The Council of Europe celebrates its 75th anniversary

The Council of Europe celebrates its 75th anniversary
The Council of Europe celebrates its 75th anniversary

A few years later, on May 5, 1949, the treaty establishing the Council of Europe was signed in London by ten states. The founding members are Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Council has its headquarters in Strasbourg (France).

Human rights protection as an anchor

Switzerland became the 17th member of the Council in 1963. Today, the Council of Europe has 46 member states. The last to join the organization was Montenegro, in 2007. During the last spring session, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted in favor of the admission of Kosovo.

On May 6, 1963 in Strasbourg, Federal Councilor Friedrich Traugott Wahlen formalized Switzerland’s entry into the Council of Europe. — © GILBERT BLONDEL / KEYSTONE

To join the organization, a state must ratify the European Convention on Human Rights. This was signed in Rome in 1950. It guarantees citizens, among other things, the rights to liberty and security, freedom of expression, equality and freedom of religion and belief.

Read also: Council of Europe: Alain Berset is the favorite for the post of secretary general

The European Court of Human Rights was created to ensure compliance with the Convention. Last April, it noted a violation of the Human Rights Convention by Switzerland. Following a complaint from the Association of Elders for the Climate, the Court concluded that Switzerland was not doing enough to protect the population from the consequences of climate change.

The Council of Europe has also drawn up other conventions, for example on the protection of nature, against organ trafficking or, more recently, on artificial intelligence. Member States are free to ratify or not the convention.

Switzerland active in the Council of Europe

As a member, Switzerland sits on the various bodies of the Council of Europe. Thus, Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, represents Switzerland within the Committee of Ministers.

A Swiss judge, Andreas Zünd, is part of the panel of judges of the European Court of Human Rights. Six members of the Federal Parliament sit in the Parliamentary Assembly and a total of twelve representatives of the cantons and municipalities in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

As a member of parliament and special investigator for the Council of Europe, the recently deceased former Ticino PLR politician Dick Marty made a name for himself. He investigated controversial CIA prisoner transports and secret prisons in Europe, as well as illegal organ harvesting from prisoners in Kosovo.

Secretary general: Alain Berset candidate

The strategic direction of the intergovernmental organization is carried out by Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić. She was elected by the Assembly in 2019 for a five-year term and will leave office on September 17, 2024.

Former federal councilor Alain Berset is a candidate to succeed him. The socialist is one of three candidates for the post of general secretary. The election by the Parliamentary Assembly is scheduled for June 25.

Read also: “For the candidacy of Alain Berset to the Council of Europe, the union must be as strong as during that of Joseph Deiss to the UN”
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