Council of Europe (CoE)

The Council of Europe, which counts 46 member States, is the continent's oldest political organization. Originally created in 1949 to promote cooperation and to strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Western Europe in the aftermath of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

The Council of Europe (CoE), should not be confused with the European Union (EU). The two organisations are quite distinct. The 27 European Union countries, however, are all members of the Council of Europe.

Any European state can become a member of the CoE provided it accepts the principle of the rule of law and guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms to everyone under its jurisdiction.

The Palais de l'Europe in Strasbourg (France) is the Council of Europe's headquarters. The CoE is composed of two statutory institutions: the Committee of Ministers is the Council of Europe's decision-making body, which comprises the foreign affairs ministers of all the member states or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg; and the Parliamentary Assembly, which is a deliberative body with advisory powers composed of parliamentarians from the National Assemblies of all 46 States. A Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe was created in 1994 as a formal consultative body on local government issues.

Canadian Involvement

The Canadian Government, the provinces (especially Quebec), and parliamentarians became active participants in many facets of CoE activities in the 1960s. In 1996, the Canadian Government acquired official observer status (a title also held by the United States of America, Japan, Mexico, and the Holy See). In 1997, Canada's Parliament was granted official observer status with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

For Canada, our main interests in the Council of Europe until now have been in its traditional area of standard-setting in the fields of human rights, legal conventions, culture, education and health, where we have both contributed and gained from the experience of West European countries. As the CoE and the EU are working jointly on more and more projects and activities, the CoE can be viewed as a EU antechamber where Canada can influence common EU positions before they are adopted. The CoE is also a venue where Canada can develop a closer relationship with central and eastern European countries before they enter the orbit of the EU. (Canada. Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade).

List by Country:

List of Member Countries

  • Albania, 1995
  • Andorra, 1994
  • Armenia, 2001
  • Austria, 1956
  • Azerbaijan, 2001
  • Belgium, 1949
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2002
  • Bulgaria, 1992
  • Croatia, 1996
  • Cyprus, 1961
  • Czech Republic, 1993
  • Denmark, 1949
  • Estonia, 1993
  • Finland, 1989
  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 1995
  • France, 1949
  • Georgia, 1999
  • Germany, 1950
  • Greece, 1949
  • Hungary, 1990
  • Iceland, 1950
  • Ireland, 1949
  • Italy, 1949
  • Latvia, 1995
  • Liechtenstein, 1978
  • Lithuania, 1993
  • Luxembourg, 1949
  • Malta, 1965
  • Moldova, 1995
  • Monaco, 2004
  • Netherlands, 1949
  • Norway, 1949
  • Poland, 1991
  • Portugal, 1976
  • Romania, 1993
  • Russia, 1996
  • San Marino, 1988
  • Serbia and Montenegro, 2003
  • Slovakia, 1993
  • Slovenia, 1993
  • Spain, 1977
  • Sweden, 1949
  • Switzerland, 1963
  • Turkey, 1949
  • Ukraine, 1995
  • United Kingdom, 1949

List of Observer Countries

  • Canada, 1996
  • Holy See, 1970
  • Israel, 1957
  • Japan, 1996
  • Mexico, 1999
  • United States of America, 1996