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STOCKTAKING OF THE SLOVENIAN CHAIRMANSHIP OF THE COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE

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Introduction


1. The Slovenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers began on 12 May at the 119th Ministerial Session in Madrid and ended on 18 November. Slovenia is particularly proud of its achievement in enhancing the dialogue between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly that has already resulted in the election of the new Secretary General on 29 September.


2. The Chairmanship programme and the priorities were based on the commitments of the Third Summit of the Council of Europe held in Warsaw in 2005, which are:

  1. Promoting the common values of the Council of Europe;
  2. Strengthening the security of European citizens;
  3. Building a more humane and inclusive Europe;
  4. Fostering co-operation with other international and European organisations and institutions.

3. The Slovenian Chairmanship has pursued an active policy of dialogue with the Parliamentary Assembly. On 14 September, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Minister Samuel Žbogar and the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Lluis Maria de Puig, reached an agreement on a proposed package of measures to enhance dialogue and co-operation between the two statutory organs of the Council of Europe. The agreement was reached in the course of five informal meetings since last June between the Bureau of the Committee of Ministers and the Presidential Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly. The agreement covers a series of measures, including a re-examination of the rules and procedures for future elections of the Secretary General and immediate action for improving dialogue and co-operation in general. It also proposes to task the Secretary General to report, not later than October 2010, on an array of other suggested measures for enhancing co-operation. The Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers and the President of the Assembly will continue to meet regularly to monitor progress in this regard.


4. The Committee of Ministers approved the proposals for enhanced dialogue and co-operation between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers on 7 October. These proposals were endorsed by the Parliamentary Assembly at its Autumn Session on 28 September.


5. On 19 October, the Ministers’ Deputies agreed to set up an open-ended Ad Hoc Working Party for the re-examination of the rules and procedures for future elections of the Secretary General. The Ad hoc Working Party should complete the preparation of a first draft paper not later than June 2010, in accordance with the proposals for Enhanced Dialogue between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly.


6. An issue of great importance during the Swiss Chairmanship will be the continuation of the process of enhanced dialogue and the review of the rules of procedure for the election of the Secretary General.


1 PROMOTING COMMON VALUES OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE


1.1 Encouraging further reform of the European Court of Human Rights


7. Continuation of the reform of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was one of the core priorities of the Slovenian Chairmanship.


8. Slovenia’s first priority was the entry into force of Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which foresees certain reform measures but has not yet been ratified by the Russian Federation. The Slovenian Chairmanship welcomed the statement of 23 September by the Russian State Duma according to which the question of the ratification of the Protocol No. 14 to the ECHR would be resumed, which would enable its entry into force. This statement contains the State Duma’s request for explanations in view of its decision to consider again the question of the ratification of Protocol No. 14. The Slovenian Chairperson of the Ministers’ Deputies, in her letter dated 5 November 2009, informed the Registrar of the Court of the letter, dated 2 November, by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, inviting the Registrar to provide all relevant explanations, clarifications or comments he considers appropriate to the manner in which the Court intends to apply in practice some provisions of the ECHR, as amended by Protocol No. 14, once it will have entered into force. The Registrar of the Court, in a letter dated 6 November, sent an explanatory note in reply.


9. Pending the entry into force of Protocol No. 14 and following the decisions taken at the 119th Ministerial Session (Madrid, 12 May 2009) to increase the effectiveness of the Court, the Slovenian Chairmanship has endeavoured to promote further signatures and ratifications of Protocol No. 14 bis to the Convention as well as further notifications of acceptance of provisional application of certain provisions of Protocol No. 14 in accordance with the Madrid agreement. Immediately after their adoption, Slovenia emphasised the importance of the two new legal instruments, which represented an important breakthrough in the reform process and fortified the way forward (1).


10. At its first meeting after the summer break, the Committee of Ministers recalled the welcome given by the Ministers in Madrid to Switzerland’s intention to host a high-level conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights in the context of its forthcoming chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers (Interlaken, 18-19 February 2010). It took note with appreciation of the memorandum of the President of the Court with a view to preparing the Conference and invited the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), to submit, by the end of November 2009, an opinion on the issues to be covered at the Conference. The Committee finally invited the Slovenian Chairmanship to disseminate the conclusions of the Round Table which was organised in Bled on 21 and 22 September in preparation of the Interlaken Conference.


11. This round table was devoted to “Ways of protection of the right to a trial within a reasonable time – Countries’ experiences, and to short-term reform of the European Court of Human Rights”. The event provided experts with a platform to exchange national experiences on best practices, as well as to discuss issues of potential interest in the framework of a short-term reform of the Court, in particular repetitive applications and “class actions” or collective applications, as part of the preparations for the Interlaken Conference. Between 12 and 13 October, Slovenia has also organised a round table on criminal procedural rights of the European Convention of Human Rights in European Union law in Portorož. On this occasion an introduction was given by the President of the Court, Mr Jean-Paul Costa. The round table addressed questions regarding the origin and status of rights in criminal proceedings under the Convention and the EU member states' efforts to create an instrument in the field of criminal procedural rights. It was emphasized that any new legislative initiative should be based on the European Convention of Human Rights in order to avoid double standards. Attention was to be given to the origins, work and procedures before the European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice and their compatibility in the field of criminal procedural rights.


1.2 Strengthening the rule of law and promoting pluralistic democracy


12. On 21 October, the Slovenian Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Minister Žbogar, participated in the Forum for the Future of Democracy held in Kyiv this year under the title 'Electoral systems: strengthening democracy in the 21st century'. This year's Forum focused on how to increase the legitimacy, apply new technologies, and enhance the role of media and the responsibilities of political parties in electoral systems.


13. The Slovenian Chairmanship has followed with interest the fourth Summer University for Democracy, which took place in Strasbourg from 6 to 10 July. The President of Slovenia, Danilo Türk, delivered a keynote address at the beginning of the University, during which he shared his views and experience on how to promote democratic processes in our societies.


14. On 9 and 10 June 2009, a meeting of the Bureau and Standing Committee of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe was held in Brdo pri Kranju. The Standing Committee of the Congress was attended by the minister for local self-government and regional development, Zlata Ploštajner, representing the Chair of the Committee of Ministers. The Minister gave her address in the part of the discussion entitled “The viewpoint of the Republic of Slovenia on cross-border co-operation and the advantages it brings to the local and regional authorities of South-East Europe”.


15. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe held its 17th Plenary Session in Strasbourg from 13 to 15 October 2009. In preparation for the UN Conference in Copenhagen in December, the Congress held a debate on the important contribution of local and regional policy makers to the global challenge of climate change and several other issues.


16. Questions concerning local and regional democracy, have retained the Committee of Ministers’ attention during the Slovenian Chairmanship. Following the opinions given by the Parliamentary Assembly as well as the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities before the summer, the Committee of Ministers adopted in September two new instruments in this area: an Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority and Protocol No. 3 to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities concerning Euroregional Co-operation Groupings (ECGs). These instruments were opened for signature at the 16th Session of the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Authorities (Utrecht, the Netherlands, 16-17 November).


17. A conference of international non-governmental organisations was organised in Ljubljana in November. It was a core event in initiating the implementation process of the Code of good practice for civil participation in the decision-making process. This Code has been prepared by the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe in response to a recommendation made at the Stockholm session of the Forum for the Future of Democracy in 2007. The Conference discussed the integration of NGOs into the processes of shaping policies, presenting best practices and making recommendations for their promotion and implementation by Council of Europe member states.


18. The Council of Europe’s action in the field of legal co-operation has been a priority for the Slovenian Chairmanship, which organised a number of activities to promote the Organisation’s work in this respect. Slovenia hosted joint plenary sessions of the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE) and the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) in Ljubljana in November.


19. The 29th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Justice took place in Tromsø (Norway) on 18 and 19 June 2009 under the topic “Breaking the silence – united against domestic violence”. The Ministers of Justice discussed ways to combat domestic violence by identifying the problems and developing and promoting a common approach to breaking the silence, and supporting and empowering the victims. The agenda also included resolutions on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and on improvement of rule of law evaluations, where avoiding duplication of existing mechanisms and the need for co-operation and synergies were emphasised. At the Conference, the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents was opened for signature and signed by Slovenia and eleven other member states (2).


1.3 Striving for equality between women and men


20. Given the importance it attaches to action in favour of gender equality, Slovenia welcomes the adoption on 12 May 2009 in Madrid, at the 119th Session of the Committee of Ministers, of the Declaration on making gender equality a reality. Furthermore, the Slovenian Chairmanship has closely followed the work on the drafting by the Council of Europe of possible instrument(s) to combat violence against women and domestic violence.


21. Slovenia welcomes the publication on 31 August of the 10th Report on equality between women and men – 2008, progress and achievements (CM/Inf(2009)41). The report was drawn up by the Secretary General as a follow-up to the decisions taken by the Ministers' Deputies in the framework of their thematic exchange of views on this issue (November 2008).


1.4 Active policy of integration and protection of minorities, Roma and travellers


22. The Slovenian Chairmanship has given particular attention to the rights of Roma. On 25 and 26 May, Slovenia organised in Brdo pri Kranju, in collaboration with the Council of Europe, an international conference on “Education for Roma: Achievements, Opportunities and Future Challenges”. This event was an opportunity to stress the importance of education conducive to successful integration of Roma and Travellers into society. It also concluded the Council of Europe project on education of Roma children in Europe by registering the salient points for the guidance of all interested conducting or planning action in this field. In this connection, the Committee of Ministers adopted, on 17 June, Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)4 on the education of Roma and Travellers in Europe, stating a set of principles directed at the member states to be implemented at national level in the field of education, in order to help remedy the underprivileged status of Roma and Travellers in European societies.


23. Slovenia pursues an active policy of integration and protection of minorities and hence it has given priority to this issue during its chairmanship. A round table on the status of minorities in Slovenia and of Slovenians living abroad was organised in Brdo pri Kranju in June. The aim of the round table was to raise awareness of both the Slovenian and international public, to Slovenia’s positive approach to minority protection and to the shaping of minority policies.


24. Lendava and the Roma settlement of Kamenci (Slovenia) hosted an international conference organised by the Slovenian Chairmanship in co-operation with the Council of Europe, which marked the launch of the implementation of the project of the Council of Europe on the European Route of Roma Culture and Heritage. In addition to the Slovenian organisations involved in the project (the Slovene Ethnographic Museum and Romano pejtaušago/Roma Friendship Society), the conference participants included partner organisations from Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, France, Italy and Romania. They all promote Roma culture in their environment and are actively participating in the project.


1.5 Promoting democracy, the rule of law and human rights in South-East Europe, the Caucasus and Belarus


25. With regard to South East Europe, the Committee of Ministers reviewed in July the progress made by Bosnia and Herzegovina in the fulfilment of its commitments and obligations to the Council of Europe. Referring to the conclusions of the fifteenth monitoring report (3) prepared by the Secretariat, the Committee noted with concern the deteriorating political climate in the country and condemned the repeated attempts to challenge the Dayton Agreement, undermining the functioning of the state institutions. On the other hand, it noted some progress in fulfilling the commitments and obligations to the Council of Europe, in particular the ratification of the (Revised) European Social Charter and the completion of the appointment procedure of the state Ombudsmen, while underlining the importance of bringing the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina in line with the European Convention of Human Rights as soon as possible, and in any case before the 2010 general elections. The Committee also reiterated its serious concern regarding the increasingly entrenched segregation in the education system and again urged the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take measures which would contribute to safeguarding the multi-ethnic character of the education system, as well as to continue full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), including facilitating the arrest and the handing over of all remaining indictees to the Tribunal.


26. In parallel with this monitoring procedure, the Ministers’ Deputies have adopted a co-operation programming document setting out the future lines of the assistance to be provided by the Council of Europe to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2009-2011.


27. A similar review of the progress made by Montenegro in the fulfilment of its commitments and obligations to the Council of Europe was made in September 2009 on the basis of a report prepared by the Secretariat (4). At the close of this review, the Ministers’ Deputies welcomed the considerable progress made by the Montenegrin authorities. At the same time, they called on the government and parliament of Montenegro to promptly ratify those Council of Europe conventions which were called for within one or two years after accession, and to continue the efforts undertaken, in particular regarding the reform of the justice system, the fight against corruption, as well as the adoption of a number of laws and of measures in favour of the people displaced by the wars in the former Yugoslavia and currently residing in Montenegro.


28. In May, the Committee of Ministers adopted a programme of co-operation with “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” for 2009-2010, which is largely financed through joint Council of Europe and European Commission programmes. This co-operation programme covers a wide range of assistance fields and places particular emphasis on improving human rights protection mechanisms, supporting anti-corruption measures and reforming the prison system, as well as on promoting democratic institutions and good governance.


29. As Serbia has honoured practically all the formal, quantifiable commitments it undertook upon accession to the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers decided in June to replace the post-accession monitoring procedure applied to the country until then by a new phase of assessing progress based on dialogue and a regular report by the Committee of Ministers. At the same time, the Committee of Ministers recalled the need for Serbia to fulfil, in the shortest possible time, its last outstanding accession commitments, namely to ensure full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), including the arrest and transfer of the remaining fugitives from justice.


30. It is recalled that following the dissolution of the Moldovan Parliament and the convocation of early parliamentary elections for 29 July, the Ministers’ Deputies adopted in June a package of emergency assistance activities focusing on the monitoring of the updating of electoral rolls and of the coverage of the election campaign by the media, with the aim of ensuring that these elections would be free and fair. A review of the implementation of this pre-electoral plan of assistance conducted by the Rapporteur Group on Democracy of the Ministers’ Deputies on 8 September concluded that further assistance should be provided to the Moldovan authorities in the above two areas and more generally to consolidate democratic institutions in Moldova. A draft “democracy package” for additional assistance has already been discussed by the GR-DEM (12 November) and will be submitted to the Committee of Ministers in due course.


31. In a statement issued on 31 July, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers welcomed the preliminary assessment of the International election observation mission stating that the elections met many international standards and were run overall professionally and efficiently, while noting that the remaining challenges, such as lack of trust among the country's political parties and voters, accuracy of voters lists, unbalanced media coverage, clearly defined complaints and appeals procedures are to be overcome in the future.


32. As to the Caucasus, the consequences of the August 2008 conflict in Georgia has remained a standing item on the agenda of the meetings of the Ministers’ Deputies. In this context, the Secretary General submitted a second quarterly report at the beginning of July and a third one in November, covering together the period from April to September 2009, on the human rights situation in the areas affected by the conflict, as well as an updated report on the activities for the promotion of Council of Europe values and standards after the conflict. The exchange of views which the Ministers’ Deputies held on 9 September with Corien Jonker, Chairperson of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population of the Parliamentary Assembly, provided a useful opportunity to discuss the critical question on the protection of the fundamental rights of all the individuals who have been affected by the conflict.


33. With regard to the Russian Federation and concerned with the increasing number of acts of violence in the North Caucasus, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers strongly condemned the assassination of Natalia Estemirova, a prominent human rights activist of the NGO “Memorial”, and of Sarema Sadulajeva and her husband Alik Djibralov, during the summer. He called upon the Russian authorities to promptly investigate these murders and bring the assassins and their instigators to justice. He also expressed his dismay at the terrorist attack in Nazran, Ingushetia, in August.


34. The Ministers’ Deputies approved in July a series of new activities of the Council of Europe towards Belarus. These include different information projects through the newly established Information Point in Minsk, as well as activities for the strengthening of civil society in Belarus. Following the sentencing of a 30-year-old man to death only a few days after the Parliamentary Assembly voted in favour of restoring the Special Guest status to the Parliament of Belarus on condition that Belarus declares a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers expressed his deepest concern and reiterated his strong and urgent call on the Belarusian authorities to take without delay all necessary steps to put an end to the death penalty and secure its final abolition. Together with the Council of Europe’s Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, and president of the Parliamentary Assembly, Lluis Maria de Puig, he also appealed to president Lukašenko to grant clemency to Mr Jusepčuk, declare moratorium on the use of the death penalty and commute the sentences of all prisoners sentenced to death to terms of imprisonment. The Slovenian Chairmanship strongly hopes that such steps will rapidly be taken and will continue to militate for the abolition of the death penalty.


35. On 10 October 2009, the Slovenian Chairman of the Committee of Ministers attended the signing of a Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and of a Protocol on the Development of Bilateral Relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Armenia. On this occasion he stressed that the Armenian and Turkish authorities can count on the Council of Europe’s assistance, if they wish to draw on its expertise.


2 STRENGTHENING THE SECURITY OF EUROPEAN CITIZENS


2.1 Combating terrorism, organised crime and corruption


36. On 12 May, the first Consultation of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism took place in Madrid. The Consultation adopted a decision about future activities concerning the Convention. It also adopted a joint Declaration.


37. On combating crime and corruption, Slovenia strived to promote and improve co-operation and mutual understanding among law enforcement bodies, other national bodies and relevant EU institutions. To this end, it actively participated in the 3rd International Anti-Corruption Summer School in Vienna in July, and in its capacity as Chair of the Committee of Ministers, it took an active part in a high-level conference, dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the partial agreement establishing the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). Numerous speakers highlighted the need for enhanced co-operation among all international stakeholders in the fight against corruption with a view to avoiding duplication and promoting synergies. Furthermore, an international conference of the European Partners against Corruption was held in Nova Gorica in November.


2.2 Combating trafficking in human beings


38. The Slovenian Chairmanship paid close attention to action against trafficking in human beings and Slovenia ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings on 3 September.


2.3 Rights relating to health and biomedicine


39. In the field of health and bioethics, Slovenia reaffirmed its commitment to the implementation of the principles enshrined in the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (the Oviedo Convention) and its protocols. Slovenia organised two conferences, a national and an international one, to mark the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention. The Conference “The Oviedo Convention in Slovenia” organised in Ljubljana on 8 October opened a multidisciplinary public debate on legal developments and challenges of the implementation of the Convention in practice.


40. On 3 November, the Slovenian Chairmanship organised the international conference “The Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine: 10 years later” in Strasbourg. The Conference was organised by the Slovenian Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Council of Europe Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI). Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Borut Miklavcic, Minister for Health of the Republic of Slovenia, opened the Conference. The aim of this Conference was to consider the impact of the Convention in both legislative and practical terms, to raise awareness among the international public, to promote ratifications and facilitate further standard-setting activities and to respond timely to new challenges regarding scientific and technological developments in biomedicine and the protection of human rights in health care.


41. As part of the Chairmanship programme, Slovenia became the first member state to ratify the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, concerning Genetic Testing for Health Purposes. By taking an active role, Slovenia supported the international commitment to the protection of human dignity and human rights in biomedicine and health care, expressed also by the recent Spanish Chairmanship, which gave its support to the preparation of a Specialised Ministerial Conference on “Biomedical Research Ethics in Developing Countries”, to take place in 2010.


3 BUILDING A MORE HUMANE AND INCLUSIVE EUROPE


42. The 5th Informal Conference of Ministers of Education from the Western Balkans took place in Ljubljana on 20 and 21 October. It gave Ministers responsible for higher education the possibility to take stock of a decade of higher education reforms in the region as well as to discuss the future of the Bologna Process and the vision of a European Higher Education Area in 2020. During the conference conclusions, participants stressed the need for further regional co-operation in the areas of quality assurance, preparation of national qualifications frameworks, student and staff mobility and further Bologna reforms. They agreed on a number of concrete joint activities such as an exchange of experts in external evaluations of higher education institutions and study programmes and an increase of student support schemes in order to create an area of inter–regional mobility as a model of good practice by 2012.


43. In the field of promoting the rights of people with disabilities, in early May the Committee of Ministers approved the terms of reference of the Committee of Experts on the participation of people with disabilities in political and public life (CAHPAH-PPL). In early July, the Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)6 to member states on ageing and disability in the 21st century: sustainable frameworks to enable greater quality of life in an inclusive society. A representative of the Slovenian Chairmanship attended the European Co-ordination Forum for the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015 (CAHPAH). The Chairmanship organised in Portorož on 26 and 27 October, a Council of Europe conference on promoting human rights of persons with disabilities and the elderly. The purpose of the conference was to provide information to professionals and to the general public on effective mechanisms for protecting the human rights of the disabled and the elderly, and to encourage the implementation of the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan 2006-2015 (CAHPAH) and Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)6.


3.1 Rights of the child


44. A lot of attention and work of national focal points of the 47 Council of Europe member states and experts has been put into developing European Guidelines on national integrated strategies for the protection of children against violence. They were launched in Strasbourg in June 2009 and adopted at the handover meeting of the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers from Slovenia to Switzerland on 18 November. These Guidelines, which were strongly supported by Slovenia, are a contribution by the Council of Europe to the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


45. The 28th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Family Affairs was held in Vienna on 16 and 17 June. The conference looked at the societal and economic factors explaining low birth rates in Europe and analysed contemporary family friendly policies based on equality between women and men and children’s rights. The Final Communiqué adopted by the Conference and the recommendations contained therein are currently under consideration by the Committee of Ministers.


46. A celebratory declaration on the need for a rights-based approach to youth in the future policies of the Council of Europe, pointing towards the need for a Convention on the Rights of Young People, was adopted by the youth participants at the youth event celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe at Brdo pri Kranju in September. The declaration was handed over to the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.


47. The Slovenian Chairmanship organised an International Conference on Children’s Rights and Protection against Violence in Ljubljana on 6 and 7 October under the honorary patronage of the President of Slovenia, Danilo Türk. The Conference focused on three topics: education on the rights of the child; the right to protection against violence; and the activities of the Council of Europe and the Government of Slovenia in these areas. The event aimed at raising awareness among policy makers, experts and the general public about children’s rights. Special attention was given to children, who took an active part in the conference. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, who attended the Conference, stressed the importance of including children and youth in the discussions concerning them. The visibility of the work done in this area in the Council of Europe should continue to be enhanced.


48. The Slovenian Chairmanship supported the translation of the book “Youth without corporal punishment for our children”, which was prepared by the Forum against Corporal Punishment of the Children in the Family within the Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth. The book is now in English and has been distributed to all Council of Europe member states.


3.2 Human rights education


49. In the context of implementation of the Warsaw Declaration and Plan of Action and the Council of Europe’s numerous efforts in the past twenty years to enhance human rights education of the young, Slovenia has paid special attention to this topic.


50. During the UN International Year of Human Rights Learning in 2009 and at the time of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Slovenia put this priority high on its agenda. On the basis of useful past experience with a pilot project widely implemented in 2005/2006, Slovenia has started in September 2009 with the implementation of a human rights project “Our Rights” for 50.000 children. The objective was to contribute to democratisation, especially promotion of tolerance and respect through human rights education of children. This coincides with a key priority of Slovenian foreign policy, namely the empowerment of children, which includes educating them on their rights.


51. Slovenia chose to support partners in post-conflict societies and societies where children were victims of terrorist attacks (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo (5) and North Ossetia–Alanya in the Russian Federation) in continuing the “Our Rights” project in the 2009/2010 school year. The project was started in all three locations in September 2009, for the entire generation of 12-year old pupils in Kosovo,4 children of all three main national communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the entire generation of 11–12 year olds in North Ossetia–Alanya in the Russian Federation.


52. On the basis of this project, an exhibition titled Our Rights was prepared and presented in Strasbourg, Budapest and in Ljubljana.


3.3 Intercultural dialogue


53. The Slovenian Chairmanship is pleased to report that all the exhibitions it organised during its chairmanship in the Palais de l’Europe were directly related to its priorities and focused on intercultural dialogue: i) Exhibition Our Rights – about education on children’s rights; ii) Exhibition You See Me, I See You: Cultural Diversity in the Eyes of Roma – exhibition on the role of photography in the dissemination of negative images and stereotypes of Roma; iii) Ljubljana Process – Rehabilitating Our Common Heritage - based on rehabilitation projects of the architectural and archaeological heritage in South East Europe.


54. Considering the importance of intercultural dialogue as an instrument to promote an open, complex cultural environment fostering the diversity and dynamism of European society, the Slovenian Chairmanship worked on ensuring the effective implementation of the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue. In this context, it welcomed the strong interest shown by the UN Alliance of Civilisations in drawing on the White Paper when devising its own national plans and regional strategies for intercultural dialogue. The Slovenian version of the White Paper was recently published.


55. With regard to the Committee of Ministers' action in the field of the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, the Slovenian Chairmanship recalls that the 2009 Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue took place in Strasbourg on 29 and 30 June. The 2009 Exchange was on the same theme as the 2008 event, i.e. “Teaching religious and convictional facts: a tool for acquiring knowledge about religions and beliefs in education; a contribution to education for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue”. The Committee of Ministers defined several follow-up actions to be developed within the 2010 Programme of Activities, to concretise the conclusions of the first two exchanges. They are, in particular, promotion of Council of Europe tools and guidelines in the relevant field, specific training sessions within the Pestalozzi Programme and the setting up of a network of pilot schools). A new theme has been chosen for the 2010 Exchange on “The role of the media in fostering intercultural dialogue, tolerance and mutual understanding: freedom of expression of the media and respect towards cultural and religious diversity”.


56. The Slovenian Chairmanship welcomed the adoption on 23 September of Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)7 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on national film policies and the diversity of cultural expressions.


57. During the Parliamentary Assembly autumn session, Slovenia presented its project by an exhibition at the Palais de l’Europe titled “You See Me, I See You: Cultural Diversity in the Eyes of Roma”. The project with the same name explored the role of photography in the dissemination of negative images and stereotypes of the Roma, while also exploring how photography could help change views on Roma identity and culture. Several renowned Slovenian reporters contributed to intercultural dialogue between the Roma and non-Roma, and to change the public image of Roma, which would lead to more tolerant co-existence and respect for diversity.


58. Furthermore, the Slovenian Chairmanship prepared, in co-operation with the Council of Europe and the European Commission, an international conference under the honorary patronage of the President of Slovenia, Danilo Türk, the “Ljubljana Conference – Rehabilitating Our Common Heritage”, which was held in Ljubljana on 6 and 7 November as a follow-up to the “Ljubljana Process”. The Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, who attended the Conference, stressed that “heritage is part of our cultural DNA”. The Ljubljana Conference attained its main objective, i.e. to emphasise and upgrade – through the final declaration and ministerial statements – the achievements of the Integrated Rehabilitation Project Plan/Survey of the Architectural and Archaeological Heritage (IRPP/SAAH) – a joint campaign implemented by the Council of Europe and the European Commission which has been underway since 2003.


59. The adoption of the Ljubljana Declaration is a milestone in preserving cultural heritage in the region. The conference participants acknowledged the value of the social and economic potential of heritage and its key role in the region, as well as the countries’ commitment to preserving cultural heritage; facilitate reconciliation between communities, and socio-economic development with the strengthening of regional co-operation and intercultural dialogue; ensure sustainability and the continuation of joint action, the financing of rehabilitation projects and the training of experts in project management, the management of monuments and restoration; and finally, the transfer of knowledge and experience from this region. By adopting the declaration and a joint ministerial statement of the beneficiaries of the Ljubljana Process, the participants confirmed their individual and joint responsibility in preserving and promoting the common European cultural heritage and their readiness to co-operate and to take decisions that will enable the continuation of the process in 2011.


60. By adopting the ministerial statement between the Black Sea beneficiaries and the South Caucasus beneficiaries, the representatives of the Kyiv Initiative countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova) are committed to beginning and successfully implementing the Pilot Project on the Rehabilitation of Cultural Heritage in Historic Towns, while taking into account and using all the experience gained within the regional programme in South-East Europe.


61. The exhibition “Ljubljana Process – Rehabilitating our Common Heritage” was displayed during the Parliamentary Assembly Autumn Session and at the international conference in Ljubljana.


62. From 8 to 18 October the Forum of Slavic Cultures, in order to fulfil its mission – introducing Slavic Cultures to the world at large– under the auspices of the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, and within the framework of the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, presented three events in Strasbourg: a literary evening of Slavic works, an evening of Slavic music and a Slavic film festival.


3.4 Education on crimes against humanity


63. In the framework of Council of Europe action in the field of youth, education and the teaching of remembrance and the prevention of crimes against humanity, the Committee of Ministers, on 20 May 2009, adopted a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation between the Council of Europe and the International Task Force for Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF). This agreement will enable close co-operation between the Council of Europe and the ITF to be developed and carried out in areas of common interest, particularly in combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, hate crimes and other forms of extremism, and in understanding and respecting human rights.


64. Prevention of crimes against humanity was the main theme of a seminar which Slovenia organised in Ljubljana from 14 to 17 October in the framework of its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers and as part of the Council of Europe training programme for education professionals "PESTALOZZI" Programme. It tackled the issue of crimes against humanity during World War II and after, in connection with the birth of the European integration.


4 FOSTERING CO-OPERATION WITH OTHER INTERNATIONAL AND EUROPEAN ORGANISATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS


65. Increased co-operation between the Council of Europe and other organisations, particularly the European Union, the OSCE and the United Nations, was one of the Slovenian Chairmanship’s priorities.


4.1 European Union


66. As far as the European Union is concerned, the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union presented its priorities to the Ministers’ Deputies on 8 July 2009. A number of areas where increased co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union would be mutually beneficial were mentioned in this context, having regard in particular to the “Stockholm Programme” concerning the future of EU action in the areas of freedom, security and justice and to the new Eastern Partnership initiative of the Union. At the 29th Quadripartite meeting between the Council of Europe and the European Union, held in Luxembourg on 27 October 2009, regional issues of common interest were discussed.


67. The celebration of the European Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October was an opportunity for the two organisations to demonstrate their determination to work hand in hand against this inhuman penalty, which is unfortunately still applied around the world.


68. The Lisbon Treaty presents a legal basis for the accession of the European Union/European Community to the European Convention on Human Rights. A speedy accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights is essential and negotiations should start as soon as possible.


4.2 OSCE


69. Minister Samuel Žbogar presented the priorities of the Slovenian Chairmanship at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 4 June 2009. He particularly highlighted the need for intensive co-operation between the two organisations. The Co-ordination Group, established to reinforce synergies with the OSCE in agreed priority areas, met in Strasbourg on 11 September 2009, to review the state of co-operation regarding the fight against terrorism and trafficking in human beings.


4.3 United Nations


70. Slovenia, as the Chair of the Committee of Ministers and the Spanish authorities co-sponsored the launching event of the Joint Council of Europe/United Nations Study on Trafficking in organs, tissues and cells and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of the removal of organs that took place in October 2009, in the context of the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.


71. Slovenia also actively participated at the annual High-level Tripartite meeting between the Council of Europe, the UN and the OSCE in Geneva on 3 June under the theme “Preventing conflicts through the strengthening of democratic institutions: enhancing democratic governance and institutions to reconcile interests and promote non-violent resolution of conflict”.


Conclusion


72. Enhanced dialogue resulted in the election of Thorbjørn Jagland as Secretary General of the Council of Europe by the Parliamentary Assembly on 29 September at its autumn session. The election of the Secretary General is also one of the most important results of the Slovenian Chairmanship coinciding with the commemorative year of the Organisation’s 60th anniversary. The Slovenian Chairmanship is pleased that the upcoming Swiss Chair has made the continuation of this enhanced dialogue and the revision of the rules of procedure for the election of the Secretary General a priority of their chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.


73. The commemorative ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe took place at the Palais des Congrès in Strasbourg on 1 October. The ceremony was marked by speeches delivered by Council of Europe leaders and prominent European figures, including Mikhaïl Gorbachev, former President of the USSR, and José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission as well as Danilo Türk, the Slovenian President.


74. The 60th anniversary was also an opportunity to publish a publication titled Slovenia and the Council of Europe, which outlines Slovenia’s path since becoming a member state in 1993 up to its chairmanship, and summarises the key achievements of the Council of Europe sixty-year heritage and fifty years of the European Court of Human Rights. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe and the Slovenian Chairmanship, the Slovenian President, Danilo Türk, awarded the former Secretary General of the Council of Europe Catherine Lalumière with the Golden Order for Services for her important contribution to Slovenia’s accession to the Council of Europe in 1993. 

 


1 To date, seven member states have ratified Protocol No. 14 bis (Denmark, Georgia, Iceland, Ireland, Monaco, Norway and Slovenia) and twelve have signed it (Austria, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Moldova, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”). Ten member states (Albania, Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and United Kingdom) have accepted provisional application of certain provisions of Protocol No. 14 in accordance with the Madrid Agreement.


2 Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Sweden and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".


3 See document DPA/Inf(2009)24.


4 See document SG/Inf(2009)13.


5 Note: All reference to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.