Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (CoE) is an international organisation based at the Palace of Europe in Strasbourg. The founding act of the CoE is the Statute of the Council of Europe, signed in London on 5 May 1949. The CoE comprises 47 member countries (Belarus being the only European country that is not a member of the CoE) and there are 5 observer countries (Canada, Holy See, Japan, Mexico, USA), including Israel with observer status within the CoE Parliamentary Assembly.

All CoE member states are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The European Court of Human Rights monitors member states’ compliance with the Convention. The CoE works in close partnership with the European Union and cooperates with the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and other partner countries around the globe.

The main objectives of the CoE are the protection of human rights, promotion of democracy and the rule of law. Numerous reform processes in Serbia are taking place in cooperation and with the assistance of the CoE, mainly focused on the legal and governance structures, judiciary reform, and other reforms in other areas in which the CoE operates.

The Republic of Serbia has been a member of the CoE since 3 April 2003, and it holds a Permanent Mission to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg

As member of the CoE, the Republic of Serbia assumed a number of obligations related to the harmonisation of the national judicial system with the CoE standards concerning human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Activities of the CoE are based on the so-called Copenhagen criteria in regard to institutional stability, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of national minorities, which makes cooperation between the Republic of Serbia and the CoE especially important in the context of European integrations.

The Republic of Serbia is a member of thirteen CoE partial agreements, which represent voluntary associations through financial contribution of states for a specific set of activities: The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), European Pharmacopoeia, Council of Europe Development Bank, the Council of Europe Fund to support co-production, distribution, exhibition and digitisation of European cinematographic works (EURIMAGES), European Commission for Democracy through Law ― Venice Commission, Extended Partial Agreement on Sport, North-South Centre, The European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA), European Centre for Modern Languages, The Council of Europe Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs (the Pompidou Group), Youth Card, Cultural Routes, the Observatory on Teaching History in Europe.

The Committee of Ministers is the CoE's decision-making body. The Committee of Ministers meets at ministerial level once a year. Member states take turns chairing the Committee for a period of six months in alphabetical order. Serbia chaired the Committee of Ministers in May−November 2007.

The Serbian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe comprises seven members and seven deputies, who are members of the Serbian National Assembly.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRAE) brings together representatives of local and regional authorities to promote local and regional democracy, improve governance at the local and regional level and strengthen local authorities. The Congress is particularly concerned with the application of principles from the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Serbia’s delegation to CLRAE counts seven members and seven deputies.

The European Court of Human Rights is an international court that rules on individual or State applications alleging violations of rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are binding on member states. The judge of the European Court of Human Rights from Serbia is Prof. Dr. Branko Lubarda.

The Commissioner for Human Right is an independent CoE body that prepares periodic reports on the state of human rights in CoE member states.

The Republic of Serbia closely cooperates with the CoE Development Bank There are important activities carried out through the Migrant and Refugee Fund, including activities in the implementation of the Regional Housing Program (RHP), established to provide housing for refugees.

CoE Office in Belgrade was opened on 16 March 2001 The Office operates in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Serbia and other competent institutions, with a special focus on reforms in the field of justice, support for the functioning of parliament and local self-government, improvement of the higher education system, strengthening capacities in combating serious crime and other areas.