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Making strides in protecting and promoting human rights in Europe

Better assisting governments with implementing recommendations of international human rights mechanisms, serving as a model of cooperation between the UN and regional human rights mechanisms worldwide, and opening new possibilities for strengthening cooperation in countries where the UN Human Rights Office and the Council of Europe operate, are the key objectives of a new declaration signed by the two organisations.

In New York, the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland signed a joint declaration (on 26 September 2013) that provides a general framework for improving the synergy between the two organisations in the promotion and protection of human rights.

“I believe that increased cooperation between the Council of Europe and the UN Human Rights Office is critical to having a greater impact on the protection of human rights in the region – and could serve as an effective model for collaboration with other regional human rights mechanisms worldwide,” said UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay.

Pillay stressed that the declaration will open new possibilities for strengthening cooperation in countries where the Office and the Council of Europe both have field presences such as in Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine. For example, in the Republic of Moldova, discussions are open between the Office and the Council of Europe to expand joint work in the field of combatting discrimination, building on existing common advocacy on the reform of the Ombudsman Institution. The joint declaration, as Pillay explained, will also deliver more effective assistance to the Governments of Council of Europe Member States in the implementation of the recommendations of international human rights mechanisms. The UN Human Rights Chief also strongly supported the possibilities of future joint programming and activities at the country level with the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe, a leading European human rights organization established in 1949 that currently has 47 Member States including the 28 members of the European Union, has a longstanding relationship with the United Nations and the UN Human Rights Office, and actively contributes to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by submitting information related to its Member States. The two organisations have held annual coordination meetings since 2007, and the next coordination meeting will take place in Strasbourg, on 21 and 22 November 2013.

The UN Human Rights Office is also working to increase cooperation and dialogue between international and regional human rights mechanisms in all other regions, through joint activities, including joint missions and recently established focal points within each respective organisation, in order to maximize the potential for information sharing and synergy between international and regional human rights mechanisms.

14 November 2013

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