Chairman Kox on the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe

Mr Kox: “It is inspiring for me to see us all here together in this hemicycle, where we are allowed to be because our governments and parliaments signed and ratified the Statute of the Council of Europe and the European Convention of Human Rights. According to the Statute, the goal of the Council of Europe is to bring greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realizing our ideals and principles: the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Membership obliges all member states to contribute to this greater European unity, says the Statute. The fundamental rights and freedoms of which the Statute speaks, have been formulated in the European Convention of human rights, and are under the oversight of our European Court of human rights, which we have granted the right to make binding verdicts in cases brought before the Court. We, politicians, are able to understand the uniqueness of this Council of Europe and the great promise it is to all our citizens, to have a better and safer life. But we also are aware that it is far more easy to promise than to deliver. In spite of the commitment to greater unity in Europe to the benefit of our citizens, we often see greater divide, to the detriment of our citizens. And in spite of the binding obligations for all member states to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of our citizens, we too often see these rights violated and these freedoms taken away of our citizens. If we want, 70 years after the birth of the Council of Europe, still work on greater unity between our member states, we have to accelerate our efforts to become more effective and inspiring. We have a great acquisition of over 200 conventions, many instruments and organs, and the possibility to develop new conventions, agreements and instruments. By adopting last April a resolution and a recommendation on the main challenges for the future, we gave ourselves as Assembly a clear but demanding roadmap for the coming years. Let us now, celebrating our 70th anniversary, oblige us once again to act in line with these decisions and work hard for greater European unity in the future, in order to promote and protect the rule of law and the fundamental rights and freedoms of our citizens. Our Council of Europe has a great past, let us give it now a great future as well. We can, if we want.”