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Directorate General of Democracy
Issue 17 – 29 january 2021
Douglas, Isle of Man
United Kingdom, Germany extend protection of minority languages

Two States Parties announced the acceptance of additional undertakings under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. On 23 December 2020, the United Kingdom notified the Council of Europe that it will apply Part III of the convention to the Manx Gaelic language, in respect of the territory of the Isle of Man. This significantly strengthens the protection and promotion of the Manx Gaelic language, to which 37 additional promotional measures will apply now. Furthermore, on 6 January 2021, Germany notified the Council of Europe that it has accepted additional Part III undertakings with regard to Danish, North Frisian and Low German in the Land Schleswig-Holstein. States Parties are encouraged to regularly review their level of commitment under the Charter so as to reflect improvements in the situation of their regional or minority languages.
GRETA guidance on trafficking for labour exploitation purposes available

The new Guidance note on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation sets out the key indicators to support states in ensuring, for example, properly-functioning labour inspectorates, reporting requirements, effective victim identification and assistance and appropriate criminal justice responses. As a complement to the recently published Compendium of good practices, the Guidance note contributes to the implementation of the Secretary General’s Roadmap on strengthening action against trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation.
Start to Talk gets extra support from EPAS and hit the headlines in Greece

The EPAS Governing Board has taken the decision to allocate a voluntary contribution of 50 000 € from the EPAS Special Account to the “Start to Talk” initiative, a call for action to public authorities, the sport movement and other stakeholders to fight child sexual abuse in sport. This will help to further meet the needs of the 22 countries which have expressed interest in joining the Start to Talk initiative through different actions (e.g. national campaign, policy development and training). Greece became the 9th member state to launch a national campaign to fight child sexual abuse in sport. Inspired by the Council of Europe’s Start to Talk initiative, the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports launched its campaign at an online event on 14 January 2021. On the occasion of this event, the Greek Olympian Sofia Bekatorou disclosed that she had been sexually assaulted at the age of 21. This news has been widely debated in the media and has created a wave of disclosures and triggered the arrest of the coach concerned. The Greek authorities and sports movement are committed to using the opportunity of their national “Start to Talk” campaign to raise awareness about the issue, change people's mindsets on abuse and to make sport a safe environment for all children.
CEB Launches 2021 Award for Social Cohesion
The Council of Europe Development Bank has launched the 2021 edition of the CEB Award for Social Cohesion, the annual competition to acknowledge outstanding contributions to social cohesion across Europe. Small organisations and individuals over the age of 18 from the CEB’s 42 member countries can nominate projects at an early stage of implementation. A €25,000 prize will be awarded to a project that addresses pressing social issues and makes a significant contribution to social cohesion in an innovative and effective way. The deadline for receiving applications is 12 April. For more information visit award.coebank.org.
"Revitalising pluralistic democracies" - Watch the debate in replay

The Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) organised an online live discussion on “Revitalising pluralistic democracies” on 11 January.  The debate was held under the aegis of the German presidency of the Committee of Ministers. The CCJ consider the topic to be fundamental for ensuring democratic participation and the overall health of democratic institutions, the developments on 6 January in the United States just prior to the debate provided additional proof that the topic was more pertinent than ever. The panellists explored current challenges for young people to participate democratically from different perspectives, and the necessity and urgency of a future youth campaign on how to revitalise democracy.
Watch the recording
European Heritage Days

After wrapping-up a successful 2020 season, despite the COVID-19 restrictions, European Heritage Days (EHD) are preparing to celebrate Inclusive and Diverse Heritage in 2021, through the shared theme of “Heritage of, by and for Everyone”.  In preparation for this pan-continental theme, the EHD teams at Doors Open Days (Scotland) and Heritage Open Days (England) have put together a special Inclusive Events Toolkit for developing, delivering and evaluating inclusive EHD events. The Toolkit draws on the experience and input of EHD National Co-ordinators across the continent, as well as a range of partners and participants. It contains case studies and practical tips on how to engage with new audiences and dismantle barriers to participation by ensuring event spaces are welcoming and accessible.
European Center for Modern Languages - ECML
The Innovative methodologies and assessment in language learning joint action between the ECML and the European Commission was renewed for an 8th year of activity. In addition to 16 national workshops on “Supporting Multilingual Classrooms” and “Relating foreign/second language curricula, tests and examinations to the CEFR”, a series of high-profile activities, including a summer academy for language teacher educators, will be implemented. Two new ECML resource websites for teacher and teacher educators were launched: 
International Day of Education
On 24 January, the Council of Europe joined in celebrating the International Day of Education, by issuing a statement underlining the role of education in fostering democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. A video by the Head of Department on the same message is available.
Human Rights Day
The Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development of Serbia marked Human Rights Day by sending a letter to all elementary and secondary schools highlighting the importance of human rights education and CDC specifically mentioning the work being by the CoE and the JP Quality education for all.

A videoconference on 16 December introduced the CEFR Companion Volume (CV) to policy and decision makers. The discussion concerned its connection to the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC), the innovation potential of the new scales of descriptors, and possible avenues for facilitating their dissemination and use.

The “Democratic Schools Chat Room” took place throughout December 2020 in the EU/CoE JPs “Quality Education for all” in Serbia, in Montenegro and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The sessions were dedicated to “Valuing human rights and human dignity”, “Exploring Competences for Democratic Culture in an online learning environment - challenges and solutions” and “Empathy: How to Connect and Engage Meaningfully with People”.
E Learning

Two new self-learning courses are now available on the LEMON (Learning Modules Online) platform: “The Key to Recognizing Cyberbullying”, supporting educators and parents in defining strategies to deal effectively
with the phenomenon and preventing it, and “Competences for Democratic Culture”, strengthening the capacity of education professionals to develop learners’ competences needed to live successfully in contemporary democratic societies.
The Secretariat is actively preparing the 162nd plenary meeting of the Board of Management, which will be held in a hybrid mode in March. Co-production projects submitted on 14 January - following the first call for projects of the year - are currently being examined by the Eurimages team and will soon be sent out to the script editors (specialised in dramaturgy) for further assessment. The first part of the reform of the Fund entered into force on 1 January this year: calls for projects for co-production support were reduced from 4 to 3 per year (thus reducing administrative costs) and financial support for projects up to 150 000 Euros is now considered as a non-refundable subsidy while higher amounts granted (capped at 500 000 Euros per project) remain a repayable-loan. This will also significantly reduce administrative costs for those smaller projects which are unlikely to repay the support granted given their niche target audience.  Also, the Study Group on Reform of the Board of Management met already to prepare the implementation of the second part of the reform concerning the governance of the Fund. Its full implementation is scheduled for 1 January 2022.

  • Youth sector statutory bodies’ Bureaux: democracy, Covid and the upcoming statutory meetings 
The Bureaux of the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) and of the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) met online on 18 and 19 January 2021 to discuss the ongoing work of the Council of Europe youth sector in 2021 and beyond. The Bureaux members discussed a future flagship youth campaign to be centred around the state of democracy today with the Director of Democratic Participation. The Bureaux finalised the agendas of the March 2021 plenary meetings, and heard progress reports on protecting youth civil society; Roma youth participation; climate crisis and governance; on Artificial Intelligence and its impact on young people; the follow-up to the 3rd European Youth Work Convention (December 2020) and the Council of Europe’s role in the implementation of the resulting European Youth Work Agenda
For further information: Bureaux meetings

  • Renewed co-operation between the Council of Europe and the Russian Federation in the field of youth policy
The annual meeting of the Management Committee on Co-operation between the Council of Europe and the Russian Federation in the field of youth policy was held on 11 December 2020 and brought together representatives of the Council of Europe, the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ), the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the National Youth Council of Russia and the Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation. The partners expressed their mutual gratitude for their combined efforts in implementing the 2020 Action Plan in a very challenging environment. The Action Plan for 2021 was adopted with the hope and expectation that forthcoming joint events will take place in residential format. The parties exchanged views on possible activities and actions related to the 25th anniversary of Russian Federation membership of the Council of Europe and welcomed the planned signature of a Framework Programme for Co-operation in the field of youth policy which will run until 2023. The next Management Committee meeting is scheduled for September 2021 in St Petersburg, Russian Federation

  • Meeting of the Council of Europe quality-labelled youth centres
 Seventeen representatives of 11 youth centres holding the Quality Label for Youth Centres gathered on 21-22 January 2021 for a virtual follow-up meeting to the 3rd European Youth Work Convention (EYWC). At the EYWC, the quality-labelled centres were provided with the opportunity to present themselves as a collective for the very first time, both an empowering and motivating experience.Although national approaches to implementing the European Youth Work Agenda may vary from country to country, youth centres in the Quality Label network remain committed to taking joint action to achieve the Agenda’s goals. There is great potential in the network to fill the gap between the European and local levels of youth work and to ensure the key message of the Final Declaration of the Convention gets disseminated to national and local levels.  Representatives of the quality-labelled youth centres underlined the importance of monitoring the progress of the implementation of the Agenda, hence a decision was made to organise meetings on a more regular basis in order to further enhance collaboration in this particular field of work. 
Online seminar on youth work in Hungary

On 16 December, the EYCB and the National Youth Council of Hungary organised an online seminar on youth work for over 40 participants, mostly from Hungary. After welcome remarks by Zsófia Rácz, Hungarian Deputy State Secretary for Youth, Zoltán Hegedűs, president of the National Youth Council, and EYCB Executive Director Gordana Berjan, presentations were made by the vice-chair of the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ), Miriam Teuma, on the Council of Europe Youth sector strategy 2030 and by Hungarian Academy of Sciences Fellow, Andrea Szabó, on the impact of the Covid crisis on young people. Panel discussions with invited experts and stakeholders focused on the main outcomes of the 3rd European Youth Work Convention and on good practices in local youth work from around Europe.
Learning Together Online: Human Rights Education and youth participation for Euro-Arab dialogue

The seminar was successfully concluded with a webinar held on the 15 December.  The activity promoted dialogue and mutual learning for youth leaders from the Council of Europe and League of Arab States on applying human rights education to address and improve youth participation and empowerment. The participants had a chance to exchange their experiences in promoting human rights in both regions, and to hear some inspiring practices in using HRE to secure access to quality employment and support young workers’ rights. The participants worked on initiatives to support the further development of HRE practices and spaces, developing counter and alternative narratives to hate and prejudices, engaging in advocacy work and securing quality education and training.
Remembrance and Learning from the Second World War/ First online edition

Held 75 years since the end of the Second World War and on the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, some 70 participants (35 from the Russian Federation and 35 from other States Parties to the European Cultural Convention and beyond) engaged in a dialogue online with experts from the Council of Europe, UNESCO, international foundations working on remembrance education, reconciliation and history learning. They discussed current challenges related to remembrance and human rights and the connection between these notions with representatives of different museums and memorial sites, as well as exchanged positive practices and experience on working on remembrance topics with young people.
Cultural Policy Peer Review of North Macedonia

 In the framework of the Council of Europe’s programme of policy reviews and legal assistance to member States in the fields of culture and heritage, the online cultural policy peer review of North Macedonia has been finalised and forwarded to the national authorities. The policy review was carried out by a team of governmental experts from Finland, Georgia and Romania, led by Mr Philippe Kern from KEA, Belgium.
European Youth Foundation provides additional support to civil society hit by the pandemic 

 During the Covid-19 pandemic, many youth organisations could not organise planned activities or had to adapt their project to a virtual format. The EYF established, end of last year, an online consultancy service to assist youth organisations with approved grants in implementing and adapting projects during the pandemic. It has now been decided to extend the EYF consultancy service until June 2021 to support NGOs in: 
  • transforming or adapting EYF-funded activities from offline to online or hybrid meetings;
  • replanning activities, within a new timeline if necessary.
 Local and national non-governmental youth organisations can apply for a pilot activity grant. The aim of pilot activities is to support action which addresses needs identified and/or challenges faced by young people at local level. Several cut-off dates are proposed during the year. The next cut-off date for pilot activity applications is 28 February 2021. The pilot activity grant has been recently increased to €15 000 for 2021.
Youth sector strategy 2030: brochure now available in 37 languages!

 A new brochure summarising the Council of Europe youth sector strategy 2030 vision, principles, missions, priorities and instruments is now available in numerous languages.  The strategy was officially launched by the Secretary General and the President of the Ministers' Deputies in January 2020.  Since then, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated its capacity to respond to new challenges, and to continue empowering young people despite difficult circumstances, its thematic priorities remain as relevant as ever.
New publications of the Youth Partnership related to the Youth Knowledge Forum

  Several research projects were presented at the Youth Knowledge Forum. Different papers have been published, including: Communicating Youth Research in six Steps by Maria Paola de Salvo and Dan Moxon, Mapping of Youth Research Structures, Key Stakeholders and Data Collections Across Europe by Alena Ignatovitch and Sladjana Petkovic and AI and Youth 2020: Win the Battle, Lose the War? by Dr Jonnie Penn.  The report of the Forum is also available on our website.
Coyote youth work magazine

The editorial team of the Coyote youth work magazine launched lookout the magazine’s 31st edition dedicated to the EYWC and prepared a short video, a "beginners' guide" to the Convention to encourage people to get involved and see how youth work will be affected by the European Youth Work Agenda. The editorial team was on the lookout for potential authors during the event and the articles are already in preparation. This issue will be published in spring 2020
Under 30’ podcast series

The Youth Partnership launched its Under 30’ podcast series which provides research results, explores trends in young people's lives and themes relevant for youth policy and practice. The first four episodes are available across multiple podcast platforms:
New Publication: The effects of Covid-19 on young people’s mental health and psychological well-being

The Youth Partnership has published The effects of Covid-19 on young people’s mental health and psychological well-being by Stefanos Mastrotheodoros, PhD. "The pandemic tends to magnify pre-existing social inequalities in resources (such as good quality education, income, access to health care, access to other supporting services) resulting in an unequal impact on youth from different social strata." Read the publication and find out more about the impact of Covid-19 on the youth sector on our Covid-19 Knowledge Hub.
The North-South Centre participated in a number of external activities: 
  • 12 December - “Youth, Peace and Security Agenda in the MENA Region: The importance of Intra and Inter-regional cooperation” organised by the MENA Coalition on YPS
The North-South Centre intervened in the panel on the importance of Intra and Inter-regional cooperation on the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda. The webinar was an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of developing local, national and regional narratives for youth peace and security especially in the MENA region, and for an exchange of views around prevalent thematic and regional narratives and youth-informed perspectives on how the International and regional stakeholders can strengthen local youth led action at the time of COVID19 pandemic to announce the MENA Coalition for Youth, Peace and Security in the MENA region. 
  • 14 December - “Regional Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security in the Arab States” organised by the UNFPA
 In direct implementation of the outcomes of The Youth Forum in the Arab Region as well as the 2020 Annual Workplan of the UN Regional Collaborative Platform’s Issue-Based on Coalition on adolescents and Youth, this first meeting initiated the establishment of the envisaged Regional Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) in the Arab States Region. 
  • 15 December - Training course “Human Rights Education and Youth Participation for Euro-Arab Dialogue” organised by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe
 The online course promoted dialogue and mutual learning for youth leaders from the Council of Europe and League of Arab States on applying human rights education to address and improve youth participation and empowerment. 
  • 16 December - Autumn session of the Conference of INGOs
 The North-South Centre joined the plenary session of the Conference of INGOs on 16 December to present the results of the #SolidAction campaign and announce the winners of the #SolidAction prizes that recognised the fundamental role played by CSO and local initiatives to respond to the challenges of the pandemic on the ground.   
  • 5 January - PLATAFORMA (Portuguese CSO platform)
 The North-South Centre contributed as member of the jury, together with Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Instituto Camões and GENE, for the final assessment of 15 projects submitted to a grant in the framework of the Portuguese EU Presidency. 
  • 18 January - Porto Youth Work Webinars: Trabalho com Jovens
 The North-South Centre shared experiences and visions of working with youth in order to inspire, share resources and challenge youth and youth organisations to contribute to the continued improvement of local youth policies.
The World Forum for Democracy tackles Deliberative Democracy for the Environment and Launches Cycling for Democracy!

January's agenda included an online webinar co-organised by PACE and Congress on the role of representative democracy in combating climate change, a Forum Talk on the role of deliberative democracy practices for the environment and a Forum Lab highlighting initiatives from Europe and the Americas putting deliberative practices into action.  Please see the 12 Months, 1 Question campaign's January page for the videos, partner links and relevant CoE documents. February will be dedicated to "Disasters, Displacement and Climate Change" and the page will go live on 1 February with a teaser film and relevant links.The short promotional film presenting the WFD's Cycling for Democracy series is now online!  More to follow in spring 2021
Mobilise against sexism!

The project “Mobilise against Sexism!”, promoting in cooperation with the European Women’s Lobby Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)1 on preventing and combating sexism in 9 member states (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Spain) came to an end in December 2020. Several activities were carried out in the 9 countries, often targeting sexism in specific areas (such as the public sector in the Netherlands, sport and youth in Portugal, justice and media in Romania, media in Spain). Concrete follow-up is expected also in policy terms, with some countries considering including the fight against sexism in the national gender equality policies/strategies (such as Bulgaria and Croatia) and others considering revising relevant legislation (such as Belgium and Ireland). The Recommendation is now available also in Turkish, bringing the total number of language versions to 24.

The Council of Europe work on preventing and combating sexism was presented on 21 January in an online conference  organised in the framework of the project “Dialogue forums against sexism“ by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Women, Senior Citizens and Youth and the NGO EAF Berlin

GREVIO tackling the Digital Dimension of Violence Against Women

The GREVIO Working Group has finalized its work on a General Recommendation on the Digital Dimension of Violence against Women, developed on the basis of expert hearings and submissions with the aim to propose a comprehensive response to online and technology-facilitated violence against women, including domestic violence. GREVIO will discuss it in view of its adoption at its next meeting, on 16-18 February.

Cross-border cooperation - Virtual Study Series. North West Ireland serves as an inspiration for the Western Balkans

More than 40 senior officials from municipal authorities in Bosnia Herzegovina and neighbouring states gathered online for the first of a series of webinars on cross-border cooperation organised by the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance of the Council of Europe.Over the course of 4 webinars, participants will be introduced to core elements of the Centre of Expertise toolkits on cross-border cooperation (CBC). The webinars will use a mixture of expert presentations, panel discussions, breakout workshops, and interactive exchanges to address relevant themes illuminated by the experience of high-level officials instrumental to the development of successful cross-border cooperation in the North-West region of Ireland / Northern Ireland.
Administration of Justice on Sexual Violence Crimes against Women in Georgia

The Council of Europe and the Public Defender of Georgia presented online on 8 December 2020 the findings of the study “Administration of Justice on Sexual Violence Crimes against Women in Georgia”. First ever in Georgia, the study examines the effectiveness of criminal justice response to sexual violence crimes in the light of international human rights standards.
Awareness raising about the Istanbul Convention in Azerbaijan

Under the ongoing PGG-II project, a social media campaign to raise awareness about the Istanbul Convention has reached almost 50,000 viewers. Through a series of posts (Twitter, Facebook and website), the campaign presented four info graphics and a brochure on the four pillars of the convention in Azerbaijani. A general leaflet on the Istanbul Convention and a more specific leaflet on its monitoring mechanism are now available in Azerbaijan.
Fighting trafficking in human beings in the WESTERN BALKANS AND TURKEY

As part of the joint EU-Council of Europe Horizontal Facility programme for the Western Balkans and Turkey, a series of webinars were organised in North Macedonia (for around 50 education advisors, on preventing and detecting child trafficking in children, and for judges, prosecutors and lawyers on legal protection of victims and victims’ rights in judicial proceedings), in Bosnia and Herzegovina (for around 30 labour inspectors, investigators, representatives of employment agencies and trade unions, on trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation and multi-sectoral co-operation), and in Turkey (for representatives on law enforcement agencies). Further, a webinar for judges, prosecutors and other stakeholders was organised in Serbia, featuring a presentation by a judge form the European Court of Human Rights.
Delivering Good Governance in Lithuania

The Joint Council of Europe - European Union Project “Delivering Good Governance in Lithuania” ended on 25 January 2021. During its closing conference, its main achievements were presented. Notably, with the help of the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance, the Law on Regional Development in Lithuania was developed in line with Council of Europe standards and recommendations and was adopted by Parliament. The institutional capacities of local authorities to deliver good governance were strengthened through implementation of the Centre of Expertise tools on Civil Participation in Decision-MakingLeadership Academy ProgrammeInter-municipal Cooperation, and the European Label of Governance Excellence. More than half of all municipalities in the country have undergone a process of self-evaluation and evaluation by their citizens of their performance and compliance with the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance. Fourteen of them were awarded the European Label of Governance Excellence for demonstrating adherence to the principles, and all of them have identified areas for improvement.
Impact of the decentralisation reform on national minorities evaluated in Ukraine

On 15 December 2020, the Council of Europe presented a report assessing the impact of the decentralisation reform on national minorities in Ukraine in the selected regions – Chernivtsi, Odesa and Zakarpattya oblasts.The report is based on a variety of sources including a series of 39 semi-structured individual and group interviews conducted within the project in the three target regions. It contains several recommendations aiming at enabling meaningful civil participation of national minorities in decision-making at local level. The event was organised in the framework of the Council of Europe Programme “Enhancing decentralisation and public administration reform in Ukraine” and the Project “Protecting national minorities, including Roma, and minority languages in Ukraine”.
New ELoGE ceremonies

The Centre of Expertise for Good Governance helps identify municipalities which can demonstrate adherence to the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance. As 2020 came to an end, and in spite of pandemic-related restrictions, municipalities from several Council of Europe member states received due recognition for their efforts.The European Label of Governance Excellence (ELoGE) was awarded for the first time in Lithuania where, on 30 November, the Prime Minister himself opened the ceremony of awards. Council of Europe's Director General of Democracy, Snežana Samardžic-Markovic, also greeted the participants of the event and congratulated the successful municipalities. On 16 December, the third ELoGE ceremony was be organised to award the best performing municipalities of the Basque Region in Spain. Snežana Samardžic-Markovic addressed a video message to the Basque local authorities.
“Listen – Act – Change”: launch of a new Council of Europe guide on children’s participation

On 21 January 2021, a webinar was held to launch the new Handbook on Children’s Participation for professionals working for and with children (“Listen-Act-Change”), as a tool to support the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)2 on the participation of children and young people under the age of 18. On 22 January 2021, the Children’s Rights Division held a meeting with UNICEF’s partnership manager to discuss possible further cooperation between UNICEF and the Council of Europe.  On 21 January 2021, the Executive Secretary to the Lanzarote Committee intervened in a webinar on ”Countering Online Child Sexual Abuse” organised by the Irish Ministry of Justice targeting Irish and Ireland-based services that host user generated content, or facilitate interaction between users, as well as search engines. Her presentation was part of the panel discussing recent and upcoming policy developments alongside the European Commission’s team leader for the fight against child sexual abuse. She presented the Lanzarote Convention’s relevant benchmarks and the Lanzarote Committee’s ongoing work, as well as the CoE’s Guidelines and Implementation Handbook to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment.
ROMACTED Programme Phase II to kick off in the Western Balkans and Turkey
The second phase of the EU/CoE Joint Programme “Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at local level (ROMACTED)” started on 1 January 2021 for the period of 4 years. The new phase is a natural follow-up of Phase I (2017-2020) and will target up to 75 towns and municipalities in the Western Balkans and Turkey. ROMACTED II will continue to assist local authorities in integrating Roma-specific dimensions and measures into mainstream local policies, related action plans, budgets, and public service delivery, thereby enhancing democratic participation and empowerment of local Roma communities. 
Jonava, the first city from Lithuania to join the ICC network
On 11 January the Intercultural Cities (ICC) programme announced the membership of Jonava, the first city from Lithuania to join the ICC network and the first new membership of 2021! Jonava is the ninth largest town in Lithuania, located almost in the centre of Lithuania, on the banks of the river Neris. A trading city inhabited by people of different cultures and backgrounds, Jonava actively works towards the full inclusion of residents with migrant background and counts with a Refugee Reception Centre. Jonava becomes the 143rd member of the ICC network. Learn more on Jonava’s dedicated page!
New online course on AI and discrimination

A pilot online training course on ‘AI & Discrimination’ began for regulators in the United Kingdom. The Anti-Discrimination and Inclusion Division, in co-operation with the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CEDI), prepared the course which includes European regulations and standards, case studies, good practices, and will engage the participants in a discussion about goals and methods of cross sectorial co-operation between regulators in this field
Protecting Human Rights through Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI persons in Bulgaria
On 10 December 2020, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Unit, in cooperation with both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and  Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria and the organization for the rights and the social inclusion of LGBTI persons (Deystvie), hosted the online event “Protecting Human Rights through Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI persons in Bulgaria”. The event – held on this particular date to mark International Human Rights Day – served as an occasion to launch the Bulgarian version of the training manual ‘’Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI Persons: Training for a professional Police response’’. You can watch the full event, (Read more)!
Council of Europe holds a webinar for Qatar 2022 Football World Cup
SPORT - Security and safety of sports events

On 19-20 January, the Council of Europe organised a training webinar on international police cooperation and the National Football Information Points (NFIPs), in the context of a project of cooperation with the State of Qatar for the 2022 Football World Cup.  Several experts from nine NFIPs across Europe shared with Qatar's public safety officials their experiences from previous tournaments and their expertise in international police cooperation in the field of football and other sports. Cooperation with the State of Qatar on safety, security and service preparations for the 2022 Football World Cup is expected to continue in the context of the new Committee on safety and security at sports events monitoring the implementation of the Saint-Denis Convention.
The Saint-Denis Committee met for the second time

On the 21st January, the Committee on Safety and Security at Sports Events, also known as the Saint-Denis Committee, met for the second time, in an informal and virtual format.  The 18 delegations of the States that have already ratified the Saint-Denis Convention had the opportunity to have a first exchange on the draft Rules of Procedure and on the draft Policy Strategy 2021-2023 of the Committee. The Committee plans to hold its first formal meeting in April 2021. In the meantime, it will meet once again, within one month, to discuss other foundational documents.
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.

CDADI       The CDADI adopted its first documents in written procedure. Its Working Group on Intercultural Integration GT-ADI-INT,  the Working Group on Political Participation of Minority Youth  and the Working Group on Covid-19 Responses continued their work on drafting respective reports, studies or guidelines to be presented to the CDADI for discussion and adoption during its 2nd plenary meeting on 2-4 February 2021.

On 8 December 2020 the Committee of Ministers adopted recommendations on the application of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages by Armenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Sweden. Furthermore, the Committee of Ministers took note of the evaluation by the Committee of Experts of the implementation of the recommendations for immediate action by Denmark, Finland and Hungary.

On 8 December 2020 the Committee of Ministers adopted the resolutions on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by the Russian Federation and by Ukraine. Furthermore, on 13 January 2021 the resolutions on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Albania, Bulgaria and Cyprus were adopted.

On 11 December 2020, ECRI Bureau member Tena Šimonović Einwalter participated in the Online event on the negative impact of COVID on migrants and minorities organised by the Migration, Diversity and Justice Centre of the Institute for European Studies. On 20 January 2021, ECRI 1st Vice-Chair Domenica Ghidei Biidu attended the "Promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers" regional consultation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On 14 and 18 December 2020, the Committee of Experts on the rights and the best interests of the child in parental separation and in care proceedings (CJ/ENF-ISE) held its second meeting. The meeting was organised jointly with the CDCJ secretariat and focused on: i)  examining the contributions received from member states and observers on the questionnaires disseminated; ii) discussing the main aspects that should be covered by the feasibility studies; and iii) making preliminary proposals on the possible practical instruments and/or tools to be developed for professionals dealing with parental separation situations and/or care proceedings. 

On 12 January 2021, the Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF) Secretariat met with members of the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to discuss a possible contribution by the CDENF to the 2021 UNCRC Day of General Discussion on “children’s rights and alternative care”. On 12 and 13 January respectively, the process of child consultations related to the preparation of the new Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027) was initiated through two calls: (i) a call for consultancy to support this process to be led by June 2021, and (ii) a call for firm commitment by national delegations to support the same process from their sides and in close co-operation with the Council of Europe, and any relevant national partners in this area.

52nd meeting of the Monitoring Group of the Anti-Doping Convention (T-DO) 
This meeting took place online, via KUDO on 17-18 December with 105 participants representing 45 of 52 States Parties, one observer state (USA), and 8 observer organisations, including the European Commission, UNESCO, IOC, WADA and UEFA. Among the most important decisions was the endorsement of the General principles of fair procedure applicable to anti-doping proceedings in sport developed by the T-DO Ad hoc group on Human Rights and Athletes, as well as establishment of the T-DO Ad Hoc group on Whistleblower protection, where the representatives of Azerbaijan, Australia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Turkey and the UK are appointed as members. The delegations reviewed the progress of implementation of T-DO recommendations in Albania, Cyprus, Croatia, Montenegro, the UK, Italy, as well as planned evaluation the Netherlands, closed the evaluation cycle in Poland, adopted of the revised 2017 analytical report and 2019 factual report on the national anti-doping policies in the states parties. 

Athlete’s involvement A special hearing took place with athletes’ representatives about the involvement of athletes in implementation of the Anti-Doping Convention. The discussion focused on the effectiveness of the current system of protection of the rights of athletes in Europe and the need for further normative developments in this area. It was apparent that beyond the significant work of the T-DO in the area of protection of athletes' rights (particularly in the context of its activities on access to justice or protection of whistle-blowers), consideration should be given to establishing a more permanent dialogue with athletes in the framework of relevant standard-setting activities of the Council of Europe. 

Cooperation with the USA Considering the importance of the recently-enacted Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA), recently-enacted by the US Congress, an exchange of views between the representatives of the State Parties to the Anti-Doping Convention and the United States authorities (represented by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Congress) took place to discuss its possible impact on anti-doping policy and practice in Europe. This exchange contributed to fostering a dialogue on issues related to the fight against doping in sport, including on the concerns of European countries with RADA. 

New Doping list in force from 1 January 2021 
The Monitoring Group of the Anti-Doping Convention (T-DO) adopted by written procedure the 2021 list of pharmacological classes of doping agents and doping methods banned by the relevant international sports organisations. Since 2003 this international organisation is the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and respectively, the Prohibited List adopted by WADA. The T-DO adopted list is available on the website of the Treaty office of the Council of Europe: https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/135.
Roma Political Participation in Ukraine
On 10 December2020, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the Roma Women Fund Chiricli and the Council of Europe Roma and Travellers Team held the Forum of Roma Political Participation in Ukraine as part of the programme of the Roma Political Schools. The meeting gathered participants from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kreminna, Uzhhorod and Odesa, and representatives from the Ukrainian Parliament and from the Council of Europe. Among the participants in the Forum were many of the 25 Roma, alumni of the Roma Political School, who ran in the recent local elections in Ukraine in which 10 Roma were elected into local councils, mostly in the Transcarpathia region.
Roma empowerment at local level in Albania
Seven webinars were held in the participating municipalities of the EU/CoE Joint Programme “Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at local level (ROMACTED)” in Albania, from 10-18 December 2020. These webinars are important training and consultative elements in the implementation of "Roma-responsive Budgeting" at local level in Albania. The webinars gathered participants from municipalities and were developed in close co-operation with the Albanian School of Public Administration, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the Ministry of Finance and Economy, and the EU-CoE Joint Programme ROMACTED. More information here.

On 11 December 2020, in cooperation with the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, the SOGI Unit hosted the online webinar “Launching of the Serbian version of the Training Manual “Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI Persons: Training for a professional Police response”’’. The event was held on the framework of the Council of Europe’s Office in Belgrade official celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. The event brought together representatives from the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue and Civil Society Organisations from Serbia.

The Government of Slovenia formally submitted on 21 January 2021 the draft Barnahus law to the National Assembly. If adopted, it would be the first comprehensive Barnahus act in Europe and the first time a country attempts to regulate key Barnahus-related provisions in a single legally binding act. Barnahus is a leading European model for a child-friendly multidisciplinary and interagency response to child sexual exploitation and abuse and was recognised by the CoE Lanzarote Committee as a promising practice in 2015. The joint EU DG Reform-Council of Europe project supports Slovenia in establishing their first Barnahus by 2021.

On 21 January 2021, the Council of Europe project Combating violence against children in the Republic of Moldova held an online event to discuss the findings of a peer review of two Government Decisions related to interagency and cross-sectoral cooperation mechanisms in the field of child sexual exploitation and abuse. These Government Decisions represent a significant step forward in upholding the rights of the child in the Republic of Moldova and putting the best interests of the child in the centre of the child protection framework. The findings and recommendations of this Report will be taken into consideration by the authorities while drafting the new Strategy on the Protection of the Rights of the Child

The Council of Europe project Combating violence against children in Ukraine (Phase II) launched On 21 December 2020the child-friendly justice HELP course in cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Police of Ukraine. The course is intended for representatives of the National Police and is aimed to deepen their knowledge of the principles and standards of the Council of Europe in the field of child-friendly proceedings.
First batches of COVID-19 vaccines released by Official Medicines Control Laboratories

Since mid-December, the EDQM has participated in a series of important meetings and exchanges at the EU level to prepare for the release of the first COVID-19 vaccines according to the official control authority batch release (OCABR) procedure foreseen for such products. OCABR of the first COVID-19 vaccine lots from Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty®) by Paul-Ehrlich-Institute, Germany, on 23 December 2020, only two days after the granting of the conditional marketing authorisation by the European Commission, was followed shortly by the release of the first the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine lots by AGES/BASG, Austria, on 6 January, subsequent to its conditional marketing approval. Due to the organised and active preparation, the OMCLs were able to release the first batches within a day of the formal submission of the batch release applications from the respective manufacturers.In preparation of the last steps for an EU-wide release of the vaccines, the EDQM was in close contact with the EU Commission to ensure smooth access to the first COVID-19 vaccine lots for all member States.Since the beginning of the pandemic, the EDQM had reached out to the pharmaceutical industry, notably vaccine manufacturers, to support them in developing and making COVID-19 treatments and vaccines available. The EDQM and industry association meeting on 16 December provided the opportunity to respond to COVID-vaccine OCABR procedural queries from manufacturers who very much appreciated the proactive actions of the EDQM and the OCABR network and the responsiveness and cooperation of the involved OMCLs in preparation for batch release of COVID-19 vaccines.
Impact of Brexit on OCABR

While the United Kingdom and its authorities remain a valued member of the European Pharmacopoeia and EDQM’s other activities, Brexit has had an impact on some activities that are co-funded by the European Union, including OCABR. The end of the mutual recognition between the EU and the UK, for both human and veterinary OCABR, as a result of Brexit was communicated to the network members and stakeholders in the end of December. Additional actions included removing access for the UK contacts of the confidential OCABR Database, and other restricted groups. In order to ensure future collaboration and exchanges, the EU human OCABR network represented by the EDQM Director, subsequently signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Institute for Biological Standardisation and Control (NIBSC) allowing them to become observers to the OCABR network for human vaccines and human blood and plasma derived medicinal products, effective as from 21 January 2021. This status allows the continued exchange of technical information in areas of common interest but does not allow mutual recognition of OCABR.
WHO recognises the qualifications of members of the General OMCL Network

 As a follow-up to World Health Assembly Resolution 67.20 on Regulatory systems strengthening for medicinal products and the subsequent development of a Global Benchmarking Tool, the WHO initiated the process of establishing a framework of WHO-Listed Authorities (WLA) which will be described in a policy document and complemented by an operational guidance. A strong and key component of this operational guidance will be the Performance Evaluation Framework (PEF) to the development of which the EDQM provided expert input in different areas. Following the final meeting of Working Group 5 on Laboratory testing and OCABR, it was decided that no additional WHO performance evaluation is required for OMCLs who are part of the General European OMCL Network (GEON) when a country applies in the context of being listed as WLA.
International Collaboration in the field of pharmaceutical care

In December, the EDQM participated in a meeting of the OECD Health Committee to liaise with the Secretariat vis-à-vis the OECD project on integrated care. As a next step, a meeting will take place in January to explore possibilities of having pharmaceutical care services included in the OECD project “Strengthening Performance of Integrated Care Delivery across OECD Countries”.The EDQM also discussed with the South-Eastern Europe Health Network (SEEHN) on how best to monitor the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Pharmaceutical Care Resolution in SEEHN member States.
The added value of new ways of working

In spite of the current sanitary situation and the travel restrictions around Europe and the globe, the EDQM continued to make progress in all its activities. The remote surveillance mutual joint audit carried out at the OMCL of the Slovak Republic from 14 to 16 December was already the 10th distant audit, focusing on the new requirement of ISO 17015:2017 with the goal to bring all OMCL Network members in line with this new version of the ISO standard.Modern IT tools also allowed the EDQM to have a virtual booth at the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) Congress and to promote blood activities. The first webinar organised by the EDQM in 2021 provided the latest information on the control of nitrosamines in active substances and medicines, both regarding the requirements of the European Pharmacopoeia and the Certification Procedure, and attracted almost 1000 participants – an excellent starting point to match the “benchmark figures” achieved by our virtual events in 2020, which brought together 15 300 participants from 104 countries.
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