7 March 1994

Doc. 7037

1403-3/3/94-1-E

REPORT

on the honouring of commitments entered

into by new member states

(Rapporteur: Mr MASSERET,

France, Socialist Group)


Summary

      All member states of the Council of Europe are required to respect their obligations under the Statute, the European Convention on Human Rights, and all other conventions to which they are parties.

      In addition to these obligations, certain member states freely entered into specific commitments during the examination of their request for membership by the Assembly. In Order No. 488 (1993), the Assembly instructed its Political Affairs Committee and its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to monitor closely the honouring of these commitments.

      The Assembly considers that this monitoring process should be regarded as a stimulus and guidance for the consolidation of democracy in the new member states. However, persistent failure to honour commitments freely entered into will have consequences. Therefore, the Assembly calls upon the governments of new member states to ensure the rapid implementation of the commitments entered into when they joined the Council of Europe.

I. Draft resolution

1.       The Assembly observes that all member states of the Council of Europe are required to respect their obligations under the Statute, the European Convention on Human Rights and all other conventions to which they are parties.

2.       In addition to these obligations, the authorities of certain new member states freely entered into specific commitments on issues related to the basic principles of the Council of Europe during the examination of their request for membership by the Assembly.

3.       The main commitments concerned are explicitly referred to in the relevant opinions adopted by the Assembly.

4.       In Order No. 488 (1993), adopted on 29 June 1993, the Assembly instructed its Political Affairs Committee and its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to monitor closely the honouring of these commitments.

5.       It intends to examine the first of these reports, to be submitted as part of the Bureau's progress report to the Assembly, during the current session.

6.       The Assembly considers that this monitoring process should be regarded as a stimulus and guidance for the consolidation of democracy in the new member states.

7.       Persistent failure to honour commitments freely entered into will have consequences however. For this purpose, the Assembly could use the relevant provisions of the Council of Europe's Statute and of its own Rules of Procedure.

8.       The Assembly therefore calls upon the governments of new member states to ensure the rapid implementation of the commitments they entered into and to keep the Assembly fully informed of any measures taken in this respect.

II. Explanatory memorandum

by Mr MASSERET

1.       On 29 June 1993 the Assembly adopted Order No. 488 (1993) instructing "its Political Affairs Committee and Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to monitor closely the honouring of commitments entered into by the authorities of new member states and report to the Bureau at regular six-monthly intervals until all undertakings have been honoured".

2.       In the same order the Assembly expressed the view that "the honouring of these commitments is a condition for full participation of parliamentary delegations of new member states in its work".

3.       At a meeting on 2 July 1993 the Bureau of the Assembly stated that Order No. 488 applied to states having joined the Council of Europe since the creation of the special guest status by the Assembly on 11 May 1989 (Resolution 917 (1989)). A list of the states concerned is appended hereto, together with the main commitments entered into by these states, as contained in the opinions adopted by the Assembly. Other commitments are set out in the reports which led to the opinions.

4.       To carry out Order No. 488 (1993), Mr Reddemann, the Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee, proposed that the two committees involved set up ad hoc sub-committees composed of the chairmen concerned and the parliamentarians who had reported on the membership applications. Joint meetings and joint decisions were also suggested by Mr Reddemann. This proposal was justified in the light of Resolution 1015 (1993) on joint meetings of Assembly committees or sub-committees.

5.       However, the two committees concerned considered Order No. 488 separately:

      —th       e Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights asked Mr Binding, Rapporteur for Estonia, and Mr Schwimmer, Rapporteur for Slovakia, to submit preliminary reports on the question raised by Order No. 488. On 13 December 1993 the committee held an exchange of views on these reports, which were transmitted to the chairmen of the parliamentary delegations concerned for comments;—

      —th       e Committee on Political Affairs asked its Chairman, Mr Reddemann, on 3 December 1993 to contact his opposite number in the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in order to gauge the practical follow-up to be given to Order No. 488.6.

6.       A procedure needs to be decided on that will enable the Assembly to be informed in compliance with its order of 29 June 1993.

      In this regard a choice lies between two possibilities:

      —ei       ther the retention of the procedure already followed by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (that is appointment by each committee of a rapporteur, if possible the one already appointed for the membership applications);—

      —or       the setting up by the Political Affairs Committee of an ad hoc committee comprising the rapporteurs on accession. If the committee chaired by Lord Kirkhill were to adopt this latter procedure, joint meetings could be envisaged.In

      In any event, in order to respect the responsibility of both committees, the reports and document(s) drawn up would, whatever procedure was chosen, be discussed in each committee before being transmitted to the Bureau of the Assembly (Resolution 1015 (1993) authorises both committees to present a joint report to the Bureau in the event of unanimous agreement).

7.       Following a careful examination of the situation, taking into account the precedents, which had shown the difficulties of the joint procedure, and in an effort to achieve efficiency and clarity, the final proposal put forward is that:

      —th       e Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights be responsible for the report containing the necessary appraisal of the foundation and of the instruments of the state governed by the rule of law, and give its opinion on the basis of that report;—

      —th       e Political Affairs Committee be responsible for the report containing the appraisal of the actual functioning of the institutions and instruments of pluralist democracy, and give its opinion on the basis of that report.Th

The two committees' work schedules are co-ordinated.

8.       Apart from procedural questions, it is important to be clear about the aim of Order No. 488 so that there should be no ambiguity concerning the use to be made of it.

9.       A just application of Order No. 488 requires the spirit underlying it to be respected. Confronted with a new political situation in central and eastern Europe, our Assembly wished to reconcile the need to offer the "new democracies" a political perspective rapidly with the difficulties experienced by them in advancing from the dictatorship stage, with all its cultural and social effects, to the stage of pluralist democracy, not to mention the social difficulties.

10.       Order No. 488 essentially lays down a monitoring procedure which consolidates, strengthens and speeds up the steps which the states concerned have to take in the direction set by our Assembly. It is also intended to provide a stimulus; the new member states have actually entered quite freely and advisedly into the commitments they should now implement. The conditions and time-limits are a matter for the appraisal of the Assembly and our committee: that is the purpose of the report awaited.

11.       A different interpretation of Order No. 488 (1993) could give the impression that our Assembly has come up with a new type of status, that of conditional member state.

12.       In order to help the new member states to steer clear of the dangerous pitfalls encountered on the road to democracy, the Assembly is resolved to ensure, taking a clear-sighted but firm line, that Order No. 488 (1993) is complied with. Any persistent failures to honour commitments freely entered into would be penalised.APPENDIX

Main commitments entered into by new member states

as contained in the opinions adopted by the Assembly

Hungary

(excerpt from Opinion No. 153 (1990) adopted on 2 October 1990)

      "The Assembly notes the readiness of Hungary to guarantee the principle of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, which is demonstrated in particular by the new legislation already in force and in Hungary's firm intention to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights."

Poland

(excerpt from Opinion No. 154 (1990) adopted on 2 October 1990)

      The Assembly "takes note of the declared willingness of the Polish authorities to ratify, soon after their joining the Council of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights and recognise the right of individual application to the European Commission of Human Rights (Article 25 of the Convention) as well as the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Article 46)."

Bulgaria

(excerpt from Opinion No. 161 (1992) adopted on 5 May 1992)

      The Assembly "attaches great importance to the commitment expressed by the Bulgarian authorities to sign and ratify in 1992 the European Convention on Human Rights and also to recognise the right of individual application to the European Commission of Human Rights (Article 25 of the Convention) as well as the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Article 46)."

Lithuania

(excerpt from Opinion No. 168 (1993) adopted on 11 May 1993)

      The Assembly "attaches great importance to the commitment expressed by the Lithuanian authorities to sign and ratify the European Convention on Human Rights and also to recognise the right of individual application to the European Commission of Human Rights (Article 25 of the Convention) as well as the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Article 46)."

Slovenia

(excerpt from Opinion No. 169 (1993) adopted on 12 May 1993)

      The Assembly "attaches great importance to the commitment expressed by the Slovenian authorities to sign and ratify the European Convention on Human Rights and to recognise both the right of individual application to the European Commission of Human Rights (Article 25 of the Convention) and the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Article 46)."

Estonia

(excerpt from Opinion No. 170 (1993) adopted on 13 May 1993)

      "The Assembly notes the readiness of Estonia to guarantee the principles of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, which are embodied in the new constitution approved by a referendum on 28 June 1992. It attaches great importance to the commitment expressed by the Estonian authorities to sign and ratify the European Convention on Human Rights and also to recognise the right of individual applications to the European Commission of Human Rights (Article 25 of the Convention) as well as the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Article 46 of the Convention)."

Czech Republic

(excerpt from Opinion No. 174 (1993) adopted on 29 June 1993)

      The Assembly "attaches great importance to the Czech authorities' commitment to signing and ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights and its Additional Protocols, and to recognising the right of individual application to the European Commission of Human Rights (Article 25 of the Convention), as well as the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Article 46). It also notes with satisfaction that the Czech Republic has considered itself bound by the Convention since 1 January 1993."

Slovak Republic

(excerpt from Opinion No. 175 (1993) adopted on 29 June 1993)

      The Assembly "attaches great importance to the Slovak authorities' commitment to signing and ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights and its Additional protocols, and to recognising the right of individual application to the European Commission of Human Rights (Article 25 of the Convention), as well as the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Article 46). It also notes with satisfaction that the Slovak Republic has considered itself bound by the Convention since 1 January 1993."

      "It takes note in particular that the Slovak authorities' commitment to adopt a legislation granting to every person belonging to a minority the right to use his/her surname and first names in his/her mother tongue and, in the regions in which substantial numbers of a national minority are settled, the right for the persons belonging to this minority, to display in their language local names, signs, inscriptions and other similar information, in accordance with the principles contained in Recommendation 1201 (1993)."

      "It also takes note, whatever administrative divisions may be introduced in the Slovak Republic, of the declaration made by the Slovak authorities that they will respect the rights of national minorities."

Romania

(excerpt from Opinion No. 176 (1993) adopted on 28 September 1993)

      The Assembly "attaches great importance to the commitment expressed by the Romanian authorities to sign and ratify speedily the European Convention on Human Rights and to recognise the right of individual petition to the European Commission of Human Rights (Article 25 of the Convention), as well as the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Article 46 of the Convention).

      "It appreciates the written declaration of the Romanian authorities in which they commit themselves to basing their policy regarding the protection of minorities on the principles laid down in Recommendation 1201 (1993) on an additional protocol on the rights of national minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the commitments laid down in the letter dated 22 June 1993 of Mr Melescanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania."

      "In accordance with commitments made by the Romanian Parliament and authorities, as well as the remarks and proposals contained in the reports of the committees concerned with the application for membership, the Assembly calls the attention of the Romanian authorities to the necessity of instituting separation of powers, guaranteeing the real independence of the media, and ensuring the conditions for the free functioning of local administrative bodies...".

      "In accordance with commitments entered into by the Romanian authorities, the Assembly urges them to implement improvements in conditions of detention. It also calls upon the competent Romanian political leaders to reconsider in a positive manner the issue of releasing those persons imprisoned on political or ethnic grounds."

      "The Assembly proposes that the Romanian authorities and the Romanian Parliament adopt and implement as soon as possible, in keeping with the commitments they have made and with Assembly Recommendations 1201, legislation on national minorities and education...".

      Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee.

      Budgetary implications for the Assembly: 270 000 FF.

      Reference to committee: see Order No. 488 (1993).

      Draft resolution unanimously adopted by the committee on 1 March 1994.

      Members of the committee: Mr Reddemann (Chairman), Mrs Baarveld-Schlaman (Vice-Chairperson) (Alternate: Verbeek), Lord Finsberg (Vice-Chairman), MM. Agnelli, Alvarez-Cascos (Alternate: Fabra), Andreotti, Antretter, Baumel, Bernardini, Björn Bjarnason, Bokov, Bratinka, Büchel, Dimas, Espersen, Flückiger, Fogas, Galanos (Alternate: Hadjidemetriou), Gricius (Alternate: Saudargas), Güner, Mrs Haller, Mrs Halonen, MM. Hardy (Alternate: Banks), Hellström, Irmer, Iwinski, Kalus, Kaspereit, Kelam, Kelchtermans, Kenneally, König, Mrs Lentz-Cornette, MM. van der Linden, Machete (Alternate: Roseta), Martins, Masseret, Micewski, Mimaroglu, Pahor, Panov, Mrs Papandreou (Alternate: Kapsis), MM. Psaila Savona, de Puig, Radulescu Botica, Schieder, Seeuws, Severin (Alternate: Borbely), Sir Dudley Smith, Spacek, Szent-Iványi, Tarschys, Thoresen (Alternate: Berg), Trabacchini.

      N.B.       The names of those members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.

      Secretaries to the committee: Mr Sorinas, Mr Kleijssen and Mrs Kleinsorge.