The Assembly today called for a series of measures aimed at stopping sexism and sexual harassment in politics, including in parliaments. These recommendations are addressed to national parliaments, but also to political parties and governments.
They focus on raising awareness of this phenomenon (which is commonplace but widespread and systematic) through surveys and public debate, as well as the introduction of effective complaint procedures and mechanisms for parliaments with effective sanctions that are proportional to the seriousness of the facts and accessible to both Members and staff. Data collection, monitoring and research in this area should also be intensified.
Following the proposals of the rapporteur, Thorhildur Sunna AEvarsdottir (Iceland, SOC), the Assembly also called for the modification of its Code of Conduct to introduce an explicit ban on sexism, sexual harassment and sexual violence, and a reference to the protection of dignity.
As the extent of the problem of violence against women in politics has started to be understood only very recently - as part of the #MeToo movement and following a joint IPU/PACE study - all parliaments are invited to join and support the #NotInMyParliament initiative.
Today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, presented her first annual activity report in a debate before the Parliamentary Assembly of the organisation.
While the report covers a variety of the most pressing human rights issues in the Council of Europe member states, the Commissioner highlights migration, women’s rights, human rights of persons with disability, the protection of human rights defenders and the safety of journalists as the most recurrent topics of her work.
“Migration is among the most pressing human rights issues on my agenda”, she says. “National authorities should improve the treatment of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and put human rights and the principle of responsibility sharing at the centre of their migration and asylum policies”.
As regards women’s rights, the Commissioner underscores the need to tackle gender stereotypes and prejudices and to put an end to violence against women. She also calls on national authorities to reduce the gender pay gap, which remains a “major obstacle to effective equality between men and women, and a widespread problem all over Council of Europe member states, both in the public and private sectors.”
The protection of human rights defenders and of journalists also requires more attention by the authorities of member states. “Violent physical attacks, as well as laws and practices significantly reduce the ability of human rights defenders and journalists to provide their contribution to the democratic fabric of our society.
Another problem that the report highlights is the difficulty that many member states still face in tackling discrimination or deep rooted prejudices against persons with disabilities, children, older persons, Roma and LGBTI people. The Commissioner notes that long-standing cultural, social and economic problems continue to breed inequalities and segregation.
“There is still much work to be done in order to protect human rights throughout Europe. I am determined to commit my energy to this task, and I fully intend to develop constructive co-operation with governments and civil society for the common goal of upholding human rights.”
PACE today called on national parliaments and local authorities to become actively involved in the implementation and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs). The mobilisation of all relevant stakeholders, including parliaments, local and regional authorities, citizens and civil society – in particular young people – is a decisive factor in the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 objectives, adopted by the United Nations in 2015, the Assembly said.
The resolution adopted on the basis of the report by Jennifer de Temmerman (France, NR) makes a set of recommendations to parliaments as holders of legislative power and body that scrutinises governments’ action, in order to strengthen their role in the implementation of SDGs. PACE also called on member States to involve parliamentarians and local and regional authority representatives in the SDG implementation steering bodies, and in the High-Level Political Forum.
In her opening speech at the PACE Spring Session, the President today reiterated the importance of preserving “the common home which provides a place to live for 830 million people and is governed by a common legal framework that protects the individual against arbitrary decisions and authoritarianism and defines our rights and fundamental freedoms”.
She called on PACE members to meet the expectations of “millions of Europeans who are reaping the tangible benefits of closer union between the peoples and nations of Europe, for which the Council of Europe has worked”.
For the President, the 830 million Europeans do not aspire to “a Europe of division where dialogue gives way to confrontation, a Europe torn apart once again by geopolitical tensions, where new borders and new walls would spring up. The European acquis, the values that unite us and the common legal framework that we have succeeded in building are more important for our fellow citizens who want a Europe of peace, prosperity, co-operation and dialogue.”
“I am not suggesting for one minute that we should compromise our values – that would be a betrayal of the European project. All members of our common European home have the same duty to abide by the house rules. They also have the same duty to help it run smoothly, including by honouring their financial obligations, just as they have equal rights - and an obligation - to participate in the co-operation mechanisms and forums for dialogue that exist within our common home,” she concluded.
Adopting its final agenda at the opening of the 2019 Spring Session, the Assembly decided to hold an urgent debate on the theme “Role and mission of the Parliamentary Assembly: main challenges for the future”. The Assembly holds its session in PACE from 8 to 12 April 2019, with addresses by the Prime Ministers of Armenia and Georgia.
Joint debates will be held on stopping hate speech and acts of hatred in sport - as well as the role of political leaders in combating hate speech - and on strengthening co-operation with the UN and implementation of its Sustainable Development Goals.
Other topics to be discussed include promoting parliaments free of sexism and sexual harassment, the implications for human rights of social media, and a report on balancing the rights of parents, donors and children during the anonymous donation of sperm and oocytes.
The Assembly will also look at so-called “laundromats” and new challenges in combating organised crime and money laundering, and will take a stand on the creation of a new EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights will present her annual activity report for 2018 and take questions, while there will be the usual exchange of views with the current head of the Council of Europe’s ministerial body, Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Timo Soini, and question time with Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.
PACE co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Georgia, Kerstin Lundgren (Sweden, ALDE) and Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC), have condemned the ongoing “borderisation” of the administrative boundary line with South Ossetia by the Russian Federation.
“These illegal actions by the Russian Federation undermine stability in the region and split families and people. We call upon the Russian authorities to cease these actions and to allow free movement of people across the administrative boundary lines with South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” said the co-rapporteurs following a recent visit to Tbilisi.
“We wish to reiterate our strong support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and call upon the Russian Federation to fully respect its membership obligations and accession commitments to the Council of Europe in this regard, as outlined in several Assembly resolutions on the consequences of the war between Russia and Georgia,” added the co-rapporteurs.
Strasbourg, 26.11.2018 – Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL) and Reina de Bruijn-Wezeman (Netherlands, ALDE), members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), will travel to Georgia from 27 to 29 November to observe the conduct of the second round of the presidential election, alongside observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, European Parliament and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
They are due to meet the two candidates, the Central Election Commission, and representatives of the media, before observing the ballot on Wednesday 28 November.
A joint press conference is scheduled on Thursday 29 November at 2.30 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, Grand Royal Ballroom, 29 Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi.
A 25-member delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), headed by Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL), will travel to Georgia from 26 to 29 October to observe the conduct of the presidential election alongside observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, European Parliament, NATO Parliamentary Assembly and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The delegation will meet candidates, the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission, and representatives of civil society and the media, before observing the ballot on 28 October.
A joint press conference is scheduled on Monday 29 October at 2.30 p.m. in the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, Tbilisi (location to be confirmed).
Michele Nicoletti (Italy, SOC) was today elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Taking over from Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus, EPP/CD), he is the 31st President of the Assembly since 1949 and the second Italian to hold this office.
There was only one candidate. Under the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, the President serves for a one-year term of office, which may be renewed once.
In his inaugural address, the newly-elected President called for increased unity of the Council of Europe “as the only European institution that brings together 47 countries around the values of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and acceptance of its European Court”.
“At a time of great and dramatic challenges – from terrorism to migration, from poverty old and new to mistrust in representative institutions, from the re-emergence of racism and xenophobia to the desperate solitude of so many people – we must offer a response to nationalist and chauvinistic temptations to close ranks, to centrifugal pressures and to conflicts by reasserting the need for peace and justice on our continent,” he said.
” As a pan-European political forum and a statutory body of our Organisation, the Assembly should fully play its role in addressing these challenges. This requires the active involvement of all members and delegations from all 47 member States. In this context, I regret that the Russian Parliament has not put forward a delegation for the 2018 Ordinary Session. Nevertheless, dialogue with Russian parliamentarians – as well as with all other delegations – continues, with due respect to our rules and obligations.”
“This reflection on our identity, which the Assembly will decide how to develop, appears to me to represent an extraordinary opportunity for our institution to reassert forcefully its own role as the guardian of European unity. I strongly believe that all member States of the Council of Europe must participate in this process,” the newly-elected PACE President underlined.
“In performing this task, we must not cease to openly denounce any violation of human rights committed in any part of our continent and by any authority. There cannot and must not be any free zones. However, this defence of human rights will be even stronger if we are able to combine it with an ever increasing unity between our peoples. We must tirelessly seek to emphasise what unites us,” he said.
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) today elected Lado Chanturia as judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Georgia.
Mr Chanturia, having obtained an absolute majority of votes cast, is elected a judge of the European Court of Human Rights for a term of office of nine years which shall commence no later than three months after his election.
Judges are elected by PACE from a list of three candidates nominated by each State which has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights.