Text Box: The Holy See in the Council of Europe

The Holy See in the Council of Europe

Key points

·         The Observer status was granted to the Holy See on 7th March 1970.

·         Mgr. Aldo Giordano is the Special Envoy to the Council of Europe at the Committee of Ministers.

·         Pope John-Paul II officially visited the Council of Europe in October 1988.


The Holy See and the Council of Europe have co-operated since 1962, but it became an official observer member in 1970. Since then, the Holy See has actively participated to the life of the Council.

On 7 March 1976, the Committee of Ministers approved the request, presented by the Holy See, to have an observer at the Committee of Experts of the Council of Europe by applying article No. 7 of the Statute, which claims every member state’s right to have the power to designate its representatives.

The Holy See is also a member of other 27 inter-governmental organisations (international, regional or groups) such as the United Nations, the American States Organisation (OAS), the International Committee for Military Medicine and the World Tourism Organisation (WTO). Since June 1998, the Holy See is also a member of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe in Lisbon. In general it has diplomatic relations with 178 states all over the world.

The Holy See participates to the following Agreements:

- European Commission for Democracy through Law - Venice Commission (Observer since 13.01.1992)

Council of Europe Development Bank (Member since 04.09.1973)
-  European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity - Lisbon North-South   Centre (Member since 01.06.1998)

Since December 1994, the Holy See also participates as observer to the work of the European Commission against Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance.

Questions and Answers

Even if it is not a member state, why can the Holy See sign agreements and conventions?

The Observer Status gives the right to sign conventions according to the Statutory Resolution (93/26) on Observer Status of the Committee of Ministers.

Which Council of Europe conventions has the Holy See ratified?

The Holy See has ratified 6 Council of Europe conventions, among them the European Cultural Convention (in 1962), the European Convention on the Academic Recognition of University Qualifications (in 1979), the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (in 1993), the revised European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (in 1999), the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (in 2001), and the Protocol amending the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (in 2000).

Which conventions has the Holy See signed but not yet ratified?

The Holy See has signed but not yet ratified 1 Council of Europe convention, that is the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production (in 1993). 

Former Representatives

Igino Cardinale 1969-1974

Justo Mullor Garcia 1974-1979

Fortunato Baldelli 1979-1983

Luigi Bressan 1983-1989

Carlo Maria Viganò 1989-1992

Celestino Migliore 1992-1995

Michael Courtney 1996-2000

Paul Gallagher 2000-2004

Vito Rallo 2004-2007

Aldo Giordano 2008-present

Delegation of the Holy See

Monseigneur Aldo Giordano (Permanent Observer)

M. le Curé Christian Gouyaud (attaché)

Mme Teresa Esposito Celiento (attaché)



Giuseppe Zaffuto, Press officer

tel. + 33 (0)3 90 21 56 04

[email protected]


Roberto Tumbarello, Press Correspondent

tel. +39 335 69 38 216

[email protected]

Updated in September 2010