Council of Europe

History

The Council of Europe was established after the Second World War to achieve a greater unity and collaboration in Europe on the basis of common European values, standards and institutions.

The Council was created in 1948 with two statutory bodies; the Committee of Ministers representing the governments and the Council of Europe (then) Consultative Assembly representing the parliaments. This structure was later followed by NATO, the EU and the OSCE.

The London Agreement that established the Council was signed on 5 May 1949 by 10 European countries. The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which forms the backbone of the Council of Europe was signed on 4 November 1950 in Rome.

The Council of Europe focuses on creating, codifying and monitoring the standards in member states and streamlining political cooperation among them. In addition to its intergovernmental, parliamentary and local dimensions, the Council also contains a system of more than 200 conventions and protocols. The Organization has several monitoring mechanisms including the European Court of Human Rights to which all member states have accepted the right to individual application.


The democratization process that took place at the end of the Cold War highlighted the political and legal effectiveness of the Council. With the membership of the countries in transition in Central and Eastern Europe, the Organization expanded rapidly. In view of the developments brought about by globalization, there have been calls to reform the Council since the 2000s. The Council of Europe Summit held in 2005 in Warsaw constituted a significant step in this direction. Following the election of former Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjorn Jagland as the Secretary General in 2009, a comprehensive reform process has been put into practice. It aims at increasing the benefits of the work and contributions of the Council of Europe as well as strengthening its political role and visibility both at regional and international levels.


In recent years, the Council has iniated a number of activities for North Africa and the Middle East to share its experiences on human rights, democratization and the rule of law norms and standards.


In 2019, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Council of Europe (May 5, 1949) is celebrated both in the Council of Europe and the member states.


Turkey’s Relations with the Council


The Council of Europe embodies Turkey’s first institutional tie with Europe after World War II. Turkey was invited to the organization as a founding member in August 1949.


Since the inception of the Council of Europe, Turkey contributed to the common efforts aiming at taking Europe out of the post-war psychology as well as achieving reunification. Turkey supported the accession of the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria to the Council of Europe following World War II. Turkey has actively upheld the idea of European integration at intergovernmental and parliamentary platforms. Turkish parliamentarians participated at the PACE since its establishment and contributed to the common European identity and vision. (Detailed information about Turkey’s relations with the Council of Europe can be found at Human Rights in Turkey/Council of Europe subheading)