Council of Europe
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Council of Europe,international organization founded in 1949 to promote greater unity within Europe and to safeguard its political and cultural heritage by promoting human rights and democracy. The council is headquartered in Strasbourg, France. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of dictatorial Communist rule in Eastern Europe, most Eastern European nations joined the council, bringing the membership total to 47. Only Belarus and Vatican City are not members; Vatican City has observer status. The conventions and treaties signed under the auspices of the Council of Europe deal with humanitarian, cultural, economic, and social problems.
In 1959 the council established a European Court of Human Rights to protect the rights of individuals in member nations against arbitrary government action. The court has heard cases involving corporal punishment; the protection of minorities, immigrants, suspects, prisoners, and the mentally ill; and the infringement of rights of speech, the press, religion, privacy, and sexuality. Member countries have been censured and risk expulsion if they fail to abide by the rulings. Britain (one of the founders) has, for instance, been upbraided for actions involving the IRA and the jailing of minors, and British representatives have bridled at the court's intervention in Britain's justice system. In the early 21st cent., the large number of cases brought by Russian citizens and the judgments handed down in favor of Russian claimants have led to tensions with Russia and Russian blockage of a package of court reforms. A 2015 Russian law subsequently gave that nation's constitutional court the right to reject international human rights rulings if they were found to contradict the Russian constitution.
Europe, Council of:see Council of EuropeCouncil of Europe,
international organization founded in 1949 to promote greater unity within Europe and to safeguard its political and cultural heritage by promoting human rights and democracy. The council is headquartered in Strasbourg, France.
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Council of Europe
a consultative political organization of Western European capitalist states.
The Statute of the Council of Europe was signed in London on May 5, 1949, a month after the aggressive NATO bloc came into being, and went into effect on Aug. 3, 1949. The original members of the Council of Europe were Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. It was subsequently joined by Greece (which withdrew from the council in 1969), Turkey, Iceland, West Germany, Austria, Cyprus, Switzerland, and Malta. Participating in the work of the council as observers are Spain, Portugal, and Israel.
The primary organs of the council are the Committee of Ministers, comprising the ministers of foreign affairs, which approves political recommendations to member countries on the basis of the unanimity principle, and the Consultative Assembly, consisting of 147 representatives from the parliaments of the participating states, which makes decisions by majority vote, in the form of recommendations for the Committee of Ministers. The principal organs of the Council of Europe are located in Strasbourg, France. The council is involved in coordinating the policies of its member states, including their relations with the socialist countries, and it maintains ties with various Western European organizations, such as the European Economic Community. Actually the activities of the Council of Europe are subservient to the interests of the NATO bloc and are aimed at uniting the forces of capitalist Europe against the USSR and the other socialist countries. In the late 1960’s, with the heightening of interimperialist contradictions, the council’s role and influence were markedly weakened.