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02 Aug 2022

The future role of the Council of Europe: ENNHRI submits recommendations to High-Level Reflection Group

Earlier this year, the Council of Europe established a High-Level Reflection Group to develop its response to the new challenges and geopolitical context that have emerged following the armed attack on Ukraine. ENNHRI welcomes its creation and in a submission to the Group outlines recommendations for the Council of Europe, including on enabling meaningful contributions by National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and ENNHRI.

Firstly, ENNHRI calls on the Council of Europe to further integrate and support independent national actors and their European networks, such as NHRIs and ENNHRI, in strategies and actions to build greater unity between Council of Europe Member States in a Europe shaken by the war in Ukraine.

The Council of Europe should become more transparent and accessible for NHRIs and support their work at national level more consistently. Considering the current context, it should also build on the added value and relevance of NHRIs and ENNHRI in situations of conflict and post-conflict and in promoting and protecting rights in non-government controlled areas and other disputed territories.  

Secondly, ENNHRI recommends that the Council of Europe ensures systematic follow-up by the Committee of Ministers on violations of human rights, democracy and rule of law in Member States. This should be based on each State’s record of implementing European Court of Human Rights’ judgments and recommendations from Council of Europe independent monitoring bodies. The process should allow NHRIs and civil society to submit independent reports on their national situation. This is already the case in United Nations intergovernmental processes, such as the Universal Periodic Review.

Finally, ENNHRI calls for a comprehensive Council of Europe strategy – backed by adequate resources – for implementing the European Convention on Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights’ judgments. NHRIs and civil society have vast potential in both areas. Ways to unlock this include requiring and encouraging governments to involve NHRIs and civil society in the implementation of judgments, and to increase Council of Europe cooperation programmes which support capacity-building and NHRI peer learning in this area.

Read the full submission here.

Learn more about the Council of Europe’s landmark 2021 Recommendation on NHRIs.

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