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The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
25 May 2020 13:18

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is one of the two statutory bodies of the Council of Europe. The Assembly addresses topical issues related to the problems of modern society and various aspects of international politics within the general mandate of the Council of Europe, which covers such areas as the protection of human rights, the development of democracy and the rule of law. The results of the Assembly's work play an important role in determining the activities of the Committee of Ministers, as well as intergovernmental cooperation within the Council of Europe. In addition, members of the Assembly bring them to the attention of their national parliaments and thus influence their governments in the field of human rights. The Assembly also calls on States to ensure and uphold democratic standards both in Europe and in neighbouring regions. In this context, the Assembly plays the role of a generator of ideas for improving European laws and practices, as well as a "driver" of the Council of Europe and a defender of the European Convention on Human Rights.

PACE official website: https://pace.coe.int/en/.

The Parliamentary Assembly holds one regular session each year, consisting in good practice of 4 parts: the plenary weekly sessions of the Assembly are held in the Chamber of Europe's Palace of Strasbourg in January, April, June and October.

According to the Statute, the official languages of the Council of Europe are English and French.

The 324 representatives and 324 substitutes are appointed by national parliaments from among their members. Each country, depending on its population, has between two and eighteen representatives, who provide a balanced reflection of the political forces represented in the national parliament.

At this link https://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/AssemblyList/MP-Alpha-EN.asp you will find current lists of PACE members by country, political group, committee.

The parliaments of Canada, Israel and Mexico have observer status in the PACE.

Special guest status was granted to the Parliament of Belarus in 1992, but by a decision of the Bureau of the Assembly in 1997, this status was suspended.

The partner for democracy status was launched in 2009 to strengthen cooperation between the parliaments of non-CoE countries in neighbouring regions, which are interested in participating in the political debate on common challenges beyond Europe and want to benefit from the Assembly's experience in building democracy. Currently, the status of "partner for democracy" is granted to the parliaments of Morocco (2011), Palestine (2011), Kyrgyzstan (2014) and Jordan (2016).

Five political groups have been formed and are operating in the Assembly: Group of the European People’s Party; Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group; Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe; European Conservatives Group & Democratic Alliance; Group of the Unified European Left.

The peculiarity of the activities of political groups in the PACE, in contrast to the European Parliament, is that their members in practice focus on the priorities of their own states, so there are many cases when they vote in a different way from the decision of the political group. Many members of the Assembly do not currently belong to any political group.

The Assembly works with materials specially prepared for it by nine profile committees: on Political Affairs and Democracy; on Legal Affairs and Human Rights; on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development; Culture, Science, Education and Media; on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons; on Equality and Non-Discrimination; on Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights; on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs; on Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States (Monitoring Committee).

The Assembly monitors the situation and endeavours to help States to honour their obligations. In 1997, a special Monitoring Committee was set up for this purpose. The Monitoring Committee shall report to the Assembly once a year on the main results of its activities. As of the end of 2019, 10 countries continue to be monitored by the PACE: Azerbaijan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. At the January part of the PACE session in 2020, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to introduce monitoring in Poland. Thus, Poland became the first EU member state in history to be monitored for threats to democracy and the rule of law.

The Assembly elects the judges of the European Court of Human Rights and the Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe and its own Secretary General. The President of the Assembly is traditionally elected from among its members for two consecutive one-year terms. In this case, re-election for a second term does not necessarily have to occur after the first term. Also, the Chairman, elected during the session for a part-time term, may be re-elected for two more terms.

On January 27, 2020, Hendrik Diems was elected PACE President. He became the 33rd President of the PACE and the third representative of Belgium since 1949, after the founding father of the Assembly, Paul-Henri Spaak (1949-1951) and Fernando Degus (1956-1959).

The Assembly adopts three types of texts: recommendations (to the Committee of Ministers), resolutions (which express its own viewpoint) and opinions (on membership applications, draft treaties and other texts submitted by the Committee of Ministers).

The texts adopted by PACE – recommendations, resolutions and opinions – serve as guidelines for the Committee of Ministers, national governments, parliaments and political parties. At the initiative of the Assembly, many international treaties, known as European conventions, have been developed, as well as other legal instruments that lay the foundations of the modern European legal system. Eventually, through legislation and practice, these texts influence and improve Europeans’ lives.

According to Article 26 of the Statute, Ukraine has 12 seats in the PACE, to which 12 People's Deputies of Ukraine - the main members of the Assembly and 12 People's Deputies - their deputies are appointed by the Order of the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. This number of deputies constitutes the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Proposals for candidates to the Permanent Delegation shall be submitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by parliamentary factions in accordance with the quotas of their proportional representation in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, but not less than one candidate from each faction.

Within 10 days after the approval of the composition of the Delegation by the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the members of the Delegation shall elect the Head and Deputy Head of the Delegation by voting.

The list of the delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the PACE can be found at: http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/mpz2/organizations.perm_delegation?delegation=75.


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