Civil Society Summit on the Council of Europe Reforms Planned for 28 February – 1 March 2023
CURE – Campaign to Uphold Rights in Europe, an initiative of 15 well-known human rights organisations from all over Europe, and the Conference of International NGOs of the Council of Europe officially announce the start of preparations for a first ever Council of Europe (CoE) Civil Society Summit. The event is convened to adopt recommendations for strengthening the Council and making it more effective, addressed to the 4th CoE Summit of Heads of State and Government on 16-17 May 2023 in Reykjavík, Iceland.
The Civil Society Summit, planned for 28 February – 1 March 2023 in The Hague (Netherlands) will discuss the challenges posed by Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine and increasing authoritarianism and disrespect for democratic standards, the rule of law and human rights across Europe, which require the Council of Europe’s work to be stepped up and made more effective. The Summit aims at developing concrete recommendations on how to improve the Council in light of these challenges.
The Council of Europe has developed the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and a series of other treaties, which constitute the cornerstones of the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic governance in CoE member states and provide the framework upon which other regional rights protection systems, including that of the European Union, are built. However, their implementation needs to be radically improved to ensure the effective defence of these values. Besides, the CoE’s transparency and the possibilities for civil society to meaningfully contribute to the work of the organisation should be strengthened, too.
A High-Level Reflection Group created by the CoE Secretary General issued a report on the future role of the Council of Europe in October 2022. The Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) is in the process of defining its views on this matter, and member states’ representatives have started preparing for the official Summit. The Civil Society Summit will consolidate related civil society input and launch an appeal to decision-makers in the CoE member states on key steps towards a more impactful and inclusive organisation.
The Civil Society Summit will be held just ahead of a meeting of the Standing Committee of the PACE, planned for 2-3 March 2023 in The Hague, allowing for interaction with PACE members and representatives of other Council of Europe bodies. The event will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Congress of Europe, which took place in The Hague in 1948 and played an important role in the emergence of both the Council of Europe and the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the European Union.
The convening organisations are aiming for a diverse and geographically balanced representation of civil society voices interested in the protection of human rights, rule of law and democracy in the Council of Europe area. There will also be opportunities to provide an input for discussions for other civil society organisations and stakeholders.