The Council of Europe was established on 5 May 1949, and is the oldest European international organisation. At present, it has 47 member states that have committed themselves to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law as the common values on which every European country ought to be based. Montenegro was the most recent state to join the Council of Europe - on 11 May 2007 - whereas Belarus is still waiting to join.
The Council of Europe deals with the most important issues of European society, except defence policy. Its programme includes human and minority rights, media, legal cooperation, social issues, healthcare, the environment, education, culture, sport, youth, local and regional self-government and cross-border cooperation.
Slovenia applied for full membership of the Council of Europe on 29 January 1992, and was admitted to the Organisation on 14 May 1993. In its opinion on Sloveniaâ€™s membership application, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe imposed no special conditions. In the meantime, Slovenia has become a successful member state, with an acknowledged high level of respect for human and minority rights, as well as established democratic institutions and the rule of law.
Slovenia held the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from 12 May 2009 to 18 November 2009. During that time, the Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Ĺ˝bogar performed as a Chairman-in-Office of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Ten key points of the Slovenian Chairmanship were: Reform of the European Court of Human Rights; Strengthening the rule of law and the promotion of pluralist democracy; Minorities, Roma and Travelers; Combating terrorism, organised crime and corruption; Rights relating to health and biomedicine; Rights of children and human rights education; Intercultural Dialogue; Education on crimes against humanity; Fostering co-operation with other international and European organisations and institutions; Promoting democracy, the rule of law and human rights in South-East Europe, the Caucasus and Belarus.
More information on the Council of Europe, its bodies and areas of work may be found at the websites of the Organisation and the Council of Europe Information Office in Slovenia.