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Directorate General of Democracy
Issue 16 – 15 December 2020
A European collaboration to support vaccine developers

As previously reported, the EDQM published a compilation of pharmacopoeial texts on vaccines, together with a training package, in June 2020 to fast track the understanding of regulatory requirements by academic institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises involved in the search for COVID-19 vaccines. This was complemented by a text on recombinant viral-vectored vaccines in November. Following discussions with the European Medicines Agency (EMA), links to all these texts have now been published on the EMA’s website, together with a compilation of quality-related scientific guidelines elaborated by EMA’s working groups that the Agency considers most relevant for COVID-19 vaccine developers. Together, the package now provides vaccine developers with an easy access to relevant legally binding standards of the European Pharmacopoeia, start-of-the-art information on the control strategy for a new class of vaccines and on the quality requirements defined by European regulatory authorities and their expectations on the quality dossier.
LITHUANIA - The European Label of Governance Excellence (ELoGE)

“Lithuania is becoming more beautiful and people are happy about it,” according to the Acting Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, who opened the first ELoGE Ceremony in Lithuania. The Minister of Interior Tamašunienė emphasised the importance of good governance and the advantages of ELoGE: “The 12 Principles have magical power and ELoGE is the perfect way to demonstrate the good work of municipalities…”.Ever since the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance first piloted the European Label of Governance Excellence (ELOGE) over 10 years ago, this innovative tool has been steadily gaining interest throughout Europe. Participating municipalities conduct self-evaluations, councillors' and citizens' surveys to demonstrate adherence to the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance, measured against a specially developed benchmark.Fourteen Lithuanian municipalities have succeeded in demonstrating their respect of the 12 Principles and became the first recipients of the Label in Lithuania.
ALBANIA - Legislative amendments enacted to strengthen protection from discrimination

The Parliament of Albania adopted the changes to the Law on “Protection from Discrimination” as well as amendments to the census law of Albania (on 26 November). 
The legal expertise provided in the context of the joint European Union and Council of Europe Action on “Promotion of Diversity and Equality in Albania” largely contributed in bringing the law in conformity with the European Convention for Human Rights and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommendation, as part of a wider CoE’s cooperation assistance to improve the implementation of anti-discrimination policies and legislation, at the central and local level in Albania, especially on protection of the rights of LGBTI persons, and on combating hate speech/hate crime.The text included the recommendations provided by CoE experts to improve the data collection, including on national minorities.
BELGIUM - De Hoge Rielen Youth Centre receives Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres

This is the 14th youth centre to be awarded the label by European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ).  The De Hoge Rielen Youth Centre’s (Kasterlee, Belgium) outstanding approach to connecting young people to nature and sustainability by offering a wide range of pedagogical youth programmes has been recognised. Universal human rights and democratic values are deeply rooted in the centre’s philosophy. The centre’s work to develop a strategic vision, its professional management of all resources including human, and the commitment of its staff are examples of good practice for other youth centres. Bert Mellebeek, Director, together with his colleagues organised a small coronavirus-safe celebration to mount the Quality Label plaque. The official award ceremony will be organised in the presence of Council of Europe representatives, government officials of Flanders Belgium, young people and other guests post pandemic.

Organised in the framework of the German presidency of the Committee of Ministers, this seminar on Artificial Intelligence: How can youth take part? explored the issues, challenges and roles of potential stakeholders when it comes to securing the participation of young people in AI decision-making processes at all levels. It was one of the steps being taken by the Council of Europe youth sector to make the link between AI and democratic citizenship and is part of the youth sector strategy 2030.  More than 80 young people and experts from the youth, AI and human rights sectors drew up a declaration on youth participation in AI governance expressing concern about the absence of young people in the emerging AI governance processes as a denial of the right to participation in democratic processes. Only by participating can the youth sector co-shape the discourse about development, assessment, implementation and regulation of AI technologies. The Declaration calls for consistent action and advocacy for the inclusion of a youth perspective in AI governance, including a specific dimension of AI literacy and the need to create synergies with a variety of stakeholders and processes. The declaration is complemented by a "plan of action" with proposals for future youth sector activities.

A revised and updated edition of COMPASS, the manual for human rights education, has just been published. This 2020 edition has been enriched with a new preface by the Secretary General, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and has new content related to the Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals. Thanks to these changes, Compass is ready for 2020 and beyond. The new edition is accessible at and can be downloaded from www.coe.int/compass. The paper version can be ordered at https://book.coe.int/en/.
The Education Department participated in the plenary meeting of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) on 2 and 3 December. Member countries and representatives of partners discussed ​the use and dissemination of the non-binding definition on anti-Semitism, the issue of historical distortion and Holocaust denial, and prepared IHRA next presidency.
The UNESCO and CoE held a joint conference “From making student voice heard to active civic participation in the digital age: The role of schools during and after the pandemic” on 23 to 25 November, which gathered participants from around 60 countries. 

250 professionals took part in the last of a series of ECML activities designed to provide support for member states during the COVID crisis. The webinar, targeted at policymakers and curriculum developers working in language education, considered how the CEFR and its Companion Volume can help address two key challenges come to light during the pandemic – public examinations and distance learning. 

Under the SIDA-funded project Strengthening Democratic Citizenship Education in Albania 5 publications will be distributed to education institutions in all country’s regions: 3 Lesson Plans (on Solidarity, Fake News and Cyberbullying), the Education Digital Citizenship Handbook, and the Manual for teachers - Teaching Competences for Democratic Culture online.

The CDPPE Bureau met on 1-2 December.
The main items for discussion were the results of the Informal Conference of Ministers under the Greek Chairmanship, the EHEA Ministerial conference, the launching of the Observatory on History Teaching, the intergovernmental History Education project, the cooperation with UNESCO, and progress in projects on the democratic and local missions of higher education. 

On 3 December, a webinar for the ENIC-NARIC network addressed the recognition of refugees’ qualifications when these cannot be fully documented. Participants were informed on recent initiatives, including the training opportunities offered in the context of the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees

EU-Council of Europe Youth Partnership Management Board
meeting 1 December 2020, online: The Council of Europe Director of Democratic Participation and the European Commission Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+, along with representatives of the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ), the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) and the European Youth Forum, came together in the Partnership Management Board meeting.  The partners commended the very positive results of 2020 and agreed to enhance co-operation through the youth partnership in the future.

2-4 December 2020, online: During the 44th meeting of the Programming Committee on Youth (CPJ), representatives of the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) and the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ), of the youth sector’s co-managed Joint Council on Youth (CMJ), decided jointly on the programme of activities and budget of the youth sector, including the study sessions to be organised in the second half of 2021 and the EYF grants for 2021.

Special session on the Faro Convention during the ICOMOS Europe Section meeting (26-27 November 2020) A session of the online meeting discussed the pertinence of the Faro Convention principles for ICOMOS’ work. The Culture and Cultural Heritage Division presented the significance of these principles for heritage at risk, and discussed with National Committee representatives their advocacy role for signing the Faro Convention among their national authorities, and the engagement of civil society in heritage preservation actions.

The Bern Convention held the 40th annual Meeting of its Standing Committee (30 November-4 December), with more than 190 participants and 45 Contracting Parties, experts and NGO representatives. They discussed the outcomes of activities implemented in 2020, including combating the illegal killing of birds; review of the Plant Conservation Strategy; Pan-European Action Plan for the Conservation of the Sturgeon; and progress in the constitution of the Emerald Network and its online tools.  

The Standing Committee assessed progress on case-files linked to complaints submitted by citizens and NGOs for presumed breaches of the Convention. Further, the Committee discussed future financing of the Convention and its role in the decade to 2030.

The Secretary of the EUR-OPA Major Hazard Agreement participated in the preparatory meetings for the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction (24-26 November 2021) in Matosinhos, Portugal and a meeting of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for South-Eastern Europe

The EPA on Cultural Routes held the first meeting of the Working Group (24 November) on the update of the Rules of Procedure on certification, to clarify and optimise existing rules of procedure. A further meeting is planned for 8 December. The works of the Group will be discussed for approval at the next meeting of the EPA Governing Board in April 2021;

Draft CM recommendation on protecting youth civil society and young people 24 and 25 November 2020, online: the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ) drafting group met online to finalise the preliminary draft of this CM recommendation.  Having been contacted by numerous youth NGOs concerned about the shrinking space for civil society, the Advisory Council on Youth urged the CMJ to explore this phenomenon, already highlighted by the PACE, the Human Rights Commissioner and the Committee of Ministers in the decisions of its 129th session in Helsinki in 2019, as it affects youth civil society.  The draft text will be presented to the CMJ in March 2021.
Human Rights Education
20-24 November 2020, TNAC youth center, Vayk, Armenia: In this national training course on human rights education, young activists from the southern part of Armenia learned about fundamental human rights and values and discussed how human rights education supports youth participation. Specific attention was paid to human rights during pandemics and war. The second part of the course was dedicated to exploring COMPASS and other Council of Europe manuals. The participants designed five follow-up activities they will seek to implement in 2021. The course was implemented by Solution Hub.
Armenian Progressve Youth
27 November - 1 December, Yerevan, Armenia: in a training organised by Armenian Progressive Youth, 15 young people and young human rights activists-to-be from Yerevan, Kotayk, Ararat and Armavir regions of Armenia created a platform to build their capacity and develop their skills in the field of human rights education and active citizenship through different non-formal educational tools, methods and techniques. The participants learnt about the historical evolution of human rights, their origin and development and discussed key human values and needs. Comprehensive information on the mechanisms of legal protection of human rights and labour, education and health rights at national level were also in the programme.

Ukrainian Human Rights trainers meet online 17-19 November 2020, online: The participants in the long-term training for trainers in human rights education in Ukraine shared and reflected on their practice projects in a three-day webinar.  They mapped their projects, discussed challenges, outcomes and impact, as well as shared practices of online human rights education and peer workshops. The participants also had a chance to revise their learning plans and reflect on the learning outcomes they have acquired over the past year.

Cultural Policy Peer Review of North Macedonia The first online cultural policy peer review will be held on 9-10 December, testing a new methodology developed by KEA for the Council of Europe. Earlier in the year, the Government of North Macedonia requested this review to focus on cultural heritage linked to the development of cultural and creative industries, to enhance regional co-operation. Peer reviewers from Finland, Romania and Belgium are participating in the exercise that may be extended to a larger debate within the regional neighbourhood in 2021.
Youth Work Essentials

The third issue of the Partnership’s “Essentials” series features the pillar of youth work practice and closes the exploration of the youth sector triangle of governance. This issue gives a general illustration of the main features of youth work in Europe and offers tips on European standards, resources, networks and programmes that contribute to a better environment and experience of youth work at all levels.  The other two publications in the trilogy are Youth research: the essentials and Youth policy essentials.
Youth work in eastern Europe

This publication explores the realities of youth work in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.  It aims to provide information on youth work development and help clarify how the policies, strategies, programmes and allocation of resources are organised, the concepts that are used and in which context, as well as to inspire further policies, programmes and project initiatives to improve the quality of youth work, from an individual to systemic levels.
The Board of Management of Eurimages - and its working groups - held its 4th and last meeting of the year, via Kudo, and allocated €4.2M to a great variety of film co-production projects.  

The Fund also published online the first edition of the Gold Album – Female Directors, which celebrates a selection of 50 films made by female film directors, drawn from the more than 300 films directed or co-directed by women and supported by Eurimages over the last 20 years.  Improving the visibility of female directors is one of the aims of the Fund’s Gender Equality Strategy. During a ceremony which took place online from a studio based in Tallinn, the Eurimages Co-production Development Award (a prize of 20,000  Euros aimed at completing the writing process of the script), was presented in the framework of the Baltic Event Co-production Market and went to the project ELECTRIC SLEEP by Zeynep Dadak, which will be produced by Titus Kreyenberg from the company Unafilm (DE).
The Balkan experts online meeting took place on the 26-27 November. It brought together 45 practitioners and decision-makers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. Formal and non-formal educators, as well as representatives from Ministries of Education, of Civil Affairs, and of Youth and Sports jointly discussed existing perspectives and further developments on Global Development Education, taking into consideration the challenges arisen in the context of the current pandemic situation. Find out more here

The 2020 Lisbon Forum “Learning from our global challenges: Enhancing Solidarity” was held online for the first time between 1-3 December, reaching out beyond its usual constituents to offer even broader participation, with over 1,045 unique visitors from all over the world who had the opportunity to listen to policy makers and activists from across the globe presenting a common voice to the global challenges posed by COVID-19. Find out more here.

he 2019 North-South Prize award ceremony took place on the 2 December at the Portuguese Assembly of the Republic and live streamed through the Parliaments TV channel and the NSC’s social media. The Prize was awarded to Nabila Hamza and Leoluca Orlando.

Nabila Hamza (Tunisia) is a sociologist, feminist activist and expert specialized in gender issues, social development and good governance. She is the Team Leader of the EU funded programme “Med Dialogue for Rights and Equality”. She was selected by the Jury for her strong commitment to the protection of human rights and women's rights namely for her contribution to the improvement of Tunisian family law.  Leoluca Orlando (Italy) is the Mayor of Palerme. In 2015, he created the "Palermo Charter" to defend the right to international mobility and the "Council of Cultures", an advisory body made up of members elected by migrants to give them a voice in politics. The prize is awarded to him in recognition of his efforts to support the integration of migrants and the reinforcement of human rights and rule of law at the local level.
Orange the World! Orange your Home!

The “Orange the World! Orange your home!” virtual photo exhibition to mark the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence was a success, with the participation of colleagues from permanent representations, field office and the headquarters.  On 8th December, the Committee of Ministers joined the campaign, wearing orange face masks. GREVIO also marked the end of the 16 days of activism with a statement.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based violence in Kosovo*Activities in Kosovo* under the ongoing project “Reinforcing the fight against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence in Kosovo* - Phase II” to mark the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence continued. 2 information sessions with women from various rural municipalities were organised, in partnership with the NGO Women 4 Women Kosova, focusing notably on psychological assistance and on available mechanisms for assistance and reporting of domestic violence. A roundtable on protection and safety of journalists, with special emphasis on women journalists, was organised jointly with the EU/CoE project JUFREX2. Finally, a high level conference on “Applying the Istanbul Convention – What does it mean in practice? “ was organised in partnership with the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, with the participation of Avdullah Hoti, Prime Minister, and Arberie Nagavci, Vice-President of the Assembly of Kosovo*.

12th plenary meeting of the CDDG: Good governance through shared experience
Its 12th plenary meeting  (25-27 November 2020) confirmed the role of the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) as the intergovernmental platform where Council of Europe member States share information and experience with a view to strengthening good governance and raising democratic standards.The main outcome of the meeting was the approval of a report on Democratic Governance and Covid-19. The report showcases policies and solutions introduced in member States and identifies effective cooperation between different levels of government as crucial requirement to tackle the current crisis. The report is based on contributions by members of the CDDG which can also be found on the dedicated Covid-19 webpage.

Electoral co-operation
At its 12th plenary meeting, the CDDG also welcomed and approved the 2020 Activity report of the Division, expressing its readiness  to work closely with the Division and to provide guidance on on-going and future projects.

Second Meeting of the Drafting Committee on Migrant Women (14-15 December 2020)
The Drafting Committee on Migrant Women (GEC-MIG) will start its drafting work, looking both at a draft preamble and at the content of the appendix of the future recommendation. Experts from other sectors of the CoE, from international organisations and from civil society will also contribute to the meeting on issues related to trafficking in human beings, asylum and the situation of migrant girls.

Election of eight GRETA members
At its 27th meeting (4 December 2020), the Committee of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings elected the following eight members of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA): Mr Thomas Ahlstrand (Swedish), Ms Helga Gayer (German), Mr Sergey Ghazinyan (Armenian), Mr Aurelijus Gutauskas (Lithuanian), Ms Conny Rijken (Dutch), Mr Peter Van Hauwermeiren (Belgian), Mr Georgios Vanikiotis (Greek), and Ms Dorothea Winkler (Swiss). The mandates of these eight members will run from 1 January 2021 until 31 December 2024. The remaining seven GRETA members have their mandates running until the end of 2022. The Committee also adopted recommendations concerning AlbaniaCroatia and the Republic of Moldova, based on GRETA’s third round evaluation reports, and considered reports from the governments of Andorra, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania and Switzerland concerning the implementation of the previous recommendations issued to these Parties.

GRETA Evaluations
As part of the project “Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in Kosovo*”, on 9-11 December GRETA conducted online meetings with relevant officials, NGOs and international organisations as part of the second assessment of the compliance of Kosovo* with the standards of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. GRETA also is holding a series of online meetings with Latvian officials and NGO representatives on 11, 14 and 17 December, as part of the third evaluation of Latvia.
Publication of the first report on Andorra

The first GREVIO baseline evaluation report on Andorra was published on 30 November. It contains a comprehensive analysis of the implementation of the provisions of the Istanbul Convention by the countries concerned, welcoming the action carried out so far, highlighting relevant good practices, and drawing attention on the issues where improvements are warranted to reach higher levels of compliance with the requirements of the convention. The report, as well as the two other reports recently published on Malta and Spain, was largely covered by national and international press and by social media.
Publications of two new reports on Croatia and the Republic of Moldova

Two new reports from the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) were published on 3 December, on Croatia and on the Republic of Moldova. The reports focus on access to justice and effective remedies, and on the progress made by the two countries in the implementation of the Convention since their previous reports in 2016.

Supporting the fight against trafficking in Human Brings in the South-Mediterranean Region
A compendium “Combating trafficking in human beings: compilation of legal summaries and decisions of the European court of human rights” has just been published in a bilingual version (French and Arabic). The compendium is intended for legal professionals of the region in charge of cases of trafficking in human beings in the context of forthcoming training activities on this topic.

In Tunisia, a list of indicators related to detection and identification of victims of trafficking in human beings has been finalised. It is addressed to professionals likely to be in contact with victims of human trafficking, and it aims at helping to detect and identify victims, in accordance with the national law on the prevention and fight against trafficking in human beings.

The meeting of the National Commission for coordination of measures to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings of Morocco has enabled the members of the Commission to get in-depth knowledge about the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and its monitoring mechanism, as well as good practices in its implementation.

Webinars on access to justice for women for legal aid lawyers in Georgia and the Republic of Moldova
From 1 to 4 December 2020, legal aid lawyers from Georgia and the Republic of Moldova discussed online on international standards on access to justice and violence against women, including the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Istanbul Convention standards, and gender-sensitive approaches in dealing with cases of violence against women.  

Ukraine: Information materials and guidance for media on the Istanbul Convention
A video has been produced to accompany the set of infographics and brochures recently published to present myths and facts about the Istanbul Convention in Ukraine.  The new Media Guidance for the Development of Self-Regulatory Standards to Report on Cases of Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence , based on Article 17 of the Istanbul Convention, provides practical steps for the development of a voluntary code of conduct for journalists when reporting cases of violence against women and domestic violence.
2020 Annual report
At its 12th plenary meeting, the CDDG approved the annual report of the Centre of Expertise. The report highlights that, in 2020, the Centre was responsible for managing the implementation of projects and activities for a total budget of over €9 million, in 20 Council of Europe member states. Larger projects were carried out in Armenia, Greece, Lithuania, Serbia, Slovak Republic and Ukraine. Peers, experts, CDDG members and public authorities from about 30 member states were involved in the work of the Centre.While pursuing the activities which were already under way, in 2020 the Centre of Expertise swiftly redirected its efforts towards helping member States face the new situation resulting from the Covid-19 emergency. The offer of its tools was expanded with a new module on Leadership at times of crisis and two new toolkits respectively on Emergency preparedness and resilience and Teleworking for public administration. E-DEN – the online tool and a database on cross-border cooperation – was updated to include specific COVID-related case studies.

On 1 December 2020 Mr Daniel Popescu, Head of the Department of Democracy and Governance of the Council of Europe, presented the legal opinion of the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance of the Draft Law on Local State Administrations in Ukraine to members of Parliament. As a follow up it was agreed that the Council of Europe will contribute to the specialised thematic meetings to be organised by parliament in order to finalise the draft law and align its provisions with European standards.
Republic of Moldova

The functionalities and capabilities of the new application for management records “Anticamera” were presented by the Council of Europe experts to representatives of the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Moldova (CEC) during teleconference on 3rd December 2020. The new multifunctional application is designed to speed up the internal capacity of the CEC and its staff to process and take decisions concerning various requests, petitions and proposals.

Capacities of 23 Ukrainian representatives of public authorities, NGOs and civic activists  in civil participation were strengthened through 2 phases of online mentoring programme “Mentoring for Change”. The online mentoring program was launched in the framework of implementation of programme’s Covid-19 response toolbox. Testimonials of the participants offered 23 stories of people who got support and guidance. Eight selected participants of two phases of the program  benefited from training on grant writing and four selected participants benefited from the individual consultations, during which they were provided with full roadmaps for their future grant applications as well as list of the most suitable grant competitions for their projects.
ECRI held its 84th plenary meeting, which took place from 1-4 December 2020, through videoconferencing. 

During the plenary, ECRI elected Domenica Ghidei Biidu (member in respect of the Netherlands) as 1st Vice-Chair and Michael Farrell (member in respect of Ireland) as 2nd Vice-Chair, as well as Reetta Toivanen (member in respect of Finland) as Bureau member. It also elected Barbara John (member in respect of Germany) and Christian Jura (member in respect of Romania) as members of the working group on relations with civil society and equality bodies. Their respective terms of office begin on 1 January 2021. 

ECRI adopted an Opinion on the working definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The full text of the Opinion is available here

ECRI held an exchange of views on anti-Muslim racism with Tariq Modood, Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy, Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, University of Bristol (United Kingdom).  

As regards country monitoring, it adopted its sixth-round report on Norway and the conclusions on the implementation of the interim follow-up recommendations addressed to San Marino and Spain. More details on ECRI’s 84th plenary meeting are available on ECRI’s website.  

On 27 November, ECRI participated in a joint hearing on the updating and relaunching of the Charter of European Political Parties for a Non-Racist Society, which was organised online by the Committee on Political Affairs and the Committee on Equality and Non-discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. This important event initiated the process for the revision of the Charter that ECRI called for in its Roadmap to Effective Equality (the joint hearing is available online here).

On 24 and 25 November, the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages held its 67th plenary meeting by videoconference. It discussed the impact that new technologies have on minority language education and had a fruitful exchange of views with the Executive Director of the European Centre for Modern Languages.

On 26 November, Vesna Crnić-Grotić, Chair of the Committee of Experts, participated in an exchange of views with the Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation (GR-J) during which she presented the recent activities of the Committee and the first results of the 2019 reform of the monitoring mechanism. She also underlined the need to take language-related issues into account when developing further policies to address the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On 25 November, Marie B. Hagsgård, Acting President of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, presented to the Ministers’ Deputies the 12th activity report (2018-2020) of the Advisory Committee: https://www.coe.int/en/web/minorities/-/publication-of-the-twelfth-activity-report

The Working Group on Intercultural Integration (GT-ADI-INT) held its second meeting on 1-2 December to review the Draft Guidelines and Model Policy Framework for Intercultural Integration, as well as an outline of the Draft Recommendation on Intercultural Integration at the National Level in accordance with GT-ADI-INT’s objectives. The group further discussed and endorsed a Draft Report on the Review of the Implementation of CM/Rec(2015)1 on Intercultural Integration, with a view to submit it to the Steering Committee on Anti-Discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI). Finally, the Group heard about the pioneering work on Community Sponsorship by the Canadian and United Kingdom’s Governments, a model that has been successfully replicated in several countries across the globe and that represents a good multilevel cooperation practice in the field of integration.

Detecting on-line child sexual exploitation material and behaviour: exchange of views in the Lanzarote CommitteeOn 1 December 2020, the Lanzarote Committee held an exchange of information on “the use of digital tools to automatically detect online child sexual abuse and exploitation material”. According to EUROPOL, about 7 out of the 10 cases that they investigate are found thanks to cooperation with service providers that proactively and voluntarily scan their platforms using hashing or digital fingerprinting technology to detect such material and report it. 

Child self-generated sexual images and/or videos: a monitoring report by the Lanzarote Committee
From 7 to 10 December 2020, the Lanzarote Committee held its 30th plenary meeting, dedicated to the examination of several chapters of its forthcoming 2nd monitoring report on “the challenges raised by child self-generated sexual images and/or videos”. The Committee also debriefed on the exchange of information on the use of digital tools to automatically detect online child sexual abuse and exploitation material held on 1 December and decided on the follow-up to be given in this regard. 

Working Group on responses to violence against children
On 1-2 December 2020, the Working Group on responses to violence against children (CDENF-GT-VAE) held in-depth discussions for the preparation of a draft Recommendation on the Development of effective mechanisms for professionals to report violence against children, and on a possible contribution by the Steering Committee (CDENF) to the implementation of Agenda 2030.

In Madrid on 9 December, the Monitoring Committee of the “Interinstitutional agreement against racism, xenophobia, LGBTI-phobia and other forms of intolerance” will discuss the report on the ‘Mapping of national responses to hate speech in Spain” and will agree measures to implement its recommendations.

On 2-4 December, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit facilitated three working groups organised by the Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD) within the project ENDSOGIDISC on “Combating discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity through Improved legal frameworks and implementation of European standards”. The project is co-financed by the European Commission and implemented by the Council of Europe together with local partners in Italy, Lithuania and Romania. During the working groups, a national report on the state of play regarding SOGIESC Equality in Italy was presented and the discussion focused on how to develop a country-tailored awareness raising campaign. The online event was attended by several representatives of Italian Authorities, civil society organisations and academia.
A meeting of the members of the Intercultural regions network managed by the Assembly of European Regions and supported by the Council of Europe took place on 25 November. The representatives of member regions discussed the results of past activities as well as future capacity-building actions such as the planned Intercultural Regions Academy provisionally scheduled to take place in June 2021 in Strasbourg. They also discussed the strategy for raising political support for intercultural policies across Europe and with European institutions, and a project proposal which would help resource the development of an Intercultural regions index and regional intercultural strategies.

From 30 October to 26 November, the regional Eastern Partnership project on combating discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes organised an online event on “Improving evidence, information and data to understand and address discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes”. The event gathered over 60 participants from law enforcement agencies, equality bodies/ombudsoffices, other public institutions and civil society organisations to explore how to develop better responses to discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes using data from cases and victim-focused research. The event revealed that priorities for the Eastern Partnership should be improvement in legislation, better co-ordination of all actors, need for training of law enforcement and equality bodies, and further support to civil society working with vulnerable communities. Event recordings, presentation and the final report are available here.

In the framework of the EU-COE Horizontal Facility II programme to promote diversity and equality in the Western Balkans, a survey was presented in Montenegro on 27 November on discrimination trends and patterns. The survey carried out in cooperation with the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights showed high level of discrimination against LGBTI persons, as well as in the field of employment. More details and the link to the report in the news. The project in Kosovo*, in cooperation with the Office for Good Governance - Prime Minister’s Office, held on 3 December a second consultative meeting with anti-discrimination focal points in the ministerial and municipal level, following the first consultative meeting last October. The aim of the discussion was to discuss the ongoing reforms for improving the reporting mechanisms, with a particular focus on the coordination, data collection and quality of yearly reporting on human rights.

On 08-11 December 2020, the Council of Europe projects EndOCSEA@Europe, Combatting Violence Against Children in Ukraine (Phase II) and CyberEAST led an online training to continue to test the pilot module on online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) with the national police, judges and prosecutors in Ukraine. On this occasion, three international experts collaborated with national professionals and partners from the Phase II project and CyberEAST to contextualise international standards and procedures from the Lanzarote and Budapest Conventions with practical examples, case studies and interactive discussions.
“All on board – all online”

On 10 December 2020 - on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day - the Council of Europe held a webinar “All on board – all online” which launched a new publication: the Handbook for policy makers on the rights of the child in the digital environment. This new tool supports the implementation of the Council of Europe Guidelines to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment, and completes the child-friendly version of the Guidelines The Handbook is aimed to support policy makers in dealing concretely with the online rights and protection of children, and to contribute to the formulation of national frameworks and policies
UNHCR - Council of Europe

190 persons (adjudicators, asylum officers, judges, lawyers, civil society representatives ) from 4 different countries  attended the online training on “Applications for international protection based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity or religion in the light of international refugee and European human rights law” (November 25). The event was co-organised by UNHCR and the Council of Europe Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit, with the support of the Swiss Refugee Council and the Berner Rechtsberatungsstelle für Menschen in Not.
Sport and equality in Europe

On November 27, the CoE SOGI Unit took part in the international webinar “Sport and Equality in Europe”. The event was organised by Outsport one year after the end of the project “Innovative and educational approaches to prevent violence and tackle discrimination in sport based on sexual orientation and gender identity”, seeking to address SOGI-based discrimination and violence in sports. The webinar promoted an open discussion about the latest progress in European policies related to Sport and SOGIESC[1] issues and can be re-watched on Outsport’s website
[1] Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression and Sex Characteristics
The 10th meeting of the Council of Europe Dialogue with Roma and Traveller civil society, held online on 26-27 November 2020, focussed on combating hate speech directed against Roma and Travellers. Civil society representatives from over 20 member States and experts discussed the origin, prevalence, incidents, forms and consequences of hate speech directed against Roma and/or Travellers and possible measure against it. The report, which will contain the recommendations emanating from that meeting will be available by the end of the year. It will feed into the current drafting process of the Committee of Experts on Combating Hate Speech (ADI/MSI-DIS). 

10 representatives of Roma and Traveller women organisations and network met online on 1 December 2020 to prepare the 8th International Roma Women’s Conference (IRWC), which is schedule to take place in September 2020. In the light of the COVID-19 crisis, participants agreed that the 8th IRWC should focus on the protection of the rights of Roma and Traveller women in times of crises. Relevant topics and speakers for plenary sessions and workshops were suggested. A preliminary draft programme of the conference will be available at the beginning of the next year. 

On 2-3 December 2020, representatives of Roma and Traveller women NGOs participated in an online study session to get acquainted with Council of Europe instruments, tools and mechanisms and so that they can better use them in their human rights and gender equality work at national level. 

On 3 December 2020, the final debate of the conference "I want to go to school! - On the importance of Quality Inclusive Education" discussed equity in education and the issue of quality of education in schools with children in vulnerable situations. As for the previous debates within the framework of the conference, the event brought together, among others, members of major political parties in Romania to discuss the challenges but also present the plans for improving the educational system in the country. The event was organised under the auspices of the “Educated Romania” Project and co-organised by the Foundation “Impreuna”, the University of Bucharest, the European Commission Representation in Romania, and the EU/Council of Europe Joint Project “INSCHOOL”.  

The Roma and Travellers team is preparing for the implementation of the second phase of the EU/CoE Joint Programme “ROMACTED” which will run from the beginning of 2021 to the end of 2024. In that context the Call for Tenders for Thematic Consultants and Facilitators and the Call for Proposals for the Support Organisations of the programme in the seven beneficiaries in the Western Balkans and Turkey have been launched and will be open until 12 January 2021. The calls can be found here:  ROMACTED Call for Tenders: Thematic Consultants and Facilitators - Newsroom (coe.int)ROMACTEDII Call for Proposals: Support Organisations - Newsroom 
Roma NGOs, experts and officials were trained in leadership, collective action and advocacy during a two-week online session of the Roma Political School in Italy, held from 26 November to 6 December 2020. The last day of training culminated in an online public event where participants and politicians discussed how to use advocacy and community organising in the times of the COVID-19 crisis to address urgent needs in Roma communities.
EPAS - Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport
Following on from the Opening Session of the 16th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport and the Introductory session which focused on the revision of the European Sports Charter (5 November 2020), the third online session of this conference (“Human Rights in Sport”) took place on Monday 7 December. The session was open to invited delegations and observers only , but video highlights will be published soon. The main points were also discussed on Twitter (@sport_coe; #Coe4Sport) during the session itself. This introductory panel session was moderated by André-Noël Chaker (@anchaker) and included insight on human rights issues such as right to a fair trial, child protection and economic and social rights of athletes, from:
  • Tiina Kivisaari, Director of Sport, Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland
  • Marko Bošnjak, Judge, European Court of Human Rights
  • Claudia Bokel, President of the German Fencing Federation, former Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission
  • Pierre Cornu, President, Foundation Council, International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES)
The session was opened by Lefteris Avgenakis, Deputy Minister of Culture and Sport, Greece
New milestone in the fight against manipulation of sports competitions

The Committee that will monitor the implementation of the Convention on the manipulation of Sports competitions met for the first time on 24 and 25 November 2020. The delegates from the seven states parties (Italy, Greece, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Moldova, Switzerland and Ukraine) adopted the Committee’s Rules of Procedure and had a first exchange of views on working methods, cooperation with key stakeholders and approaches to monitoring. The list of decisions includes the granting of observer status to the International Olympic Committee, INTERPOL and GLMS (Global Lotteries Monitoring System). The Committee also agreed on the importance of integrating the Network of National Platforms (Group of Copenhagen) in its work as an advisory group and decided to discuss a possible mandate at its next meeting.  The meeting of the Committee was preceded by a leadership dialogue opened by Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni and by the Greek Minister of sport Leftéris AVGENAKIS.  During the event moderated by Director-General SAMARDŽIĆ-MARKOVIĆ, high level representatives of the IOC, FIFA and INTERPOL highlighted the importance of the Macolin convention and their resolve to promote it as a global tool in the fight against a global problem. FIFA legend Nuno Gomes also recalled the importance of mobilising athletes to prevent and report manipulation.
Advancing safety and security at sport events

On the 1st December, the Committee monitoring the implementation of the Convention on Safety, Security at Service Sports Events (also known as the Saint-Denis Convention) met for the first time, in an informal and virtual format. The 18 delegations of the States having ratified the Convention had a first exchange of views on their national priorities and expectations with regard to the future work of this Committee. An overview of the foundational documents of the future work of the Committee was also presented, including its Rules of Procedure and its Policy Strategy for the period 2021-2023, Monitoring Guidelines, and a model to structure national strategies on safety, security and service at sports events. The Committee also agreed to prepare the terms of reference for two advisory groups. The Committee shall hold its first formal meeting in April 2021. In the meantime, it will meet twice, in an informal and virtual format, to discuss and reach a consensus on its foundational documents.
Activities of the OCABR Network

While official medicines control laboratories (OMCLs) involved in official control authority batch release (OCABR) of vaccines and blood-derived products have focused on the finalisation of product specific guidelines for OCABR-testing of COVID-19 vaccines and the early transfer of the relevant analytical methods, a number of other important activities have also progressed in the past few weeks. This includes the publication of a revised guideline for influenza vaccine to adapt for a new product and of six other product-specific guidelines which have been revised to delete the tests for tetanus specific toxicity and for irreversibility of the tetanus toxoid to align them with revisions in the European Pharmacopoeia. This marks another important step in reducing the use of animals for quality control testing which is an important goal of the European Pharmacopoeia and the OCABR Network. In addition, the OCABR Network for human vaccines and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Australia, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to increase the exchange and collaboration on common activities related to batch release of human vaccines, including the participation to the annual meetings of the OCABR Network. The MOU is in force from 04/12/2020. It makes TGA an observer to the OCABR Network for human vaccines and lays the framework for the sharing of information related to batch release activity in this field. Mutual recognition of certificates is outside the scope of this MOU. Mutual recognition of OCABR, as defined in the EU legislation, would require a formal agreement between the EU and Australia that also included OCABR. Nevertheless, the closer collaboration and information exchange facilitated by this MOU could help to foster a basis for such activities in the future. The signing of the agreement is particularly timely in view of the pandemic COVID-19 crisis and the global response, which will be strengthened for all citizens through the exchange and co-operation between authorities in Europe and beyond. Together with the MoUs signed with Health Canada, the Institute for Standardization and Control of Pharmaceutics, Israel, the Krasnoyarsk branch of Roszdravnadzor, Russian Federation, and the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration, five countries not signatory party to the Ph. Eur. Convention and outside of the EU/EEA framework of this activity are now able to participate in the important activities of this confidential network.
Reference Standards for the control of N-nitrosamines adopted

In addition to the new general chapter on the control of N-nitrosamines, the European Pharmacopoeia Commission has adopted seven nitrosamine reference standards for the use in testing for these impurities, including when applying the tests described in the chapter. The timely availability of these new standards is a success story and the result of a collective and transversal effort, which included almost all EDQM entities.
A continued demand for the EDQM’s reference standards

Throughout the sanitary crisis, the EDQM has experienced a continued and increasing demand for our reference standards used in quality control of medicines and their components. Since the beginning of the year, 525 batches of reference standards have been manufactured by the EDQM, equivalent to the filling of 1,434,747 vials.
Audit to maintain the EDQM’s ISO 9001 Certification

As a standard-setting body which sets legally binding quality standards for medicines, the EDQM decided a number of years ago to request ISO 9001 certification for a number of its activities to be at “eye-level” with the regulated industry. Ever since then, our quality management system and the certified activities have to undergo an annual audit by an official accreditation body. In the context of the second surveillance audit to maintain its ISO 9001 certification of the current 3-year cycle, the EDQM has now been the subject of a virtual ISO audit for the first time. On 7 and 8 December, an auditor from AFNOR, an official French accreditation body, audited the EDQM’s quality management system, connected via GoToMeeting. The auditor did not identify any non-conformity to ISO 9001 and underlined four strong points in our quality management system:
  • The simplification of the process mapping based on the grouping of business processes, allowing for better readability and understanding of the Organisation. This project impacts governance and not operational control and involves all EDQM entities.
  • The new approach to the management review to be conducted in the presence of the EDQM’s management team, which will provide an overall view of the performance of business processes, resource processes and the steering and monitoring processes of the quality management system.
  • The focus on competencies during the recruitment and subsequent appraisal process and the way in which the human resources team of the EDQM, DHR and the heads of the recruiting entities work together in a transversal way
  • The implementation of risk management within the framework of IT security. The auditor found the correlation of the risks identified with Annex A of the ISO 27001 standard and the involvement of the owners of the risks in their treatment remarkable.
The EDQM is proud of the positive findings of the audit, which are the result of significant work of all the EDQM’s entities and of a collective and transversal effort.
Promoting Pharmaceutical Care

On 25 November 2020, the EDQM organised a webinar on the Council of Europe Resolution CM/Res(2020)3 on the implementation of pharmaceutical care for the benefit of patients and health service (adopted in March this year), in order to promote its implementation in Member States. Pharmaceutical care is a quality concept and working method for the responsible provision of medication therapy with the purpose of achieving definite outcomes that improve patients’ quality of life. Its implementation in daily practice could help enhance the safety and quality of medication use, contribute to health promotion, support rational use of healthcare resources and reduce inequalities in healthcare. More than 270 participants representing national competent authorities, healthcare professionals and academia from 35 countries joined the event. The webinar illustrated the content of the resolution and provided some practical examples on how pharmaceutical care activities can be implemented in daily practice at national level. The resolution defines a framework for promoting and implementing pharmaceutical care services in healthcare systems in member States.
Role of Social Media in combatting falsified medical products

The Committee of Experts on Minimising Public Health Risks Posed by Falsification of Medical Products and Similar Crimes (CD-P-PH/CMED) met on 2-3 December and approved a CMED Social Media Guide. Much of the illegal trade in medicines in Europe takes place on the Internet and social media are increasingly being used not only to sell illegal medicines but also to make false or misleading claims. The CMED Committee of Experts is well aware of the importance of social media and decided to draft this Social Media Guide intended to guide health regulatory authorities on best practices for using Social Media to promote their own messages and actions. The aim of this document is to provide guidance on means to communicate effectively through Social Media with the general public, to better inform them about important public health issues and, in particular, to fight more effectively against falsified medical products and similar crimes.
* « This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence. »
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