6 May 2019

2019-05-06 (28)

One of our many newsletters on the Council of Europe 

On the 70th anniversary of an institution worth saving

As the Council of Europe reaches the robust age of 70 today some might ask whether there is all that much to celebrate.

After all, at this moment the Council of Europe is in the middle of a serious crisis. Looking only at the past few years this is the trend: it is failing in Russia. It is failing in Azerbaijan. It is failing in Turkey. It has made far too weak an impact on arresting the erosion of the rule of law in Hungary and Poland. It is facing serious internal and external threats to its credibility. It has yet to deal seriously with the biggest corruption scandal in its history.

The Council of Europe is in a worrying shape despite the fact that there are very committed people in PACE, where the past two years have seen an uprising of a virtuous coalition of members; despite the fact that there are very committed people in the secretariat; and despite the fact that there are  (far too few) countries taking the CoE as seriously in the Committee of Ministers as it deserves.

At the same time, the current leadership in the secretariat in Strasbourg has failed the institution far too long. Mostly, the Committee of Ministers is weak and indecisive. And even in PACE old networks that want to get back to the bad old days of Pedro Agramunt have not given up. (Just check how few MPs are complying with declarations on possible conflicts of interest.)

In the coming months the credibility crisis of the institution could get a lot worse. There are budget cuts planned that could do lasting damage. These are imposed because of blackmail by a big member mocking the values of the institution. The Council of Europe is facing threats today that could destroy it as a force for good.

This would be tragic. For there is a lot that is worth defending – from the ECtHR and the Venice Commission to Greco, the CPT and the Human Rights Commissioner’s office. There is also a lot to be inspired by in the idea of a club of imperfect European democracies holding each other to the highest standards – and focusing on core human rights. There is a real need for such an institution today, as human rights are coming under attack across Europe, in old and new democracies.

ESI has written many reports, newsletters and papers about the Council of Europe in recent years. We advocated on a number of issues – from political prisoners to corruption, from resisting blackmail to protecting the court. Sometimes we even saw results after long efforts. At times it seemed quixotic – there were not that many other think tanks in Europe working on the institution itself with such obsessive focus.

We would not have done this, had we not been convinced that the Council of Europe matters hugely. That it is truly an institution representing values and embodying ideals worth fighting for. And yet, there is one more thing we have also learned since 2012: never assume that anything will sort itself out without effort and vigilance. And any impact requires a huge coalition of people who care enough to take risks – in and outside the institution. Here civil society organisations have an important role of play.

So this is our anniversary present: links to newsletters we sent out on the Council of Europe since 2012, joined by our hope that the reports which we will write about developments in Strasbourg in the coming decade will be more uplifting.

And with this hope, we wish a very happy anniversary!

The ESI team

 

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Links to ESI newsletters on the Council of Europe

2012:

On Caviar Diplomacy
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Pace and political prisoners
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Ilham the Magician
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

 

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2013

Viktor Hugo and the dream of the Council of Europe
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

The Strasbourg court and Bosnia
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

The end of election monitoring and PACE
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

 

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2014

Hunger strikers abandoned by PACE
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Political prisoners and Jaglands mission
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

For a Europe without political prisoners
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Targeting human rights defenders
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

The legacy of Sakharov
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Origins of modern human rights in Russia
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Moscow appeal
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Jaglands failure
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

 

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2015

Letters from prison
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Formula one, Vaclav and Rasul
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Dorian Gray in Strasbourg – the end of shame
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

 

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2016

A European swamp – the biggest scandal
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

 

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2017

Fifa of human rights – anti-corruption in Strasbourg
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Three days that shook the Council of Europe
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

How to investigate corruption?
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

The hour of truth
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

The fight against the death penalty in Turkey
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Phoenix and the black knight
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

From Russia with threats
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

The lobbyist, the judge and the court
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

 

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Spring cleaning – the corruption report
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

On rule of law in Poland and the Venice Commission
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

Human rights with teeth
https://www.esiweb.org/index.php…

More to come … 🙂

Gallery of ESI engagement with the Council of Europe (2012 – 2019) 

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Filed under: Council of Europe,Uncategorized — Gerald @ 1:11 am
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