Belgium chairs Council of Europe Human Rights Session
From 3 to 5 June, Belgium will chair the Human Rights Session of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. During this three-day marathon meeting, the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe will investigate whether the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are being observed and implemented.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe meets four times a year in a special “Human Rights” format. On the agenda is a list of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights regarding the Member States of the Council of Europe. It usually concerns politically sensitive issues and those in which implementation of the judgment are overdue.
The Member States concerned, however, have no choice: the judgments of the Court must be implemented. They may decide for themselves how this occurs. The role of the Belgian Chair consists in playing the honest broker in the discussion of whether implementation of the judgment is developing in the right direction. The guidance of this peer pressure process demands Fingerspitzengefühl or tact, thorough knowledge of the case files and great patience on the part of our diplomats.
Among the issues on the agenda under the Belgian Chairmanship is the inter-State case of Cyprus against Turkey concerning compensation of the consequences of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Other matters concern kidnappings in Russia of prisoners that may not be extradited and the violation of the freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. A complete list with documentation about the cases on the agenda is available here.
Belgium is chairing two Human Rights Sessions in June and in September 2014. From November 2014 to May 2015 follows the actual Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. For six months, Belgium will then be at the helm of the highest political decision-making body of this intergovernmental organization that, with its impressive ‘acquis’ of 214 conventions, has grown to become the pan-European measure concerning human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Should you wish to learn more or simply brush up on what the difference is between the Council of Europe and the European Council, you can have a look at www.coe.int.