The Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) is a consultative body composed of representatives of the national parliaments of 47 member states
PACE independently formulates the programme of its sessions and debates on the Council of Europeâ€™s activities and topical international issues, as well as adopting recommendations addressed to the Committee of Ministers or member states. The President is elected from among the parliament members for a period of three years. RenĂ© van der Linden, a member of the European Peopleâ€™s Party, has been President of PACE since January 2005; he will conclude his presidency at the January session in 2008.
In the Committee of Foreign Affairs Ministers, each member state has one vote, whereas the number of representatives in PACE depends on the size of a country. France, Germany, the Russian Federation, Italy and the UK have the largest number of representatives (18) in PACE, whereas Andorra and Liechtenstein have the smallest number of representatives (2). In PACE, Slovenia has three representatives and three proxies. In total, there are 318 representatives, the same number of proxies (together 636) and a few observers. Israel, Canada and Mexico hold observer status in PACE. The number of representatives of the various political parties in the delegation of each country must provide a balanced reflection of the political forces represented in the national parliament.
A Parliamentary Assembly session consists of four plenary sessions. Each of them usually lasts a week, and they are held at the end of January, April, June and September respectively.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is a consultative body representing local and regional authorities of member states
Its work is focused mainly on promoting local and regional democracy, as well as strengthening cross-border cooperation. Halvdan Skard from Norway has been its President since May 2006. In the Congress, Slovenia has three representatives and three proxies.
The Secretary General is the highest function in the Council of Europeâ€™s Secretariat, which is divided into six Directorates General
Political Affairs; Legal Affairs; Human Rights; Social Cohesion; Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport; and Administration and Logistics. The Secretary General is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for a period of five years. Terry Davis (UK) took over the function of Secretary General of the Council of Europe on 1 September 2004 from Walter Schwimmer (Austria). Maud de Boer-Buquicchio (the Netherlands) is the Deputy Secretary General; she was re-elected at the beginning of 2007.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) operates under the European Convention on Human Rights, in force since 1953 (signed in 1950), and its protocols (http://www.echr.coe.int/echr/). Complaints can be brought before the Court either by state parties who believe that another state party violated the rights under the Convention, or by individuals with a legal interest. The judgements are final and binding on the respondent state. Jean-Paul Costa (France) was elected new President of the Court on 29 November 2006 for a period of three years.
The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe is a political body independent from the ECHR and other bodies of the Organisation. The institute of the Commissioner was established in 1999 and ensures the respect and application of human rights in the member states
The Commissionerâ€™s tasks are encouraging education, awareness and promotion of respect for human rights in member states, and ensuring complete and effective accordance with Council of Europe texts, such as conventions, recommendations and resolutions. He or she is elected by PACE. In the current term of office, this post is occupied by Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden), who was elected on 5 October 2005.
Partial agreements in which some but not all of the Council of Europe member states participate
- North-South Centre
- European Audiovisual Observatory
- European Centre for Modern Languages
- European Commission for Democracy through Law â€“ Venice Commission
- EDQM/European Pharmacopoeia
- Pompidou Group
- Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)
- Council of Europe Development Bank
Partial Agreements are not international treaties, but a specific form of cooperation within the Council of Europe. These Agreements enable member states to cooperate in a specific field with other signatory states to the Agreement. The budget for Partial Agreements is separate from the general budget of the Organisation. At the 117th session of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, the Resolution establishing the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) was adopted. Slovenia is among the 16 signatories to the Partial Agreement.
Conventions and agreements of the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe plays an important role in setting up legislation in member states in all areas of activity. In more than fifty years, 200 conventions and agreements have been adopted. Owing to their multilateral nature, they are more than an act of cooperation, as they replace hundreds of bilateral treaties that would otherwise be concluded by the individual states.