Doc. 8431

2 June 1999

Relations with the United Nations

Report

Political Affairs Committee

Rapporteur:        Mrs Hanne Severinsen, Denmark, Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

Summary

The Council of Europe, as a regional paneuropean organisation, is in a position to make a major contribution to the United Nations' work on the strengthening of democratic security on the European continent, especially in those fields where its expertise is well recognised: the rule of law, human rights, social and economic rights and parliamentary democracy.

However, at present the Council of Europe and its work are little known within the United Nations.

The report therefore recommends to the Committee of Ministers to make full use of the possibilities offered by the Council of Europe’s observer status with the United Nations General Assembly.

Thus, putting co-operation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly would be a step in the right direction.

I.       Draft recommendation

1.       The Assembly recalls its Recommendations 1252 (1994) on the relations between the Council of Europe and the United Nations and 1367 (1998) on the reform of the United Nations, aiming, in particular, at promoting co-operation between the two organisations.

2.       Reiterating the validity of the proposals contained in these recommendations, the Assembly regrets that the Committee of Ministers has not given any substantial follow-up to them, mainly as regards recognising the Council of Europe's status as a regional organisation in the meaning of the United Nations Charter, presenting a common position of the Council of Europe member states in the United Nations General Assembly and ensuring Council of Europe representation at the United Nations.

3.       The Assembly considers that the current developments in Kosovo and the inability of the UN Security Council to force the Serb and Yugoslav authorities to abide by its relevant resolutions clearly demonstrate the need for a more active role of regional organisations in preventing and solving conflicts.

4.       In this connection, the Council of Europe, by providing a legal framework for the protection of human rights and supervising the monitoring of the obligations and commitments stemming from membership of the Organisation, can contribute effectively to strengthening democratic security in Europe.

5.       The Assembly underlines that the Council of Europe can also substantially contribute to the work of the United Nations in fields where its expertise is well recognised, in particular as regards building pluralistic democracies based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights.

6.       Accordingly, the Assembly re-affirms the necessity to step up the co-operation between the Council of Europe and the United Nations with a view to making better use of available resources and avoiding duplication.

7.       The Assembly considers it essential that a debate on co-operation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe be included on the agenda of the 1999 United Nations General Assembly.

8.       The Assembly stresses the need to ensure increased parliamentary participation in the work of the United Nations and welcomes, in this context, the increasing co-operation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

9.       The Parliamentary Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.       hold a prior debate on questions of high importance to the Council of Europe which are on the agenda of the UN General Assembly with a view to adopting a common position to be presented in the United Nations General Assembly and its committees by its Chairman's representative, in preference from the observer seat attributed to the Council of Europe in the General Assembly ;

ii. ensure the presence of a Council of Europe representative at the UN General Assembly when questions of high importance for the Council of Europe are discussed;

iii.       asks its Chairman to :

a.       formally propose that the item "co-operation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe" be included on the agenda of the 1999 session of the United Nations General Assembly;

b. instruct its representative with the United Nations:

      i. to ensure co-ordination and consultations among the Council of Europe member states' representatives in New York on questions of high importance to the Council of Europe which are on the agenda of the General Assembly, with a view to presenting a common position on such issues;

      ii. to provide material assistance to representatives of the Council of Europe participating in the work of the UN General Assembly;

      iii. to provide assistance in distributing selected Council of Europe documents in the form of UN General Assembly documents;

iv.       encourage and further develop co-operation between the Council of Europe and various bodies and specialised agencies of the United Nations ;

v.       call on member states to increase the participation of parliamentarians in their national delegation to the UN General Assembly.

II.       Draft order

1.       The Assembly resolves to participate in the conference of speakers and presidents of all parliaments of the world to take place in New York in 2000 on the occasion of the Summit of Heads of State and Governments of the United Nations. Alongside with this Conference, a meeting of all parliamentarians from the Council of Europe member states present should be organised.

2.       The Assembly instructs its Bureau to discuss with the Inter-Parliamentary Union the possibility of IPU's assistance in :

i.       organising meetings of parliamentarians of Council of Europe member states in New York participating in the work of the UN General Assembly as members of their national delegations ;

ii.       distributing selected Assembly documents in the United Nations.

3.       Recalling its Order No. 500 (1994) instructing its Political Affairs Committee to hold a meeting of its Sub-Committee on Relations with the United Nations in principle once a year in New York on the occasion of the UN General Assembly, the Assembly confirms that this instruction, henceforth, applies to the Sub-Committee on Relations with Non-Member Countries.

III.       Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur

A.       Introduction

1.       This report is intended to examine the current situation of relations between the two organisations, with a view to stepping up co-operation between them and to raising the Council of Europe's visibility at the United Nations. The Rapporteur also wishes to emphasise the need to promote co-operation in order to make better use of the available resources and avoid duplication, both organisations often undertaking similar or complementary activities in the same geographical sectors.

2.       This report follows on from the previous ones on "relations between the Council of Europe and the United Nations" (Doc. 7178, October 1994) and on "reform of the United Nations" (Doc. 8052, April 1998). The comprehensive nature of these reports makes it unnecessary for me to go back over the historical context of the relations between Council of Europe and United Nations.

3.       During preparation of this report, the Sub-Committee on Relations with Non-Member Countries travelled to New York. Its visit, from 26 to 28 October 1998, gave sub-committee members the opportunity to meet senior UN officials and diplomatic representatives of those Council of Europe member states which are members of the United Nations Security Council, as well as the ambassadors of Greece and Hungary, in their respective capacities as the incumbent and the subsequent holder of the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. They were also able, during their stay, to follow some of the work of the 53rd Session of the General Assembly and to attend the meeting of members of parliament organised by the IPU on 26 October 1998.

B.       Texts adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

4.       The Assembly held an initial debate on the need to promote co-operation between the Council of Europe and the United Nations in 1994,1 at the end of which Recommendation 1252 (1994) was adopted. The Assembly emphasised the importance of co-ordination of Council of Europe member states' positions at the United Nations in those fields, which are within the Council of Europe's remit, especially in the human rights field.

5.       The Assembly also, in the Recommendation, invited the Chairman-in-Office of the Committee of Ministers "to organise periodic meetings in New York of the permanent representatives to the United Nations of the member states, in particular in the run-up to the sessions of the General Assembly, in order to discuss the issues affecting both organisations, harmonise their positions and co-ordinate their activities, particularly in the field of human rights".

6.       In application of Order No. 500 (1994) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, adopted at the same debate, the Political Affairs Committee drew up a report covering the political challenges facing the United Nations and its necessary restructuring (Doc. 8052). In Recommendation 1367 (1998) on reform of the United Nations, adopted on 22 April 1998, the Assembly expressed wholehearted support for the reform in progress at the United Nations, for all the structural reforms put forward by the Secretary General in July 1997 and for the subsequent related resolutions of the General Assembly. The Parliamentary Assembly said that this UN reform was "an opportunity to review and strengthen co-operation with the Council of Europe".

7.       The Assembly also recommended that the Committee of Ministers "examine practical possibilities for the Council of Europe, including the Parliamentary Assembly, to be effectively present at the United Nations General Assembly's sessions". It reiterated its wish for a common Council of Europe position to be put forward in New York and resolved "to step up its efforts to establish closer contacts with the United Nations — through regular contacts between its committees and relevant United Nations bodies and specialised agencies".

8.       Finally, the observer's seat in the United Nations General Assembly (granted in 1989) has to date remained empty, largely for lack of resources sufficient to guarantee appropriate participation. The Parliamentary Assembly has several times invited the Committee of Ministers to "find a pragmatic solution enabling the Council of Europe to be represented in New York" (Recommendations 1252 (1994) and 1367 (1998)), and has received no reply of substance to date.

9.       In its reply to Recommendation 1367 (1998), the Committee of Ministers, while acknowledging the importance of close co-operation between the two organisations,2 did not expressly recognise the Council of Europe's status as a regional organisation within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. However, Europe needs the regional organisations, which are capable of intervening in crises like the present one in Kosovo.

10.       The participation of a high-level representative of the secretariat in part of the work of the Third Committee (social, humanitarian and cultural) to which the Committee of Ministers refers in the same reply to Recommendation 1367 (1998) does not permit in-depth co-operation between the two organisations. Proper co-ordination is needed if the Council of Europe is to present a common standpoint to the United Nations.

11.       Furthermore, the Committee of Ministers has taken no action of substance on the Parliamentary Assembly's proposals concerning the practical possibilities of ensuring Council of Europe representation and effectively raising the Council of Europe's visibility in the General Assembly of the United Nations. The only way to effectively raise the Council of Europe's visibility is to make certain relevant Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly documents available to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

C.       Relations between the two organisations

1.       The situation in Kosovo

12.       The development of the situation in Kosovo and the inability of the Security Council to persuade the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities to accept its Resolutions clearly demonstrates the need to increase the role of the regional organisations. As Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, pointed out on 24 March this year, "where contributing to peacekeeping and international security is concerned, Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations confers an important role on the regional organisations".3

13.       In this context, in its most widely acknowledged fields of competence, such as the rule of law, human rights and pluralist democracy, the Council of Europe, with its pan-European dimension and its unique experience, is in a position to make an important contribution to the efforts of the United Nations to strengthen democratic security on the European continent.

14.       The Council of Europe's current commitment to building and maintaining democratic security on the European continent makes this unique pan-European organisation a choice partner on this continent. It is therefore important to develop close co-operation on peace and international security between the United Nations on the one hand and the Council of Europe as a European regional organisation on the other.

2.       Intergovernmental co-operation

i.       United Nations’ Agencies

15.       Co-operation between the Council of Europe and United Nations has been very much stepped up since 1997. It began in 1951, under an agreement between the Council of Europe and the secretariat of the United Nations, which has been updated, with further provisions on co-operation and liaison being added in 1971. Similar agreements have been concluded with a number of specialised agencies and organisations. On 17 October 1989, the United Nations General Assembly granted the Council of Europe observer status in the General Assembly (Resolution 44/6).

16.       Exchanges of relevant information and documents about each of the institutions have continued. It should not be forgotten that the Council of Europe has, since 1953, maintained relations with various bodies and specialised agencies of the United Nations in the form of exchanges of documents and publications.

17.       Mutual interest in specific areas has manifested itself in active participation in various Council of Europe and United Nations activities.

18.       Co-operation between the Council of Europe and United Nations has developed in several spheres, especially in that of the promotion of human rights and the protection of refugees. The Council of Europe has forged links with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation), Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), ILO (International Labour Organisation), Unep (United Nations Environment Programme), UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development).

19.       In practice, co-operation has been particularly stepped up with the UNHCR (High Commissioner for Refugees), the UNHCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in Geneva.

20.       The UNHCR and Council of Europe are endeavouring to increase co-operation in the fields of refugees, asylum and associated migration problems, each according to their respective mandates.

      ii.       High-level tripartite meetings

21.       In 1994, on the initiative of the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the holding of high-level tripartite meetings became established between the Office of the United Nations in Geneva, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, meetings at which information may be exchanged and the co-ordination of activities in common areas of activity promoted, particularly in the reform process in the countries of central and eastern Europe, the combating of international crime, racism and intolerance and the refugee problem.

22.       These meetings are used to exchange information and are intended to improve practical co-operation, drawing on the knowledge and skills of all the parties so as to achieve synergy in the political, humanitarian, social and economic spheres.

23.       As well as these high-level tripartite meetings, the three organisations hold meetings of experts focusing on specific countries or regions, such as the Caucasian republics (November 1997) and Albania (April 1998).

24.       The eighth informal annual tripartite meeting took place in Strasbourg on
12 February 1999.

25.       The meeting agenda concentrated on the situation and developments in south-eastern Europe, the main points covered being:

      —th       e Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), especially Kosovo;—

      —Ge       orgia, especially Abkhazia and South Ossetia.26

26.       Participants also approved the conclusions of the meeting of 11 February 1999 of an ad hoc group of experts on electronic information exchange. In order to fulfil the three organisations' commitment to exchange information regularly and to improve working links among themselves, it was agreed to give direct access to staff working on these issues, and to facilitate access to public documents on Internet sites.

      iii.       The third meeting between the United Nations and regional organisations

27.       The United Nations Secretary General convened the third high-level meeting between the United Nations and regional organisations at United Nations Headquarters on 28 and 29 July 1998. The theme of the meeting was "co-operation for conflict prevention".

28.       The two previous meetings, held in 1994 and 1996, had focused on the principles and methods of co-operation between the United Nations and regional organisations in the field of peace and security.

29.       The meeting was attended by representatives of fifteen regional organisations, and it is important to note that the Council of Europe was invited for the first time. It was represented by the Secretary General.

30.       Drawing on the arrangements agreed at the previous two meetings, participants in the 1998 meeting considered the scope for interaction and co-operation between the United Nations and regional organisations in the field of conflict prevention.

31.       On the agenda for the meeting were:

      —th       e challenge of early warning and conflict prevention in the twenty-first century;—

      —th       e ability of the United Nations and regional organisations to meet this challenge and practical arrangements for co-operation between the United Nations and regional organisations in the field of early warning and conflict prevention.32

32.       Participants agreed that conflicts were increasingly between states, and that the international community needed to adapt to this new fact. And several challenges remained to be dealt with:

      —th       e need to establish a "culture of prevention" within the international community, so as to draw attention to the importance of prevention;—

      —th       e need to list the structural causes of conflicts, including socioeconomic factors, the absence of the rule of law and a failure to respect human rights;—

      —th       e need to find means of encouraging member states to apply their political will to supporting conflict prevention and, more specifically in this context, the need for greater commitment by civil society;—

      —th       e need for better dissemination of information among all the organisations and member states;—

      —th       e need to develop systematic prevention machinery;—

      —th       e need to find appropriate resources to back up effective conflict prevention.33

33.       The new United Nations philosophy where conflict resolution is concerned places great emphasis on prevention. This is entirely consistent with the Council of Europe's efforts to promote democratic security. It is important here to point out that the Council of Europe's conflict prevention skills are based on the setting of standards, co-operation and supervision, both legal and political.

34.        The Rapporteur should like to emphasise here that the unparalleled machinery of the Council of Europe providing legal protection of human rights and supervising the honouring of the obligations stemming from membership of the organisation is an effective way of strengthening democratic security as a means of preventing conflicts.

3.       Co-operation by the Parliamentary Assembly

35.       Several committees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe maintain ongoing links with specialised agencies of the United Nations.4

36.       As well as engaging in this co-operation, the Assembly regularly expresses its viewpoints and positions in recommendations or resolutions on matters of concern to the Security Council.

37.       From 26 to 28 October 1998, the Sub-Committee on Relations with Non-Member Countries visited United Nations headquarters in New York.

38.       This was the sub-committee's second such visit, the first having taken place in December 1993.

39.       It is highly regrettable that such visits are not organised more regularly, for they could, if the case arises, enable a report on matters discussed in the General Assembly and of direct interest to the Council of Europe to be submitted to our Assembly.

40.       As mentioned in paragraph 3, the members of the sub-committee were able to meet senior UN officials, as well as diplomatic representatives of Council of Europe member states which are also members of the United Nations Security Council.

41.       The report of the meetings of the sub-committee held during its stay in New York is at Appendix II.

D.       Rapporteur's proposals

42.       Having described the relations between the United Nations and the Council of Europe, and in the light of the sub-committee's recent visit to New York, the Rapporteur should like to put forward some proposals with a view to making co-operation between the two organisations more substantial.

43.       While the representatives of both organisations seem agreed on the importance and benefits of intensive and effective co-operation between the Council of Europe and the United Nations, member states evidently need to go further to put this co-operation into practice.

44.       It is regrettable that co-operation between the UN and the Council of Europe does not appear on the agenda of the General Assembly and is not discussed on the basis of a report by the Secretary General of the United Nations, whereas many other regional organisations do feature. Moreover, the Parliamentary Assembly and Committee of Ministers texts concerning questions of interest to the United Nations are not distributed in the form of General Assembly documents, the method usually used by many other international bodies to convey information.

45.       There is no co-ordination and very little communication, between the representatives at the UN of Council of Europe member states, who are usually not very well informed of the decisions of the Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly which might be of relevance to the debates of the Security Council and General Assembly.

46.       What is more, the representative of the country which holds the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers never speaks on behalf of the Council of Europe, which is not therefore represented in the same way as the European Union and the OSCE. He or she does not even do so within the third committee of the General Assembly, the one which deals with human rights and social affairs.

47.       Some of the above observations were already put forward in
Recommendations 1252 (1994) and 1367 (1998), but no proposal of substance has been made to date.

48.       In this context, the Rapporteur should like to put forward a number of immediate steps which should be taken to improve this situation. In particular,

49.       Reiterating the proposal referred to in the previous report, in 1994,5 the Rapporteur thinks that a flexible solution can be found to ensure the presence of the Council of Europe in New York. The Rapporteur suggests that: "the state holding the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers provide material assistance to facilitate the work of the representative of the Council of Europe in New York".

50.       In Recommendation 1367, adopted in April 1998, the Parliamentary Assembly took the view that the Council of Europe should be considered to be a regional organisation within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. It is encouraging that the Council was invited to participate in the third meeting between the UN and regional organisations, organised by the UN Secretary General in New York on 28 and 29 July 1998.

51.       Member states must, however, expressly acknowledge the Council of Europe's status as a regional organisation within the meaning of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter so that intensive and effective co-operation may get under way.

52.       In the face of the challenges of the twenty-first century, it is important for both organisations to co-ordinate the activities within their area of responsibility, to avoid duplication and to make the best use of the available resources.

53.       In a speech on "Europe's role in the world in the 21st century" last April, Mr Kofi Annan also highlighted the importance of the institutions which already embrace a wider Europe (such as the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) in combating the divisions in Europe that have led to the Balkan tragedies, pointing out that in these bodies "members and non-members of the European Union sit side by side, on equal terms".

54.       All the persons that the sub-committee met in New York seemed to agree that members of parliament should be involved in the work of the UN in one form or another. The participation of members of parliament in national delegations to the General Assembly nevertheless seems sufficient at this stage, and the reception given to the idea of giving them a more significant role by, for instance, setting up a permanent parliamentary structure within the United Nations system was not very favourable.

55.       A special mention should be accorded to the Permanent Representative of Chile, Ambassador Juan Somavia, who, inter alia, submitted the following proposals to the General Assembly debate on co-operation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU):

E.       Conclusions

56.       Its pan-European nature and unique experience of the legal protection of human rights and the fundamental liberties place the Council of Europe in a special position to be consulted by organisations such as the United Nations. The Council of Europe may make a major contribution in those fields where its expertise is well recognised: the rule of law, human rights, social and economic rights and parliamentary democracy.

57.       The crisis in Kosovo and the inability of the Security Council to persuade the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities to accept its resolutions have demonstrated the need to increase the role of the regional organisations in co-operation with the action of the United Nations to prevent and settle conflicts in Europe.

58.       In spite of the considerable differences in membership of the two organisations, the Rapporteur feels that benefits will accrue to both from an improvement in relations between the Council of Europe and the United Nations through the stepping up of co-operation.

59.       The Council of Europe has an extremely low visibility at the moment, with very little known about its work, within the UN. The structural reforms proposed by the Committee of Wise Persons could provide an opportunity both to define new foundations for improved co-operation between the two organisations and to take the necessary measures.

60.       As we have seen, the observer's seat in the General Assembly has never been systematically used. Furthermore, the lack of co-ordination and information and the absence of any common position put forward by the member states of the Council of Europe to the United Nations General Assembly impede effective co-operation between the two organisations.

61.       The Rapporteur believes that it is surely possible to find a formula enabling the Council of Europe to have a presence in New York when matters of interest to it are discussed there, without this placing a weighty financial burden on the Council or being detrimental to the functioning of its Secretariat. This is the aim of the proposals put forward in this report.

62.       In this context, the Rapporteur considers that it is necessary that the representative to the UN of the country which holds the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe take the initiative to organise consultation meetings between the member states of the Council of Europe on subjects of common interests which are on the agenda of the General Assembly.

63.       Member states must realise the importance of the measures, which need to be taken rapidly so as to step up this co-operation, and must acquire the means to achieve their shared aims.

APPENDIX 1

Relations between the Council of Europe

and

United Nations Organisations

Extracts of the report on the Activities

of the Council of Europe

1996-97

Activities of the Council of Europe in 1996

b.       The United Nations system

General information

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE)

Habitat II

International Law Commission of the United Nations

United Nations Population Fund

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco)

Education

Higher education

Mass media

World Health Organisation (WHO)

International Labour Organisation (ILO)

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

International Monetary Fund/World Bank

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

Information exchange

Activities of the Council of Europe in 1997

b.       The United Nations system

General information

—       53rd Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (March, Geneva);

—       41st Session of the UN Commission on Women's Status (10-21 March, New York);

—       6th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
(28-30 April, Vienna);

—       3rd Committee of the United Nations General Assembly at its 52nd Session (24-28 November, New York);

—       meeting of the Steering Committee of the UNDP on Support for democracy, governance and participants (DGP) (13-14 September, Bratislava).

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE)

United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

UNCHR had regular contacts with the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography of the Council of Europe (participating in meetings and colloquies organised by the committee, exchanges of information, ad hoc consultations on problems of common interest, etc).

—       1st and 2nd expert meetings on citizenship legislation in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 12-14 March and 17-19 December;

—       10th and 11th meetings of the Working Group of the Committee of Experts on Nationality (CJ-NA-GT), 28-30 April and 5-7 November;

—       Demo-Droit multilateral meeting on practical issues relating to the granting of citizenship, 13-14 November;

—        CAHAR plenary sessions and working groups.

The UNHCR Office in Warsaw took part in a workshop on "European standards for the protection of refugees' rights" in Kazimiers Dolny, in Poland from 12 to 14 December, organised in co-operation with the Lublin Regional Advocates Council. A seminar for non-governmental organisations in Azerbaijan on "The protection of human rights in Europe" was organised in co-operation between the Council of Europe and the UNHCR in Baku on 25 and 26 July. In Bosnia and Herzegovina a workshop was organised together with the UNHCR for Bosnian lawyers working in the UNHCR Legal Advice Centres, focusing on selected aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights. Similar meetings were organised in Athens and Komotini, Greece.

Mr Hans de Jonge, Head of External Relations, represented the Council of Europe on the Nansen Committee, which confers the Fridtjof Nansen award. Following a proposal made on 2 September by a representative of the Council of Europe at the Nansen Committee meeting, the 1997 Nansen medal was awarded to Sister Hermana Joannes Klas.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco)

Activities in the field of equality between women and men

Education

Higher education

Mass media

Unicef

World Health Organisation (WHO)

—       meeting on the activities concerning blood security in central and eastern countries, 18-19 February in Copenhagen;

—       consultation on the development of patients' rights in Europe, 18-19 August, Gothenburg;

—       Regional Committee, 15-19 September, Istanbul;

—       Workshop on Healthy Prisons, 1 October, Helsinki;

—       meeting of the Task Force on Transplantation, 9-10 October, Annecy;

—       consultation on xenotransplantation, 28-30 October, Geneva;

—       Workshop "Inequity and Health: from Research to Policies", 9-14 November, Balatonlelle, Hungary;

—       consultation on Health and Human Rights, 4-5 December, Geneva;

—       Conference on Aids and Tuberculosis in Prisons, 13 December, Warsaw.

—       20th meeting of the Select Committee of Experts on Automation and Quality Assurance in Blood Transfusion Services (SP-R-GS), 407 February, Innsbruck;

—       hearing organised by the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities in order to prepare a report on the state of the environment in Russia, 10 December;

—       4th European Ministerial Conference on Equality between Women and Men,
13-14 November in Istanbul;

—       42nd meeting of the European Health Committee (CDSP), 25-26 November, Strasbourg;

—       The International Information Forum on National Policies in the Field of Equality between Women and Men, 27-29 November, Tallinn.

Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field

Pompidou Group

—       The Pompidou Group Ministerial Meeting, Tr°mso, 15-16 May;

—       Meetings of Permanent Correspondents;

—       the Management Committee of the Demand Reduction Staff Training Programme;

—       the Committee of Experts in the Epidemiology of Drug Abuse;

—       the Working Group on Prevention of Drug Abuse.

International Labour Organisation (ILO)

Migration

—       Specialist Group on Integration and Community Relations (MG-S-INT), Strasbourg, 24-25 November;

—       Seminar on political and social participation of immigrants through consultative bodies (Strasbourg, 26-28 November).

Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field

Pompidou Group

World Bank

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

Information exchange

—       working documents produced in New York beginning 1993;

—       parliamentary documents produced in Geneva;

—       all the resolutions and decisions taken by the United Nations General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council from 1946, and

—       the United Nations treaty collection.

APPENDIX II

Summary account of the meetings held in New York

from 26 to 28 October 1998

Rapporteur: Mrs SEVERINSEN, Denmark, LDR

I.       Meetings with UN Officials organised by the IPU

1.       The minutes of these meetings are available as a separate document, prepared by the IPU.

II.       Meeting with diplomatic representatives of Council of Europe countries which are members of the UN Security Council, and with the Ambassador of Hungary, as the representative of the incoming Chairman of the Committee of Ministers

2.       The Hungarian Ambassador said that during the Hungarian chairmanship his government had the firm intention to bring the two organisations closer together. The visit of the sub-committee was a welcome step in this direction. The Council of Europe could make a major contribution in areas in which its expertise is well recognised : rule of law, human rights, socio-economic rights and parliamentary democracy. The Council of Europe’s representation in New York should be more visible and should have more substance. A first step in this direction would be to have relevant Assembly and Committee of Minister’s documents circulated as documents of the General Assembly. Until now, the Council of Europe had mostly been mentioned in the context of the former Yugoslavia. Council of Europe’s monitoring procedure was very important, but could not easily be implemented within the UN system, which had 185 member states.

3.       The Portuguese Ambassador said that the Council of Europe had an important role in international organisations. He regretted that until now the observer seat in the General Assembly had not been used.

4.       The representative of Sweden said that target orientated meetings between the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe had started under the Swedish chairmanship of the OSCE. In the field of human rights co-operation between the two organisations already existed. There was a need for better co-ordination at national level and within ministries of foreign affairs.

5.       The representative of the Russian Federation stressed the Council of Europe’s contribution to the fight against corruption with legal means. Relations between the two organisations should be closer in the fields such as the fight against narcotics and the organised crime. Until now, the diplomatic representatives of the Council of Europe member states to the UN had never presented a common position.

6.       The representative of France explained the efforts of European members of the Security Council to bear pressure on the United States to pay their arrears. Common Council of Europe positions on issues discussed in the United Nations should be communicated to representatives of Council of Europe member states in New York sufficiently in advance to have them taken into account in the General Assembly debate. To have an impact, the Council of Europe should be very present and active on permanent basis.

7.       The representative of Slovenia said that the Council of Europe should go thoroughly through the General Assembly’s agenda and asked the country holding chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers to speak on its behalf. The participation of parliamentarians in national delegations at the General Assembly was very important.

III.       Meeting with the Under-Secretary General for political affairs Sir Kieran Prendergast

Kosovo

8.       The under-secretary commented on the agreement setting up the OSCE-led Kosovo Verification Mission. The 2 000 verificators would not enjoy any military protection. The question whether the existing UN Security Council resolutions were sufficient for a possible military action should be answered by the Security Council, which was solely responsible to interpret its own texts. These did not mention the use of all necessary means, which was the usual reference to a military action. China was against the Security Council’s involvement in the Kosovo crisis. Kosovo was a humanitarian consequence of a political crisis, which had to be resolved by political, not military means. The UN had been politically marginalised in this crisis. The international community did not want the UN to have a prominent role in peace-brokering efforts. The UN Secretary General had no mandate to report on political issues. The UN was ready to support all political solutions to the crisis. It called for the respect of the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, except if all parties agreed to the contrary.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

9.       The UN attached great importance to the accession of the country to the Council of Europe. The leverage was most effective before the accession. The Council of Europe should identify two or three particular thresholds (that is, laws to be amended), before the accession could go ahead. The recent elections had been conducted without any significant difficulties, but elections alone would not improve the situation.

Caucasus

10.       International organisations active in the same area should not compete with each other or duplicate efforts. In Georgia, the UN was present in Abkhazia, while the OSCE was active in South Ossetia.

11.       The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was not yet ripe for political solution. Azerbaijan was not satisfied with the Minsk process. Armenia was more in hurry to reach a settlement. The UN was aware that the Political Affairs Committee was preparing a hearing on Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan was irritated by the fact that ethnic Armenian representatives from Nagorno-Karabakh had been invited.

Cyprus

12.       The UN had been present on the island for decades, and it would inevitably be a part of any solution to the conflict. The United States were not disinterested, but their perspective was different, as it was perceived as a conflict between two allies. The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Dame Hercus was engaged in shuttle diplomacy to reduce tensions between the two communities, recently exacerbated by the missile crisis.

IV.       Meeting with Deputy Secretary General, Mrs Louise Frechette

13.       The reform of the UN system was not a central issue of the general assembly this year, as it was the case the year before, but it had not lost momentum. Its impact on the functioning of the organisation was already felt. There was a greater co-ordination.

14.       The parliamentary dimension of the UN work was very important. It had been developing on different levels — through the participation of parliamentarians in national delegations at the General Assembly and through the IPU. In the year 2000 the IPU would organise a conference of speakers of parliaments from all UN member states. The time was not yet ripe for a permanent UN parliamentary assembly.

V.       Meeting with Under Secretary General for Legal Affairs, Mr Hans Corell

15.       The recent decision to set up an international criminal court was a giant step forward in international efforts to ensure that nobody was above scrutiny. It was parliamentarians’ responsibility to raise public awareness of the importance of this event.

16.       A preparatory committee would be set up to prepare the rules of procedure and agree on the elements of the crime. There were still some open questions. The first meeting was expected in late February 1999. There would be five meetings in all. The target date for the signature of the agreement was June 2000. Then ratification in national parliaments would follow, and it was important to keep the momentum.

17.       The future court would not try everybody, but act as discouragement. Its procedure could also be triggered by the UN Security Council. The cost was at the moment difficult to estimate. The two ad hoc tribunals — for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda cost about US$ 100 million per year.

VI.       Meeting with the Chairman of the UN Security Council, UK Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock

18.       The current priorities of the UN Security Council were Kosovo and Iraq. In absolute terms, African subjects took most time. Afghanistan was also on the agenda.

19.       The use of force against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was only considered as a last resort. There was no consensus on this issue in the Security Council.

20.       The reform of the Security Council was a dilemma between efficiency and legitimacy. There was an emerging consensus to enlarge the membership with nine new members, bringing the total to twenty-four. There would be five new permanent members, Japan, Germany, a representative from the American continent, from Asia and from Africa, and four non-permanent members. Greater transparency was another objective of the on-going reform.

21.       The parliamentary dimension of the UN was of great importance. It was essential to involve parliamentarians to ensure the support of people for UN work. At the moment, there was no appropriate socket in the UN system in which the parliamentarians could plug in. A global UN parliamentary assembly was difficult to imagine. The UN was not a government, and it had no parliament.

22.       The EU member states were effectively co-ordinating their action in the UN, in particular outside the Security Council. The Central and East European countries had also been increasingly involved, although not in regular Friday meetings of EU permanent representatives. In the Security Council there was less co-ordination, although there was respect for agreed common security and foreign policy decisions.

23.       Member states owed US$ 2.5 billion to the UN budget. The United States alone owed 65% of this sum. The UN was not yet collapsing, but was less able to take important initiatives. The disagreement on arrears was with the US Congress and not the State Department or the general public, among which the approval rating for the UN and the Secretary General was between 60% and 70%.

24.       The fact that human rights were a universal concern was increasingly recognised. There was no consensus however, that the UN could intervene in intra-state conflicts and China was close to veto any action on Kosovo.

25.       The UN was in desperate shortage of effective levers to prevent problems. National parliaments were not in favour of allocating more money, hoping that problems would simply go away.

VII.       Meeting with Mr Ramcharam, Political Affairs Directorate on Algeria

26.       Early this year, the Secretary General issued a statement expressing his concern on humanitarian grounds about the situation in Algeria and called on the parties to establish a dialogue to put an end to violence.

27.       Although the Algerian Government reacted against such a dialogue, it finally accepted to receive a UN mission conducted by Mr Mario Soares, former President of Portugal. The purpose of that mission was to gather information on the situation in Algeria in order to provide the international community with greater clarity on that situation.

28.       The mission visited Algeria from 22 July to 4 August 1998 and met with President of the Republic, representatives of the government, parliament, political parties, judiciary, media and civil society as well as with survivors of massacres perpetuated by terrorists.

29.       The final report contains six concluding observations :

30.       The presidential election to be held in 1999 should not be considered as a surprise taking into account the opposition of the Algerian army to President Zeroual.

31.       Europe could play an important role in implementing the recommendations of the UN mission.

VIII.       Attendance of the session of the UN General Assembly

32.       Item 28 on the agenda : "Co-operation between the UN and the IPU". The resolution adopted by the General Assembly on this occasion is appended.

IX.       Meeting with the Chairman of the Third Committee, Ambassador Ali Hachani of Tunisia, and members of the Bureau

33.       The Third Committee was dealing with human rights, social and development issues. It had recently worked on a resolution on elderly people. Women issues, drugs and crime, rights of peoples to self-determination, racial discrimination, rights of the child.

34.       The Council of Europe’s work in the domain of the Third Committee was well known and respected. There had been no occasions, however, when a representative of the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe would address the Committee as it was often the case with countries representing the EU Presidency and the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE.

35.       The UN system for the protection of human rights was based on legal documents, such as the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These were binding and all had treaty bodies to monitor their respect.

36.       The UN Commission on Human Rights worked on the basis of country reports, through a highly confidential procedure of communication. The report on Kosovo was the only report dealing with a territory within a country.

37.       The right to self-determination had been developed during the period of decolonisation. There was no definition of this right, which could be applied today. It was a search in the upholding of the principles of good governance, self-administration, the respect of human rights within a respective country, the participation of people in the government of a respective country.

X.       Meeting with the Head of the Liaison Branch in the Office of the Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr Kevin Kennedy

38.       The Office for Humanitarian Affairs had about 60% of its staff in Geneva. One of its main tasks was inter-agency co-ordination.

Kosovo

39.       A mission assessing humanitarian needs and exploratory talks on the modalities of co-operation with the OSCE was presently in Kosovo. There was a clear distinction between the OSCE verification mission and humanitarian assistance.

40.       There were 200 000 internally displaced persons. Sixteen thousand dwellings had been rendered inhabitable. These were conservative estimates, based on visual identification. Fifty thousand persons were without any shelter. There had been great improvement in the situation since the signing of the agreement. Some 50 000 returned from the woods, while some 10 000 remained. It was essential to prevent any deterioration of the security situation.

41.       The humanitarian distribution centres, set up by the Serbian authorities, should not be supported. Albanians did not trust them, and there were reports of selling the humanitarian assistance.

42.       It should not be forgotten that Serbian population in Kosovo was also under threat.

43.       The agreement on the Kosovo Verification Mission had been concluded without the participation of the Albanians. There was no security for OSCE personnel.

Caucasus

44.       In 1993 the UN launched an emergency appeal for South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Less money than necessary had been collected.

45.       In Georgia the humanitarian situation was improving due to the economic recovery. This was not the case in Azerba´jan and Armenia, which were still entangled in a dispute on Nagorno-Karabakh.

46.       The UN humanitarian work in North Ossetia and Ingushetia was difficult, as the local authorities were not co-operative.

47.       There was a humanitarian appeal to collect money for 320 000 displaced persons from Chechnya. There was little co-operation from the authorities.

48.       There was an on-going programme for Meskhetian Turks.

49.       Security conditions for humanitarian workers in the region had nor ceased to deteriorate. Human and equipment losses were enormous.

XI.       Meeting with the President of the 53rd General Assembly, Dr D. Opertti, Foreign Minister of Uruguay

50.       The General Assembly had on its agenda reports on the co-operation with all regional bodies except the Council of Europe. A request to include this item on the agenda should be made by one or more member states on behalf of the Council of Europe. Relevant Council of Europe documents could be circulated as General Assembly documents if request was made to the President of the Assembly.

51.       The 53rd General Assembly continued efforts on the reform of the UN system. Proposals such as the enlargement of the Security Council, the reform of its rules of procedure, the right of the country concerned to participate in the work of the Security Council had been discussed.

Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee

Reference to Committee: Order No. 500 (1994)

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none

Draft recommendation and draft order unanimously adopted by the committee on 25 May  1999

Members of the committee : Mr Ruffy (Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Toshev (Vice-Chairman), MM Arzilli, Atkinson, Bßrsony, Behrendt, Bergqvist, Bj÷rck, Blaauw, Bloetzer, BŘhler, Daly, Davis, Demetriou, Dokle, Domljan, Dreyfus-Schmidt, Fico, Gjellerod, Gligoroski, Glotov, GŘl, Mrs Iotti (alternate : Mr Evangelisti), Mr Iwinski, Mrs Kautto, MM Kirilov, Krzaklewski (alternate : Mr Adamczyk), Kuzmickas (alternate : Mr Zingeris), Mrs Lentz-Cornette, MM Lopez Henares, Lupu, van der Maelen (alternate : Mr Clerfayt), Maginas, Martinez, Medeiros Ferreira, Meier, Micheloyiannis, Mota Amaral, Mutman, Nallet (alternate: Mr Baumel, Vice-Chairman), Nedelciuc, Mrs Nemcova, MM Neuwirth, Oliynyk, Pahor, Palmitjavila Ribo, Prusak, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, MM Schieder, Schloten, Schwimmer, Selva, Sinka, Mrs Smith, Mrs Stanoiu, Mrs Stepovß, MM Surjan, Thoresen, Timmermans, Urbain, Vella, Volcic, Zhebrovsky (alternate : Mr Lukin), N …………. (alternate : Mrs Gogoberidze).

N.B. The names of members present at the meeting are printed in italics

Secretaries of the committee: Mr Kleijssen, Mr Sich, Mrs Ruotanen, Ms Hugel


1

      Mrs Err's report "on relations between the Council of Europe and the United Nations", Doc. 7178.

2        Citing as an example "the practice of tripartite meetings between the Council of Europe, the UN and the OSCE (...) organised every year at high level (...) in order to promote co-ordination of activities in areas of common concern...". Reply of the Committee of Ministers to Recommendation 1367 (1998) on reform of the United Nations.

3        Statement by the UN Secretary General on NATO's military action against Yugoslavia, 24 March 1999.

4

      An overview of this co-operation over the past three years appears in Appendix I.

5