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The Committee of Ministers is one of two Council of Europe statutory organs (see also, the Parliamentary Assembly) that promotes the CoE’s mission to strengthen and realise human rights, democracy and the rule of law throughout Europe. It is a decision-making body (as opposed to the Parliamentary Assembly’s deliberative functions) that acts both as a governmental body – comprising the Ministers of Foreign Affairs or their representatives from all the member states – and a collective forum where member states can discuss pan-European responses to current affairs. The Committee meets once a year in Strasbourg for one full day or two half days at the ministerial level and thrice a month at the deputies’ level. It is one of the four pillars of the CoE “quadrilogue” (Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, and the Conference of INGOs).
In addition to a Bureau comprising the present Chair, the two previous Chairs and the three future Chairs, the Committee has working structures to help prepare the committee’s decisions:
- Rapporteur groups (on Education, Culture, Sport, Youth and Environment; Democracy; External Relations; Human Rights; Legal Co-operation; Programme, Budget and Administration; and Social and Health Questions)
- Thematic coordinators (on Information Policy)
- Ad hoc working parties (none yet)
The Committee of Ministers is responsible for (Statute of the Council of Europe, Chapter IV):
- Considering the conclusion of conventions or agreements and the adoption of new common policies
- Hearing questions and reports from the Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary General
- Preparing Statutory reports on its activities to send to the Parliamentary Assembly
- Issuing recommendations for action
Want more? You can read the Committee of Ministers Rules of Procedure and learn more about its work
How does it help tackle violence against women?
To promote and protect women’s human rights throughout Europe, the Committee of Ministers have adopted several thematic recommendations (international soft law) related to gender equality and tackling VAW. A few of these include:
- Recommendation (2010)10 on the role of women and men in conflict prevention and resolution and in peace building
- Recommendation (2007)17 on gender equality standards and mechanisms
- Recommendation Rec(2002)5 on the protection of women against violence
The Committee of Ministers was also the body of the CoE which set up the drafting group for the Istanbul Convention. By adopting a mandate for a drafting group comprising delegations from all 47 member states of the Council of Europe, it created the Ad Hoc Committee for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CAHVIO). For a period of two years, this committee was instructed to work out a text for a legally binding treat on violence against women and domestic violence by the end of 2010 which was subsequently adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 7 April 2011. The convention as adopted by the Committee of Ministers opened for signature at a ministerial conference in Istanbul in May 2011 and thus became known as the ‘Istanbul Convention‘.