The Council of Europe and Iceland
The Council of Europe is the leading human rights organisation in Europe. Iceland became the 12th member State of the Council of Europe on 7 March 1950. The Council of Europe now has 46 Member States and 6 Observer States. Each of the Member States is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Signed by Iceland in 1950, the ECHR was designed to safeguard human rights, democracy and the rule of law and has been the cornerstone of human rights law across the continent for over seventy years. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), a subsidiary body of the Council, oversees implementation of the Convention across the Council’s Member States.
The Committee of Ministers
The Committee of Ministers (CM) is composed of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the 46 member States of the Council of Europe or their Permanent Representatives in Strasbourg. The Committee of Ministers is the Council’s decision-making body.
The CM holds a meeting in Strasbourg most Wednesdays, and its duties include deciding on Council of Europe policy and approving its budget and programme of activities.
Four times a year the CM convenes a special meeting on Human Rights (CMDH). Iceland has chaired the CMDH for the last six months leading up to Iceland’s Presidency. The meetings of the CMDH are held for three-days, three times a year where CM examine judgements handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that have not yet been implemented by the respondent states and takes action, as necessary, to ensure that judgements are implemented.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is composed of parliamentarians from all member states of the CoE.
The PACE holds plenary sessions four times a year, in January, April, June and October. During the sessions PACE discusses reports prepared by its nine committees.
The plenary sessions serve also a role of creating a democratic forum for debates on different ongoing issues, presentations on monitoring missions to Member States of the CoE and votes stemming from the findings of its reports.