The main statutory condition for the accession of countries to the Council of Europe (CoE) is the recognition by the candidate country of the rule of law, its obligation to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms to all persons under its jurisdiction. The country's accession to the Council of Europe testifies of its democratic choice, its commitment to protect human rights and the strengthening of democratic institutions.
That is why on July 14, 1992 Ukraine applied to join the Council of Europe.
Prior to joining the Council of Europe, Ukraine became a party to several conventions of this Organisation, including the European Cultural Convention, the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities, the European Convention on Information on Foreign Legislation, and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
On September 15, 1995 the Information and Documentation Centre of the Council of Europe was opened in Kyiv, on the basis of which the Council of Europe Information Office was established in Ukraine in 2001.
On September 26, 1995 the Parliamentary Assembly adopted positive opinion on Ukraine's application to join the Council of Europe (Opinion of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly (PA) No. 190 (1995).
On October 19, 1995 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution inviting Ukraine to become the member of the Organisation.
On November 9, 1995 Ukraine became the 37th member of the Organisation.
According to the CoE Statute, Ukraine is represented in all three main CoE bodies.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of our country defends the interests of the state in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe - decision-making body.
The Permanent Representation of Ukraine to the Council of Europe ensures the participation of our state in the daily work of the Council of Europe, its working bodies and provides assistance to all representatives of our state involved in cooperation within the framework of the Council of Europe.
Ukraine is represented in the Parliamentary Assembly by a delegation of 12 representatives and 12 substitutes.
It is also represented in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe by a delegation of 12 representatives and 12 substitutes.
Ms Ganna Yudkivska is the Judge to the European Court of Human Rights.
Ukraine is actively involved in the development of the legal base of the Council of Europe (treaties signed and ratified by our state).
For the first time since its accession to the Council of Europe in 1995, Ukraine chaired the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from 11 May to 7 November 2011.
This period has become an extremely important stage of Ukraine’s cooperation in the framework of the Council of Europe.
Ukraine considered its Chairmanship as a practical opportunity to contribute to the developments of modern European processes, where the Council of Europe plays a significant role. It was particularly important, when the Council of Europe has been rethinking its role, functions and tasks, that would have allow it to remain a politically relevant organisation and continue its mission to protect and promote European democratic values.
Aiming to promote the Council of Europe activities, Ukraine presented a programme of its Chairmanship which focused on the implementation of the following main priorities:
• protection of children’s rights;
• human rights and the rule of law in the context of democracy and stability in Europe.
• strengthening and developing local democracy.
The Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2018-2021 – is the key document, guiding the cooperation of Ukraine within the Council of Europe at the present stage has total budget of to €29 million. It was approved by the Committee of Ministers on February 21, 2018 and reflects Ukraine's reform priorities and needs, as defined by the authorities in relevant national strategic documents and commitments, including the European integration.
At the beginning of the Russian Federation's armed aggression against Ukraine, the Council of Europe's platform became important to counter this aggression, both politically and legally.
The Ukrainian side managed to get a number of decisions of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe condemning the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine) by the Russian Federation; Russia is called upon to abide by all its obligations under international humanitarian law, international human rights law, including the European Convention on Human Rights, and the principles and standards of the Council of Europe; Russia is required to take all necessary measures to respect human rights in Crimea and to put an immediate end to all violations of these rights, including denial of freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of religion and belief, discriminatory measures and practices, arbitrary detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or degrading treatment and repression against persons belonging to national minorities, including Crimean Tatars, as well as Ukrainians and persons belonging to other ethnic and religious groups.
The conclusions of the Venice Commission laid the foundation for the development of a clear and consolidated legal position of Ukraine on the status of the occupied territories and their subsequent liberation.
Particularly it concerns the recognition of the decision of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to hold the so-called referendum on accession to Russia to be illegal.
In addition, the Venice Commission recognized the draft federal constitutional law "On the procedure for admission to the Russian Federation and the formation of a new constituent entity of the Russian Federation" as inconsistent with international law.
Both decisions were adopted during the 98th plenary session of the Venice Commission (Venice, March 21-22, 2014).
These conclusions, along with the decisions of the statutory bodies of the Council of Europe and other international organisations, laid the legal grounds for the restrictive measures (sanctions) currently applied to Russia in connection with the illegal annexation of Crimea attempt.
In April 2014 and subsequently in January 2015 the Parliamentary Assembly considered challenging the credentials of the Russian parliamentary delegation as a result of Russia’s annexation of Crimea attempt. On both occasions the Assembly – following the debates and votes – decided not to deprive the Russian delegation of its credentials, but to deprive the Russian parliamentarians of certain rights in the Assembly, including voting rights. This forced the Russian side to suspend participation in the Assembly until June 2019.
The Assembly adopted more than 10 resolutions and recommendations recognizing, that all of Russia's actions aimed at annexing Crimea were a blatant violation of international law, including the UN Charter and the OSCE Helsinki Final Act. The PACE recognized violations of the Budapest Memorandum and the CoE Statute by the Russian Federation. It refuted Russia's allegations of oppression against Russian-speaking citizens by Ukraine.
Thus, PACE Resolution 2133 (2016) of 12 October 2016 “Remedies against human rights violations in Ukrainian territories outside the control of the Ukrainian authorities” is the first international document to recognize the Russian Federation as a party to the conflict and to use the term “effective control".
The PACE resolutions and recommendations are not binding, but they are important in terms of exerting information and political pressure on the aggressor country. The Russian Federation has traditionally ignored PACE decisions, related to aggression against Ukraine.
The European Court of Human Rights is considering lawsuits of our state against the Russian Federation, which are directly related to the Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine.
A number of complex political and economic processes on the European continent, which unfolded in the period of 2014-2019 have led to a radical review by the Parliamentary Assembly of the attitude to interaction with the Russian delegation. Resolution No. 2287 of June 25, 2019, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe "Strengthening the Parliamentary Assembly's decision-making process on powers and voting" became an inadmissible acquiescence to the Russian Federation, which had been carrying out armed aggression against Ukraine since 2014, grossly violating international law, including the Statute of the Council of Europe. The significant weakening of the PACE sanctions mechanism, provided in the adopted resolution, took place against the background of the absence of any constructive steps from the Russian Federation, the blatant non-compliance of its commitments, and PACE resolutions, approved in response to Russian aggression.
The decision of the Assembly was a refusal from the declared standards, principles and values of the Council of Europe due to unprecedented pressure and financial blackmail from the Russian Federation. This happened as a result of open indulgence by a number of countries, whose leadership, on the one hand emphasizes the need to end Russian aggression against Ukraine, and on the other - encourages the aggressor by making concessions. The Assembly has significantly weakened its role in modern European politics, and thus its ability to effectively defend the rule of law, human rights and democracy in all Council of Europe member states, including the Russian Federation, by depriving itself of the opportunity to apply the most effective sanctions. The Parliamentary Assembly has lost its authority and the Organisation can no longer play the role given to it by its founding fathers.
The Council of Europe has been unable to respond to the latest challenges and threats, including the aggression of a member against another.
In its turn Ukraine remains committed to Council of Europe. It continues to protect the rights and freedoms of every person and citizen in our country, including the temporarily occupied territories, and it will actively oppose further attempts to destroy the Organisation.