first international legally binding instrument on artificial intelligence, human rights, the rule of law and democracy, on the 75th anniversary of this important institution, the Council of Europe, at its ministerial meeting in May.

This explains why we need to apply the urgent procedure to this affair. Although I have been quite vocal stating that perhaps we didn't need to rush so much, despite the lovely occasion.

As Chair of the sub-Committee on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, in the years of 2022 and 2023 I followed very closely the drafting process of negotiations of this Convention within the Committee on Artificial Intelligence, attending many of its plenary meetings and submitting and drafting proposals and comments.

This negotiation was not an easy process. You may have read some of the criticisms voiced on the procedure, which are summarised in my explanatory memorandum.

There are several non-member states, as well as the EU, which participated in the negotiations and the final compromise. Particularly, the scope of the application of the Convention was only reached in the very, very last stages of the negotiations, leaving the observers largely outside of the discussion on the scope. Because most of the important decisions made by the Committee on Artificial Intelligence were made within the drafting group of negotiators, which was not open to civil society, and not open to the Assembly as an observer.

However, our role, the Assembly's role, in an opinion, is to express its position on the agreed text and to propose possible amendments to the Committee of Ministers. This is what I've done with this opinion.

The most problematic position and the most problematic provision of the Treaty, in my view, is the scope of the application of the Convention. Article 3. It is offering a different approach when it comes to the public sector and the private sector, which is not in line with the recommendations of this year's Assembly.

Each party, according to the Treaty, will be able to determine how it intends to address the risks and impacts arising from the use of AI by private actors, either by applying the obligation set forth in the Convention, or through other deemed appropriate measures.

This is not ambitious enough for a Council of Europe convention. It's not fully consistent with the position already expressed by the Assembly, that the Convention should be addressed to all stakeholders.

I remind you, dear colleagues, that this is also what the CAHAI, or the predecessor to CAI, decided should be the scope of the Convention. That it should be transversal in nature, and therefore, it should include the private sector.

I therefore propose to express in the Assembly's opinion our dissatisfaction with the compromise solution reached, and at the same time that we call on all of our member states when they ratify the Convention, that they accept the full applicability to the private sector in their Article 3 declarations.

If other member states, or other non-member states, but member states of the future Convention, want to do differently, this should not be an excuse for our states to water down their obligation in respect of the private sector, and to depart from what should be our European common denominator or consensus.

I've carefully considered the criticisms and proposals made by other observers and civil society throughout the process. Some of them have been specifically addressed to me and the Assembly during the past days and weeks.

I would like to thank civil society organisations, including the Conference of International NGOs of the Council of Europe, for their input, and to recognise their very and exceptionally diligent work throughout the negotiations.

The amendments I propose in the draft opinion are intended to strengthen the draft Convention, taking due account of the framework nature and the underlying logic of the text.

In total, I propose 11 amendments to the draft Convention, and would like to draw your attention to the most important ones.

The first is our national security. We cannot and should not accept the blanket exemption on our national security from the scope of the Convention. This was certainly the result of a deal with the European Union, which has also excluded national security from the EU AI Act.

But the EU and the Council of Europe are different organisations, and so not the same logic should apply.

According to the European Convention on Human Rights, national security grounds can only justify limitations or restrictions on different individual rights, but cannot exclude completely national security purposes of AI from a Convention which is precisely intended to protect human rights in the context of AI, particularly when it is used by the public administration.

We have certain rules that apply when we want to limit the applicability of human rights protections. It has to be provided by law. It has to be proportional. It has to be necessary in a democratic society and so on. Excluding it completely weakens the protection of our citizens and we really should encourage the Committee of Ministers to reintroduce it.

Furthermore, considering the risks of AI for military purposes, as we saw in our report last year on lethal autonomous weapons, I also propose to delete the blanket exemption on national defence from the scope of the Convention.

I find it also extremely important that we refer to health and the environment. Although they appear in the preamble, they deserve a dedicated provision under general principles.

I also think we should have a specific provision on whistleblowers and AI, in line with the Assembly's long-standing support for whistleblowers.

Finally, we should have a specific provision on parliamentary involvement.

These are constructive and realistic amendments that would improve significantly the text of the Framework Convention, and that the Committee of Ministers should introduce. Some of them, in fact, appeared in previous versions of the draft Convention and were unfortunately dropped through the negotiations, and I hope that you can all support them.

Let me be conclude by saying that our Assembly will remain vigilant on this issue, and we should be invited to participate in future conferences of the parties set up by the Convention.

We will have played our part by adopting this opinion, and we expect and demand that the Committee of Ministers take these proposals seriously.

After the adoption of a hopefully modified text, we as parliamentarians should of course support the ratification of the Treaty by our national parliaments, recognising the full applicability of its obligations to private actors.

Thank you very much.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR.

Dear colleagues, in the debate I will call first speakers on behalf of political groups, starting with Mr Damien COTTIER from Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.


Switzerland, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister Chairman.

Artificial intelligence is a revolution that will affect the whole of our society, our economy, our politics and our institutional framework. It was important for the Council of Europe to be active on this issue. Basically, it's as if we were discovering a new continent.

There's an enormous amount to come from artificial intelligence: new possibilities, some for the better, some for the worse. We need to prepare ourselves for this exploration of a new continent for our entire planet. We can be proud that the Council of Europe is providing the framework for the first international Convention, the first legally binding international text on this subject.

This is all the more important as the scope of this Convention will extend beyond the borders of our European continent, as the text will be open for signature by other countries that are not members of the Council of Europe. This Convention could therefore have a broad international scope, a worldwide scope, let's hope, to set a legal framework for this new technology or this new field or this new sector or this new continent, as I mentioned, which is opening up before our society.

This Convention is an excellent framework, which will then have to be fulfilled and used by the states, and in particular by our member states. In saying this, we are also highlighting, as the rapporteur said, the shortcomings of this Convention, which is sometimes the lowest common denominator and sometimes lacks a bit of ambition, if I may say so, when it comes to protecting fundamental freedoms and democracy, notably on the question of national security or the role of private companies.

Let's remember that for all member states, the European Convention on Human Rights continues to apply, and that it also applies in what is known as cyberspace or artificial intelligence even today. These are not out-of-jurisdiction sectors. They are already within national jurisdictions that are subject to these obligations. We need to make sure that we apply them, and we also need to take into account signatory countries that are not members of the Council of Europe and that may join in the future.

Mister Chairman, we have to be careful not to be naïve about the risks involved. There are major risks, and they need to be framed, which is what the Convention seeks to do. There is also a need for freedom so as not to prevent innovation. We shouldn't over-regulate or try to ban or impose moratoria by default. We need to take risk into account, and frame it, but also allow technological evolution to take place, so as to encourage the best. What will be very important here is to protect human rights, but also democracy. We can see the risks posed by these new technologies, particularly to the organisation of free elections, and this is a point to which we must pay close attention.

On behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, I'd like to thank the rapporteur, who was also the chairman of the sub-committee I now have the honor of chairing and who will have to continue to pay close attention to this subject.

Thank you very much.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Damien.

Next Mr Frédéric MATHIEU, from the United European Left.

Mr Frédéric MATHIEU

France, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mr President.

Before I begin I would like, on behalf of my Group, to thank the rapporteur for the work she has carried out, and also for the precision, rigour and quality of her introductory remarks, which she kindly gave us earlier.

Mr President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Artificial intelligence and its uses are the subject of increasingly recurrent debate in our societies. Generally speaking, new fears are being put forward: the replacement of human intelligence by machines, the falsification of images and publications, job losses and so on. But it's important to remember that artificial intelligence is only a tool.

There's an image that makes it easy to understand why we shouldn't be afraid of artificial intelligence per se, but simply of how we use it: just imagine, the problem never comes from the hammer but from the hand that holds it.

While the Draft Framework Convention represents a major step forward in the supervision and regulation of the use of artificial intelligence, like the rapporteur, I deplore the fact that the use of artificial intelligence by private players has less oversight than its use by public players. This disparity cannot continue without creating a danger: that private players, often more advanced than public players in the field of new technologies, will use artificial intelligence with methods or goals that could undermine human rights or the rule of law.

For example, what would we say if a company decided to carry out a massive collection of personal data - for example, from publications on social media - to then carry out a disinformation or propaganda operation on a specific subject during an election campaign or in the run-up to a parliamentary debate?

Our countries are well aware of the serious consequences of the informational battle waged by certain countries against our democracies. We mustn't be naive: large private companies also have interests that could lead them to misuse artificial intelligence.

Despite this point, which the rapporteur has developed at length in the draft report we are examining, we welcome the fact that a forthcoming convention will provide a framework for the use of artificial intelligence in terms of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

We therefore urge you to vote in favor of this draft opinion and report.

Thank you for your attention.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Next is Ms Petra BAYR on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you very much.

One of the proposals that Sunna had made in the draft opinion is to add a specific article in the Convention on parliamentary involvement.

And I couldn't agree more on that. Stating that national parliaments should participate in the review of the implementation measures at national level and that he has Assembly should regularly take stock on the implementation of the Convention, a provision that is already existing the Istanbul Convention.

National parliaments are particularly well placed to understand the risks that AI poses to democracy but also the potential benefits for democratic participation and governance.

We should play our role and contribute to this debate more actively, I think.

And let me also add some general thoughts about democracy and AI.

We had a side event of women at this Assembly on Tuesday where we also had a focus on democracy and AI, and I can tell you that I valued very positively Article 5 of the draft framework Convention, which imposes an obligation on future parties to adapt or maintain measures to seek to ensure that AI systems are not used to undermine the integrity, independence and effectiveness of democratic institutions and processes, including the principle of separation of powers, respect for your juridical independence, and access to justice.

Each party shall also adapt or maintain measures that seek to protect its democratic process in the context of AI, including individuals' fair access to and participation in public debates, as well as their ability to freely form opinions.

This provision should of course be read and applied in the light of the Council of Europe consolidated principles on democracy and the rule of law, as well as fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Convention, such as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right to free elections.

Although there is no abstract definition of democratic institutions and processes in the Convention or in the explanatory report, the explanatory report clearly states that the reference is being made to all systems of governance, with certain basic features and institutions which are common to all democratic countries.

That means that this convention, which is of course open also to non-members states to ratify can only be rectified by democratic states.

Some examples given of democratic institutions and processes that may be threatened by AI are: separation of power, systems of checks and balances between the three branches of governance, political pluralism, and existence of pluralistic and independent media, participation in democratic processes through free and fair elections and, particularly, forms of meaningful civil and political participation, respect the rights of minorities, etc.

So we should not forget the Reykjavík week principles for democracy which were approved last year. And I think that rounds up our debate on that.

Thank you very much.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Ms Yelyzaveta YASKO on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

Ms Yelyzaveta YASKO

Ukraine, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Dear colleagues,

It is incredible but also shocking that, in fact, this convention is the first ever international treaty on artificial intelligence. And on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party, of course, I want to congratulate all of us for finally having this convention, for having this report because it seems quite crazy that we have so much of the influence of artificial intelligence in our democracies but it is the only time we finally have some regulations on that.

As mentioned by the colleagues, this convention has some gaps and a lot of big threats and one of them is not understanding how this convention could help us regulating and restricting disinformation, and how the private companies that, unfortunately, can take their own interest and put all of us under the influence of them, what would be the answer? How will it all be regulated?

But I call upon all of us here to make sure that in the next discussions we have more solutions on how we can make it happen. Artificial intelligence definitely has a lot of benefits and advantages for democracies and let us only imagine how artificial intelligence can – if it is well-regulated – help in demining efforts, in helping our environment. There is so much to be done but let us make sure that these tools of artificial intelligence are not in the wrong hands. This is very important. We all suffer a lot from this.

And one thing that I also want to mention is – the gap that could be a big concern – it is not clear how people with disabilities' rights would be protected by this convention because artificial intelligence cannot be accessible to all, unfortunately. It is not clear now with this convention and we could work more on this.

Let me, one more time, congratulate the rapporteur and that we finally have this convention that should have happened much earlier.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


The next speaker is Mr Christophe LACROIX.

Mr Christophe LACROIX

Belgium, SOC


Thank you, Mr President, for giving me the floor in this important debate.

My congratulations go to Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, who has done a magnificent job in record time. Because she asks the question: what use are we politicians? Do we let the machines, do we let technology, do we let opaque systems decide for us, decide for our citizens? No. We need to regulate artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is obviously an unprecedented source of progress, as long as it is based on our democratic values, our values of transparency and our values of explanation.

As we all know, artificial intelligence has been used by the wrong people, in the wrong hands, to manipulate the population on a massive scale, targeting the most vulnerable people, pitting them against each other, making people believe that their children were under threat, that refugees and immigrants were clearly going to invade our societies on a massive scale to take their place. All this led to campaigns, such as influencing the British on the Brexit vote, this has been proven; Russian interference in European elections, in American elections. The Framework Convention should therefore make it possible to better regulate this.

Like Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, I deplore the fact that the private sector does indeed benefit from a form of laxity; in any case, the Framework Convention is not important enough and does not point out enough the importance of regulating, including, the private system and power.

Finally, I'd like to conclude on the aspect of national defence. Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR pointed out the obvious danger of allowing autonomous lethal weapons systems to advance without human piloting. Killer robots are not science fiction: they exist today. They are used by Iran, they are used by opaque, terrorist, dictatorial regimes; worse still, according to very serious allegations, even Tsahal, the Israeli army, has used artificial intelligence to target, select persons and bomb Gaza, causing countless collateral damage.

So we need to get our act together and make sure we're not naïve, that we're vigilant, that we're the sentinels of democracy, and ensure that we never, we must say, never retreat from our responsibilities; respect for fairness, respect for human dignity and respect for freedom are aspects on which we will never negotiate.

Thank you for your attention.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


And now I would like to call Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN.

You have the floor.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you Madam Chair.

You know, artificial intelligence has drastically changed our world and frankly speaking some 20–30 years ago we would dream of having artificial intelligence as a tool for solving this or that problem. Today, in a couple of seconds, I may somehow create a picture of our Assembly and this is an asset of artificial intelligence but it has brought with it a lot of shortcomings and challenges. And this attempt is to provide rather humanistic moral values to the artificial intelligence, to try to create an AI with the necessary human features. Features which would allow all of us, in the future, to be assured that artificial intelligence tools would be served for the good things and for the development of humanity.

For sure, such an important instrument cannot and should not be adopted in a hurry. On this perspective, I absolutely agree with the rapporteur – we should think twice before we are going ahead with such a sensitive and very important issue.

I cannot address the issue of using artificial intelligence during warfare. Autonomous lethal weapons are something which may drastically change the essence of war in the future. And here, human control and the precise nexus between artificial intelligence and international humanitarian law should be provided. The issues of rule of law, democracy and the protection of human rights should be quite important from the perspective of further development of the international legal setting for the regulation of artificial intelligence.

For sure, it is a great asset that this convention is open not only for the European countries but also open for all the countries who are the main stakeholders or the main producers of artificial intelligence tools. And from this perspective, I would like just to say that we should somehow become the pioneers and advocates for the further ratification of this document by all the countries concerned. And this is quite important because artificial intelligence is actually smarter than the average human being, and it may either serve for the future of the humanity or become an obstacle in the problem for the further progress of humanistic peace and humanistic world.

Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister VARDANYAN.

And now I would like to invite Mr Rostyslav TISTYK from the European Conservatives Group from Ukraine.

You have the floor.

Mr Rostyslav TISTYK

Ukraine, EC/DA


Yes, your Excellency,

Dear Vice-President,

Dear colleagues,

Dear participants,

Today I want to talk you about the importance of adopting a draft framework convention on artificial intelligence, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more pervasive in our daily lives.

It's changing the way we work, learn, communicate, and make decisions.

However, alone with the many benefits the AI brings, it also raises serious ethical and legal issues.

The adoption of the framework convention is a step forward in insuring that the development of artificial intelligence is in line with the basic principles of human rights, democracy, and rule of law.

This convention provides a framework for the development, implementation and use of artificial intelligence in national legislation which will maximise the protection of human rights and freedoms.

This convention aims to ensure that artificial artificial intelligence systems fully comply with human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

Another important aspect of this is the protection of personal data. The convention does not intend to create new human rights or obligations, but rather to promote the effective implementation of existing norms in the context on new issues related to artificial intelligence. Thus this does not create any difficulties with the implementation of the convention in national legislation, and Ukraine will definitely join.

Particular attention should be paid to ensure the ethical and responsible used of artificial intelligence during war. This includes protecting civilians from aftermath control systems and weapons, providing the use of artificial intelligence to spread hostile propaganda, manipulate information and disinformation. as well as ensuring the protection of personal data and citizens' privacy.

By adopting the framework convention, we can ensure that the development of artificial intelligence will be benefit the whole society in compliance with the fundamental values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

Thank you for attention.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister TISTYK.

And now I would like to give the floor to Ms Olena MOSHENETS, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Ukraine.

Olena, you have the floor.


Ukraine, ALDE


Thank you.

Dear colleagues,

We thank the Council of Europe and the rapporteur for a report on a relevant topic.

Artificial intelligence is being developed in the interest of the state, business and citizens and is becoming an integral part of human existence.

That said, Ukraine is actively developing the use of artificial intelligence in various industries and critical problem-solving. In 2020, our government approved the concept for the development of artificial intelligence in Ukraine which formulates the goal and main objectives of AI technology development. In the defence sector, AI is already been used to enhance the security of checkpoints, effectively analyse decisions and actions of humanitarian demining while making corrections and improving approaches to land mine clearance.

In addition, AI is being actively used to train unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems to recognise objects on the battlefield in real-time.

AI has also become a powerful ally for Ukrainian anti-corruption institutions. For example, Ukraine's Prozorro system has been tracking public procurement with the help of artificial intelligence DoZorro since 2018. The National Agency on Corruption Prevention of Ukraine is already considering using AI to verify the declarations of public officials in the foreseeable future. And the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine is planning to use artificial intelligence services in the investigation of criminal cases.

However, artificial intelligence brings challenges too. One of them is the spread of propaganda and disinformation. With the use of neural networks, such as ChatGPT, criminals may easily create fake news, which is difficult to distinguish from the real one. Questions also arise regarding the protection of consumer privacy and human rights. Artificial intelligence opens up new horizons, provides endless opportunities for development and helps to improve people's lives.

However, to ensure that our creation does not become a threat to democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights and human life, we must promote a detailed study, control and indications. Therefore, the importance of conventions cannot be underestimated.

Thank you for your attention.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And the next speaker is Ms Denitsa SACHEVA, but I don't see her in this hall.

And I would like to go to the next speaker, Ms Zeynep YILDIZ.

You have the floor.

Ms Zeynep YILDIZ

Türkiye, NR


Is it working? OK.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

It is crucial for the law-makers to follow current developments in order to prevent legal violations that may be caused by new technologies.

Therefore, this convention is carried out at the right time and creates a perfect framework. This framework is supported by correct conceptualisations. By this way, the draft also serves as a reference text that will be accepted on a global scale and would be a very good guideline for domestic legislations.

While the titles "human dignity and individual autonomy", "transparency and oversight", "accountability and responsibility", "privacy and personal data protection" are designed in a balanced manner, it is also important that innovation is included in the convention with the label of “safety”.

I sincerely thank the rapporteur for this very-well planned outline and classification.

Dear colleagues,

We have recently seen how human rights and the rule of law could be hindered by AI technologies in conflict situations. Israel is reportedly using AI for identifying targets in densely populated residential areas in Gaza. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was deeply troubled about this and believes “life and death decisions” should not be relegated to algorithms. This is one of the most important aspects for the convention to make a difference.

Therefore, I think that the convention will contribute to the peaceful use of AI technology in this regard, too.

As I’ve expressed during the Committee meetings, I would like to reiterate my suggestion that this convention be expanded to include competition law in the future. Because the protection of human rights is directly related to the protection of competition and fighting against the trusts in various areas, from social media to simple household appliances. Because, in cases where trusts exist, it is likely to encounter various difficulties in matters such as economic accessibility, protection of freedom of expression and democracy.

The Draft Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence represents a historic opportunity to harness the benefits of AI while mitigating its risks, which has been drafted as a collaborative effort. Türkiye has contributed to the drafting process at the highest levels, from the Digital Transformation Office of the Presidency of Türkiye to the relevant ministries and public institutions.

I would like to express once again that I will follow up on this issue in my home country, too.

Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And now I give the floor to Ms Luz MARTINEZ SEIJO.

Please, you have the floor.


Spain, SOC


Thank you very much, Madam President. 

I think the advance of artificial intelligence (AI) cannot be ignored. It is a revolution of the world as we know it. In fact, it is already an ongoing revolution. It is changing practically every aspect of our lives. 

The new European Union (EU) regulation establishes the obligations for content providers and users according to the level of artificial intelligence risk, from unacceptable to limited to high. And the latter would also include issues such as biometric identification, employment, migration and asylum, and vocational education and training. 

In Europe, we are, and we should be, committed to ethical and responsible use of artificial intelligence – one that helps us uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law. 

AI, in fact, mimics the cognitive abilities of human beings, such as learning, reasoning and decision taking. However, it lacks emotion, it lacks consciousness and it is precisely this feature that requires special attention, because artificial intelligence lacks this deep understanding of our world and our intuition, which is to distinguish between right and wrong. And, therefore, misuse of artificial intelligence could violate rights and undermine our democratic standards. 

I would advocate for an ethical use of AI. This would require working with government guidelines on the use of AI, protecting sensitive, risky areas, such as education. Educating young people, making very obvious the benefits, risks and consequences of AI are important steps.

But, of course, there are serious risks, as we know. The relationship between AI and minors is an absolute priority. We need to ensure security, online privacy, protection of personal data. 

And in that sense, we really need to continue to raise awareness in our fight against cyberbullying, and to work on prevention measures, the use the of secure passwords, precautions against phishing. 

Technology entails a learning process, which is associated with responsible online behaviour, and that involves respecting others in virtual environments, raising awareness about the impact of online posts, social media, safe and respectable digital communication practices, and steps to take in the event of cyberbullying or perilous online situations. 

It is also just as important to lay the groundwork for identifying fake news and untrustworthy websites. So, therefore, we must educate, educate about the problems, the limits, the democratic ethical background that artificial intelligence implies. We need to train people to have a critical conscience, to know about the existing risks derived from malpractice or ignorance of the risks fo AI for human rights, for democracy and for the rule of law. 

In some, we need to generate a framework that delimits the protections and resources necessary for the training of people, development, innovation, as well as guarantees for its legal and respectful use. 

Thank you for your kind attention.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And the next speaker is Ms Arusyak JULHAKYAN from Armenia.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues,

Artificial intelligence has rapidly transformed various aspects of our lives, presenting unprecedented opportunities along with significant challenges that demand our attention and careful consideration.

AI can improve access to justice and legal services. Automated systems can assist individuals in understanding their legal rights, navigating complex legal procedures and accessing legal information efficiently. AI technologies can facilitate more inclusive and participatory governance. For example, AI-driven platforms can enable citizens to engage directly with policy makers, provide feedback on government services and participate in decision-making processes.

Furthermore, AI can strengthen the rule of law by promoting transparency and accountability. AI tools can analyse government data to detect corruption, track public spending and ensure compliance with legal regulations. However, along with these opportunities, there are significant challenges that must be addressed.

One major concern is the potential for AI to infringe upon human rights, such as privacy and freedom of expression. AI systems that process vast amounts of personal data can raise concerns about surveillance and the misuse of information, especially in authoritarian regimes.

In the context of democracy, AI poses challenges related to misinformation and the manipulation of public opinion. AI-generated content, such as deepfakes and automated propaganda, can undermine trust in democratic institutions and distort public discourse. To address these challenges and harness the full potential of AI for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, several actions are imperative.

First, governments must develop robust regulations and ethical guidelines for the development and deployment of AI technologies to ensure transparency, accountability and respect for human rights. From this perspective, the consideration of adopting a Framework Convention is particularly crucial.

Second, AI developers and practitioners should prioritise ethical considerations including fairness, accountability and transparency throughout the entire AI life cycle.

Third, efforts to raise awareness about the implications of AI technologies are crucial. Empowering individuals with knowledge and digital literacy can enable informed decision making and foster responsible AI use.

Fourth, collaboration between governments, technology companies, civil society organisations and academia is essential to address complex AI-related challenges comprehensively.

Dear colleagues, in conclusion, let me congratulate the rapporteur for this important initiative and the work done. We must find an effective balance between the AI opportunities and risks and the adoption of this opinion on Framework Convention is an important step towards that goal.

Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And the next speaker is Ms Bernadeta COMA.

You have the floor.

Ms Bernadeta COMA

Andorra, ALDE


Madam Chairman,

Dear Colleagues,

The draft framework convention on artificial intelligence, human rights, democracy and the rule of law reflects current concerns.

It comes at a crucial time, when the need for a global legal framework for this technology is indisputable.

Today, artificial intelligence, which is inevitably omnipresent in our daily lives, is the subject of intense debate, oscillating between fascination and apprehension.

Well-known for their multiple benefits, artificial intelligence applications enhance our daily lives, improve healthcare and promote learning, among other things. However, they also entail numerous drawbacks and risks.

The future framework convention aims to make artificial intelligence compatible with fundamental values and respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It aims to promote responsible innovation and guarantee the reliability of systems to prevent harmful consequences.

As it includes general obligations to protect human rights and preserve democratic processes, this initiative addresses potential risks such as manipulation and social isolation.

The result of a broad collaboration involving Council of Europe member states, the European Union, observer states such as the United States and Canada, international organisations and civil society, this draft framework convention reflects a diversity of perspectives and expertise. It strikes a balance between all these forces that becomes a guarantee for all countries, even for small communities like ours.

Andorra's commitment to this process, both at the political level, through our Permanent Representation, and at the technical level, thanks to the contribution of a high-level expert, bears witness to the need for an inclusive legal framework for this emerging technology. This future framework convention meets some of our demands in terms of respect for cultural diversity.

One of its main aims is to encourage the spread of digital skills throughout society, thereby promoting a more modern, egalitarian and responsible society.

The publication in 2022 of a guide to the responsible use of artificial intelligence by Andorra Recerca + Innovació bears witness to our country's concrete commitment in this field.

Thank you for your attention.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And the next speaker is Mr Andi-Lucian CRISTEA.

You have the floor.

Mr Andi-Lucian CRISTEA

Romania, SOC


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Let me start, as a general rapporteur of this house for science and technology, with a word of praise for Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR and her important work that she has done.

May I ask you what kind of games do we play in this world and in the international relations arena? Are we playing co-operation games in which we want to have a win-win? Or are we playing zero-sum games, where in order for someone to win somebody else needs to lose?

This is an important question to frame the debate, because if we are living in a world where we are playing co-operation games, this Convention on AI is really a step forward.

My fear is that we are living in a world where zero-sum games are prominent, and there are some things we should have in mind.

We need to understand that nowadays cutting-edge innovation and technologies are not stemming, are not coming anymore from states and their institutions; they are coming from the private sector.

Make no mistakes, all those private actors want money. They are not after general public good or other fairies.

We should make very clear that AI is a piece of technology, and technology itself shouldn't be a goal. Technology should be an instrument, a means for achieving some specific goal.

This is why I think the work of the Council of Europe on this particular issue is of paramount importance.

Now, with AI I believe that we have opened a Pandora's Box, because the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful are all packed inside. Technology itself is not deterministic. It is not the technology which is neither good nor bad, but the usage. This is something we should have to keep in mind.

Let me conclude by congratulating Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR for her very balanced report she put forward.

Also, have this question in mind. What is our goal in 30 years from now? Do we want to be the richest men and woman from the cemeteries or do we care about what kind of society we leave behind?

Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And the next speaker is Mr Niklaus-Samuel GUGGER.

Mr Niklaus-Samuel GUGGER

Switzerland, EPP/CD


Thank you, Madame Chair.

Thank Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, for the effort.

Given the manifold impact that Artificial Intelligence systems can have on people and society, I truly welcome the Council of Europe’s efforts to introduce the first international rulebook that aims to protect human rights, democracy, and the rule of law from AI’s harmful effects. This mandate – which corresponds to the mandate of the Council of Europe – is not only timely and necessary, but it is also the reason why we all convene here today, and the task we are charged with as members of the Parliamentary Assembly.

However, the current Draft Framework Convention does not live up full to this mandate.

First, while the Convention would fully apply to public authorities, state parties could decide for themselves which measures they provide for the private sector – and these do not have to be binding laws. Although there is no shortage of evidence of how tech companies use social media algorithms or deep fake generators to influence our public opinion, the Convention would imply that we do not need any laws to hold their power in check in order to protect human rights and democracy.

This would send a dangerous signal: This first international rulebook on AI could thus give corporations a free pass to develop and use AI according to their own interests. This Assembly must ensure that AI serves the interests of humanity and not those of a few big corporations – all the moreso as the Council of Europe is supposed to be the watchdog for human rights in Europe. Everything else could set a dangerous precedent for future regulation worldwide.

Second, the current Draft Framework Convention establishes a full exemption for AI activities under the guise of "national security" (Art. 3, Par. 2), which should be rejected. It would mean that if security authorities use AI to surveil the population by face recognition in public spaces, AI border protection, or scanning social media profiles, there would be no need for additional rules to protect human rights and the rule of law. Very different AI applications could fall under the vague term of «national security». And it is precisely in the area of security where it is crucial that legitimate fundamental rights and the population are protected from unlawful restrictions.

While national security can provide a legitimate for restricting the application of the Convention based on the legality, necessity, and proportionality, a blanket exemption is not acceptable.

Let us jointly ensure that this Convention lives up to the high expectations and sets a credible, effective, and convincing precedent for any future regulation on AI. Let us take on this responsibility.


Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And the next speaker is Mr George LOUCAIDES. You have the floor.


Cyprus, UEL


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Allow me to start by thanking our rapporteur, Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, for her significant work on this report.

Dear colleagues,

AI is no longer a futuristic idea: it is a present-day reality. Because of its profound impact across every sector of our societies, we must be responsive not only to the opportunities and benefits, but also to the significant risks and challenges generated by the use of AI technology.

Indeed, the misuse of these technologies can undermine democratic processes, violate human dignity and autonomy and run contrary to international human rights standards.

Obviously we cannot leave the burden of AI responsibility and fairness on the companies and technologists who design it.

Examples speak for themselves: the capabilities of Generative AI, such as OpenAI's GPT, Copilot, and deepfake applications underscore their potential negative impact, especially in the manipulation of public opinion and in spreading misinformation.

Specifically, a version of GPT used in Microsoft Bing, generated responses suggesting it might attempt to steal nuclear codes.

In another instance, scientists have used AI technology intended for drug discovery to create harmful biological agents, in order to highlight the risks of misusing AI.

Indeed, the AI model produced 40 000 potentially deadly molecules in under six hours.

Furthermore, dear colleagues.

The UN Secretary-General, in recent official statements he made, expressed strong criticism to Israel for using AI systems in its military operations in Gaza.

The use of AI designed to identify threats resulted in approximately 10% of its targets being falsely identified, some with little or no actual connection to militant activities.

It is horrific that we are mere observers of the first AI-assisted genocide against the Palestinian people.

This demonstrates the catastrophic potential of AI used by the military and the urgent need for strict global regulation of the weaponisation of AI. Drawing lessons from the past and the development of nuclear weapons, we have the societal and ethical obligation not to repeat the “Oppenheimer” experiment, this time with Artificial Intelligence.

As mentioned in this report, important ethical principles of the Assembly’s previous work on AI are indeed reflected in the draft Framework Convention. Nonetheless, it misses to highlight potential positive effects of AI use on democratic processes, like citizen participation and government accountability.

We fully agree with the rapporteur that the drafters should have been clearer on the responsibility of member states to inform the public when using AI in administrative processes leading to binding decisions. We also agree that it does not cover public and private actors equally and is far from ideal regarding the obligation to address human rights abuses by private actors.

Lastly, we must also stress the importance of setting up compliance and reporting mechanisms following up to member states ratifying this Convention.

Dear colleagues, now it is the time to shift our perspective, laws and practices from a capitalistic growth-centric model to a technologically responsible human-centred one. We need all hands on deck.

Thank you.



Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr George LOUCAIDES.

The next speaker is Mr Francesco SORBARA, from Canada.

Mr Francesco SORBARA



Thank you and good afternoon, dear colleagues.

I would like to start by congratulating the Assembly for its important work on different aspects of our artificial intelligence or AI, such as democratic governance, the prevention of discrimination, and its role in criminal justice systems, healthcare, and labour markets.

I would also like to thank the Committee of Ministers for allowing Canada to participate in the elaboration of this draft Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law as an observer state.

Canada has been a leader in artificial intelligence and deep learning since the 1990s, and has built up a growing AI industry across the country anchored by our three national AI institutes in Montreal, Toronto, and Edmonton.

Since 2016, the Canadian government is committed more than 16 billion to support scientific discovery, developed research talent and attract top researchers, and over 2 billion to help Canada's artificial intelligence industry and digital infrastructure grow.

In 2017, Canada was the first country to establish a national AI strategy, the pan-Canadian artificial intelligence strategy.

Two days ago, the government of Canada tabled its budget for 2024. It contains 2.4 billion dollars of investments into AI to accelerate job growth in this sector and boost productivity by helping researchers and businesses develop and adopt artificial intelligence in a responsible manner.

These measures include, colleagues:

2 billion to build and provide access to computing capabilities and technological infrastructure for Canada's world-leading AI researchers, startups and scale-ups, helping AI startups bring new technologies to market and accelerating AI adoption in critical sectors; 100 million for the National Research Council of Canada industrial research assistance programme; AI assist programme to help small and medium-sized businesses scale up and increase productivity by building and deploying new AI solutions; supporting workers who may be impacted by AI, such as those in the creative industries; creating a new Canadian AI safety institute with 50 million to further the safe development and deployment of AI; and strengthening the enforcement of the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act, or AIDA.

AIDA would be enacted by the adoption of Bill C27, tabled by the government in June 2022, and currently being considered at the Industry Committee that I sit on.

Among other objectives, AIDA aims to regulate international trade in commerce in AI systems by requiring the mitigation of risks, of harm, and biased output related to high impact AI systems.

By taking a risk-based approach, AIDA is similar to the European Union's Artificial Intelligence Act.

In the same way, Article 16 of the draft Framework Convention deals with the mitigation of risks and adverse impacts to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

I am proud to say that Canada is a leader in the responsible adoption of artificial intelligence. We were recently ranked number one among 80 countries, tied with South Korea and Japan, in the Center for AI and Digital Policies 2024 global report on AI and democratic values.

As countries around the world are trying to find ways to regulate artificial intelligence responsibly, we wish to keep going in a direction that respects the fundamental rights and values that we all share in this Assembly. I believe that the Framework Convention will make a significant contribution in that regard.

Thank you, dear colleagues.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister SORBARA.

Now I would like to give the floor to Mr Stefan SCHENNACH. I don't see him here and the next... ah, excuse me, sorry.


Austria, SOC


Thank you, Madam President,

I too can only agree with the many, many congratulations on the fact that we now have such a framework agreement in such a short time and so quickly – and thus also set the tone in Europe and probably also internationally.

Because then it is really very important that in the future, of course, in the regulation and implementation of the European Union's AI law, that wherever artificial intelligence is used, it is also identified for consumers, that it is clear that where AI is involved, it must also be mentioned.

The next thing that has already been widely discussed here is the dual-use situation. This means that I can use AI for science, research and business, but I can also use it in the military sector, or in the security sector, in recognition – especially if we look at China, in facial recognition and so on.

Wherever AI comes together with digitalisation and robotisation, jobs that cannot be easily replaced will certainly be at risk in the long term.

Where we need to pay particular attention is in the area of everything we call news; social media, media as a whole. AI poses an extreme risk of fake news - and it is already on the move. You see interviews with Ms Merkel that she never gave. These are all potential uses that we will have to pay close attention to in the future and this Framework Convention offers a great opportunity to do so.

One of the biggest challenges with AI is data protection. Where I assume AI will celebrate great success if the final decision remains with humans is in medicine. In diagnostics – if we look at last year's science award in Germany, for example, Siemens won for precisely this area of AI diagnostics. It can save human lives, and that's a great thing.

In that sense, it's wonderful, we have so many historic things here this week, but this Framework Convention has to be mentioned.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister SCHENNACH.

Now I would like to give the floor to Mr Ričards ŠLESERS from Latvia.

Mr Ričards ŠLESERS

Latvia, NR


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues,

First I would like to congratulate the rapporteur for a very well-prepared report in terms of the government's role in regulating AI.

It's not akin to playing with fire, but rather navigating an ever-expanding flame whose limits remain uncertain.

These monumental advancements have already reshaped our daily lives, prompting us to ponder the future implications of AI's influence on society. As we peer into the future, it is necessary to take note of the discerning voices of industry leaders.

Tim O'Reilly, who is synonymous with popularising phrases such as "open source" and "Web 2.0", offers a significant observation regarding the stance of AI companies towards its potential negative repercussions.

He stated, "if they would really be afraid of it (AI, in this case), they would stop their research. Instead they are racing to accelerate it, so they can get a monopoly."

In this race towards technological supremacy, it is evident that the primary beneficiaries are they AI corporations themselves, while the broader societal impacts remain profound and multifaceted.

The pervasive influence of AI has significantly altered public perceptions, instilling a growing scepticism towards online information authenticity, whether in textual or visual forms. Reflecting on historical analogues, such as the Cottingley Fairies case in 1917 further underscores the potency of fabricated evidence in shaping collective beliefs. This infamous incident involved two young girls who orchestrated photographs depicting themselves with paper cutouts of fairies, ultimately deceiving the world.

Famously, Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes, was one individual who believed these tales of fairies. It wasn't until 1980 that the authenticity of the images was debunked.

The evolution of societal mindsets is striking, transitioning from a predisposition to believe everything presented to us to a scepticism that dismisses divergent truths as mere AI generated fabrications.

It's a reflection of the profound impact of AI on our collective consciousness.

Dear colleagues, as leaders in the Council of Europe, it is crucial that we take proactive steps to tackle the challenges posed by AI through strong regulation.

Acting decisively now is essential for governing AI effectively and avoiding negative outcomes of inaction.

Let us use this chance to protect our societies and promote the responsible use of AI for the benefit of all humanity.

Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And the next speaker is Ms Susanna VELA.

You have the floor.

Ms Susanna VELA

Andorra, SOC


Thank you very much, Madam President. 

These last few months we have seen unprecedented advances being made by artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. They allow us, quite simply, to create almost instantaneously texts, music and images and they are highly convincing. 

The fact that we are now reading, or listening to things or seeing things that were not created by a human being does raise a number of deep, ethical dilemmas and social dilemmas that we have to tackle. 

There are a group of experts that have asked for a moratorium on the development of AI systems. They are asking for rigorous protocols and for a sound governance policy that is robust to guarantee that the effects of these systems are positive for individuals and above all can be controlled.

The picture they paint is rather bleak –  violation of privacy, use of large quantities of data without explicit consent, which could impact on intellectual property rights of the creators, could be a risk to health, security, for fundamental rights of individuals, there could be subliminal manipulation of human behaviour by algorithms, a loss of truth, as well, because they are actually inventing content. Also job insecurity, and an elevated use of energy with its consequent huge environmental impact, etc. 

The request to stop the development of AI is alarmist and not very realistic. However, I think it alerts us, as citizens, to the fact that there are major issues at stake here and we need supervision, we need regulation. 

Experts say that artificial intelligence only operates with existing data but does not produce new data, information on new phenomena, as it does not have such information. 

We must undoubtedly prioritise governance and regulation systems that guarantee that the social impact of artificial intelligence is positive. I think it is time for us as a society to act collectively, to talk about the ethical and political ramifications of AI because we are talking about science and technology, but we are also talking about rights, democracy, economics, equality, inclusion, citizenship, peace and power. 

It is time to educate and learn. It is time to invest in AI without leaving anyone behind and without destroying our planet in the process.

We hold political responsibility. We are, therefore, duty bound to guarantee, to protect in every area, through regulation, through supervision, we need to make sure that we can defend human rights, democracy, environmental sustainability and the rule of law. 

And finally, let me conclude by commending the rapporteur on her very valuable and important work. 

This report is a great advance, despite the fact that there are maybe some points that should be included in addition to what you have already written, which I hope can be added. 

Thank you. 


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And the next speaker is Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK from Ukraine.

Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ALDE


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues,

Although I will be using notes, I promise it's not AI that wrote my speech.

We're currently living through truly challenging times, with a war raging in the heart of our Europe.

At the same time we're also on the threshold of a new era where artificial intelligent holds the possibility of transforming our world in ways we could hardly have imagined just a few decades ago.

In fact, this also brings with it a great responsibility. We as parliamentarians have even greater responsibilities. It is up to us to ensure that the development and deployment of AI is guided by the principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

This historic first ever document that we are discussing today will greatly contribute to these efforts.

Why do we need it?

I can clearly see several reasons for that. Protecting human rights. Despite criticism, AI technologies are becoming increasingly integrated into various aspects of society. Without proper regulation, AI systems could be used to infringe upon individual's rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and non-discrimination.

The Convention provides a framework to ensure that AI development and deployment respect and uphold human rights standards, democracy and rule of law.

Our goal is also to ensure that AI is not used to manipulate or undermine democratic institutions and values.

The Convention will make the integrity of democratic process safer, which is needed in these challenging times. Especially, I'm talking about the prevention of interference into the election process and the creation of deep fakes to spread propaganda, as Russia is trying to do in influencing your countries, and Ukraine as well.

International co-operation. AI is another area where our unity is inevitably necessary. After all, this phenomenon has no borders.

I see this as a great opportunity for all countries that share common values to strengthen our co-operation.

I thank Madam rapporteur, dear Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, for this tremendous work. It's very interesting and everyone who is involved in this work for the document. Of course, I'm sure this is Assembly will address the issue many more times and work on it.

Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you. And the next speaker is Ms Mireille CLAPOT.

You have the floor.

Ms Mireille CLAPOT

France, ALDE


Thank you, Madam President.

Your excellent report, Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, shows that the Council of Europe is the right level to establish a binding legal instrument to ensure that artificial intelligence is framed in terms of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. On the scale of a single member state, this would be ineffective; and on a global scale, there would be too many divergent interests. So, yes to this ambition of consensual regulation, the way to which was paved by several works of our Assembly in 2020.

But technology has come a long way since then, and the arrival of generative intelligence, which produces texts, images and videos on demand, has demonstrated the possibilities opened up by this new tool – because, after all, it's just a tool. Alas, as we see in this election period when half the world's voters are called to the polls, online harassment, hate speech and misinformation are unfortunately all too often the most obvious results of this new technology.

So, I'd like to note that they particularly target women and girls, and I'd like to call on my colleagues to reflect on these issues. Artificial intelligence needs to be approached from a gender equality perspective, which is the case in Article 10, but I'd also like to see it include a progressive and optimistic vision – and indeed, you mention this in paragraph 34 of your report.

Indeed, there are also opportunities to open up new employment prospects, since all professions will be turned upside down, and to open up new responsibilities for women, including in the political arena. And for this, any form of bias due to AI must be prevented.

But we need to go further.

The protection of personal data must be an asset, not a hindrance, in order to build up cohorts of data capable of fuelling companies subject to our regulations. Without this data fuel, our companies cannot operate.

We also need to promote the development of frugal artificial intelligence, thrifty with resources such as energy and water, constituting an ally rather than a threat to the environment. Artificial intelligence can be an ally for the environment.

These public policies on artificial intelligence, which we've just mentioned, also need to be measured, so that we can regain control and have indicators, so that we can make objective judgements on artificial intelligence, which today are all too often dominated by emotion.

And – as we are all parliamentarians – we also need our national parliaments to get to grips with the issue, as part of a dialogue with society.

The proposed Framework Convention will make all this possible. It's a good start, and I'd like to thank you for your detailed and very precise report.

Thank you very much.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And that concludes the list of speakers.

And I called Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, the rapporteur, to reply.

You have three minutes.

Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR

Iceland, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues, thank you for your insightful and valuable contributions to this debate on our opinion, hopefully to be adopted now on this first ever Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.

I think it is a really important step in the right direction, this framework convention.

It is very important that we regulate the development of AI and try to prevent the most negative impacts it can have on our most cherished values here in the Council of Europe.

I'd like to specifically address two comments made by colleagues.

First of all by Mr CRISTEA and also by Ms VELA.

Mr CRISTEA asked whether we were working in the spirit of co-operation here in this house or playing a zero-sum game where someone had to lose in order for some of us to win. I'd have to give you my personal answer, which is that I think that for democratic society to prevail for the foreseeable future, we need to ensure that intellectual property rights do not end up disenfranchising most of society and making a few individuals insanely rich and powerful.

Now, why do I say this? Because with increasing automation, with increasing disenfranchisement of our workforce, when more and more jobs are taken over by artificial intelligence and automatic systems, workers lose their collective right to bargain for their rights. They lose their collective power to bargain for their rights, because we can no longer lay down our work in order to fight for our rights.

Then it becomes important to regulate who gets to reap the benefits.

This is how I'm also addressing Ms VELA's comments. Who gets to benefit from the advancements of artificial intelligence? Is it the Jeff Bezos of this world or should it be society as a whole.

Now, this convention doesn't address that. We need to address the right to benefit from the proliferation of artificial intelligence, because, as it's been rightly stated here, it has enormous potential to better our lives.

If we can properly regulate and ensure that it belongs in the public debate domain and not in the private domain, we can use artificial intelligence to live comfortable lives and use our time and energy to create something magnificent together. If we do not tackle this elephant in the room, the right to benefit from artificial intelligence, I fear that it may increase the difference between the rich and the completely powerless to an extent that we don't want to see.

Let us work together towards a future where we all reap the benefits of artificial intelligence and where it is for the betterment of our society and for the betterment of our children and the future generations.

Thank you very much.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR.

Does the Chair of the Committee Lord Richard KEEN wish to speak?

You have 3 minutes.

Lord Richard KEEN

United Kingdom, EC/DA, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues, I would invite you to support the statutory opinion of the Assembly before you, prepared by Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, which was adopted unanimously by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

Sunna has closely followed the negotiations leading to the recent adoption of the draft convention, and certainly persuaded the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to support it after a number of issues were raised by members and debated.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has some experience on the need to regulate AI. It has a sub-committee focusing on the issue, which was until recently chaired by Sunna, and the Committee and its rapporteurs have authored a number of reports covering specific aspects of AI.

For example, a report on justice by algorithm by one of my predecessors Mr Boriss CILEVIČS, and a report on lethal autonomous weapons systems by Mr Damien COTTIER.

I would emphasise that this convention is addressed not only to the member states of the Council of Europe, but must also include non-European states that have contributed to the development of AI, such as the United States, Canada, Japan, and Israel. In order to have some of these countries on board, compromises had to be acknowledged.

These include a compromise between the United States and most of the European states regarding the inclusion or not of the private sector in the scope of the convention. The compromise basically grants a wide discretion to states as to the means to ensure the protection of their citizens from potential threats emanating from the private sector.

Now, with that in mind, I would express the opinion that a less-than-perfect convention will be better than no convention.

The Assembly views, as clearly expressed in the draft opinion, will be on record once they've been adopted. They will serve as guidance in the further interpretation of the convention and in the evolution of the Council of Europe's work on artificial intelligence.

The opinion includes some proposed amendments that would improve the text of the convention and align it more with Council of Europe standards.

As with any statutory opinion on a treaty, it will be up to the Committee of Ministers to decide whether to include these amendments before the final adoption of the treaty. But I trust that the Committee of Ministers will look very seriously closely at what has been proposed by Sunna.

I would emphasise that this draft framework convention is just a beginning. There's a great deal more that will require to be done and I support the proposal that this Assembly should participate in the follow-up to this convention.

Finally, I would express my thanks to Sunna and the Secretariat, not only for the work they did, but for the alacrity with which the executed this work in regard to the opinion.

I commend it to the Assembly.

Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


The debate is closed.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft opinion, "Draft Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law” (Document 15971), to which no amendments have been tabled.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft opinion. I remind you that a two-thirds majority is required.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed. 

I call for the results to be displayed. 

The draft opinion contained in Document 15971 is adopted unanimously.


Vote: Draft Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Dear colleagues,

The next item of business this afternoon is a current affairs debate on responding to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and preventing further escalations in the Middle East following the recent Iranian attack against Israel.

The speaking time is limited to 3 minutes for all members except the first speaker, chosen by the Bureau, who is allowed 7 minutes.

In the debate I call first Mr Andrej HUNKO.

You have 7 minutes.

Current affairs debate: Responding to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and preventing further escalations in the Middle East following the recent Iranian attack against Israel

Mr Andrej HUNKO

Germany, UEL


Thank you very much, Mr. President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

We, the Group of the Unified European Left, have initiated this debate because we believe that the Council of Europe is far too silent on the developments taking place in Gaza. In Gaza, but also in the Middle East.

We had a meeting here shortly after 7 October 2023. We also had minutes of commemoration. There were of course condemnations from our side of Hamas' attack on Israel, and we had a debate in January where we passed a resolution, but a lot has happened since then. A lot has happened. And I believe that the Council of Europe should be more active here, which is why we are having this current debate.

I would like to make two preliminary remarks; "humanitarian disaster" also appears in the title. It is quite right - it is a humanitarian disaster - but an earthquake or a natural disaster is also a humanitarian disaster. In this case, we are dealing with a humanitarian disaster that is the product of deliberate political decisions, it should be said. And I would also like to say that the debate in our countries is often conducted in an aggressive manner, where argument is not pitted against counter-argument, but a different opinion is directly linked to an attack on the personal integrity of the person with a different opinion - we should avoid that here.

On the situation itself; according to UN figures, since 7 October 2023 and since the Israeli response, we have over 33 000 dead in Gaza, 12 000 disappeared, we have 70 000 injured. Of the 33 000 dead, 15 000 are children alone. That is 40 – 45%. That is an incredible number, and the proportion of women among the dead is also higher than that of men. We have a situation where much less food is coming into the Gaza Strip. A person needs 2 100 calories to survive. There are different figures, but the average number of calories that reaches Gaza per day is much, much lower, and that is why 100% of the Gaza population is classified in one of the three highest levels of the World Food Program, of course to varying degrees - and that should not be the case either, and we have to address and discuss that here. And in my view, this policy against the entire civilian population in Gaza no longer has anything to do with the legitimate right to self-defense.

We have just discussed artificial intelligence. We have the use of artificial intelligence on a massive scale in Gaza - and in a way that increases the number of civilian deaths. The artificial intelligence and the drones are programmed via artificial intelligence so that, for example, suspected Hamas activists or Hamas terrorists are bombed in their homes, where the women and children are, and not elsewhere. And that is also one of the reasons for the high number of deaths - here, too, we should take a close look at how artificial intelligence is being used.

Since our debate in January 2024, South Africa has brought before the International Court of Justice, proceedings of genocide, and 80 states around the world have joined in, including Ireland, but mainly states in the Global South. And the court has said; there is indeed a risk of genocide here and everything must be done to eliminate this risk - and I cannot see that this is the case. Genocide is the worst form of human rights violation and that is another reason why we should pay more attention to it.

We have also seen, as the title shows, that the danger of regional escalation is growing. Of course, there are also attacks in the West Bank, there are also deaths, there are clashes with Hezbollah in Lebanon, there are clashes with the Houthis over the ships in the Red Sea, but the greatest form of escalation was initially the bombing of the Iranian embassy in Damascus - or an embassy building, to be more precise - with more than a dozen deaths, and then Iran's disproportionate reaction against Israel, which is the biggest attack by Iran on Israel ever. And I believe we must condemn both very, very clearly, an attack on an embassy building is a crossing of a red line, but also sending 300 drones and missiles at Israel is also a crossing of a red line and therefore both must be condemned.

There is also a lot of pressure on civil society in our countries. I come from Germany and we had a congress at the weekend, a Palestine congress - a peaceful congress, not from the Hamas spectrum, but from completely different spectrums, co-organized by critical Jews - the congress was broken up by the police. The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has been banned from taking part and denied entry, as has a rector from the University of Glasgow. We should also condemn this kind of internal repression in response to what is happening there.

We had an important resolution ten days ago from the UN Human Rights Council, for example. I have often called for more co-operation between the Council of Europe and the UN Human Rights Council, which states very, very clearly that hunger is being used as a weapon in Gaza, and that our states should also refrain from supplying arms in the current situation.

To summarise; even if it is difficult, even if it is far, far away - there is only one peaceful solution for the region. In the end, this must include: equal rights for all, human rights for all who live there and for Palestinians, for Jews, for Israelis. Even if that is a long way off, we must maintain this perspective and otherwise, of course, advocate a ceasefire and the release of the hostages.

Thank you very much


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Andrej HUNKO.

Mr Paul GAVAN, on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.


Ireland, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mr President.

I want to begin with a quotation from the UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine, Francesca Albanese, from her latest report. She tells us that over 30 000 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 13 000 children, over 12 000 are presumed dead, and 71 000 injured.

She says "thousands of families have been wiped out. Many could not bury and mourn their relatives, forced instead to leave their bodies decomposing in homes, in the streets, or under the rubble." Ms Albanese concluded that "there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold of genocide has been met."

This followed the International Court of Justice instruction in January, to Israel, to take all possible measures to prevent genocidal acts as outlined in Article 2 of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

It is unbelievable that this human rights Assembly had originally planned not to include the issue of Gaza this week.

Yesterday, this Assembly called for the seizure of Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine. Who here will be calling for the seizure of Israeli assets to rebuild Gaza? Any takers?

Apparently, some occupations are absolutely fine with this Assembly.

I find the double standards here incredible.

We are all witnesses to the ongoing genocide in Gaza. We've had a weak dominated by the issue of one illegal occupation. But the same people grandstanding on Ukraine have nothing to say about a genocide literally taking place as we speak, within another illegal occupation.

And what I find most shocking is that six months into this unfolding horror, the Secretary General of this institution still has nothing to say about the genocide taking place, even as children are dying by imposed starvation.

It is not just the apartheid state of Israel that must be held to account. Those countries that continue to supply the military hardware that allows Israel to keep the slaughter of Palestinian women and children going, the US, Germany, and Britain in particular, must also answer for their actions.

Nobody is fooled by expressions of concern by their leaders, even as they can continue to stoke the IDF war machine with fresh arm sales.

The fact that Germany will now be tried at the International Court of Justice to establish, if once again, it has become involved in genocide, is truly a mark of shame.

We must respond to the war crimes being committed in Gaza. We need an immediate ceasefire. We need an immediate arms embargo against Israel, the ending of the EU-Israel Trade Agreement. We need real European pressure to end the slaughter.

My message on behalf of the United European Left is ceasefire now and justice for the people of Palestine.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


 Mr Frank SCHWABE, on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.


Germany, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Mister President, thank you very much.

In these hours, the Middle East is on the brink. On the precipice of a regional war that would have massive repercussions for the whole world, now that the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is keeping us on tenterhooks.

The country that is taking brutal action against its own population and threatening the entire region, not just Israel, Iran is also, not coincidentally, the country that supplies Russia with the weapons to terrorise the people of Ukraine. Iran is the country that provided the terrorist organisation Hamas with the means to commit the worst imaginable atrocities against people in Israel on 7 October last year. We condemn the current Iranian attack in particular in the strongest possible terms. However, we also call on Israel to do everything in its power to prevent further escalation and to respect the inviolability of diplomatic facilities to the best of its ability. The current events are already pushing the devastating situation of the people in the Gaza Strip into the background again.

As a human rights institution that has close relations with both Israel and Palestine, we must and want to take a stand on this. In doing so, we also place the current situation in the context of a conflict that has been going on for so many years and has not been resolved, which is now taking bitter revenge. A conflict in which Israel is surrounded by states that want to wipe Israel off the map and Palestinians who are denied a free, independent and equal life. All of this also led to the terrible terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel. This is the background to Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip. But this attack is leading to an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe.

I have been able to speak to aid organisations over the last week. The reports are truly horrific, and many report that the conditions are like nothing they have seen in their entire lives in terms of humanitarian crises. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank them most sincerely for their tireless efforts.

I think we have to be careful with the term "genocide". We can talk about the danger of genocide, but we have to be careful with the term "genocide", because we have experienced genocides in the world and in history, and because any frivolous use of the term essentially belittles other genocides. We are talking about 30 000 people killed, including, according to UN estimates, 6 000 mothers, whose deaths have orphaned an estimated 19 000 children. We are talking about 1.1 million people who are being sorted into the worst hunger catastrophe. There are 3 bakeries left in the Gaza Strip out of the 140 that once existed, and unfortunately, these examples could go on.

Of course, Hamas bears the original responsibility for this catastrophe, and it is increasing daily. Israel cannot and must not wage this war in this way without it becoming clear what this war is supposed to lead to, with attacks to which the civilian population is defencelessly exposed. With the inexplicable obstruction of humanitarian aid, which is still not arriving in sufficient quantities, with a dramatic collapse in the supply of drinking water and unnecessarily long waiting times at the checkpoints.

Meanwhile, violence is escalating, particularly at the hands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, and ministers of the Israeli government leave no doubt that they basically want to occupy the Gaza Strip. That is why it is our task to make it clear from here. There must be an immediate improvement in the humanitarian situation. There must be no attack on Rafah, which would lead to a further humanitarian catastrophe. On the contrary, a ceasefire is needed, in the course of which the hostages who have now been kidnapped for over a year must finally be freed. Now is the time for a two-state solution, perhaps the most difficult task in the world to solve, but there is no alternative. Anything else will lead to the next catastrophe.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


On behalf of Group of the European People's Party, Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister Chairman,

I will use German because it has been a language in my family. I would like to emphasise, anyway, everything Frank Schwabe has said is fair in my opinion.

Two state perspectives, two states were supported over ten times at our meeting of this Oslo Agreement. The two-state solution remains. We must not forget that this attack on this peaceful Israeli side, not on settlements, but on Israeli territories, started on 7 October with the deepest preparation. These Hamas people were directly linked to Iran and, from another side, to Hezbollah. Compassion from our side should be underlined to the Palestinian population, and we must do everything to help the Palestinians to get humanitarian aid.

We remember when in 2007 Prime Minister Sharon took Israeli settlements away from Gaza and these towns on the border of Israel, from the Israeli side, were the most opposed to Netanyahu's policy. They had been the most peaceful kibbutz in Israel. This is not occupied territory, this is territory of Israel that was attacked from the Hamas side. Of course we must do everything we can to help Palestinians and rebuild the Gaza Strip.

I would like to emphasise that the Iranian side with this Revolutionary Guard, which has said many times to us and in the European Parliament that they are a terrorist group. My dear colleagues, I would like to emphasise that this side, which was bombed by Israelis in Damascus, was a stand of this murderous Revolutionary Guard. That was not the Embassy of Iran. That was the stand of this Revolutionary Guard, which has been in contact with Hezbollah and Hamas.

Furthermore, I would like to emphasise that we will do everything we can to help the Palestinian population, but also to preserve the right to statehood for the Jewish population. Of course, Iran should be cut off from its influence from its groups in this region.

Iran must have no further impact on our political reality. We must come to an agreement, because Iran supports this war in Ukraine and Iran is in an axis with Moscow and also with other states that are against our democratic solidarity and broadcast this propaganda to us from Iran and from Moscow.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you so much, dear Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS.

On behalf of the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance, Ms Elisabetta GARDINI.

Ms Elisabetta GARDINI

Italy, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, President.

Dear colleagues,

More than six months after the 7 October terrorist attacks, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is extremely serious and complex. To address the dramatic situation faced by Palestinian civilians, the international community has mobilised and deployed enormous means and resources.

Italy, just to give a few examples, has allocated 20 million euros since 7 October, launched the "Food for Gaza" initiative, sent the hospital ship Vulcan. Palestinian children will be treated in our main pediatric hospitals. Internationally, Operation Maritime Aid to Gaza, which includes the opening of a maritime corridor, should start, hopefully soon.

Israel, we must recognise, is also doing its part. I recall that it is reopening the Heretz crossing, destroyed by Hamas on 7 October and that on 16 April, that is, the day before yesterday, 376 trucks with humanitarian aid entered Gaza, 105 of them through Jordan. On the same day, 98 pallets containing tens of thousands of meals were dropped by air over northern Gaza.

We have to be careful in this matter because there is a lot of misinformation and also a lot of fake news that is artfully spread precisely to cover up the truth. We should not forget, as has already been mentioned by my colleague Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS and also by other colleagues, that it all started from the heinous terrorist attack on 7 October.

That is why I want to repeat here the strong condemnation of the brutal attack perpetrated by Hamas, as well as the call for the immediate release of the 133 Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza, whom no one has yet been able to visit, neither the Red Cross, nor NGOs, nor a doctor. The reticence that one increasingly encounters in this regard betrays a more or less larval anti-Semitism that is no longer permissible.

Of course, Israel's legitimate right to self-defense must be exercised with proportionality and with respect for international humanitarian law.

Now Israel is also being attacked by Iran, which wants to destabilise the region and destroy Israel, and to do so it is leveraging its proxies, including Hamas itself, as well as Hezbollah and the Houthis.

Precisely in the wake of the Iranian attack, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in her capacity as chair of the G7, immediately convened a videoconference at the level of heads of state and government, who adopted a joint statement of firm condemnation, reiterating full support for Israel's security and expressing strong concern about further destabilisation of the region and further escalation.

Certainly, we are facing a very complex international situation. The Gaza crisis is at the top of our concerns. We need to reach a ceasefire, ensure humanitarian corridors and get to the release of hostages.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


On behalf of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Mr Claude KERN.

Mr Claude KERN

France, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Mr President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After the barbaric terrorist attack of 7 October, after the actions of the Houthis and Hezbollah, the state of Israel was confronted at the end of last week with a massive attack by drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles launched directly from Iran. I strongly condemn it.

Israel's multi-layered defence system worked well, destroying almost all the missiles and drones launched, although we must also highlight the intervention of several neighboring and friendly states, including France, which, as a regional security player with military bases in several states in the region, assumed responsibility for destroying a number of missiles.

By taking this unprecedented action, Iran, which has been advocating the destruction of the state of Israel for forty years, has taken its destabilising actions to a new level. The risk of military escalation in the Middle East is high. I solemnly call for restraint and peace. My thoughts go out to all the peoples of the Middle East who are suffering the consequences of terrorist acts carried out by the Republic of Iran or its affiliates.

I would also like to reaffirm our commitment to the security of Israel, now threatened on all sides, and to regional stability. In particular, I am concerned about the border with Lebanon, a state itself beset by numerous internal difficulties, with Hezbollah steadily increasing its fire in recent months.

I welcome yesterday's decision by the European Council to take further restrictive measures against Iran, particularly with regard to drones and missiles.

Such measures could also help Ukraine's cause, since Russia itself makes extensive use of the Shahed drones produced by Iran.

But in this forum of the Council of Europe, dedicated to human rights, I also want to call once again, forcefully, for the release of the 134 hostages still held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including four people abducted before 7 October. These people have never been visited by the Red Cross or other humanitarian organisations. At least 36 of the abductees are no longer alive, and Hamas is holding their bodies in Gaza. This has to stop, and military pressure on Hamas is an essential element if the hostages are to be freed and the bodies of the dead returned.

Of course, our hearts bleed when we see the images of destruction, the images of suffering that afflict Gazans, but if the Palestinians really want a ceasefire, Hamas must immediately release all those kidnapped and detained in Gaza. This is a prerequisite for any ceasefire negotiations.

This is the meaning of written declaration 15970, which I have tabled and which many of us have signed.

May this message of peace and responsibility for the whole of the Middle East be heard.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Dear colleagues,

We will now hear a pre-recorded speech from the head of the Israeli delegation, Ms Meirav BEN ARI.

Ms Meirav BEN ARI



Honourable members of the Parliamentary Assembly.

I would like to apologise for not being able to attend this important meeting in person.

I would like to open by relating to the attack committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies against Israel on 14 April.

Since 7 October, Hamas massacre, Israel has been fighting Iranian proxies throughout the region. With Iran's direct attack against Israel earlier this week, Iran has emerged from behind the shadow and has confirmed its identity as a terrorist state.

The excellent co-operation between Israel, the United States and other allies played an important role in containing the attack. And we appreciate our partners for supporting Israel's right to defend itself.

And now for the situation in Gaza.

Firstly, I must emphasise our continuing demand for the release of 133 hostages held by Hamas. Without access or intervention from the international committee of the Red Cross, despite persistent efforts over the past few weeks Hamas has rejected every initiative from the meditators to reach a deal.

Israel has agreed to significant concessions in the fighting, including the return of residents to their homes, but it seems that Hamas is not interested in a deal or in ending the war.

Israel, with its battle against Hamas, remains determined in its dedication to minimising civilian harm.

Israel has been allowing humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, into Gaza for very long time. We are working in full co-operation with all the relevant countries in the region.

Regarding recent unfortunate incidents, Israel expresses deep regret over the tragic loss of life involving members of World Central Kitchen team.

We have conducted a thorough investigation resulting in disciplinary action against the responsible parties.

Our collaboration with international organisations like WCK remains crucial, and we prioritise the safety of aid workers.

Contrary to misleading claims, Israel imposes no limit on vital supplies entering Gaza.

Since the start of the war more than 20 780 tons of medical supplies have entered the Gaza Strip in order to support the medical response for Gaza's civilians.

The supplies are distributed to various hospitals and clinics, including in the Northern Gaza Strip.

In collaboration with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey, those in Gaza that are ill and wounded exit the Gaza Strip for treatment.

So far 3 204 people, along with 725 escorts, have exited the Gaza Strip for treatment in Egypt, the UAE, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan.

Israel does everything in its power to prevent harm to civilians. It allows residents of the Gaza Strip to receive assistance and support from international organisations.

However, unfortunately, our hostages do not receive any assistance from any party. Their families are losing hope day after day. No nation would tolerate a situation in which its citizens are held by a murderous terrorist organisation without any assistance or support from international rescue organisations.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Bring our people back home now.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Next speaker is Mr Bernard SABELLA, from the Palestinian delegation who is joining through video link.

Mr Bernard SABELLA, you have the floor.

Mr Bernard SABELLA



Action Against Hunger issued on 9 April that we affirmed an immediate permanent ceasefire.

The conflict in Gaza has led to over 1 million people facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

81% of households lack access to safe and clean water.

In northern Gaza, people go entire days without eating.

Famine is preventable if there is an immediate cessation of hostilities and an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

The extent of suffering by our people in the Gaza strip is documented by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), whose website details the numbers of families and individual affected.

The displacement of 1.8 million people, the killing of 33 000 individuals, mostly women and children, and the orphaning of some 19 000 children whose mothers, 6 000 of them, were killed during the war.

One can go on talking about the disaster situation.

Humanitarian aid workers, some 196 have lost their lives. 97 journalists and media workers were killed, injured or went missing. ReliefWeb, in a post of 8 April 8 reported that the Israeli army has targeted almost every hospital in the Gaza strip, leaving none fully functional.

As a result, 484 healthcare workers have been killed.

Also in the West Bank, settlers have attacked at least 17 villages and communities throughout Ramallah, Nablus and Jerusalem. 20 Palestinian homes were set on fire. Several agricultural structures damaged, and 50 heads of livestock were killed, while 120 sheep went missing, and were probably taken away by settlers.

Since 7 October, stringent measures have been applied by Israel in the West Bank that resulted in a dire economic situation and contributed to further poverty and family deprivation.

Any loss of life or limb is to be mourned. Regardless of national, religious or other characteristics, we need to realise that whole families have either been killed or dramatically affected by the loss, injury or seizure of their member across the dividing line in Israel and Palestine since 7 October.

A friend of mine recently showed me a photo of a happy young Gaza girl wearing a beautiful dress in anticipation of a school event. He lamented the fact that she and her entire family had perished.

Gaza lives, like other lives anywhere, are worth living. When we mourn selectively the victims of one sign and turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of innocent victims of the other, a problem of double standards is in indeed with us, and with you as well.

Every life is a world of its own. Nothing should differentiate the applicability of our compassion to all victims of this ongoing troubling conflict in our land.

Aside from humanitarian aid that individual states or the EU and the Council of Europe have already offered and continue to offer, there is an urgent need for an immediate ceasefire.

Certainly, negotiating an immediate ceasefire would include the mutual release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners and the end of war.

Conditions on the ground, nonetheless, point to the urgency of finding an immediate way out. A political exit that would guarantee to enable the Gaza population to heal itself and deal with its valid wounds.

This cannot happen if there is a continuation of war or plans by Israel to go on with the war and the occupation of the Gaza strip in the foreseeable future.

Also, many have warned that if an attack on Rafah takes place, then more and more disasters and catastrophes are going to befall the Gaza population.

Let me refer to an article by the American Foreign Policy of 15 April, just this past Monday, that called for a comprehensive and results-based strategy that prioritises assistance and contributes to a safe environment inside Gaza to enable aid delivery.

Certainly, Europe and the Council could be part of this if it takes place.

Let me quote what the Foreign Policy article said: "In particular, international actors should push to give the Palestinian Authority a key role in the aid effort, and pressure Israel to allow meaningful PA involvement. Giving the PA a leading role in relief operations would help accomplish several goals at once: it would bring greater efficiency to aid delivery by leveraging the presence of the PA already has in Gaza. It would strengthen the new PA government and support the West Bank's economy. It would fill in the gaps between the grave immediate crisis in Gaza and the ultimate vision of a two-state solution by recognising Gaza, with the West Bank, in a tangible way."

I remain convinced, as a majority of Palestinians, of the two-state solution.

Continuing to manage the conflict as Israel has done since its occupation of the Palestinian territory, would only invite further trouble down the road.

Entrenching the presence of Israeli armed forces in the Gaza strip for the foreseeable future would only invite further troubles, instability and the wasting of opportunities for a possible peaceful solution based on the two-state option.

Finally, the immediate urgency is to end the humanitarian catastrophe. But the urgency in the medium and long term, remains that of working out the details and specifics of the two-state solution.

Europe and your esteemed Council, with its Parliamentary Assembly, have an essential role and obligation to play its role in both these urgencies.

Thank you, Mr President and the honourable members of the Assembly.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


I want to thank both participants who joined via video link.

Dear colleagues,

I have in my hand a list of more than 30 colleagues who are registered. I intend to give the floor to all of them.

So, I would like to ask all of you to keep the time limit. It is the way that all speakers registered will take the floor.

We start with Mr Niklaus-Samuel GUGGER.

Mr Niklaus-Samuel GUGGER

Switzerland, EPP/CD


Dear Mister President,

Thank you, Madam Meirav BEN ARI. Thank you, Mister Bernard SABELLA for presenting your views.

I will be brief, because the group spokespersons have already said the most important points. However, it is important to note that Israel is aware of the civilian needs in Gaza. We have heard that Israel is allowing the transfer of any amount of food, water and medicine. In recent days, the Israeli government has authorised the entry of aid through the Erez crossing and the receipt of goods for Gaza through the Israeli port of Ashdod.

However, we all know that Iran is deliberately destabilising the area. The ongoing demand for the release of the 133 hostages still held in Gaza without ever being visited by the ICRC is still on the table. So far, Hamas has thwarted every attempt to reach an agreement on the release of the hostages.

I think that's where it starts. When a couple quarrel, there are always two sides involved. In my view, a ceasefire should be sought immediately so that the hostages are released and Israel is prepared to end the war. Thank you if we all stand up so that peace can become a reality again.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Damien COTTIER is next. 


Switzerland, ALDE


Thank you, Mr President.

One hundred and sixty years ago, in 1864, Henry Dunant founded the first Geneva Convention with the aim of bringing a little humanity to the horror of war. One hundred and sixty years on, its principles should still be valid, and should continue to inspire us.

Article 1 in common of the current Geneva Conventions, those of 1949, which are universal in scope, obliges all states on the planet to apply and ensure the application of the principles of the Geneva Conventions, the principles of international and humanitarian law.

All of us in this room therefore have an obligation. Our countries have an obligation to act to ensure that the Geneva Conventions are applied in the current situation. The unacceptable situation of the 133 hostages who are still being held several months after the attacks and who, as many have pointed out, have not been able to receive a visit from the International Committee of the Red Cross, for example, is unacceptable and a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.

The situation in Gaza, with the Israeli intervention, and the dimensions it has taken on in terms of its impact on civil society – and in particular on the weakest populations, children, the elderly and the disabled – has taken on proportions that are unacceptable and that do not fall within the scope of what international humanitarian law can allow in an operation that is in itself legitimate, that of rendering Hamas incapable, in future, of producing situations and attacks like those that took place last October, unspeakable terrorist attacks. In itself, the aim is legitimate, but the scale of these operations must obviously be a cause for concern, and Israel must be called upon to exercise greater restraint and provide better protection for civil society.

And then there's Iran, adding to the tension in the region with its unacceptable drone attacks, which probably also targeted civil societies. Well, ladies and gentlemen, all these three dimensions contravene the Geneva Conventions; they contravene international law, they contravene humanity, and they contravene reason and common sense, because nobody has an interest in an escalation of violence in the Middle East. It must frighten us all to hear the Secretary-General of the United Nations say just today that the region is on the brink of a precipice.

We need to return to reason: reason means de-escalation, the release of hostages, more targeted operations with more humanitarian aid in the Gaza region, and an end to attacks such as those launched by Iran. Basically, that's all the recent UN Security Council resolution calls for; and as far away as it seems, the two-state solution is more necessary than ever.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Andrea ORLANDO is next. 


Italy, SOC


Mister President,

Between 3 and 6 March with a delegation of colleagues from the Italian Parliament, I went to Rafah, to the Rafah crossing, and before that to Cairo, meeting with NGOs, both the Palestinian and the Egyptian Red Crescent, UNRWA, and major international agencies.

What did we see? I don't think it's fake news. We saw thousands of trucks stopped at the crossing. The reports these days of a resumption of transit can only partially reassure us. If today the trucks that have passed through, and it is said as great news, there are 350, it must be remembered that ordinarily, before this war, 400 trucks passed through the two Gaza Strip crossings. We must remember that, for many weeks, only a few dozen have been passing through.

What have we seen again? Tons of material blocked, because it was susceptible to dual-use or because it was assessed as non-essential to the emergency. What? Oxygen tanks, incubators, field tents, ambulances, compressors, or children's candy and chocolates, because they were precisely not essential to meet basic needs.

Now, I believe that the condemnation the barbarity of Hamas, to its slaughter, the pressure for the release of hostages, the condemnation of the Iranian attack, however, do not authorise us to turn away from what is happening now. What have NGOs, international agencies, those working on the ground told us? What have the nuns treating children in the Cairo hospital told us? That what is happening in Gaza today is much worse than what is being told. There is visible slaughter, and then there is invisible slaughter. There is a slaughter that comes from military actions and one that comes from hunger and lack of care. In Gaza you can die from a stray bullet, from a bomb, but also from a chronic disease or an infection that is not treated, because there is no longer a health system.

We can discuss today what the most proper legal framing of this is or what the future prospects for this area of the world are. We should all agree that an initiative is needed to have a cease-fire immediately, because even the distribution of goods under bombs can itself become a danger. So, the question to all of us is, how can we talk about human rights if we are not able to develop an initiative from this institution to add to the international pressure for a ceasefire and for an orderly flow of relief to the Gaza Strip to resume?

Thank you, President.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly




Poland, EPP/CD


Thank you, Mister President.

A humanitarian catastrophe is underway in the Gaza Strip. This makes the debate launched on this subject at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe extremely important and urgent.

The bombing in Gaza has already killed more than 30 000 people, 70% of whom are women and children. More than 70 000 are injured. More than 1 000 children have lost a leg or an arm.

The airstrikes on Gaza have led to a complete collapse of healthcare with most residential buildings and schools demolished.

Today, the greatest threat to the lives of the men and women of Gaza is hunger but the Israeli government not only refuses to co-operate with humanitarian organisations but it happens that actively attacks them.

A Polish volunteer, Damian Sobol, was recently killed in one such attack.

The second biggest threat is the planned attack on Rafah that is currently home to 1.5 million refugees from the northern completely destroyed part of the Palestinian territory. The bombing of Rafah will mean the death of hundreds of thousands of people and an atrocity on a scale that is hard to imagine.

The Israeli government is ignoring both UN resolutions and the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In January this year. the ICJ ordered Israel to stop killing civilians and to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. None of this has happened. Actions of the Israeli government, contrary to international law, some of which may be even treated as war crimes, must be met with a clear response from the European States.

Yes, I remember that this conflict was caused by Hamas. I condemned – like the entire civilised world – this brutal attack, murderers and kidnappings. We were united with millions of Israelis in our feelings and anger towards the perpetrators of these atrocities. 

Yes, Israel has the right to defend itself and to respond appropriately but this response which we have been seeing for several months is disproportionate and unacceptable.

Saying that, I want to strongly emphasise that the criticism towards the Israeli government has nothing to do with antisemitism. If Europe wants to be credible in this call for peace, in its call for respect for human rights and the served determination of people, it must take decisive steps to stop the massacre in Gaza.

Dear colleagues, the speech I have just delivered was prepared by Ms Magdalena BIEJAT, my colleague from the Polish delegation who, unfortunately, had to suddenly return home. However, she asked me to speak on her behalf, which I did. I agreed because, although we belong to different political groups, I completely share the views expressed in this text.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Konur Alp KOÇAK.

Mr Konur Alp KOÇAK

Türkiye, NR


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear colleagues,

It has been more than six months. Almost 34 000 civilians, including international aid workers and journalists have been killed. Almost 2 million people have been forcibly displaced and civilian homes and structures, such as hospitals and schools, are deliberately targeted and destroyed.

If we are sincerely willing to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, we must first agree on this –  supporting Palestinians, protecting their rights or defending the establishment of an independent Palestinian state does not make us anti-Semitic.

We can support the rights of the Palestinians and criticise the policies of the Netanyahu government at the same time. Even the Israeli people are heavily, increasingly criticising and protesting the Netanyahu government themselves.

Yet the international community is failing to take the necessary steps. This institution, however, our august Assembly, is the front runner of defending human rights in Europe and beyond. Therefore, it is our obligation to speak out against Israel's horrible, terrible actions, which are likely to constitute the crime of genocide according to the International Court of Justice.

Human rights, as its name suggests, must be enjoyed by every single human being, regardless of race, religion or language.

We must do something to end this humanitarian catastrophe before it is too late for those who were lucky enough to survive until now.

We should also raise our voices against those European governments which are still supplying heavy weapons to Israel. As a sign of support to the people in Gaza, arms exports to Israel should be suspended until this crazy war is over.

We should admit that there is a risk of spillover. Israel's attack on the Iranian embassy in Syria and Iran's retaliation have demonstrated that events could easily and quickly escalate into a regional war. Instability in the region has the potential to trigger greater global conflicts as well.

Therefore, dear colleagues, you should urge your governments to hold sending more weapons to Israel. We should keep in mind that providing more weapons right now means that more civilians will be killed and the humanitarian situation in Gaza will be worsened. We should not let this happen.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


 Mr Andrew PERCY is next.

Mr Andrew PERCY

United Kingdom, EC/DA


Thank you, Mister President.

As a new member this is my first time speaking in this place, and it's a privilege to do so in this debate.

I'm only sorry that the title of this debate does not include a reference to the hostages.

So I will spend a couple of moments of my time referring to the hostage situation and say, first of all, there is absolutely no equivalents between hostages who were taken and stolen from their homes on 7 October against their will, some of them as young as nine months old, and prisoners who have been held in Israeli prisons because they have committed crimes and murder and violence.

There is no equivalent.

So when I speak today I will think of hostages such as Schem, 21 years old, whose mother I met along with some colleagues here on an ELNET delegation, less than a month after the attacks of 7 October.

I'll think of the Bibas family, one of whom was as young as nine months old.

I'll think of Agam Berger, a 19-year-old.

We know these hostages have been subjected to rape, they've been subjected to violence and abuse. And that is why I said in the House of Commons only a few weeks ago that nobody has any agency or any business in telling the state of Israel where it is able to operate to free hostages who have been subjected to that appalling treatment. Nobody has any business in that.

And we've heard today the response from some speakers. Their response to what's happening to these hostages is to of course spread the smear of genocide and of apartheid with having very little to say about the behaviour of Hamas.

I'm probably the only member here who was in Israel on Saturday evening, and I saw the attack by Iran taking place, I saw the interventions which dealt with that attack, and I'm very proud that US and UK forces were involved in protecting the Middle East's only democratic state.

But these were not fireworks that were fired, these were cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and death drones. They were a real threat to the state of Israel.

So when we hear about the need to de-escalate. The escalation happened when Hamas crossed into Israel on 7 October and butchered 1 200 civilians. It happened when Hamas stole the aid, billions of pounds and dollars of aid, and decided to spend it on terror tunnels. That escalation happened when Iran decided to arm Hamas and Hezbollah. That escalation happened when Hamas decided to embed themselves in schools and in hospitals and in the civilian population. That's when this escalation happened.

And the response to this assault by a theocratic terrorist state by some is to deny the democratic state of Israel the right to defend itself by calling for an arms embargo. This is indeed a tragedy, Mister President, but it is a tragedy entirely made in Tehran.



Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Christophe LACROIX is next.

Mr Christophe LACROIX

Belgium, SOC


Thank you, Mister Chairman, for giving me the floor in such an important debate.

I would indeed like to express my deep indignation, as do other colleagues, following the incessant destruction of infrastructure in the Gaza Strip since Saturday 7 October 2024 – the day Israel was attacked by the terrorist organization Hamas.

I haven't heard anyone defend Hamas here so far, Mr Andrew PERCY, on the contrary, everyone condemns Hamas, but everyone also condemns - except you, at any rate - Israel's disproportionate reaction and its way of destroying and attacking civilian targets, hospitals. And it's Unicef who says so: there are more than thirty thousand civilian victims, including more than 3 250 women and more than 13 750 children. You mentioned the murder of an Israeli child: that's horrible, of course, but have you spoken to the parents of these 13 750 children on the Palestinian side? No.

Israel is attacking development co-operation infrastructures, including Belgian infrastructures or infrastructures that have been financed by the Belgian state, by my government, with complete impunity. The Secretary-General of the United Nations constantly reminds us that international humanitarian law has been violated both by Hamas and by Israel's disproportionate reaction.

In January 2024, when we had this debate in this House, my colleague Mr Simon MOUTQUIN was attacked and vilified, even though he was defending the same principles as I am today. He was attacked when, today, I hear - and it's all to the good, and it's all to the good because there's progress, there's a progression in the way we think and see things today - but he was attacked quite simply because he repeated what we're saying today, that the reaction is totally disproportionate and that is enough.

And so, as some of our colleagues have said today, what we need to do is obviously call for an immediate ceasefire. We need rapid de-escalation. The hostages must be freed. We must, as Spain has said, and as Malta, Ireland and Slovenia have said, recognise the Palestinian state. We must stand by its side to ensure its democratic, economic and social sovereignty. And we must also have the courage, dear colleagues, as we are doing for Ukraine, to draw up an inventory of civilian destruction and demand that Israel pay compensation commensurate with this, in order to rebuild Palestine and ensure lasting peace in this region of the world.

Thank you for your attention.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly




Iceland, EPP/CD


Mr President,

In a recent statement by Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, Fatah accuses Hamas of being ultimately responsible for the situation in Gaza.

Fatah's spokesperson said that the Hamas leadership is disconnected from reality and the Palestinian people, accusing Hamas of not having itself consulted the other Palestinian leaders before attacking Israel.

The brutal terrorist attack that led to a declaration of war by Israel, having caused more than 100 000 people killed or injured.

We all know that the terrorist attack on Israel was organised by the Hamas leaders living the luxury life in Qatar.

Fatah's spokesman said that many of the Hamas leaders living abroad have never visited Palestine. They do not know Palestine. They know Palestine only from the internet. They are the ones disconnected from the reality.

In the future, when hopefully the Hamas leaders emerge from where they are hiding, they will be able to take a tour of Gaza, and the children of Gaza will acquaint them with the streets that have been erased and the villages and the buildings that have been destroyed, said the Fatah spokesperson.

Gazans on social media continue to hold the leaders of Hamas responsible for the war with Israel, stating that Hamas, despite its claims to the contrary, does not really care about the people of Gaza.

In Febuary, there were protests against Hamas in Gaza. People were chanting slogans against Hamas leaders such as "bring down Hamas", "we the people are the victims". Hamas' security responded by opening fire on the crowds, their own people. 

A Gaza man protesting said that Hamas is shooting hungry people looking for food, and they have involved the people of Gaza in a war that they do not want.

A man said "we want peace, we want our children to go to school. Our children shouldn't be displaced." He went on to accuse Hamas leader Sinwar, in Gaza, of killing his own people saying "it's you, Sinwar, that is killing us Gazans".

Mr President, this devastating humanitarian crisis in Gaza can come to an end today if the Hamas terrorist organisation will lay down their weapons and free the hostages.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Ms Mireille CLAPOT is next.

Ms Mireille CLAPOT

France, ALDE


Thank you, Mister Chairman.

Dear colleagues,

Less than three months ago, we spoke here about the situation in Gaza. Although the situation has evolved since then, with, at last, the UN Security Council's vote for an immediate ceasefire on 25 March 2024, a slight shift in the United States' position and the departure of Israeli troops from Khan Younès, it remains worrying.

Indeed, these new developments have not improved the situation on the ground, as bombardments resumed over Gaza as recently as this morning, no doubt in response to the Iranian attack, and the humanitarian crisis persists. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has pointed out, these incessant attacks, which are in breach of international law, have brought the macabre death toll on the Palestinian side to 33 800, including 12 300 children, and 70 000 wounded. Unicef writes that "the Gaza Strip is now the most dangerous place in the world for a child".

In 2023, more Palestinians were killed than in fifteen years of conflict, reports the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Violence, including sexual violence, is a daily occurrence.

Dear colleagues, it is necessary to reiterate our support for a two-state solution, an end to the fighting and authorization for Israel to extend the entry of humanitarian aid.

Israel was the victim of the barbaric terrorist attacks of 7 October 2023 by Hamas, which caused 1 160 deaths; Israel was bombed by Iran on a massive scale. Israel sadly still has 129 hostages out of the 250 kidnapped; and Hamas says it does not have the 40 hostages demanded by Israel to conclude a ceasefire. This news is appalling, and I share the Israelis' grief.

But there is no justification for adding to the deaths from bombardment in Gaza, or from sniper bullets or from the deaths from disease and malnutrition and, dare we say it, from starvation, from lack of medical care, from the desire to eradicate not only Hamas but the "human animals" that some members of the Israeli government see in every Gazan, even civilians.

Humanitarian aid trucks were arriving in dribs and drabs via Rafah. Since yesterday, they have also been passing through the Israeli port of Ashdod, and certain products are sometimes parachuted in.

But 500 trucks a day are needed. Israel has announced 550 trucks in two days: not enough.

UNRWA, the UN refugee agency which provided basic social services in Gaza and which has paid a heavy human price, with 178 employees killed, has been widely singled out by Israel, which is now aiming to dismantle it. But who will now provide social services for Gazan civilians?

We have to think about the day after. If we don't do it for humanitarian reasons, let's do it thinking about the security consequences of a generation reduced to starvation, deprived of education and security.

Our institution, the Council of Europe, must remind both parties, and hostile states, of international humanitarian law.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly




Armenia, EC/DA


Dear colleagues,

Armenia is the closest of the Council's country to the Middle East, so everything that happens and can happen there is critically important and has an impact on my country. We are also very concerned because hundreds of thousands of Armenians live in the countries of the region.

In Armenia, it is not just enough to adequately understand what is happening in the region and how it may end. We must also define red lines for honest relations with allies, partners and neighbours in one of the most difficult regions of the world. This is important so that in era of collapse of the international order, Armenia would not find itself in geopolitical isolation.

One red line is the inviability of Armenian's security. Türkiye and Azerbaijan are consistently trying to resolve the so-called Armenian question through the expulsion of Armenians from their historical homeland. Over the past 100 years this has happened in Nakhchivan and it is happening now in Karabakh.

A new war in the Middle East will accelerate the aggressive policy of the Turkish coalition. In order to rationally promote its own national interest, we need also in Armenia to be able to defend ourselves and to prevent a new escalation by having the means to deter any aggressor.

Another red line for Armenia is the 44-kilometre border with Iran, which at the moment is not only a source of stability and security for Armenia but also an opportunity for development. Europe must understand that the good neighbourly relations between Armenia and Iran are not directed against anyone. The inability of our partners to facilitate the opening of the Armenian–Turkish border should not imply a worsening of the situation on the Armenian–Iranian border.

An important red line is the well-being of Armenian communities in the region. During the war in Syria, we have seen the existential challenges the Armenians living there faced. Today, Armenians are in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, but only in Israel they have begun to face real challenges to preserving their historical and civilisational heritage.

I call the international community to take immediate and strong actions to prevent negative events around the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem. It is an urgent call to save our cultural heritage and defend the rights of the Armenian community within the Holy Land.

Mister President, in conclusion, I would like to stress that Europe must also define its red lines. This is necessary, as EU High Representative Josep Borrell states, and I quote, "to prevent the consolidation of an alliance of the rest against the West including as a consequences of the Middle East conflict".

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


 Ms Nerea AHEDO.

Ms Nerea AHEDO

Spain, ALDE


Thank you.

The first thing that I would like to say is that I am happy that we have changed the title of this debate because it is difficult to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe that has been with us for some time. We are already late in addressing this. All that we can do now is try to minimise the damage. 

I would like to start by expressing my clear and absolute condemnation of the Hamas attack. At the same time, I would also extend similarly the absolute condemnation of the position adopted by the Israeli government. 

Six months in, more than 30 000 deaths, more than half of them children, civilians, journalists, thousands of people have been wounded, displaced, attacks on schools, hospitals, humanitarian workers, which are clear violations of international law and human rights law. 

When we talk about the courage of international organisations, we should not just think about the United Nations or the European Union. I believe that the Council of Europe also has a role to play here because we have been seeing the way in which human rights are being flagrantly violated. 

What is difficult to understand is this desire to have a sort of equal distance, let us just say, when it comes to terrorist organisations, what can I do? What can I hope of a terrorist organisation? Of course, I can ask them to hand back the hostages. But I cannot expect anything from a terrorist organisation. But I should be able to demand from a state – a state, which moreover, is an observer member of this Assembly, that it defends human rights and implements human rights. 

As a result, we are fully entitled to demand that Israel stop the massacre, that it open the borders so that humanitarian aid can enter. Women and children are dying of famine. We need a sustainable solution and a ceasefire and to look for a long-lasting solution. A solution for both states, naturally, but the problem in practice is that Israel has reduced Gaza practically to nothing and Cisjordania to mere islands surrounded by the occupation. 

The Council of Europe can and should play an important role in this. A role in denouncing the violence. A role in promoting critical thinking. We can also play a democratic role in conjunction with other organisations. The Council of Europe has to do everything it can to avoid any further escalation in the region, which would appear to be starting. So this escalation, seeing what is happening in Lebanon, in the West Bank, in Iran, as well as Iran's condemnable attack. Any escalation would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe of unbearable magnitude that I do not believe we could tolerate.

Thank you. 


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, thank you, Mister Chair.

The topic of tomorrow's debate: the protection of children against online violence. What would be added value of this discussion towards what's going on, not too far from our continent, in countries somehow engaged in a co-operation with us.

We have a lot of speeches here leading to non-action. And this is the most complicated and the most dangerous thing.

We cannot say theoretically we should protect children, we should protect theoretical children, and we cannot take into consideration the real situation on the ground with the children.

Ask a small boy or girl in Gaza or Israel or vice versa: what's going on? Try to explain to them was going on. Why we are at the shelling, why we have a shortage of food. It is very complicated to explain to anyone of them.

Unfortunately, we usually try to blame the others for their shortcomings. But we first of all should look at ourselves.

However, we have very precise answers. We have precise reaction on what's going on.

Unfortunately very often political considerations prevail over the values we should follow.

My dear colleague Mr Damien COTTIER from Switzerland mentioned Jean-Henri Dunant, an international humanitarian activist, and here we should also have very precise and firm answers, because the very idea of Jean-Henri Dunant and the Geneva Convention is the following: it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong, who has the right to self-defence and who does not; if you engage in war, you should respect – without any discrimination – all the rules prescribed in the Geneva Convention.

Unfortunately, very often we apply even so-called legal acrobatics trying not to call the things by the names of which we are.

Unfortunately, very often we are facing the situation of general discussion without trying to go ahead with the actions.

Unfortunately, when we are trying to prevent this or that conflict, we are forgetting that the best way of general prevention of the current conflicts is condemnation of the conflicts we faced before.

Thank you so much.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Frédéric MATHIEU.

Mr Frédéric MATHIEU

France, UEL


Mister Chairman,

Dear colleagues,

I don't think we can ever say it enough. It's been said several times, unfortunately not unanimously, and I regret that. The massacre in Gaza will not bring back the victims of the horrific massacres perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October. The massacre in Gaza will not bring the hostages home.

How many more tens of thousands of deaths will it take to understand this once and for all? It's pointless. What are the proponents of this policy waiting for? How many more tens of thousands of corpses to pile up before they realise that it's all pointless? All it does is damage, wound, bruise and disfigure our shared humanity, as if that weren't enough. That's what it leads to. It also undermines the patient work that has been done for decades in this hemicycle and in the rest of the institutions of the Council of Europe, in the rest of the international institutions for the respect of international law, for the respect of humanitarian law. This is what it does. It undermines everything we are building and everything that those who came before us tried to build in terms of human rights. This must stop immediately.

I'll be very brief. For me, the most urgent thing right now is for everyone to fight for an immediate ceasefire. But I know that there are many countries, both in our Institution and elsewhere, that will be ready to act as intermediaries and mediators in the discussion.

A window of discussion to relieve the suffering of the Palestinian people, a window of discussion to allow the rapid, immediate return of the hostages to their families. That's what we must do. That's what we must demand and stop believing that massacring people and piling up corpses will solve anything. It solves absolutely nothing.

Thank you very much.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Francesco SORBARA.

Mr Francesco SORBARA



Honourable colleagues,

In Canada, as I’m sure is the case in many of your countries, the war in Gaza continues to divide us.

Canadians mourn the lives lost in the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Shoah, deplore the ongoing captivity of the over 130 hostages, and demand that Hamas be held accountable.

Hamas is a terrorist organisation linked and funded by Iran, and it must release the hostages.

They also condemn the direst of humanitarian catastrophes – children literally starving to death – the bombing of schools and hospitals, and the widespread displacement of the Palestinian people.

It is estimated that over 30 000 Palestinians have died. A very high price for the people to pay.

Increasingly, however, we’re being told that we can’t do both. To empathise with one community is to betray the other. It’s harder and harder to find common ground. And both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are on the rise, in Canada and around the world.

For that reason, I was heartened to see an overwhelming majority of this Assembly – in the January session – pass a balanced and constructive resolution based on our colleague Mr Piero FASSINO's equally balanced and constructive report.

That resolution, to reiterate, condemned in the strongest terms Hamas’ barbaric October 7th attack while acknowledging Israel’s right to self-defence, and the reality that Hamas will have to be "dismantled".

At the same time, the resolution called for a “permanent ceasefire", voiced “sorrow and dismay at the staggering number of innocent Palestinian casualties", and called on all parties to ensure rapid, safe, and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for the population in Gaza, and abide by international law and international humanitarian law.

To Israel specifically, the resolution also called for an end in the occupied territories to settler violence, the expansion of settlements, home demolitions, forced evictions, and the confiscation of land.

Looking ahead, and let's look ahead, please, to the so-called day after, those final points are vital.

Because, as has long been the official position of the Government of Canada – and as the January resolution reiterated – there can be no just and lasting peace in the Middle East without the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly




Finland, SOC


Mister President,

Two weeks ago, I visited Palestine and Israel meeting the political leadership on both sides.

The country is full of fear, bitterness, hate. The international community is having too many double standards.

That's my question, and I have lots of confusing questions to you to address.

First, is it so that everything started on October 7th last year, or is it actually a vicious circle of decades, even centuries?

Is it so that one war crime justifies other war crimes?

Is it so that one is using a civilised way, modern weaponry systems, including missiles, and the other one is using a non-civilised way, in the format of crude knives?

Are we saying that one side pleads respect to human lives, even children's lives, when using military means, and the other side we are condemning straight away, "you are terrible, doing brutal terrorism"?

I am confused. Please, help me.

My last questions.

I asked in the Knesset, with the foreigner affairs chairperson, committee of international affairs, Chairperson Yuli Edelstein, "I understand Palestinian terrorism is for you, Israelis, an existential question. I heard Palestinians saying Jewish expansionism in the region is for them an existential question". And he answered me: "Kimmo, listen, I know Palestinians have lived here, they are living here, and they will live here. We Jews, we are living here and we will live here." And I shook hands with him. You gave the answer.

My last question to you. We are demanding here a two-state model. Today, in the region, actually nobody believes on that one.

Israel is saying, we keep the promised land we reached in 1967, and the Palestinians are more and more saying, "no". The two-state model is your model. That would mean for us typical protectorate system, a traditional Bantustan. Let's live in one state where our national identity will be respected and we have the civil rights.

My question to you: is that an answer?


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly




Türkiye, NR


Mr. Chairman,

Dear colleagues,

On our planet, around one billion tonnes of food are wasted every year. And yet, 2.3 million people in Gaza, displaced and forced into a very small area, are facing hunger, and dozens of babies are dying of malnutrition. UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini  said in his latest statement: "All lines, including the red lines, have been crossed, and the war is compounded by starvation due to the Israeli siege, which is devouring the bodies of babies and young children". How aware are we, the parliamentarians of the Council of Europe, which is considered the center of human rights and the rule of law, of the red lines being crossed in Gaza?

Dear parliamentarians,

Israel allows practically no food or medical supplies into the territory. The war on Gaza has led to a 90% power cut, affecting hospitals and sewage treatment plants and shutting down drinking water desalination plants. Widespread epidemics broke out throughout the Gaza Strip. Intensive bombardment by the Israeli air force caused considerable damage to Gaza's infrastructure. The Gaza Ministry of Health reported that over 4 000 children died in the first month of the war; now the figure is over 14 000. And UN Secretary-General António Guterres has declared that Gaza has "turned into a children's graveyard". The images from Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital are a disturbing example of the collapse of the health system. It has been devastated by Israeli attacks on hospitals and health facilities, the murder of health workers and the blocking of medical supplies to Gaza.

Dear colleagues,

In the face of this unprecedented catastrophe, Türkiye is doing everything in its power to improve the situation. Today, Türkiye is the leading donor of aid to Gaza, providing 27% of total aid to the population. In addition, it delivers an average of 127 tonnes of drinking water from Egypt to Gaza every week. More than 400 sick and wounded Gazans are being treated in Türkiye. The Turkish Red Crescent sent a new aid ship this week, which will be delivered to Gaza without interruption. Türkiye stands by Gaza and will continue to do so.

But here, as parliamentarians of the Council of Europe, where do we draw the line and when we say that Israel's atrocities must stop? In this Parliament, we didn't draw the line when Israel bombed hospitals; we didn't draw the line when journalists were killed; we didn't draw the line when innocent civilians were slaughtered.

Dear colleagues,

What we have to do in our common home, Europe, is decide where we are going to draw the line. Are we going to continue to stand by and watch innocent lives and civilian infrastructure destroyed because we don't have the courage to accuse Israel? Or are we going to call for an end to this humanitarian catastrophe? That's what we're going to decide today.

Thank you very much.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Ms Saskia KLUIT.

Ms Saskia KLUIT

Netherlands, SOC


Thank you.

Dear friends,

We all know how difficult the discussions on this conflict are.

But despite all the emotions and struggles that we have, I think it is really good that we talk together about the situation, and I want to thank all of you who have made this possible because it is not an easy discussion to have.

We have two partners who are in our midst (well, on the screen today), but who have a big conflict that has big consequences for people in the area.

But I think it is important we talk here because we are the human rights organisation, and we can use especially our organisation to improve the terrible situation, not only to reflect on it, but especially to act on it.

I like what my colleague Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN about it. We should not only talk, we should act.

So I would like to focus on the people who are the greatest danger today. And I plead to our organisation to immediately start working on improving the situation of the most vulnerable people.

Many of my colleagues have already spoken wise words and insightful words about the gravity of the human rights situation in general, but I think it's especially important to talk about children and women. And not only in Gaza and West Bank, but also in Israel.

I have tabled a emotion today and I hope, President, I look at you, if you could speed it up as fast as we can, because every day we win is a good day to start acting.

Having talked to many of you this week, I know that while we might disagree on some things, we all stand very much united in our concerns for the most vulnerable people in this conflict: the children (whether they are from Israel, West Bank or Gaza) and their mothers.

By now, we have all heard of many and awful stories, and they are heart-wrenching.

Children who miss their dead or hostage-parents or they miss the safety of their house or school.

We have heard about children who missed critical medical care, who have been amputated without good health care or even sedation. And that is when you need it most.

And lately we also heard from organisations like WHO and Save the Children that there is a lack of food and drink. And they have expressed extremely great concerns about the food situation. They called it an alarming man-made famine.

We know that this immense suffering continues until today and most of us want it to end today.

Some have reminded us today that the very heart and soul of this organisation is at stake if we do not act.

So I hope today that we will unite and can be united on the human-rights-based approach in this conflict, the heart of our organisation.

And we should start by ending at least the suffering of the young and the vulnerable in the region.

The Council as a whole, including our Committee of Ministers, and our PACE should act. We can to help to end current human rights violations and we should start working on improving them. A ceasefire and restoration of food is the least.

And I will end, President.

Let's end with the words that were spoken by football fans. They are always the most wise persons in the world.

They said in many stadiums the last months, "be silent when the children sleep, but don’t be silent when the children die".


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Ms Sabina ĆUDIĆ.

Ms Sabina ĆUDIĆ

Bosnia and Herzegovina, ALDE


Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear colleagues.

I have a small question for you.

Some of you are old enough to might have been politically active some decades ago. Some of you maybe remember the 90s.

My question is do you remember where you were in the summer of 1992? Maybe some of you got married, maybe some of you got involved in politics, graduated, or perhaps summer of 1993, or perhaps summer of 1994, or perhaps summer of 1995.

In summer of 1995, I was in my home town of Sarajevo, watching my school mates being killed in the most gruesome ways a child can be killed.

As naive as a child can be, I wondered where you were, and I hoped that you were coming to rescue.

There may be a situation in 10 years, or 20 years or so, where there may be a Palestinian child survivor here, asking the same question: where we were in the spring of 2024.

The uncomfortable truth, and the truth is often uncomfortable, is that atrocities we ignore have a tendency to come back to haunt us. The same way that we will rightly so be forever haunted by the failure of this continent to prevent the Holocaust.

Of course, the children will wonder, the way I wondered, whether the promise of "never again", which again as a naive child I believed, turns into hypocritical promise of again, and again, and again.

I took the time to read the biographies and devastating testimonies of families of Israeli hostages. I made sure I found out about them as much as I could.

I wonder if you did the same for the thousands of dead children of Gaza.

Here is the reason why you didn't and why you couldn't. Because if you did, and if we were to read the names of the children killed in Gaza here, we would stay here for days.

So the idea of balanced reporting, the idea of measured reporting, disgusts me. It disgusts me because there is nothing measured. There is nothing acceptable, and it is not a self-defence to kill unarmed children in the name of "self-defence".

It is unacceptable that we put these two things together after we silenced all the activists in various members states.

Who is next? Thousands of brave and amazing Jewish intellectuals and activists are raising their voices for ceasefire. Some of your countries are running out of Jewish intellectuals to censor and take away their prizes because they raised their voices for a ceasefire.

There is a reason why there are no great European leaders, or world leaders, for that matter today. It is because we chose in the past decades, and we continue to choose, political scheming and calculations instead of inspiring people, and again, this will come back to haunt us.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Ms Christiana EROTOKRITOU.


Cyprus, SOC


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear colleagues, it is extremely difficult to discuss ways in which this Assembly could alleviate the terrible human suffering in Gaza as the bloodshed continues and as the only interlocutors in the conflict are the State of Israel, on the one hand, and the terrorist organisation, namely Hamas, on the other.

How can one sit around the negotiating table with a terrorist organisation, how can one compromise with Hamas?

The Palestinian authorities are fortunately absent in this equation, ineffective, and weak.

The situation is complex, and our role is particularly difficult.

Three months ago PACE urged for a ceasefire. Today, three months on, none of the hostages have been released, the war is ongoing, and Iran has just launched drones and ballistic missiles on Israel.

Iran's unprecedented attack on Israel is a blatant violation of international law aiming at setting the entire Middle East on fire, and must be internationally condemned as such.

So what can be done?

We must insist on the immediate release of all the hostages and a simultaneous and immediate ceasefire.

At the same time it is imperative that we step up all efforts for the timely deliverance of humanitarian aid to Gaza and make clear to all stakeholders that such aid will not be allowed to fall into the hands of Hamas who has unfortunately, in the past, seized humanitarian aid, used its own needs, and then sold the rest of it at exorbitant prices to the desperate Palestinian people.

I live in a country, Mister President, that is roughly 200 kilometres away from Gaza.

The Republic of Cyprus has always sought and achieved friendly enabling relations with all Arab nations as well as Israel.

Cyprus has proposed and implemented the Amalthea project, a maritime corridor for the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been heralded by the international community as a prime example of how we can act together and take responsible and effective action.

Regrettably, the killing of the seven aid workers of the World Central Kitchen organisation has set operations on hold, but as soon as conditions allow, activities will resume.

Regarding Iran, it is quite obvious that Iran can export its aggression and instability not only by a terrorist organisations that it funds and controls, namely Hezbollah and Hamas, but by hijacking in essence entire countries, like Syria, and Lebanon.

Europe has, in a very short sighted and introverted manner, bein absent from the Middle East region, and especially the South Eastern Mediterranean, despite the fact that it sits on its immediate periphery.

It is quite clear that Europe cannot be stable until its periphery is stable.

Clawing back countries and political systems from the nails of Iran and religious fundamentalists is not an easy feat, but it is the only viable option.

As long as a European Union does not have a clear footprint and strategic depth in the Middle East, it is unlikely that we will be able to play a leading role in the region stabilising it or trying to provide a valid and sustainable alternative to radical terrorism.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Abdurrahman BABACAN.

Mr Abdurrahman BABACAN

Türkiye, NR


Thank you.

As you know, the Council of Europe is a broad umbrella organisation established after the Second World War to expand the notion of human rights, peace and democracy from there to reach out to Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace ideal in the 18th century, but now there is a discussion about this function of Europe in general both during the Cold War and after periods of the Cold War. And we also saw this in Gaza, in the massacre in Gaza by Israel throughout seven months.

However, Europe has remained silent on the murder of 25 000 people, 75% of whom are children and women with no connection to Hamas' policies, as we all know. And Europe has systematically and deliberately ignored the crimes of Israel by taking a politically pro-Israel position.

This has created a deep disappointment all over the world and even among the younger generations within the European countries itself. So my question is to all European political elites: how the political, economic and intellectual elites in Europe cannot see this rovest in the deep way of the younger generations within itself?

And also, I see that there are certain codes of enemies within Europe, some sourced by global media manipulation and big political, theological, historical and ideological baggage and they have always been dominated by a poisonous enforced discourse of codes of animosity that, unfortunately, serves all the Muslims within that package.

So this results as, in Gaza today, a brutally murdered, for instance, Muslim baby in Gaza or a Muslim child being terrorised under this label so this is a big problem for European political elites I guess.

At the end of the day, this manufactured concept of enemy creates a blinding function for the European political elites. I guess, this is an idea, a mindset produced also by the great contribution of extreme manipulation and huge global media powers, which is, I guess, sourced and founded by Israel and also Zionists' pockets.

So even this is racism, a kind of racism, and also this is anti-Muslim hatred and also even anti-Christian hatred. 

So if Europe wants to set a leadership mission for itself from now on, it must first shape its own development model of political and legal norms in this respect. The Gaza incident was actually an opportunity for Europe but Europe could not. Also, the opportunity to break the global world orders that the US has been advancing for many years but Europe, unfortunately, could not overcome this historical, theological and contextual baggage. So now, I am not sure about from now on for Europe, how will it be possible for Europe to truly defend democracy and human rights and convince all over the world and younger generations within Europe itself? It is a big question for Europe's future.



Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR.

Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR

Iceland, SOC


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear colleagues,

Many of you have stated that this conflict started on the 7 October last year, with Hamas' reprehensible attack on Israel and its citizens, and the taking of hundreds of hostages, an act which I condemn wholeheartedly.

But this conflict did not start on 7 October. It started with decades of illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. It started with decades of systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, with decades of disenfranchised humiliation and murder of Palestinians, including by summary executions. It started with decades of colonialist dispossession of Palestinian lands by illegal Israeli settlers.

This all happened before 7 October under the largely silent Council of Europe as well as the largely silent international community as a whole.

The title of this debate is testament towards this indifference towards Palestinian rights, towards Palestinian lives.

The deliberate bombing of hospitals, refugee camps, schools, UN facilities, ambulances, journalists. It is not a catastrophe. It's a war crime.

The murder of 15 000 children is not a catastrophe. It forms the part of a gradual and intentional ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.

The people, the children of Gaza are being starved to death before our very eyes, not because of famine or drought or other catastrophes, but because of the deliberate actions of Israel, whose officials have publicly declared their genocidal intent.

What we are seeing in Gaza is no catastrophe. These are war crimes. They are crimes against humanity, and they are possibly genocide.

We are not doing anything to stop it.

Instead of trying to stop it, many of our governments are actively facilitating these crimes. It is a shame for our continent. It is something that we need to call all of our governments to account for.

We must call for a ceasefire now. We must boycott Israel. We must end the occupation. We must free Palestine now.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Ms Olimpia Tamara GIRÓN HERNÁNDEZ.




Thank you, President.

The situation in Israel and the Gaza strip is taking on horrific and unexpected dimensions.

On the one hand, Mexico has condemned the inclusion of Gaza in Israeli land.

We also condemned the killing of certain Mexicans during the attacks.

On the other hand, we also condemned the disproportionate attack by Israeli forces on Gaza, which has left us with one of the most desolate images we have seen in recent years in the world.

Mexico reiterates its deep concern regarding the situation, the profound humanitarian catastrophe which this situation has generated, particularly the death of thousands of civilians and the destruction of infrastructure.

We welcome the decisions taken by the International Court in The Hague, which ordered Israel to take necessary measures to avoid committing of acts of genocide against civilian population of Palestine. This would include not committing assassinations, respecting the physical and mental integrity of prisoners, to not intentionally create situations which would lead to the total or partial physical depravation of those people or measured aimed at preventing births. The Court also ordered that inciting genocide and preventing the entry of humanitarian assistance should be outlawed.

Mexico calls on all those involved to instigate an immediate and sustainable ceasefire. We have to bring the suffering of the civilian population to an end immediately, and we have to create a space so that the parties to the conflict can negotiate to bring the conflict to an end.

The Government of Mexico reiterates its support to the two-state solution. We believe this is the only possible political and definitive solution to the conflict.

Finally, I'd like to thank everybody for the support we've received from many members of this Assembly following the violent attack on the Mexican Embassy on the 5 April in Ecuador.

We would be grateful if this Assembly could adopt a unanimous resolution so as to keep events such as those from becoming something that repeats itself over and over again.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly




Cyprus, UEL


I've been following the discussion. I'd like to start by telling you that all the events, all the information that has been recorded by colleagues, also by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. He said recently, and I quote him that "the war in Gaza is a war that has caused the most loss of lives compared to all conflicts that are today".

That means that the war in Gaza has caused huge suffering, huge hunger. He said a number of other things.

In response to Ms Meirav BEN ARI and other colleagues, who talked about misinformation, Israel has killed 100 journalists.

From the words of the Secretary-General, we can conclude that international journalists still cannot enter Gaza.

But why? Who is responsible before this misinformation?

Is it perhaps Israel, who is accusing other people of misinformation?

The Secretary-General of the United Nations also replied with regard to the murder of seven people from World Central Kitchen, by stating that 179 humanitarian workers, most of whom were working for an organisation, that it is not an error. This is part of the strategy followed by the Israeli army in Gaza.

I don't have time to mention... Do I have longer?


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


There is a slight problem with the time, you have at least one minute.


Cyprus, UEL



If you can give me a bit more time, I would be grateful, because I've just stopped speaking for a few seconds.


These events occurred, and they speak for themselves.

What I'd like to point out, is that I'm very dismayed by the Council of Europe's lack of action.

All we've done up to now is to vote on a resolution which didn't call for an unconditional permanent ceasefire. It simply called on Israel to continue what it was doing in Gaza. In other words, to carry out a genocide until the complete dismantlement of Hamas.

That's what we called for. In other word: the genocide is continuing.

Let me also add that this resolution and the support for Israel, which is military support, is not only something which we are tolerating, this genocide. It is sort of conniving, aiding and abetting a genocide. 

If we want to maintain our dignity in the face of this war which has cost the lives of thousands of people, then we need to have the courage and strength to condemn Hamas, and we need to condemn as well Israel.

We can't turn a blind eye to the attack perpetrated on the Israeli embassy or the attacks on Gaza.

We can't have double standards because if we do have double standards, this is simply going to undermine the reliability, the dignity of the Council of Europe.

President, you, and also the Council as a whole really need to change its position. We need to keep herding our dignity and our reliability.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Mr Stéphane BERGERON



Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The conflict at the heart of this debate predates the creation of the Council of Europe 75 years ago, but remains as deadly as ever. Following the bloody attacks perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October 2023, the international community widely recognised Israel's right to defend itself.

Probably anticipating a disproportionate response, it insisted, however, that this must be done in compliance with the rules of humanitarian law, which implies not attacking civilian populations and infrastructures. An unprecedented humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the Gaza Strip. So far, according to UNICEF, almost 34 000 people have been killed in the Palestinian enclave, the majority of them women and children.

UN agencies report that children who survived the bombardments are now at risk of "not surviving the famine". If nothing is done, the humanitarian crisis is not about to end - quite the contrary.

A month ago, I spoke in the House of Commons in support of a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages. At the time, I pointed out that organisations such as Médecins sans Frontières have also been targeted by Israel since 7 October 2024. Little did I know that, two weeks later, seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen, including a young Quebec father, Jacob Flickinger, would die.

This fateful attack sent shockwaves through the country, but the reality is that since the beginning of the conflict, the number of deaths has been no mere coincidence. Since the tragic events of 7 October 2023, more than 200 humanitarian workers have lost their lives trying to help the people of Gaza. It is therefore appropriate that this Assembly should ask itself: what role the Council of Europe can play in trying to put an end to the tragedy unfolding before our eyes? Which now threatens to set the whole region ablaze.

On 23 January 2024 this year, this Assembly called on its members "to lend their full support to a two-state solution and to the creation of the preconditions for a lasting and viable peace in the Middle East which is absolutely necessary if Palestinians and Israelis are to cease living in a permanent state of war, but this can only be achieved through an independent Palestine and the conclusion of a peace agreement between the two peoples.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Ms Petra BAYR.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC


I would like to start my reflections in Iran, the Iran that has a major interest in destabilising the entire region. Last weekend's missile attack on Israel is just a small piece of the puzzle.

In addition, Iran systematically and permanently supports Hamas, the Houthis, and Hezbollah with weapons, money, know-how and logistics. The calculation works, because if we look at the fact that Hamas deliberately sacrifices Palestinian lives by using people as living shields when they are attacked, then that is reprehensible. It is also reprehensible that some observers believe that these deaths are not only accepted, but that Hamas is also calculating and playing politics with them.

Despite the reprehensible nature of Hamas's policy, none of this is a justification for attacking Rafah, for example, and taking the situation of well over a million people, civilians, Palestinian civilians and civilians who have sought refuge in Rafah, this exceptional humanitarian situation there to extremes. It is clear that this is a no-go. It cannot be, and it is also clear that sufficient humanitarian aid must reach the Gaza Strip very quickly. I emphasize it must reach the people in the Gaza Strip and not be diverted by Hamas for their own deeds.

The Israeli hostages must be released unconditionally, and I repeat, unconditionally, in my view. I think that linking a ceasefire to this is perfectly fine and important. As far as 7 October is concerned, I believe that those behind it, those who initiated it, should be held accountable, should be brought to justice. In particular, and I would like to emphasize this, for the sexual violence they perpetrated there.

This ties in with the report on sexual violence as a tactic of war that I had here in plenary last year. The considerations apply just as much to Ukraine or the Balkans in the 1990s as they do to Israel today, because the mass rape, the truly mass infliction of sexual violence on people did not just take place on 7 October. It is still taking place, because those who are still being held hostage by Hamas are suffering this sexual violence, women as well as men, by the way, and that is absolutely unacceptable. I am incredibly negatively affected by the fact that there are people, that there are women who call themselves feminists, who deny and deny this despite hundreds of pieces of evidence and say that it is not true at all.

What must be clear is that those responsible must be held accountable and that there must finally be an end to this. Women's bodies are not a battlefield.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly




Austria, SOC


Thank you very much, Mr President,

I would like to follow on from Mr George LOUCAIDES, who cried and spoke quite clearly here; this is genocide - genocide against the Palestinian population. And one can say that in recent history there has hardly ever been such brutality as we are experiencing in the current Gaza Strip. This is a war against children and against women. That is the majority of the people killed and starved to death there. This can certainly be described as genocide and a breach of all international humanitarian law. The "Iron Sword" which is the name of this operation, it actually threatens ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip with the subsequent massacres that we are now seeing.

For me, the really big question is: how does Israel actually envisage the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after up tp 90% of all houses and all infrastructure have been destroyed - including hospitals, schools and so on? None of this is acceptable and Israel must be held to account, including financially, for what they are doing here.

But the war against Palestine didn't start on 7 October 2023. It started much, much earlier. Even before 7 October 2023, there were rows of murders of Palestinians by radical settlers in the West Bank, where hardly anyone intervened.

And if we stay with the example of the World Central Kitchen mentioned earlier; they informed the Israeli army - this NGO, which was responsible for distributing food, informed them. And as can be reconstructed today, after the first attack on the first marked vehicle, they all went into the second, and after the next attack on the second into the third, where they all ultimately died. There must also be accountability for this at some point, as well as for the many murdered journalists who were simply killed.

And I believe that this is important and someone has already said quite clearly today that only a two-state solution can bring stability and peace - a sustainable peace. The world must work on this, but so must the parties to the conflict. A two-state solution is needed so that peace can find its place.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Ms Meryem GÖKA.

Ms Meryem GÖKA

Türkiye, NR


None of us have ever witnessed anything like this. War crimes are happening in real-time before our eyes. Shocking images reach us through our screens, but there is deafening silence. The world should be ashamed that there is no safe space in Gaza and that starvation is being used as a weapon of war. Today, it is the greatest open-air graveyard, not only for tens of thousands of innocent lives lost but also for many of the most fundamental principles of humanitarian law.

According to international organisations, almost 14 000 children have been killed by Israeli forces, 17 000 children are separated. Over 9 000 women have been killed, 180 give birth daily with no medical help, babies without milk, but none of it evokes the necessary empathy. Israel’s massacres in Gaza has reminded the world community of its promise: “Never Again”. Do we remember?

The level of violence and dehumanisation of Palestinians that has been normalised is incredibly concerning. The principle of human dignity must apply to all people. Yet, those always talking about human rights, freedoms, and democracy just watch Israel’s massacres from a distance, incapable of taking any action. There can be no double standards when we speak about human rights. This Assembly rightly maintained a firm stance over the Russian aggression on Ukraine and continues its work to relieve the impact of the war and to stop it. Such a strong response against the flagrant violation of international law by Israel is the obligation of this Assembly if we are committed to the founding principles of the Council of Europe.

Therefore, I call on this Assembly to show a unified and strong position on the humanitarian tragedy in Palestine. Moreover, Türkiye's warnings about the risk of spillover and escalation of Israel's ongoing war in Gaza have long been repeated to all our counterparts. The Israeli attack on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Iran's retaliation to this attack, and subsequent developments have once again demonstrated that events could quickly escalate into a regional war. As Türkiye, we have been co-ordinating diplomatic efforts on the Palestinian issue from the very beginning. We have also expressed Türkiye’s willingness to take on the role of a guarantor in the conflict and have emphasised that there is only one solution to bring security and stability to the region. That is the two-state solution. Now, first and foremost, there must be an immediate ceasefire. Israel must stop its deadly attacks, allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, and put an end to its illegal settlements and occupation.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Alexis TSIPRAS is next.


Greece, UEL


Thank you very much, Mister President.

On 13 November 1973, Willy Brandt was the first head of government to address the European Parliament here in Strasbourg. His first words in that historic speech before he spoke about European unification were about the Middle East. He said that "tragedy in the Middle East, which is so close to us, not only geographically but also culturally and historically, require of me to speak as a German and as a European. [...] The conflict is also a challenge to Europe what goes on in this agonised neighbouring region affects us directly."

Europe must, therefore, if it can, contribute towards solving that problem, and this it can only do in the closest of co-operation. I am wondering where is Europe in the current tragedy in the Middle East?

Dear colleagues, I am afraid that on the Middle East today, Europe is not on the right side of history. A few kilometres from our borders, in Palestine, nearly 34 000 people are killed from Israeli military operations, 70% of whom, Mr Borrell said, are innocent civilians.

A humanitarian crisis with over 2 million people is taking place. Hamas is a terrorist organisation, and we absolutely condemn the terrorist attacks of 7 October. What is happening now with thousands of children being killed will strengthen extremism for generations, leading to much less, not more security for the region and for Israelis.

We condemn Iranian attacks and support for Hamas, but if Israel chooses to respond militarily, as it did in Damascus, escalation is certain and millions will be in danger. If we actually stand for what we say and if we really believe in what we say, we must in very clear terms, declare that there has to be an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Gaza with the return of all hostages.

We must declare clearly that we stand against military escalation. We must support the end of occupation, the start of reliable talks for a two-state solution. The EU must, at last, take a stand and push forward for a peace conference that should include as the Spanish and the Irish Prime Ministers have said, the prospect of recognition of a Palestinian state on the basis of a solution with the international guarantees for Israel.

I am concluding. If we continue playing with words or obstructing public discussions, like what happened in Germany, then we are sending the message around the world that European values are nothing but hypocrisy. We send the message that our rules lead to double standards, but the truth is either European values are relevant everywhere or they are not values at all.

Thank you very much.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Ms Zeynep YILDIZ.

Ms Zeynep YILDIZ

Türkiye, NR


Dear Chair, Dear colleagues,

The Council of Europe, under the umbrella of which we are, was established after the bloodiest war the world has ever seen, for the purposes of "realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms", as foreseen in Article 1 of the founding Statute.

Beyond the continental reservations, acting in accordance with our founding purposes, taking an initiative for the resolution of conflicts and preserving world peace, is the only reason for functionalising this institution. That’s why we are here.

First of all, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict did not start on 7 October 2023. Gaza has been an open-air prison for years under the Israeli siege. Children were born in the camps and they grew up without any idea of ​​what the normal life is outside. Palestinians passing through checkpoints in the West Bank is subjected to deep humiliation every day, and their right to live in dignity is violated. Due to the illegal settlers of Israel, property rights of Palestinian people in the West Bank are unlawfully taken away.

For the last six months, we have been in a shame similar to the shame of not being able to stop Auschwitz.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Francesca Albanese, states that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the "crime of genocide" has been committed against the Palestinians.

More than 30 000 Palestinians, including more than 14 000 children, were killed in Gaza, accounting for approximately 1.4 % of the population.

It is estimated that more than 12 000 missing people died.

71 000 people were injured, many with life-long disabilities.

70% of residential areas were destroyed.

80% of the entire population was forcibly displaced.

The blockade of Gaza has prevented access to vital supplies, causing deaths from starvation of 10 people each day.

Journalists, medical doctors were killed, hospitals, mosques, and churches were targeted disproportionately.

This was all done by Israel.

What kind of democracy is this?


Dear colleagues,

In order to make our presence here meaningful, we must succeed in becoming a true representative of human rights apart from our political engagements and the interest groups.

We must take an initiative for an urgent implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2728 (2024) and, for ensuring sufficient humanitarian aid enters Gaza, we can form an impartial monitoring mission.

We must call for an immediate ceasefire, and call both sides for the release of all hostages and prisoners, and ultimately ensure the return of Gazans and all Palestinians to their own lands within the framework of international law.

In conclusion, politics is made with people and for people, and we, as politicians, should be a voice for the peaceful protesters, we should stand for Palestine all around the world.

Türkiye stood with Palestine and will continue to do so.

When we return to our countries, we must have an honourable story to tell our people. We must free Palestine. [She speaks in Arabic].

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly




Spain, UEL


Thank you, Chair.

Dear colleagues,

Staying silent in the face of a genocide is equivalent to backing the perpetrators.

That is why I really think this current affairs debate is so needed.

We are a human rights organisation, and Israel and Palestine are both linked.

We, as the Council of Europe can and must play a more active role in the protection of the human rights in Gaza and in Palestine.

Dear colleagues, it is in hard times when it is more necessary to contribute through the aspirations of life, liberty, dignity and fraternity. It is in hard times when they are more necessary. Because it is all about values, vision and courage.

Values. We are based on values. We are the champions of the human rights, and our cornerstone is the European Convention of Human Rights that protects the right of life as the frontispiece of the rest of the rights and freedoms. Without life we have nothing.

But in addition to values we need vision and courage.

Vision to face and deal with complex questions. And courage to defend human rights without double standards.

We must have the courage to affect strategical eyes, without fear. Because it's our duty to be the champions of human rights.

We are not a geopolitical organisation. For this purpose, exists United Nations, NATO, European Union, or the OSCE. We are for the human rights.

Dear colleagues, double standards are dangerous since they only reinforce impunity and perpetuate instability.

At the same time, double standards also undermine credibility of the member states' actions in defence of international humanitarian law and human rights in other scenarios.

In January it was shocking how this Assembly were showing alarming passivity in front of the genocide.

We are supposed to be allies in defending human rights, but reality shows that economical and geostrategical interests have taken ahead declarations, summits or statements on human rights and rule of law.

It is time then to address the real causes of this conflict.

Dismantle the apartheid system, stop the illegal blocking to which Gaza is subjected; urge the end of these illegal attacks on innocent people.

It has already been said, almost 14 000 dead children. 14 000 dead children could fill this building. It's unbearable.

Further, it has to be suspended the sale of weapons to Israel since they then commit violations of human rights and crimes against humanity.

Finally, an immediate and permanent ceasefire is needed with no conditions.

Hamas should release all Israeli hostages.

Israel should release Palestinians they brutally detained.

An immediate humanitarian corridor must be set up immediately.

Thousands of children can't wait any longer.

And last but not least, we should urge for a two-state solution and consequently urge for the recognition of Palestine.

We as the Council of Europe can do more.

The Assembly, the Secretary General, the Committee of Ministers, the Commission of Human Rights, all of us.

So I propose a next step: release a clear common statement in favour of human rights and diplomacy solution.

Thank you, Chair, for your patience.

Thank you all.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Mustafa CANBEY.

Mr Mustafa CANBEY

Türkiye, NR


Distinguished colleagues,

Unfortunately, today, we are here to discuss one of the most complex and devastating catastrophes in modern history: the massacre of Gaza.

As the Assembly, it is pivotal to address these issues with empathy for the innocent civilians and develop a sustainable solution.

Since the beginning of the conflict on 7 October, more than 33 000 people have been killed, and the number is still rising.

As the representative of the Council of the Europe member states, we are faced with one of the most destructive catastrophes of the Middle East as well as the world. The innocent civilians in Gaza have been suffering from unjust and unlawful attacks from Israel.

Moreover, due to the Israel blockage of the Gaza Strip, the innocent civilians have been sentenced to rubble, hunger, and thirst. Most of the people who lost their lives are women and children, who are also suffering from shortages of food and basic human needs.

This situation is also threatening global peace. Although it is evident that Israel is responsible for this disproportionate number of civilian casualties, nothing has been done. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that Israel must cease fire, stop killing civil civilians and allow humanitarian aid in the region. People are still suffering.

The recent armed conflict between Israel and Iran has shown, once again, that unless a permanent solution in Gaza is reached, there will be no peace and stability in the Middle East.

The Assembly should ask Israel to follow and enforce the judgment of the ICJ. Even though this judgment is not a permanent solution, it will provide important relief to the civilians in Gaza.

I believe our Assembly has its moral compass intact and will strive to uphold the rule of law and human rights.

Lastly, I invite our Assembly to commence a process to exert pressure on Israel for a permanent ceasefire and for allowing aid to be sent to the Gaza Strip immediately.

Thank you for your attention.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly




Türkiye, NR


Dear President,

Dear Colleagues,

Israel transformed Gaza from an open-air prison to a mass grave for civilians, killing over 33 000 people, including 14 000 children, 10 000 women, hundreds of journalists, aid workers, and doctors, wounding 75 000 and displacing 1.7 million people, and destroying 70% of civilian infrastructure in Gaza.

Israel continues to deliberately block humanitarian aid into Gaza.

As stated by the vice president of the European Commission Josep Borell: “Israel is provoking famine in Gaza and using starvation as a weapon of war. According to the IPC 100% of people in Gaza are acutely food insecure. This is unprecedented. No IPC analysis has ever recorded such levels of food insecurity anywhere in the world.”

Unicef says that babies in Gaza do not have the energy to cry anymore. We are already witnessing with horror the death of children due to starvation.

The international community is no longer discussing whether the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and collective punishment by Israel in Gaza amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity, but the International Court of Justice found it plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide and issued provisional measures to protect Palestinians.

UN special rapporteur on Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese analysed the patterns of violence and Israel’s policies in Gaza in her latest report and concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide is met.

One of the key findings of her report is that Israel's executive and military leadership issued statements of genocidal intent and intentionally distorted jus in bello principles, subverting their protective functions, in an attempt to legitimise genocidal violence against the Palestinian people.

We have all condemned the killing and kidnapping of Israeli civilians on 7 October, but it is unconscionable and a grave shame that there are still colleagues in this Assembly and governments in the Council of Europe who refuse to acknowledge and condemn Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, which makes them complicit in these crimes.

They should know that they have buried their legitimacy to speak about human rights ever again together with the bodies of thousands of children murdered in Gaza.

This Assembly and governments all around the world should avoid double standards and hold Israel, like all actors, accountable to international standards applied elsewhere.

The report of Mr FASSINO on this conflict lacked any substantial content and is a disgrace to this Assembly’s values.

A new objective report making the necessary recommendations should urgently be prepared.

We must all call for a permanent ceasefire, immediate and full implementation of all ICJ orders, unhindered humanitarian aid and cooperation with UN agencies, release of all hostages, 133 hostages held in Gaza and thousands of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons without due process, reinstating of funding for UNRWA and ceasing of all arms exports to Israel in order to uphold international law and prevent a region wide conflict.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mr Alfred HEER.

Mr Alfred HEER

Switzerland, ALDE



Thank you very much, Mister President.

I never heard such a lot of nonsense as in this debate.

To Ms Sena Nur ÇELİK KANAT, I must tell you that the report of Mr Piero FASSINO found the majority in this Parliament, and if you are a democrat you should accept a democratic decision by the Council of Europe. That shows your thinking. Probably you think like Hamas, that killed their Fatah brothers in Gaza and established a terrorist regime.

Gaza was not an open-air prison. The Israelis withdrew under Ariel Sharon, and they had the choice either to co-operate and make something out of this Gaza Strip or to make terror. They choose terror.

I also want to remind you there is a border with Egypt, with their Arabic brothers, which is closed as well, so don't blame Israel all the time for the situation in the Gaza Strip.

What did Hamas do and what does Hamas have in its constitution? Kill every Jew, wherever you find him, not only Israel, but also in Brussels, also in Zurich, also in Paris. Wherever you see a Jew, you kill him.

You are supporting such a terrorist regime with what you were saying here.

If you want to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, you tell Hamas to release the hostages. That's point one. Point two is we need to dismantle Hamas. That's the second point. The third point is we need a caretaker government in Gaza that seeks peace also with Israel, that has a rule of law and that has an education in the school system not run by the UNRWA, with school books that glorify martyrdom, rather with school books that seek peace with their friends in Israel.

UNRWA is part of the problem. You know exactly why are there so many civilian casualties. Where do they hide those terrorists? They hide in schools. They hide in hospitals. The IDF takes the utmost care to avoid civilian casualties, but Hamas doesn't. They don't care. They don't care about Jews, they don't care about their Palestinian brothers, they don't care about Muslim brothers, and they don't care about life at all.

You are Turkish. You are friends with your Hamas brothers. You speak to them to release the hostages, and then you are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Mister Alfred HEER, it was a very interesting discussion we had until now. It is interesting to listen to all the opinions even if we do not agree with them. There is no need to insult any of our colleagues, and I would like to call all of you to address to the President and not personally to our colleagues. You are free to express yourself, of course.

Dear colleagues, I promised that we are going to finish the list and everybody who is registered.

[The Chair is interrupted]

Ms Sena Nur ÇELİK KANAT, I think that you are already covered with what I have said. If not, of course, I will give you the floor. I think that we can make an end here. I had already commented on that. If you insist, I will give you the floor, but I think that we can make an end here. I have already commented on what has been said on behalf of the Assembly.

If you insist, I will give you the floor. Okay.


Türkiye, NR


Mister President.

This is the second time Mr Alfred HEER targeted me and it is appalling that a member of this Assembly would use hate speech against me for my ideas and it is not nothing more than an effort to whitewash the killing of thousands of civilians by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

I have always condemned violence against all civilians regardless of their ethnicity and religion and I wish Mr Alfred HEER could do the same instead of showcasing his double standards and anti-Muslim bias.

Thank you.


Greece, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you. 

Dear colleagues,

I remind you that at the end of a current affairs debate, the Assembly is not asked to decide upon a text but the matter may be referred by the Bureau to the responsible committee for a report.

The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. with the Agenda which was approved on Monday.

The sitting is adjourned.

The sitting is closed at 7:35 p.m.

Next sitting on Friday 19th at 10:30 a.m.