Don’t get confused:

Another key organisation (but not part of the European Union!):

the Council of Europe

What is it?

The Council of Europe (CoE) is an international organisation based in Strasbourg. It is an intergovernmental regional organisation different and independent from the European Union. Its aim is the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Its geographical scope of action is much wider than that of the European Union as it covers 47 Member States.


How does it work?

All members of the CoE have signed the European Convention on Human Rights which is basically the Council of Europe’s treaty, securing civil and political rights. The European Court of Human Rights follows (monitors) implementation of the Convention. Its judgments are binding on the countries concerned as by signing the Convention they have agreed to respect the rights it protects.

The European Court on Human Rights ensures that the European Convention on Human Rights is applied in all countries. The Parliamentary Assembly asks European governments to take initiatives and report on the implementation of the Convention and the protection of human rights in their countries.

For more information go to


Why is it relevant?

The Council of Europe promotes human rights by defending freedom of expression and of the media, freedom of assembly, equality, and protection of minorities. For instance it has also launched campaigns on issues such as child protection and the rights of the Roma.

It is also important to note the possibility of NGOs having a ‘’participatory status’’ in the Council of Europe. This status is granted to international NGOs “which are particularly representative in the field(s) of their competence at European level, and which through their work are capable of supporting the achievement of closer unity as stated in Article 1 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, by contributing to its activities and by publicising its work among European citizens. At present some 320 INGOs hold the status.

The participatory status at the CoE also enables NGOs to lodge complaints concerning violation of the European Social Charter. This possibility is also offered to National NGOs. This process is known as the ‘’collective complaint procedure.’’

For more information on participatory status at the Council of Europe and how to apply, click here. For more information on the European Social Charter and its collective complaint procedure, click here.