The Council of Europe was founded 60 years ago today. To mark the occasion, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made the following statement today (5 May) in Berlin:
"The Council of Europe plays a unique role within Europe: As a truly pan-European organization, for the last six decades it has been the main European pillar for the protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy and the rule of law.
There is no doubt that the Council of Europe and its primary institutions – for example the European Court of Human Rights, the Commissioner for Human Rights, or the Venice Commission – have made an invaluable contribution, especially after the lifting of the Iron Curtain. Europe can therefore rightly take pride in this organization.
At the same time, we also need to work together in the future to ensure that the Council of Europe retains its key role in the network of Euro-Atlantic organizations."
The Council of Europe is the continent's oldest intergovernmental political organization. Germany's admission into the Council of Europe in 1950 marked its return to the community of civilized states. The organization has 47 member states, including 21 Central and Eastern European countries. Four states – the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico – and the Holy See have been granted observer status. The only European countries that are not currently members are Belarus and Kosovo.
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law, to guarantee uniform social and legal standards and to raise awareness of a common European identity based on shared values.