Winter Session: Finnish President to address the Assembly

Strasbourg, 14.01.2019 – On the occasion of the Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg (21-25 January 2019), the President of Finland will deliver a speech.

In addition, the Finnish Foreign Minister will present the Communication from the Committee of Ministers and the Organisation’s Secretary General will address the Assembly.

The Assembly will hold a joint debate on public service media in the context of disinformation and propaganda and media freedom as a condition for democratic elections. It will also discuss Internet governance and human rights.

During its session, PACE is due to update guidelines for fair referendums and will examine the compatibility of Sharia law with the European Convention on Human Rights. It is also invited to assess if withdrawing nationality as a measure to combat terrorism is a human rights-compatible approach and it will discuss the promotion of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.

Other debates will focus on fighting impunity by targeted sanctions in the case of Sergei Magnitsky and others, ensuring better follow-up to recommendations by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and the progress of PACE’s monitoring procedure in 2018, together with periodic reviews of the honouring of obligations by Iceland and Italy.

A second joint debate will focus on discrimination in access to employment and the need for a disability-inclusive workforce.

Two urgent debates have been requested, one on “Open Russian aggression against Ukraine: disruption of the peace process and a threat to European security” and a second one on “the worsening situation of opposition politicians in Turkey: what to do to protect their fundamental rights in a Council of Europe member State?”.

At a short ceremony in the plenary on 21 January just before 1 pm, PACE members will pledge to take action in their national parliaments to eradicate sexism, harassment and violence against women, following the initiative by the Assembly’s President #NotInMyParliament.

The Assembly will decide its final agenda on the opening day of the session.

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Draft agenda

Monday 21 January
• Election of the President of the Assembly
• Election of the Vice-Presidents of the Assembly
• Progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee
• Observation of the presidential election in Georgia (28 October and 28 November 2018)
• Observation of the early parliamentary elections in Armenia (9 December 2018)
• Free debate

Tuesday 22 January
• [Possibly] Elections for Judges to the European Court of Human Rights
• Updating guidelines to ensure fair referendums in Council of Europe member States and statement by Gianni Buquicchio, President of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission)
• Communication from the Committee of Ministers presented by Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
• Communication from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe presented by Thorbjørn Jagland
• Sergei Magnitsky and beyond – fighting impunity by targeted sanctions
• Compatibility of Sharia law with the European Convention on Human Rights: can States Parties to the Convention be signatories to the “Cairo Declaration”?

Wednesday 23 January
• Joint debate
- Media freedom as a condition for democratic elections
- Public service media in the context of disinformation and propaganda
• Address by Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland
• Internet governance and human rights
• Joint debate
- Discrimination in access to employment
- For a disability-inclusive workforce

Thursday 24 January
• [Possibly] Debate under urgent procedure or current affairs debate
• The progress of the Assembly's monitoring procedure (January-December 2018) and the periodic review of the honouring of obligations by Iceland and Italy
• Promoting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities

Friday 25 January
• Withdrawing nationality as a measure to combat terrorism: a human rights-compatible approach?
• Improving follow-up to CPT recommendations: enhanced role of the Parliamentary Assembly and of national parliaments
• Progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee (continued)


Practical information

Live web stream: The session is streamed live on PACE’s website.
Twitter: #PACEwinter2019
Press conferences: Press conferences will be announced on the spot. They are streamed live over the web.
For TV planning units: audiovisual facilities: videos in broadcast quality summing up PACE highlights can be downloaded for free. Contact: TVCoord@coe.int
For press accreditation: Directorate of Communication, please fill in the form
Further details: see the Assembly's website.
Contact: PACE Communication Division, tel. +33 3 88 41 31 93; pace.com@coe.int