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Directorate General of Democracy
Issue 24 – 6 May 2021
Launch of a website dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention
Launch of a website dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention

May 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). On this occasion, a dedicated website has been launched to share innovative content, up-to-date information and new publications on the contribution the Istanbul Convention is making in advancing the right of women and girls to live free from violence. A key component are the testimonies from professionals, women’s rights activists and others whose work is inspired by the Convention – featured in a quote-of-the-day section. Information on the virtual conference  taking place on the day of the anniversary, 11 May 2021, is already available. This key event can be followed live without registration.

Let’s join forces around the Istanbul Convention!

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OSCE Chair-in-Office invites young people for an exchange of views in the EYCS
From left to right: Rosaline Marbinah, Ann Linde, Antje Rothemund, Alice Bergholtz, Marie Farigoules, Ambassador Mårten Ehnberg, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the Council of Europe
OSCE Chair-in-Office invites young people for an exchange of views in the EYCS

Ann Linde, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, visited the Council of Europe on 28 April 2021. She met with Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić to discuss co-operation between the two organisations.

Her agenda also included a visit to the European Youth Centre to host a roundtable on youth participation in legislative and policy processes, chaired by Alice Bergholtz, Advisory Council representative. Youth policy has been a permanent theme on the OSCE agenda for several years now. Ahead of the visit, Ann Linde said: “Young people must have the power to shape their own lives and have an influence on the development of society. They have the right to be heard and their opinions must be taken into account. Their contribution to the work of the Council of Europe and the OSCE is important and valuable”.

It is not Ann Linde’s first time inside the European Youth Centre. From 1984 to 1988, she was Secretary General of LSU, the National Youth Council of Sweden, and in this capacity was a member of the Advisory Council on Youth set up by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers and made up of representatives of youth NGOs and networks. Later, as Ann Linde worked for the government, from 1991-1993 she represented Sweden on the European Steering Committee for Youth, composed of ministries and bodies responsible for youth issues of the Council of Europe member states. So, the minister has been active on both sides of the Council of Europe youth sector’s ground-breaking co-management system.

Conference on “Human Rights and Democracy” and Roundtable on the “Freedom of Expression of the Arts and Culture in the Digital Era”, Kristiansand, Norway, 5-6 May 2021
Conference on “Human Rights and Democracy” and Roundtable on the “Freedom of Expression of the Arts and Culture in the Digital Era”, Kristiansand, Norway, 5-6 May 2021

The Director General of Democracy participated in the Conference on Human Rights and Democracy on 5 May, organised by the City of Kristiansand in co-operation with the Council of Europe. This event was followed by a Roundtable discussion on 6 May on the Freedom of Expression of the Arts and Culture in the Digital Era, organised by Cultiva Foundation, and attended by German and Norwegian State Secretaries, joining experts in the field to discuss how culture and the arts can keep democracy alive. The Roundtable provided also an opportunity to preview the new exhibition platform for the digital exhibition “Free to Create, Create to be Free” and featured several artistic performances.

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Council of Europe collaborates with international organisations to raise the visibility of Social Science Research in Sport
Council of Europe collaborates with international organisations to raise the visibility of Social Science Research in Sport

As a part of the activities of its Anti-Doping Convention (sport.t-do@coe.int), the Council of Europe in partnership with the European Commission, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) established a Social Science Research (SSR) Collaboration Platform - an informal “community of practice” for international organisations that fund or support SSR in sport integrity matters. Its focus is to share best practices and raise the visibility of SSR to increase its usability and, ultimately, its impact on the sporting system. The organisations involved engage to share experiences using their collective insights to improve the benefits of SSR, including reducing duplication of research and importantly, improving the way in which SSR is disseminated, understood and adopted by stakeholders in the field of sport.

 While each of the organisations involved in the SSR Collaboration Platform has its own specific research priorities, the overarching research themes that capture all of the organisations’ common interests are:

  • Athlete welfare/well-being
  • Sport integrity
  • Values-based education
  • Sport governance
  • Effectiveness of education
  • Equality and inclusion in sport
  • Athlete environment/influences on behavior
  • Impact of technology on sport integrity

 The Council of Europe and its partners are confident that the SSR Collaboration Platform will have a positive impact on the sporting system and welcomes requests to join the Platform from other international and regional organisations that have a role in funding or supporting SSR in sport (including private organisations).

Conference organised under the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
Conference organised under the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

A conference entitled “Ending trafficking in children and young persons: together, towards a future without child trafficking in Europe" took place on 4-5 May 2021, in the framework of the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers. High-level keynote speakers, including the Secretary General of the CoE and the State Secretary of the German Ministry of the Interior, experts and panellists will deliver key messages and discuss recent trends in the trafficking and exploitation of children and young persons. Three workshops will be dedicated to discussions on

  • the exploitation of children and young persons through the Internet
  • strengthening child and young persons’ testimonies
  • the exploitation of children and young persons by family structures.
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4th meeting of the Drafting Committee on migrant women
4th meeting of the Drafting Committee on migrant women

The Council of Europe Drafting committee on migrant women (GEC-MIG) held its fourth meeting via videoconference on 27 and 28 April 2021. GEC-MIG, a subordinate body to the Gender Equality Commission (GEC), is tasked by the Committee of Ministers to draft a Recommendation on migrant and refugee women and girls.  Topics such as arrival, residence, integration, socio-cultural and political participation, family reunion and returns were discussed during the meeting. The GEC-MIG will hold its final meeting at the end of September 2021. The text of the draft Recommendation will then be forwarded to the Gender Equality Commission for discussion and adoption at its November 2021 plenary meeting.

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World Forum for Democracy
World Forum for Democracy

In May the Campaign “12 months, 1 question” of the World Forum for Democracy discusses the context of violence against environmental defenders, the seeming impunity of many perpetrators of this violence and looks into ways of better protecting them. Addressing the climate crisis requires the participation of all levels of society: individuals and governments as well as private sector. The risk of climate breakdown very soon requires urgent action; however, the necessary structural changes are happening at a slow pace. Some brave individuals have been stepping up and joining the frontlines of this fight for our environment – risking their wellbeing and even their lives. Global Witness reported that 212 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2019 – an average of more than four people a week. The journalists, activists, local communities, indigenous peoples etc who stood up against big industries, corrupt officials or public apathy are putting themselves at enormous risk, on behalf of us all.

 More information :  Forum Mondial de la démocratie : campagne « 12 mois, 1 Question »

Video teaser for May ›
The 15-Minute City: Lockdown Daydreaming or a Model for Sustainable Urban Living?
The 15-Minute City: Lockdown Daydreaming or a Model for Sustainable Urban Living?

On 29 April 2021, a webinar organised in the context of the World Forum for Democracy explored how innovative urban planning can help cities address environmental concerns while delivering better governance, in line with the Council of Europe 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left public authorities at all levels facing an emergency unprecedented in both scale and scope and has exposed weaknesses in governance models. It has also served as a wake-up call: the well-being of humanity depends on the health of the environment. Metropolitan areas are at the forefront of the impending environmental disaster as they account for almost 70% of global carbon emissions and more than 60% of resource use.

The concept of the “15-Minute City” first emerged in 2016 and has been receiving increasingly visibility in recent months, also due to limitations to mobility that have been introduced in member States to keep the pandemic under control. Offering access to key everyday services and functions within 15 minutes of where people live, the “15-Minute City” can help tackle environmental challenges and contribute to better social well-being, protection of biodiversity and preservation of natural resources, and the promotion of a responsible economy.

Speakers included Carine Rolland, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of Culture and the “15 Minute City”, Venla Bernelius, Assistant Professor of Urban Geography, University of Helsinki, and Tamás Dömötör, Chief Government Adviser on Urban Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office of Hungary.

If you missed the webinar, here is the video recording. ›
CINGO elects its new leadership
CINGO elects its new leadership

The Conference of INGOs (CINGO) elected its new President and Standing Committee at its General Assembly on 28 April. 

Gerhard ERMISHER (Civilscape) takes over the reins from Anna RURKA and will lead the CINGO for the next three years. Gerhard is no stranger to the Council of Europe, has been the CINGO representative to the CDDG for several years and has established close co-operation with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, in particular the joint work on the revision of the Code of good practice for civil participation in the decision-making process.

Geneviève LALOY (Comenius Association) and Christoph SPRENG (Initiatives of Change – International) were elected to the two posts of Vice-President.  Together with the 8 elected members of the Standing Committee, the new leadership of the CINGO forms a young, dynamic and truly European team.  Work will start immediately to implement the new rules of procedure, draft a 3-year strategic action plan and set up committees in priority fields.   

-             Ruth ALLEN (International Federation of Social Workers – Europe),

-             Rares CRAIUT (The European Confederation of Youth Clubs),

-             Simon MATTHIJSSEN (The European Ombudsman Institute),

-             Goran MILETIC (Civil Rights Defenders),

-             Olga SADOWSKAYA (World Organisation against Torture),

-             Piotr SADOWSKI (Volonteurope),

-             Anna SEVORTIAN (EU-Russia Civil Society Forum),

-             Beata ZWIERZYNSKA (The European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers)

Greta publishes its third report on Bulgaria

GRETA published its third report on Bulgaria on 29 April 2021, calling on the authorities to improve trafficking victims’ access to justice and compensation, and to ensure the sustainability of anti-trafficking measures through the allocation of appropriate funding. This third report on Bulgaria’s implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings focuses on access to justice and effective remedies for victims of trafficking in human beings.

The study “Preventing violence against women: Article 12 of the Istanbul Convention” is now available in Azerbaijani

The study “Preventing violence against women: Article 12 of the Istanbul Convention” was made available in Azerbaijani, in the framework of the PGGII action “Raising awareness of the Istanbul Convention and other gender equality standards in Azerbaijan”. It was presented in a webinar targeting a variety of stakeholders in Azerbaijan.

Serbia: Strengthening civil servants’ professional development during the pandemic
Serbia: Strengthening civil servants’ professional development during the pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has created monumental challenges for the public administration but also opportunities. On 27 April 2021, a hybrid conference organised by the Serbian National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA) with the support of the joint EU-Council of Europe Programme Human Resources Management in Local Self-Governments – phase 2 offered a platform for government representatives, public administrations, local authorities and other stakeholders to reflect on the lessons learnt and identify the way forward.

Dejan Miletić, acting Director of the NAPA, presented how the Academy had managed a successful transition to new working methods. "In order to successfully continue reforming the public administration, we need to encourage civil servants to develop professionally and provide them with training programs that will be available through one click on a computer or mobile phone applications", said Mr Miletić, announcing that the next step for NAPA was to develop mobile phone applications for training, together with other digital tools.

Addressing the event by video message, Snežana Samardžić Marković, Director General of Democracy of the Council of Europe, recalled that the crisis had raised expectations amongst citizens that the greater responsiveness and accessibility of the public administration would be maintained even in the aftermath of the current emergency and confirmed the Council of Europe’s availability to support the efforts undertaken by Serbia to deliver better governance and develop a more professional civil service.

video message ›
Georgian prosecutors and investigators trained on sexual violence crimes
Georgian prosecutors and investigators trained on sexual violence crimes
50 prosecutors and 9 investigators completed a specialised training on sexual violence crimes organized by the Council of Europe, the General Prosecutor’s Office and the UN Women Georgia. The trainings were based on the findings of the study “Administration of Justice on Sexual Violence Crimes against Women in Georgia” and the sexual violence manual for investigators, prosecutors and judges, developed in cooperation with the Council of Europe, national authorities, UN Women and Equality Now (NGO). The trainings were organised in the framework of the Council of Europe project “Promoting an Integrated Approach to End Violence against Women and Enhancing Gender Equality in Georgia”.
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The role of NGOs in combating trafficking in human beings in Turkey

In Turkey, a roundtable on the role of non-governmental organisations in combating trafficking in human beings took place on 26 April, with the participation of NGOs, municipalities and state institutions in order to strengthen strategic partnerships and encourage the involvement of NGOs. Participants exchanged examples of good practice regarding the involvement of NGOs in the provision of assistance to victims of trafficking, awareness raising and other measures to combat human trafficking. The roundtable also provided an opportunity to discuss problems encountered by NGOs and ways to address them.

Protecting children in the digital environment in Morocco

A coordination meeting took place on 20 April between representatives of the Council of Europe and members of the taskforce of the Espace Maroc Cyberconfiance project, which brings together institutions, representatives of civil society and academics, with a view to coordinate actions aimed at better protecting children in the digital environment. This meeting provided an opportunity to discuss ways of improving children’s awareness of their rights online, capacity building of professionals and the promotion of existing projects, such as the portal for reporting images and videos of sexual abuse against children on the Internet, available since February 2021.

Training social workers on gender equality in Armenia

As part of the Armenian social workers’ mandatory in-service training programme, a group of 240 social workers will be trained on the promotion of gender equality and prevention of gender-based violence between April and December 2021 by the Yerevan State University’s Centre for Gender and Leadership Studies. The trainings are organised with the financial support of the Council of Europe project “The path towards Armenia’s ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence”.

Training courses on Women’s Access to Justice for legal aid lawyers in the Eastern Partnership

As part of the EU/CoE Partnership for Good Governance II Programme regional action “PGG II: Women's Access to Justice: delivering on the Istanbul Convention and other European gender equality standards in the Eastern Partnership countries (2019-2021)” a group of 56 legal aid lawyers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova deepened their competences on international standards on access to justice and violence against women.

Conference “Supporting the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Romania”
Conference “Supporting the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Romania”

The Council of Europe participated as a leading speaker in the on-line conference Supporting the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Romania” held on 27 April 2021, organised by the Romanian National Agency for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (ANES) under the Norway Grants Romania Justice programme.

Conference “Supporting the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Romania”
First steering committee of the project “Combatting violence against women in Ukraine”

The first Steering Committee meeting of the Council of Europe project “Combatting violence against women in Ukraine” (COVAW) was held online on 29 April 2021. The project started in January 2021 and will be implemented through December 2022.

The two components of COVAW – awareness raising and legislative frameworks – provide a double level of support to Ukraine in preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in line with the standards of the Istanbul Convention. The hashtag #CoeCOVAW was introduced to consolidate social media posts on the project

Republic of Moldova improves its electoral practice with the help of the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe launched the Project Improving Electoral Practice in the Republic of Moldova, Phase II (March 2021-February 2023) during the first Project Steering Committee meeting held online on 28 April 2021.

Members of the Steering Committee welcomed the indicative Plan of the project activities and the Plan of the Project, endorsing both. After the selection of the local consultancy, the International call for tenderers in electoral field will select best European experts. The delay for application is 17 May 2021.

Ukraine: a new online course for election observers

On 23 April 2021, a presentation and discussion of the concept of an online training course for official election observers on the informational and awareness-raising platform “CEC: prosvita” was held in online format. The members of the Central Election Commission of Ukraine (CEC), representatives of the CEC Secretariat, civil society organisations, political parties and Council of Europe experts took part in the event.

 The training course is expected to contribute to the enhancement of basic and advanced knowledge and skills in electoral law and electoral process as regards election observation, including the following aspects: election campaigning, tabulation of voting results and establishment of election results, rights of election observers and limitations with respect to their powers, typical and non-typical violations of the electoral legislation, as well as methods and means for the protection of electoral rights.


CEB Award for Social Cohesion 2021 attracts significant interest

The second edition of the CEB Award for Social Cohesion received 114 eligible applications from 27 member countries, a 30% increase compared to the pilot launch in 2020.  Many of the nominated projects address pressing social issues in the field of healthcare, while there is also a strong focus on promoting gender equality and the wellbeing of persons with disabilities.   The shortlist will be announced on 25 May. An international Jury of experts will award the €25,000 prize to one of those fives projects that makes a significant contribution to social cohesion in an innovative and effective way. 

EIB commits additional funding to the CEB’s Migrant and Refugee Fund

The European Investment Bank agreed to make a €250 000 additional contribution to the CEB’s Migrant and Refugee Fund (MRF) to support the improvement of living conditions in refugee camps and centres of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The contribution will finance non-food items and operating expenses as well as essential services, in particular for refugees in the Lipa camp. It will complement EU-funded humanitarian assistance for refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Intercultural Academy for Communicators – What story does your city tell?
Intercultural Academy for Communicators – What story does your city tell?
Intercultural Cities

On 19-21 April 2021, the Intercultural Cities programme organised the “Academy on alternative narratives and intercultural communication”. This is a training course for staff in charge of communication in ICC member cities, aiming to bridge the gap between policies and communication, to get useful skills on positive narrative creation, as well as knowledge on the principles of inclusive communication and storytelling. It also offers a chance to build alliances and common understanding between practitioners working on intercultural policies implementation and communicators who should voice the intercultural transformation of the cities. Under the notion “what story does your city tell?” the Academy examined which narratives work and why, how to tell the intercultural story, what to consider to ensure cities’ communication is inclusive as well as what to do when faced with negative stories in our daily life. In the coming weeks, materials relating to the topic of intercultural communication and alternative narratives will be published on the ICC web. In addition, a training course will be published for ICC members.

On 29 and 30 April 2021 the World Forum for Democracy published video statements by the Mayors of the cities of Erlangen and Vinnytsia, collected by the ICC programme as a contribution to their April campaign on Environmental action at local level.

The DSG of the Council of Europe and EPAS Chair express concerns about a European Super League (ESL)
The DSG of the Council of Europe and EPAS Chair express concerns about a European Super League (ESL)

The world of European football was plunged into turmoil on 18 April 2021, with the announcement that a European Super League (ESL) was being established, which would essentially rival the UEFA Champions League. The new Super League would be a competition between 20 top clubs, comprised of 15 founders and 5 annual qualifiers. Controversially, 12 European elite clubs declared their intention to take part as founders of this breakaway competition, which resulted in almost universal opposition from fans, players, managers, politicians, other clubs, as well as FIFA, UEFA and some national governments. Under the ESL rules, the 15 founding teams in the competition would not face qualification or relegation, and it was widely criticised that this would devalue the game because it was unfair and in breach of the openness in sports competitions.

Concerned by these developments, the Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge wrote a letter to the Chair of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), Alexandre Husting, in which he asked the Governing Board to hold an urgent exchange with the sports movement “to address the possible implications of such an unfortunate initiative and how the future European Sports Charter would safeguard a value-driven sport”.

In his reply to the Deputy Secretary General, Mr Husting reminded the shared commitment of CoE Member States to the principle of autonomy of the sport movement in Europe as well as the strong commitment of European countries to freedom of association and economic freedoms. However, he recognized that in the light of the current draft of the revised European Sports Charter, the prospect of a European Super League of Football would, among others, undermine the financial solidarity from top sport to grassroots sports, threaten the consistent implementation of sport integrity regulations, and show disregard for social dialogue (with players, unions and with key stakeholders such as fans).

Mr Husting confirmed that this issue will indeed be discussed at the next joint meeting of the EPAS Governing Board and Consultative Committee, due to take place online on 15-16 June 2021.


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11th Meeting of the Council of Europe Dialogue with Roma and Traveller civil society - combating antigypsyism
11th Meeting of the Council of Europe Dialogue with Roma and Traveller civil society - combating antigypsyism

On 29-30 April 2021, the Council of Europe held its 11th Dialogue Meeting with the Roma and Traveller civil society, focusing on the topic of combating antigypsyism.

Almost 50 participants took stock of current issues regarding racism and discrimination against Roma and Travellers in Europe. On behalf of the Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues (ADI-ROM), Dr Iulius Rostas presented his forthcoming report on the causes, prevalence, and consequences of antigypsyism.

Recent responses by the Council of Europe, its member States’ governments, and civil society organisations were presented and discussed. Based on the analysis of existing initiatives, recommendations were made how to step up national and international efforts to tackle antigyspsyism, including through Joint Programmes with the European Commission.

The conclusions and recommendations emanating from this Dialogue meeting, currently being finalised by the General Rapporteur, will be presented at the 4th meeting of the Committee of Experts on Roma and Taveller Issues (ADI-ROM) in October 2021 for follow-up.

The 12th meeting of the Council of Europe Dialogue with Roma and Traveller civil society, scheduled to take place in Autumn 2021, will focus on teaching the history of Roma and Travellers.


European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

On 26 April, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe published the 10th report of the Secretary General on the application of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The report covers three consecutive years (2018-2020) and highlights the improvements that were made to the monitoring mechanism in 2018 and implemented since 2019. The Secretary General identifies the sustainability and effectiveness of the reformed system as the main challenge between now and 2024. She reiterates that the Charter remains the only legally binding instrument that protects regional or minority languages in Europe and underlines the challenges met by these languages amid the exponential growth of information and communication technologies and artificial intelligence in education, media, culture, public administration and economic and social relations.

Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

On 29 April, Martin Collins, member of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, spoke at the 11th meeting of the Council of Europe Dialogue with Roma and Traveller civil society on “Combating antigypsyism”. He presented the Advisory Committee’s approach towards combating antigypsyism and antinomadism in monitoring the Framework Convention and shared the main areas of concern as well as positive developments observed by the Advisory Committee in its country monitoring reports.

Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child

On 28 April 2021, the Committee of Ministers adopted a Declaration calling on member states to intensify the protection of children’s rights in the digital environment, in particular in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Declaration was prepared by the Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF) jointly with the Consultative Committee of the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (Committee of Convention 108).

T-RV Ad Hoc Working Group on the Preparations for UEFA EURO 2020

The T-RV Ad Hoc Working Group on the Preparations for UEFA EURO 2020 held its 8th and last meeting before the competition. It enabled the exchange between hosting, participating and transit countries, UEFA, EUROPOL, European supporter organisations and other relevant stakeholders, on the final safety, security and service preparations for the tournament.

UEFA and the representatives of the 12 hosting countries updated on the scenarios envisaged to meet the health and safety constraints across Europe. A total of 9 countries confirmed that they will be able to host matches with spectators between 25% and 100% of the safe capacity of stadia, while three hosting cities will,  most probably, not meet the conditions to hold matches: Bilbao, Dublin and Munich. UEFA should decide soon on safe alternatives to these cities.

As regards the arrangements for international police cooperation, it was confirmed by EUROPOL that, no matter what the scenario, this agency will be hosting, for the first time, the International Police Cooperation Centre (IPCC) at its Headquarters in The Hague, even if under strict sanitary protocols.

National police representatives and supporter organisations asked UEFA and national Governments for timely and clear information regarding the final setting of this major competition, now that we are a bit more than one month before the kick-off – the event will take place between 11 June and 11 July.

The tournament had to be postponed to 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This global sanitary crisis added huge challenges and uncertainty to the organisation of the competition, namely because the pandemic has affected hosting countries in different ways, and they have also adopted different measures to stop the spread of the virus.

The 9th and last meeting of this Ad Hoc Working Group shall be held early December 2021, and this will be the occasion for a debrief on good practices and lessons learned from this competition.


Report on hate speech in Serbian media

A new “Report on hate speech in Serbian media”, prepared under the joint European Union/Council of Europe action “Promotion of diversity and equality in Serbia”, was presented in in Belgrade on 20 April with the participation of  the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Brankica Jankovic, and the Head of the COE Office, Tobias Flessenkemper. The report provides examples of hate speech in media and refers to the findings of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) in its 2017 report on Serbia. it concludes that a media environment favouring balanced public debate and impartial information on issues of public concern is needed to help eradicate hate speech. More information and the report are available here.


On 29 April, the SOGI Unit organised the ENDOSGIDISC project closing event during which the work of the Romanian organization ACCEPT, the Italian network of civil society organizations CILD and the Lithuanian Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson was presented. All partners shared the achievements and learning outcomes gained during the implementation of the project and addressed future challenges to tackle in combating SOGIESC-based violence, which will be published in the coming weeks in national reports for each country (Italy, Lithuania and Romania). The project’s milestone is the series of online capacity building training on "Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI Persons: training for a professional police response", which aimed to strengthen the legal protection and access to remedy of LGBTI persons victims of hate crime. Through the training, more than 120 Law enforcement officers gained significant knowledge on the topic to act as multipliers on a national level.

Council of Europe represented at the High-level dialogue on the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Roma in the Western Balkans and Turkey

The High-level dialogue on the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Roma in the Western Balkans and Turkey was organised on 21 April 2021 as a virtual debate between stakeholders whose programmes and projects are currently supported by the European Union. The Director General of DG Democracy, Ms Snezana Samardzic-Markovic, presented the work of the Council of Europe as well as the EU/CoE Joint Programme ROMACTED. More information here.

SOGI action in Romania

In support of the execution of the M.C. and A.C. v. Romania judgment, the SOGI Unit, together with the Execution Department and the HELP programme are holding a joint action to assist Romanian authorities on measures to enhance the criminal justice system’s response to hate crime targeting in particular LGBTI people. In April, the SOGI Unit and the HELP programme presented proposals for a capacity building action in response to a request for assistance made by the Romanian General Prosecutor’s Office.  

Combating violence against children in the Republic of Moldova

On 23 April 2021 the Council of Europe project “Combating violence against children in the Republic of Moldova” and the European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) launched the HELP online course on child-friendly justice. The course will be implemented in cooperation with the Academy “Ștefan cel Mare” and General Inspectorate of Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Moldova during 2 months for two groups of participants: 50 students/master students of the Academy and 56 police officers nominated by the General Inspectorate of Police.

Combating violence against children in Ukraine

On April 27 2021, the Council of Europe Project "Combating violence against children in Ukraine" presented "Methodological Guidelines on Investigative Interviewing of Children", developed with the aim to enhance the capacities on implementation of relevant standards and improve the skills of specialists working with children. The Methodological guidelines are based on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Investigative Interview Protocol and represent a structured tool for professionals who interview children as part of an investigation. Approximately 300 participants joined the online presentation which involved lively discussions on the matter.

Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention)

The team of the Bern Convention Secretariat launched a new online campaign, #VoicesofNature, to promote the connection between wildlife and people. The campaign website showcases stories of natural heritage conservation, human rights protection and democratic participation around Europe. It also contributed to and participated in the World Forum for Democracy online forum lab that took place on 22 April. The discussion focused on the importance of local action to conserve nature by implementing local policies, creating sustainable urban planning, or defending biodiversity.

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International e-conference: Promoting Sustainable and Social Travel in Europe
International e-conference: Promoting Sustainable and Social Travel in Europe

After presenting six proposals for social and sustainable tourism in Europe to the European Parliament in November 2020, the European Network for Sustainable Travel envisages actively contributing to a collective effort to support more resilient, responsible, harmonious and social tourism in line with the new reality caused by the Covid-19 crisis. In parallel, in 2020 Portugal launched a comprehensive action plan for the development of sustainable tourism which foresees the involvement of hotels in reducing energy consumption, a training policy for sustainable tourism actors and the creation of a network of stakeholders contributing to greener tourism in forthcoming years.

Building on these two efforts, the European Network for Sustainable Travel and “Turismo de Portugal”, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of Portugal, the Council of Europe, the European Commission, the European Parliament (TRAN committee), universities and the Faro Convention Network,  organised an e-conference on 21 April entitled “Promoting Sustainable and Social Travel in Europe”, to discuss the future steps in this direction

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The Council of Europe youth sector moves forward with implementation of the European Youth Work Agenda
The Council of Europe youth sector moves forward with implementation of the European Youth Work Agenda

Further to the successful 3rd European Youth Work Convention, organised online in December 2021 by Germany in the overlap of its presidencies of the Council of the European Union and of the Council of Europe, the Joint Council on Youth has agreed the youth sector has a significant role to play in the implementation of the ensuing European Youth Work Agenda.  A working group of the CMJ, composed of representatives of the youth sector statutory committees and key stakeholders, will meet for the first time in May to discuss that role.

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Buddy Bear inaugurated in the German garden of the European Youth Centre
From left to right: Frank Schwabe, Marie Farigoules, EYCS Executive director, Ambassador Rolf Mafael, Marija Pejčinović-Burić, Antje Rothemund, Head of the Youth Department, Andreas Nick
Buddy Bear inaugurated in the German garden of the European Youth Centre

To mark the 70th anniversary of Germany’s membership of the Council of Europe and in view of youth and Roma being a priority of its current Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, Germany has gifted a colourful “Berlin Buddy Bear” to the Council of Europe. The donation is a work of art designed by the graphic, video and action artist Alfred Ullrich, son of a German father and an Austrian Sinti mother and Holocaust survivor.

The Buddy Bear was inaugurated in the garden of the European Youth Centre on 21 April by Ambassador Rolf Mafael, Permanent Representative of Germany to the Council of Europe and Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe in the presence of Andreas Nick Chairperson of the German delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly and Frank Schwabe, Chairperson of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group to the Parliamentary Assembly.

The Council of Europe and its European Youth Centre are delighted to give a home to Buddy Bear and thank Germany for its symbolic donation. Buddy Bear will extend a warm welcome to the hundreds of young people who come to the European Youth Centre to take part in its activities which foster our values of democracy, human rights and respect for diversity!

Watch the video of the inauguration ›
The network of the Quality Label for Youth Centres goes on with its long-term training offer
The network of the Quality Label for Youth Centres goes on with its long-term training offer

In 2020 the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres network introduced a long-term training strategy, consisting of e-learning phases and residential training sessions organised for educational staff of youth centres in the network.

The main aim of the long-term educational programme is to enhance competences of youth centres’ pedagogical staff for incorporating human rights education in their educational activities and to support youth centres in the network to introduce more strategic educational programmes that will mainstream human rights education.

The first pilot e-learning course ran from August 2020 to February 2021 and was attended by educational staff from 13 youth centres.

 Based on the pilot course experience, an adapted intensive e-learning course has now been developed with the aim to allow more colleagues of quality labelled youth centres to participate. Similarly to the pilot, the intensive training course is a combination of thematic webinars and online modules designed by international experts. The first webinar was held online on 15 April with the attendance of 34 participants from 11 youth centres. The course runs every second week between April and June

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The Secretariat continues to evaluate the exceptionally high number of projects before eligible projects are submitted to external drama experts for the second stage of the decision process.

During the 93rd Academy Awards Ceremony which took place on 26 April, the Academy Award for International Feature Film went to ANOTHER ROUND by Thomas Vinterberg, a co-production between Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands supported by Eurimages, the Fund's 10th Academy Award in this category.

On 30 April, the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award of € 20,000 dedicated to documentaries and presented at CPH:FORUM went to the project TATA/FATHER by Lina Vdovîi & Radu Ciorniciuc, to be produced by Monica Lăzurean-Gorgan from the Romanian company Manifest Film.

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The first three sessions of the training on “Gender Equality in the Media” - funded by the Council of Europe and promoted by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe - took place online between February and April 2021.

 All the sessions of this training, designed for media professionals, students and CSO representatives are implemented by the Conference of the Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators (COPEAM) and gather participants from Africa, Middle East and Europe for bi-monthly sessions until June 2021. Together, the participants reflect on ways to counter sexist stereotypes and to promote gender equality in the media. Find out more.

 Over 500 applications were received by 25 April for the call for trainers, experts, consultants, and artists to contribute to the Women Empowerment, Global Education and Youth Cooperation Programmes, for the next four years. Applications are currently under assessment and chosen candidates are expected to start on 1 July until the end of the year with the possibility of extension until 31 December 2025. This tender will provide the NSC with several pools of experts in the areas of women empowerement, youth cooperation and global education for the next years.

 The meeting of the Network on Youth and Global Citizenship took place on 26 April, with 15 participants form the member organisations composing the network. The meeting was an opportunity to share the latest developments of the North-South Centre’s ongoing Global Youth project but also to take decisions together on its next steps. The dates of the upcoming activities were decided (meeting of the international stakeholders in the field of youth and the Meta university 2021) as well as their topics. The meeting was also an opportunity to share member organisations updates about their current projects and explore possible synergies.


The ECML delivered its second webinar of 2021 within the series of additional activities focusing on COVID-19 and language education. The future of language education – learning lessons from the pandemic presented preliminary findings from a Europe-wide survey conducted in February 2021 which received over 1,700 responses from language professionals working at different educational levels in 40 countries. As well as highlighting the huge challenges faced by language teachers and learners and the different coping strategies adopted, it also revealed positive signs of change and innovation that offer hope for the future. The webinar was attended ‘live’ by over 500 participants and the recording has since been watched over 2,500 times.

 The ECML resource website A roadmap for schools to support the language(s) of schooling, was launched in English, French and German. The Roadmap represents one of the key outputs of the ECML programme “Languages at the heart of learning” (2016-2019). The very practical set of resources will help schools create more inclusive, more supportive and more language-aware learning environments which are essential to quality education and key to educational success. 

 In the context of the project Resources for assessing the home language competences of migrant pupils, supported by all countries signatory to the European Cultural Convention, a survey was launched on the place of family languages in school curricula for migrant adolescents aged 11-18. The survey has two complementary sections: one for learners themselves and their families, available in Arabic, English, French, German, Persian (Dari/Farsi), Portuguese and Turkish, and another for staff in schools and other educational institutions, available in English, French, German, Hungarian and Portuguese.


Advisory Council on Youth

The Advisory Council on Youth has been co-operating with the Parliamentary Assembly for many years, bringing the youth perspective to its resolutions in order that policy proposals respond to the needs of young people in Europe. During the April part-session of the PACE, a number of parliamentarians called for the creation of a “youth partner” status with the Assembly.

Observatory on History Teaching in Europe 

The Governing Board of the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe met on 27 April. The Board decided on the assessment procedure for candidates for the Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) and discussed the preparation of the annual events. The Bureau, which held its meeting on the following day, drew up the short-list of 22 most qualified candidates.

Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP)

At its extraordinary meeting of 16 April, the CDCPP elected Flora van Regteren Altena (Netherlands) as Chair of the Committee, Terje Birkrem Hovland (Norway) as Vice-Chair of the Committee and two new Bureau members, namely Solange Michel (Switzerland) and Nuran Kara Pilehvarian (Turkey). The delegates also discussed future work in 2021 and agreed to hold part I of the 10th plenary session on 18 June and part II in the autumn (dates to be confirmed).

Preparations for the G-20 Heads of State and Government

 The second Culture Working Group Meeting, held as part of the G-20 preparatory process and leading to a Culture Ministers’ Meeting on 29-30 July, took place online on 22-23 April. The meeting, to which the Secretariat contributed, analysed key takeaways from preceding webinars on three priorities: Protection of Cultural Heritage and Illicit Trafficking; Addressing the Climate Crises through Culture; Building Capacity through Training and Education. Cross-cutting issues included the Digital Transition and New Technologies for Culture, and Culture and Creative Industries as drivers for Sustainable and Balanced Growth. The meeting paved the way to drawing up of a declaration that will be issued at the Culture Ministers’ Conference, as a contribution to the Summit of the G-20 Heads of State and Government on 30-31 October.  

EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement (Natural and technological disasters) 

The Portuguese hosts of the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction and the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement Ministerial Conference, to be held on 24-26 November 2021 in Matosinhos, advised their decision to hold both events in a hybrid format with minimal physical presence. The Secretariat made dispositions accordingly to create the appropriate conditions for the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement Ministerial Conference.


Online training for experts of the project “Youth for Democracy in Ukraine” 12-14 April & 19-21 April
Online training for experts of the project “Youth for Democracy in Ukraine” 12-14 April & 19-21 April

Twenty-four experts - national consultants of the project “Youth for Democracy in Ukraine” explored the principles and values of the Council of Europe in the field of youth during a five-day training. The activity aimed at preparing the experts for effective and meaningful planning, implementation and evaluation of capacity building activities, support actions and other measures in ten local communities and fourteen youth centres – partners of the Council of Europe project “Youth for Democracy in Ukraine”.

During the training the experts discussed the current developments in youth policy and youth work at national and European level together with Maryna Popatenko, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport in Ukraine, Antje Rothemund, Head of the Youth Department of the Council of Europe, and Olena Lytvynenko, Deputy of the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine.

Curriculum on capacity-building activities for experts in the field of youth policy, youth work and non-formal education was developed in order to support the experts in applying the Council of Europe’ s standards and approaches in the field of youth.

The project "Youth for democracy in Ukraine" is implemented by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe and the Organisation's Office in Ukraine in the framework of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2018-2022.

Promoting Academic Integrity
Under the new Best Practice Programme in Promoting Academic Integrity, a call  was launched on 28 April. The call focuses on solutions found to promote academic integrity during the COVID-19 crisis in the following 6 categories:Teaching and Learning, Policy, Procedures, Communication, Governance/Structures and Training. Higher education institutions recognised as belonging to the education system of one of the 50 States parties to the European Cultural Convention, as well as student unions, are eligible to apply
Quality and inclusive education

To mark Diversity Day in Kosovo* the European Union Office in Kosovo and the CoE Office in Pristina published a joint statement to reiterate that enjoyment of quality and inclusive education is a fundamental right of every child and that efforts must be made to ensure equal access for the most vulnerable children also during the current pandemic. On the same occasion, a video on the importance of quality and inclusive education for all children, produced in the framework of the joint EU/CoE project INCLUDE, was published.

Academic freedom and institutional autonomy

A presentation on academic freedom and institutional autonomy to the recently established Global Observatory on Academic Freedom, linked to the Central European University, was given online on 23 April. The session, held within the 6th Central European Higher Education Cooperation (CEHEC) Conference, explored key challenges to academic freedom as well as ways of addressing them, including within the European Higher Education Area.

Higher education response to COVID-19

Two webinars were held on 21 April to promote the recent book on the higher education response to COVID-19. The first was aimed at an Irish audience and included a warm recommendation of the book by the Irish Minister for higher education (HE), Simon Harris. Close to 200 participants from the Irish HE community and some from other countries gained an overview of key issues in HE's response to COVID, including governance, academic freedom and institutional autonomy, social inclusion, internationalisation, and higher education's role as part of the local community's COVID response. The second seminar, aimed at a Latin American audience and conducted in Spanish, explored Latin American and European higher education responses to COVID, with an emphasis on social inclusion, academic freedom and institutional autonomy, online teaching, and the societal responsibility of higher education.

Self-assessment tool for youth policy: available now in 36 European languages!
Self-assessment tool for youth policy: available now in 36 European languages!

What is the state of youth policy in your country? Has it made progress recently? Would you like to share the best practices you implement in the field of youth policy with your European counterparts?

 The Council of Europe self-assessment tool is now available in 36 languages so you can do just that. The tool will help you to evaluate the development of youth participation, mobility, access to rights and information, inclusion and youth work in your country.

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Self-assessment tool for youth policy: available now in 36 European languages!
EYF assessing applications from 1 April deadline

1 April was the spring deadline for NGOs to submit requests for support to international activities and annual work plans taking place in 2022.

 The European Youth Foundation (EYF) has received 42 applications in this batch, which is now being assessed, including through communication with the applying NGOs. The final decision on the grants will be made by the Programming Committee on Youth at its June meeting. A second deadline for international activities and work plans for 2022 is also set for 1 October, which this year will also include Structural Grants for 2022/2023.

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Visits to supported projects
Visits to supported projects

Each year the European Youth Foundation (EYF) is committed to visit supported projects, to assess the quality of the projects, to engage with Youth NGOs and further understand the reality of young people in Europe, and in line with its responsibilities towards accountability and transparency.

 As many of the activities have moved online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EYF has also adapted its visits, using the opportunities created by online sessions to be present in some of them. In coordination with the organising teams, a EYF digital visit normally consists of a presentation on the Foundation and its opportunities, followed by exchanges with team and participants and often an extended stay during part of the programme, which helps create an fuller idea of the project and its implementation.

 The EYF has visited several activities since the start of the pandemic and several are planned until the end of the year.

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EDQM continues to coordinate the batch release of pandemic COVID-19 vaccines batches in Europe
EDQM continues to coordinate the batch release of pandemic COVID-19 vaccines batches in Europe

 In an ongoing effort to ensure independent quality control and facilitate streamlined release of the vaccines to the public, the EDQM OCABR (Official Control Authority Batch Release) network has published new and updated guidelines for pandemic COVID-19 vaccines. Pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine (Non-Replicating Adenovirus-Vectored Vaccine) and Pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine (mRNA Vaccine) guidelines are available in the full version and include an update with the model protocol for manufacturers. To be prepared for future vaccines based on recombinant protein approaches that will potentially receive conditional marketing authorisations in the EU in the next few months, a NEW Pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine (Recombinant Spike protein) guideline containing section 2 only is also available. The availability of the ‘section 2 only’ guidelines, with the list of tests to be performed by Official Medicines Control Laboratories (OMCLs) for OCABR, at an early stage helps to anticipate the launch of the vaccines and allows OMCLs and manufacturers to take the necessary steps for OCABR, thus preventing delays in availability of vaccine batches while still ensuring their quality and safety. As soon as possible, full guidelines including model protocols will be adopted by the network. The guidelines are for use by OMCLs and manufacturers to ensure a codified and smooth process for timely release of these important vaccines.

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International Symposium on Plasma Supply Management: proceedings now available
International Symposium on Plasma Supply Management: proceedings now available

In 2019, the EDQM and the European Commission organised the International Symposium on Plasma Supply Management. This event – the first of its kind – brought together stakeholders in the blood sector to discuss the increasing use of plasma for fractionation. Participants addressed the matter of increasing the availability of plasma for fractionation in Europe as one of the main strategies for avoiding shortages of the plasma-derived medicinal products that patients with life-threatening diseases need.

After the symposium, a set of recommendations jointly drafted by stakeholder representatives was made available on the EDQM web site. The proceedings of the event, containing all the presentations and summaries of the main topics addressed during the sessions, have now also published by the EDQM. The outcome of the symposium provided an evidence base for the revision of the Guide to the preparation, use and quality assurance of blood components (the Blood Guide, now in its 20th edition) and has contributed to identifying strategies to increase the availability of plasma for fractionation in order to achieve self-sufficiency in Europe.

The proceedings of the International Symposium on Plasma Supply Management can be downloaded from FreePub, the EDQM free publications platform.

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Cooperation with the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists

At the end of April, EDQM representatives met with the president and senior board members of the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) to discuss progress on different activities both parties have an interest in.

EDQM provided the EAHP representatives with an update on the activities for the European Paediatric Formulary (https://paedform.edqm.eu). The European Paediatric Formulary (or “PaedForm” for short) is a freely available, pan-European collection of formulations for extemporaneous preparations. Its aim is to give clinicians, pharmacists and healthcare providers access to formulations of appropriate quality, allowing the preparation of medicinal products for the paediatric population when no licensed alternative is available on the market.

The launch and the now expanded work programme of the PaedForm were highly appreciated by EAHP and its members. Hospital pharmacists were in need of reliable access to standardised preparations, which ensure quality of unlicensed medicines for the youngest and sometimes very vulnerable patient groups. Therefore, EAHP spread the news about any updates on draft or finalised texts within their network. The feedback received during public consultation of new monographs from individual hospital pharmacists as well as from EAHP as a whole ensure that the PaedForm contains high quality monographs that are easy to understand and implement.

EAHP was also very pleased to hear about the progression of work during the pandemic with immediate publication of tables for drug products useful in treatment of COVID-19 in children and the release of two further draft monographs.

Further, EDQM’s activities in the area of pharmaceutical care under the aegis of the European Committee on Pharmaceuticals and Pharmaceutical care (CD-P-PH) were also presented. The core mission of the CD-P-PH is to support national competent authorities to make the medication process safer, more responsible and accessible to all who need it. The discussion focused on two new EDQM projects, which aim to enhance the safe and appropriate use of medicines in both inpatient and outpatient care. The first one focuses on traceability of medicines in hospital setting to minimise the occurrence of medication administration errors while the second one is harmonising the medication review processes in Europe which ensure that patients obtain the best possible outcome from their medicine. In addition, active contributions of the EAHP to EDQM’s events was also briefly discussed (i.e. webinar on Resolution CM/Res(2020)3 on the implementation of pharmaceutical care held in November 2020, participation in the Stakeholder Day held in April 2021, and webinar on Resolution CM/Res(2016)2 on good reconstitution practices to take place in June 2021). Finally, an exchange of views took place on how EAHP could support the dissemination and implementation of standards and guidelines that have been developed by EDQM over the past years, where implementation is a challenge with a need for political will at national level as well as dialogue and incentives at healthcare professionals level. In this respect, actions will be taken to explore how liaison with medical societies and hospital quality assurance auditing schemes could serve as an incentive to increase the implementation of EDQM guidance with a view to harmonising pharmaceutical practices throughout Europe and promoting a rational and more efficient use of medicines for the benefit of patients.

Overall, the bilateral meeting represented an excellent opportunity to exchange views on initiatives of common interest, explore ways to strengthen mutual cooperation, and enhance communication with professional bodies.

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