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Overview of the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (COE) aims to further co-operation between Member States in the areas of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Its four main bodies are the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the European Court of Human Rights and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

Its activities in the human rights field, as well as the impact it makes in fostering democracy and the rule of law in Europe, are consistent with Ireland’s approach to international affairs.

Ireland also value’s the Council’s work in helping to protect national minorities, fighting against racism and xenophobia, and combating corruption.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade co-ordinates Irish engagement with the Council of Europe in close cooperation with other Government Departments, in particular the Department of Justice and Equality.

Benefits of the Council of Europe

  1. In promoting and defending democracy, human rights, and the rule-of-law, the Council makes Europe a more democratic and better place in which to live, study, work, and travel.
  2. The European Pharmacopoeia, an integral part of the Council of Europe, plays an important role in protecting everyone’s health by setting and monitoring internationally-recognised standards for safe medicines and medical treatments.
  3. The European Court of Human Rights helps protect all of our fundamental freedoms by allowing anyone to take a case to it if they believe one of their fundamental rights, as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, has been violated.
  4. The Council of Europe is responsible for making the world a safer place through its formulation of a range of key international conventions that, amongst many other things, contribute to the global fight against cybercrime, money laundering, human trafficking and terrorism.
  5. The Council of Europe works especially hard to eradicate racism and xenophobia, thereby fostering more tolerant, open-minded societies across Europe.

The Council formulates international conventions that aim to protect its core principles throughout Europe.

History of the Council of Europe

Ireland was one the ten original signatories of the Treaty of London in May 1949, establishing the Council of Europe as the first pan-European intergovernmental organisation. It was created in response to the horrors of the two world wars of the 20th century and is dedicated to the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Since then, the 10 original members (Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom) have been joined by almost all other European countries, and the organisation now has 47 member states. The Council of Europe includes all EU Member States. No state has joined the EU without first being a member of the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, France, with its headquarters in the Palais d’Europe.