The Riigikogu Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) represents our country and defends Estonia's interests in the Council of Europe, contributing to the implementation of the objectives and policies of the Council of Europe and participating in the work of the committees of the Parliamentary Assembly.
The Riigikogu Delegation to the PACE consists of the Chairman and members of the delegation. All members of the delegation participate in plenary sessions where documents (e.g. resolutions) are adopted. The Chairman’s task is to represent the Riigikogu in the Standing Committee, which works during the periods between plenary sessions. The members of the delegation also have to take part in the work of the nine specialised committees of the PACE.
The delegation prepares overviews and summaries of the PACE meetings, informing the Foreign Affairs Committee and the plenary assembly of the Riigikogu of their work.
Estonia became a member of the Council of Europe on 14 May 1993. Since then, our country is represented in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe by the Riigikogu delegation that is formed within three months after the convening of the new Riigikogu.
Council of Europe
The aims of the Council of Europe are:
- to defend political pluralism and human rights;
- to promote the cultural identity of Europe and contribute to its development;
- to search for solutions to problems faced by the countries of Europe (national minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, environment protection, bioethics, AIDS, drug addiction, etc.);
- to develop political partnership with new democratic countries in Europe;
- to help the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to implement political, legislative and constitutional reforms.
The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by ten Western European states by the intergovernmental Treaty of London. The founders of the Council were Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, France, Denmark and the United Kingdom. At present the Council of Europe has 46 Member states.
The permanent headquarters of the Council of Europe are in the Palace of Europe in Strasbourg, France.
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe or PACE is the oldest parliamentary assembly in Europe. Its first session was held on 10 August 1949. The task of the Council of Europe is to protect the fundamental values of its member states: human rights, the principle of the rule of law, and democracy.
Plenary session of the PACE meets four times a year: in January, April, June and September or October. The most important documents the plenary session works with are around 160 legally binding agreements and conventions, and recommendations to the governments of member countries in basic issues of society. The official languages of the Assembly are English and French; German and Italian are also used as working languages.
Members of the Riigikogu Delegation to the PACE take part in the work of specialised committees. There are nine such committees:
- Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy;
- Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights;
- Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development;
- Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons;
- Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination;
- Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe, or Monitoring Committee;
- Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media;
- Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs;
- Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights.
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