Doc. 10681

22 September 2005

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights – stock-taking and perspectives

Motion for a resolution

presented by Mr Arabadjiev and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

1.        The first Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights’ term of office is soon to expire and the Assembly is tasked to elect a new Commissioner during its October 2005 part-session. This presents a good opportunity, both for the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers, to take stock and evaluate the work carried out by the first office-holder of this important Council of Europe institution.

2.       The Office of Commissioner for Human Rights was established in 1999 by Committee of Ministers Resolution (99) 50. The latter also defined the Commissioner’s mandate. Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles was elected Commissioner, for a non-renewable six-year term, by the Parliamentary Assembly in September 1999 and he took up functions on 15 October 1999.

3.        Article 3 of Resolution (99) 50 stipulates that the Commissioner shall submit an annual report to the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly without giving any indication as to its form or content. Mr Gil-Robles has to date submitted four annual reports. The last one, covering the period of January to December 2003, was issued in December 2004 and has been sent to the Assembly’s Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee for report.

4.       The Assembly has only once responded - in the form of a written text - to an annual report of the Commissioner. In Recommendation 1640 (2004), based on a report of its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights with respect to the Commissioner’s 3rd annual report, the Assembly resolved, inter alia, to take appropriate follow-up action to the Commissioner’s reports.

5.        Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), opened for signature in May 2004, provides that in all cases before a Chamber or the Grand Chamber, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights may submit written comments and take part in hearings. However positive this development is, it still falls short of the Assembly’s calls, contained in Recommendations 1606 (2003) and 1640 (2004), to amend the Convention so as to enable the Commissioner, when appropriate, to bring cases before the European Court of Human Rights (actio popularis). In Recommendation 1640 (2004) the Assembly also reiterated its call, previously made in Opinion 210 (1999), on the Committee of Ministers to review the terms of reference of the Commissioner, This review is yet to be carried out.

6.        According to the Action Plan adopted at the Council of Europe’s Third Summit in May 2005, member States undertook to strengthen the institution of the Commissioner for Human Rights, which has proven its effectiveness, by providing the necessary means for the Commissioner to fulfil his/her functions, particularly in the light of the entry into force of Protocol No. 14, ECHR.

7.        The Assembly therefore decides to assess the first Commissioner’s activity, to analyse the current position of the institution within Council of Europe human rights protection mechanism and to consider the possible avenues to reinforce it, in particular with regard to the forms of co-operation with the Assembly.

Signed 1:

ARABADJIEV, Alexander, Bulgaria, SOC

ATEŞ, Abdülkadir, Turkey, SOC

CILEVIČS, Boriss, Latvia, SOC

EXNER, Václav, Czech Republic, UEL

GARDETTO, Jean-Charles, Monaco, EPP/CD

GROSS, Andreas, Switzerland, SOC

IVANOV, Sergei, Estonia, ALDE

JOVAŠEVIĆ, Ljubiša, Serbia and Montenegro, EPP/CD

JURGENS, Erik, Netherlands, SOC

TKÁČ, Vojtech, Slovakia, SOC

WOHLWEND, Renate, Liechtenstein, EPP/CD

1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group