Organs of the Council of Europe are
- the Committee of Ministers
- the Parliamentary Assembly
- the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
- the European Court of Human Rights.
The Committee of Ministers is the Council of Europe’s decision-making body and comprises the foreign ministers of all member countries, or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is a forum for parliamentary debate. It is entitled to make recommendations and has a number of important decision-making powers. The PACE elects the Secretary General of the Council of Europe from a list of nominees drawn up by the Committee of Ministers, as well as the judges of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Its 324 seats are distributed among the national delegations of the Council of Europe’s member countries. Germany’s delegation is made up of 18 national parliamentarians and 18 substitutes.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRA), which also has 324 seats, serves as the voice of the member countries’ regional and local politicians. Its mission is to promote local and regional democracy and strengthen local self-government and transfrontier cooperation. It also provides observers to monitor regional and local elections in member countries.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is considered the Council of Europe’s flagship with direct relevance to Europe’s citizens. Individuals in Council of Europe member countries can, having been through their national courts, appeal directly to the ECHR if they believe their country has violated their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The institutions of the Council of Europe are assisted by the Secretariat. Since 1 October 2009, it has been headed by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, a Norwegian national. Jagland was elected for a second five-year term by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 24 June 2014.