In Parliament this afternoon, I had the privilege of speaking in a backbench business debate on the role of the Council of Europe. Constituents may be unaware of the importance of the Council of Europe and perhaps unfamiliar with the work being done, often behind the scenes, to uphold human rights, democracy, and rule of law across the continent. In my experience as a group leader, I have seen the work of the Council, touching on matters including migration and asylum.
Since its foundation in 1945 in London, the Council has been pivotal in securing the rights of my constituents seeking to flee from persecution across the world. It is on this point that I began my remarks.
Following the conclusion of the Second World War, politicians from across Europe recognised the need for such an international body. It was Winston Churchill who was an advocate for the creation of the Council as Europe was rebuilt. In recognition of this, many buildings used by the Council are named after the former Prime Minister. While established almost 80 years ago, the Council remains of paramount importance in European politics, ensuring fairness in elections and as a means of keeping states committed to upholding their human rights commitments.
Following on from the speeches made by a number of my colleagues, I focused my speech on the excellent work of the Council’s bodies such as PACE, Council of Ministers, and the Venice Commission. These bodies have contributed to the success of the Council, but work remains underway.
Furthermore, I also talked about how the Council is restricted and the emerging challenges now being faced. This is of particular concern at the moment as Russia has moved from being an active member of the Council of Europe to a pariah in the international community.