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What is the Council of Europe

Seated in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe founded in 1949 at the end of World War II, seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.

The Council of Europe is, today, the biggest and oldest intergovernmental political organisation, comprising 46 countries, including all the Member-States of the European Union and 21 countries from Central and Eastern Europe.

The Holy See, the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico were accepted as observer countries. These countries may participate in the meetings of these two bodies as well as in the work-meetings and conferences.

The guest status is attributed to countries that have revealed interest in joining the organisation but whose adhesion is still under study.

The main functioning and decision-making bodies of the Council of Europe are:

  • The Committee of Ministers
  • The Parliamentary Assembly
  • The Secretary General

Within the organisation, other institutions operating in specific areas and whose decisions have a binding force for the State signatories are:

  • The European Court of Human Rights
  • The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

Portugal at the Council of Europe

After 1974, Portugal declared its interest in joining the Council of Europe. A short while after this declaration of will a Council’s commission came to Portugal in order to assess the democratic situation which was followed attentively by the Assembly.

In August 1976, the domestic conditions essential to the adhesion were all formally met. In 22 September of the same year, Portugal deposited its instrument of adhesion and became the 19th Member-State of the Council of Europe.

The Portuguese delegation at the Committee of Ministers is composed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and by the Permanent Representative of Portugal to the Council of Europe. At the Parliamentary Assembly, Portugal has 7 representatives. Portugal is also represented in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and has one judge at the European Court of Human Rights.

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