Council of Europe


January 20, 2022

The Council of Europe is an international organization whose stated goal is to support human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Founded in 1949, the council comprises 47 countries with a population of about 820 million, and operates with an annual budget of around 500 million euros. The European Union adopted the original European flag created by the Council of Europe in 1955 and the European anthem as well. No country joined the European Union without first belonging to the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe is the official observer of the United Nations. The Council of Europe differs from the European Union in that it is not able to pass binding laws, but it has the power to implement selected international agreements reached by European countries on various topics. The European Court of Human Rights is the most well-known body of the Council of Europe that applies the European Convention on Human Rights. The two statutory bodies of the Council include the Committee of Ministers, which includes the foreign ministers of member states, and the Parliamentary Assembly, which is made up of members of their national parliaments. The Commission on Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe tasked with promoting awareness of and respect for human rights in member states. The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General, and other key European Council bodies include the European Department of Medicines Quality and the European Audiovisual Observatory. The Council of Europe is located in Strasbourg, France, and English and French are the official languages. The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, and the Congress use German, Italian, and Russian in some of their work.

Member States, Observers and Partners

The Council of Europe was established on May 5, 1949 by Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Greece joined three months later, and Iceland, Turkey and West Germany joined the following year. The council now has 47 member states, with Montenegro joining in the other. Article 4 of the Statute of the Council of Europe specifies that membership is open to any European state. This has been interpreted liberally from the outset when Turkey's membership was accepted to include transcontinental states (eg Georgia and Azerbaijan) and geographically Asian but socio-political European states (eg Armenia and Cyprus). Almost all European countries have joined the Council of Europe except for Belarus, Kazakhstan and Vatican City as well as

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