Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation of 46 member states in the European region. Membership is open to all European states which accept the principle of the rule of law and guarantee fundamental human rights and freedoms to their citizens.
The seat of the Council of Europe is in Strasbourg on the Franco-German border. Originally meeting in Strasbourg's University Palace, it is now domiciled in the Palace of Europe on the outskirts of the city centre.
The Council of Europe was founded following a speech given by Winston Churchill at the University of Zurich on 19 September, 1946 (text of speech) calling for a "United States of Europe", similar to the United States of America, in the wake of the events of World War II.
- Protection of human rights (notably social rights, with the European Social Charter), democracy and the rule of law
- Promotion of Europe's cultural identity and diversity;
- Addressing problems facing European society including discrimination, xenophobia, environmental protection, AIDS, drugs and organised crime
- Encouraging democratic stability via reform.
The institutions of the Council of Europe are:
- The Secretariat
- The Committee of Ministers
- The Parliamentary Assembly
- The European Court of Human Rights
Main article: European symbols
The Council of Europe is responsible for the notable European flag with 12 golden stars (upward pointing) arranged in a circle on a blue background since 1955, and the anthem based on the Ode to Joy in the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's ninth symphony since 1972. In 1964, it established the anniversary of its founding on 5 May 1949 as Europe Day.
Members with later admission dates (sorted by date of admission) :
- Greece (August 9, 1949)
- Turkey (August 9, 1949)
- Iceland (March 9, 1950)
- Federal Republic of Germany (July 13, 1950)
- Austria (April 16, 1956)
- Cyprus (May 24, 1961)
- Switzerland (May 6, 1963)
- Malta (April 29, 1965)
- Portugal (September 22, 1976)
- Spain (November 24, 1977)
- Liechtenstein (November 23, 1978)
- San Marino (November 16, 1988)
- Finland (May 5, 1989)
- Hungary (November 6, 1990)
- Poland (November 29, 1991)
- Bulgaria (May 7, 1992)
- Estonia (May 14, 1993)
- Lithuania (May 14, 1993)
- Slovenia (May 14, 1993)
- Czech Republic (June 30, 1993)
- Slovakia (June 30, 1993)
- Romania (October 7, 1993)
- Andorra (October 10, 1994)
- Latvia (February 10, 1995)
- Albania (July 13, 1995)
- Moldova (July 13, 1995)
- Macedonia (November 9, 1995)
- Ukraine (November 9, 1995)
- Russian Federation (February 28, 1996)
- Croatia (November 6, 1996)
- Georgia (April 27, 1999)
- Armenia (January 25, 2001)
- Azerbaijan (January 25, 2001)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (April 24, 2002)
- Serbia and Montenegro (April 3, 2003)
- Monaco (October 5, 2004)
The Vatican City holds special observer status.
The Parliament of Belarus held special guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly from September 1992 to January 1997, but this has been suspended as a consequence of the November 1996 undemocratic constitutional referendum and parliament by-elections and limits on democratic freedoms (e.g. freedom of expression cf. Belarusian media) under the authoritarian regime of President Lukashenko. The constitution changed by the referendum "does not respect minimum democratic standards and violates the principles of separation of powers and the rule of law." . Belarus applied for full membership on 12 March 1993 (still open).
- European Union
- European Federation of National Engineering Associations
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe