Review of the French Presidency: a stronger Council of Europe for 830 million citizens (28 November 2019)

From 17 May to 27 November 2019, France had the privilege of chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe as the organization celebrated its 70th anniversary.

France chaired during a time of crisis for the Council. Building on the work begun by the Finnish Chairmanship, France worked to overcome internal tensions and set up a new joint procedure at the Council of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to address breaches by Member States of its statutory obligations.

The President of the French Republic’s address before the Parliamentary Assembly showed France’s commitment to the Council of Europe and was a call to strengthen and adapt its principles to meet contemporary developments.

France had three priorities for its Chairmanship: 1) to preserve and consolidate the European human rights protection system, 2) to promote equality and living together, 3) to address the latest challenges to human rights and rule of law. To that end, the French Chairmanship organized several high-level events which have helped to move forward the work of the Council of Europe: the Conference of Presidents of Supreme Courts on judicial dialogue in Europe (12-13 September), the Justice Ministers’ meeting on digital challenges for justice in Europe (14-15 October) and the Education Ministers’ meeting on citizenship education in the digital era (26 November).

During its Chairmanship, France began creating an Observatory on History Teaching, which garnered support from many Member States. It will take the form of an extended partial agreement, to be developed in the months ahead, based on the declaration adopted on 26 November by the Education Ministers.

France also worked actively on the universalization of the Istanbul Convention, the most advanced international instrument dealing with violence against women, through an intensive awareness campaign and by facilitating accession for non-member States of the Council of Europe. It encourages all Council of Europe Member States to sign and ratify this essential text.

France will continue to lead these initiatives and support the activities of the Council of Europe, which are essential in order to strengthen unity among the people of “Greater Europe” and to guarantee human rights, democracy and the rule of law on our continent.

We are counting on future Chairmanships to make these initiatives a reality.