Main institutions of the CoE
The role of the Secretariat General is to advise and assist the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General in all matters. The Secretariat General is responsible for implementation of Secretary General's policy and determination of management priorities, preparation of official visits of the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General, preparation of their meetings with visitors and their participation in internal and external events of the Organization, as well as provision of the Secretariat support to the Executive Board.
Committee of Ministers (CM)
The Committee of Ministers is the main Council of Europe's decision-making body. Each state member is represented in the Committee by its Minister of Foreign Affairs or permanent representative of its government (ministers' deputies in the Committee) and has one vote. The current chairman of the CM is Antonio Miloshoski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia. The chairmanship is on rotating bases in alphabetical order for a six-month term.
The Committee of Ministers has a triple role - as the emanation of governments which enables them to express on equal terms their national approaches to the problems confronting Europe's societies, as the collective forum where European responses to these challenges are worked out and as guardian, alongside the Parliamentary Assembly, of the values for which the Council of Europe exists. Decisions of this body are in the form of recommendations to member states, or conventions and agreements, binding for states to ratify them.
The work and activities of the Committee of Ministers include political dialogue, interacting with the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE, interacting with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the CoE, admitting new member states, monitoring, concluding conventions and agreements, adopting recommendations to states, adopting the budget, adopting and monitoring the Programme of Activities, implementing cooperation and assistance programmes and supervising the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE (PACE)
The Parliamentary Assembly is the key driver of the Council of Europe, a forum with 636 members (318 representatives and 318 substitutes). The President of the PACE is Mevlut Cavusoglu(Turkey).
Delegations, representing main political currents of national parliaments discuss key topics of public significance and other aspects of international politics. The Assembly meets on plenary sessions four times a year in Strasbourg. The sessions and conclusions from the PACE sessions play an important role in directing activities of the Committee of Ministers in the form of adopting recommendations to this CoE institution.
The Assembly counts five political groups: the Socialist Group, the Group of the European People's Party, European Democrat Group, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and the Group of the Unified European Left. To form a Group, at least twenty members of at least six different delegations have to decide to do so. Members of the Assembly are entirely free to choose the Group they wish to join. The President of the Assembly and the leaders of the groups form the Presidential Committee of the PACE. The Bureau which consists of the President, twenty Vice-Presidents, the Chairpersons of the political groups or their representatives as well as the Chairpersons of the general PACE Committees or their substitutes, is also a part of the Standing Committee.
According to its Rules of Procedure, the PACE has 10 committees: Political Affairs (84 seats), Legal Affairs and Human Rights (84 seats), Economic Affairs and Development (84 seats), Social, Health and Family Affairs (84 seats), Migration, Refugees and Population (84 seats), Culture, Science and Education (84 seats), Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs (84 seats), Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (84 seats), Rules of Procedure and Immunities (27), Monitoring (84 seats).
The issues that PACE is currently considering include the following: protecting and promoting human rights and democracy, fight against terrorism, situation of refugees and migrants, dialogue between cultures and religions, unity in societies.
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a judicial organ established by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (signed in Rome on 4th November 1950 and came into force in 1953) in 1959 and composed of 46 judges (the court has as many judges as there are member countries in the Council of Europe). The Court takes actions after the legal remedies have been exhausted in member states. The president of the Court is Jean-Paul Costa.
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe
The Commissioner for Human Rights within the CoE is an independent institution founded in 1999 by the resolutions of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which purpose is to promote the concept of human rights and to ensure efficient respect and enjoyment of such rights in CoE member states. The function of the Commissioner for Human Rights has been performed by Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden) since 1 April 2006.
The European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission, is the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters. The main task of this body, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was to assist former communist countries to harmonise their constitutions with the standards of the Western Europe. Currently the Commission is dealing with specific constitutional issues of individual countries, and also with constitutional law in general. Its work is based on principles of European constitutional heritage, human rights and rule of law.
The Venice Commission is composed of independent legal experts. In addition to permanent member states of the CoE, the states-observers within the oldest pan-European organisation are equally involved in the work of the Commission.
President of The Venice Commission is Gianni Buquicchio.
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE)
In 1994 the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities was established as a consultative body to succeed the then Permanent Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.
This organ of the CoE is a political assembly composed of representatives who are members of a local or regional authority. The Congress offers an ideal forum for dialogue where representatives of local and regional authorities discuss common problems, consider and compare their points of view, express their experience and then put their conclusions to national governments.
As promoter of local and regional democracy, CLRAE produced a body of international treaties such as the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which has become the authoritative international treaty in this sphere.
The Congress is composed of two chambers: Chamber of local authorities and Chamber of regions. The two-chamber assembly has 315 full members, out of which each representative is elected by 200 000 local and regional authorities of the CoE member states.