In Loulé, Portugal, 7 municipalities received the ELoGE on 28 June. Vitor Aleixo, Mayor of Loulé, Francisco Correia, President of the Portuguese Association of Local Government Officials (ATAM), Paul Gatt, President of European Federation of Local Government Chief Executives (UDiTE), and Luís Leite Ramos, Member of the Portuguese Parliament and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, opened the Ceremony and congratulated the local authorities.
Protecting children from trafficking and exploitation in the Western Balkans
The regional conference “Acting together in the face of crisis: Protecting children from trafficking and exploitation in the Western Balkans” took place online on 22-23 June 2021. Organised in the framework of the joint European Union - Council of Europe programme Horizontal Facility II for the Western Balkans and Turkey, the conference took stock of trends and new challenges in child trafficking, identified positive initiatives, and discussed areas where improvements can be induced through capacity building, co-ordination and co-operation. The event gathered over 130 participants from the region and beyond, who underscored the importance of placing the rights and best interests of the child at the heart of policies and practical measures to prevent and combat trafficking.
GREVIO elects new President and Vice-presidents
At its 24th meeting, held online on 21-23 June the Group of experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) elected Ms Iris Luarasi (Albania) as President, Ms Simona Lanzoni (Italy) as First Vice-President, and Ms Maria-Andriani Kostopoulou (Greece) as second Vice-President. Their mandate started on 24 June 2021 and will last for 2 years.
Liechtenstein ratifies the Istanbul Convention
On 17 June, H.E. Ms Dominique HASLER, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Education and Sports of Liechtenstein, deposited the instrument of ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CETS No.210), for Liechtenstein. The Convention will enter into force, as regards Liechtenstein, on the 1st of October 2021.
COMMITTEES, MONITORING, WORKING GROUPS,
GRETA evaluation visit to Portugal
GRETA carried out an evaluation visit to Portugal from 14 to 18 June 2021 as part of the third evaluation round of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which has a thematic focus on trafficking victims’ access to justice and effective remedies. During the visit, the GRETA delegation held consultations with Ms Rosa Monteiro, Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality, Mr Manuel Albano, National Rapporteur for Trafficking in Human Beings, as well as officials from relevant ministries and public bodies, members of the Portuguese Parliament and Ms Maria Lúcia Amaral, Ombudsperson of Portugal. Separate meetings were held with the Portuguese National Bar, representatives of non-governmental organisations and intergovernmental organisations, lawyers representing victims of human trafficking, and survivors of human trafficking. The GRETA delegation also visited shelters for victims of human trafficking ran by NGOs, two centres for social reintegration of victims, a reception centre for unaccompanied children and another one for adult asylum seekers.
Local Finance Roundtable in Armenia
On 15 June in Yerevan, participants to a public roundtable discussion on the topic of local finances in Armenia learned how the calculation of standard expenditure needs for local authorities based on geographical features and socio-demographic characteristics can improve local public services and make local governance more efficient.
This methodology, widely recognised as an example of best practice, has also been applied on a pilot basis to a representative sample of consolidated communities in Armenia and the preliminary results were also presented in the context of the roundtable.
New call for tenders for experts in the field of Gender Equality and Violence against women in the South-med region
On 23 June 2021 a call for tenders to identify experts in the fields of gender quality, combating violence against women and setting up of a national referral system for women victims of violence in Tunisia and in the Southern Mediterranean was launched. Interested providers are invited to consult the terms of reference of the call for tenders and to submit, by e-mail only, the filled in act of engagement and all the required documents listed in the terms of reference (Deadline for the submission: 31 July 2021).
Green Initiatives at Local Level: Best Practice from Ukraine
How can local authorities make their communities greener? Sustainability and long-term orientation is among the 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance, and making “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030. Local authorities and citizens can make a substantial contribution in this direction.
The webinar “Engaging citizens in environmental protection”, held on 17 June, completed the series of webinars to disseminate the results of the contest “Best Practices in Local Self-Government - 2020” in Ukraine.
The municipalities of Vinnytsia, Bila Tserkva, and Boratyn presented their practices dedicated to creating safe and comfortable habitats in their communities. The Centre of Expertise for Good Governance has been supporting Ukraine in implementing this contest, based on its Best Practice in Local Government Programme toolkit, for almost a decade.
Ukraine: Strengthening participation of young women from disadvantaged groups
The Council of Europe projects "Supporting the transparency, inclusiveness and integrity of electoral practice in Ukraine" and “Strengthening civil participation in democratic decision making in Ukraine” launch the registration to participate in the Council of Europe programme “Participation of young women and girls from disadvantaged groups in political and public decision-making processes at local level”.
Applications for this call for participation shall be submitted till 30 July 2021 included. The results and confirmation of participation in the pilot training programme will be sent by 16 August 2021 included.
Georgia: countering hate speech in the electoral process
At the online training, election officials from the Election Administration of Georgia, including members and the staff of the Central Election Commission exchanged views on international standards and good practices of the Council of Europe member states on issues related to hate speech and incitement of hatred during electoral processes.
The online training was a part of the implementation of a study course on “Countering Hate Speech in Electoral Processes”, developed in co-operation with the election administration and coveringapplicable international standards and instruments, strategies for election management bodies to prevent and respond to instances of hateful speech effectively, hate speech and sexism.
The course will be integrated and implemented in all educational programmes of the Election Administration of Georgia targeting a broad scale of electoral stakeholders.
Republic of Moldova: countering hate speech in the electoral process
On 11 June 2021, the Council of Europe organised, in co-operation with the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Moldova, the Audiovisual Council and the Centre for Continuous Electoral Training an online round table aiming to discuss the application of a comprehensive approach to combating hate speech in the Republic of Moldova, in particular during electoral periods.
Raising awareness on protection of women from violence in Morocco
In the framework of its cooperation with the National Commission for the Care of Women Victims of Violence (CNFV), the Council of Europe has supported the publication of two brochures. The first document presents the objectives, missions as well as the composition of this specialised national mechanism enjoying management and decision-making autonomy in favour of a better protection of women victims of violence in Morocco. The second brochure describes the main provisions contained in Law No. 103.13 on fighting violence against women (definition of the different types of violence, penalties incurred for perpetrators of violence, judicial and social referral of victims).
End of phase II of the project "Reinforcing the fight against violence against women and domestic violence in Kosovo*"
On 28 June, the project’s final Steering Committee took place. The results and impact of the project were discussed among the key project partners, including the National Coordinator on Domestic Violence, the Academy of Justice of Kosovo*, and the Victims Support and Advocacy Office. The project results include over 13 publications, training activities and other events. Over 2300 professionals and other stakeholders were involved in it. More information and the achieved results of the project can be found here.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE DEVELOPMENT BANK
CEB supports the Municipality of Lisbon in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) approved a €30 million loan by fast-track written procedure to support the Municipality of Lisbon in its efforts to provide adequate medical assistance to those affected by COVID-19 and to address the emergency health situation caused by the surge of cases involving the delta variant of the virus. The CEB loan will finance medical and pharmaceutical supplies, including testing and vaccination, as well as programmes to support micro, small and medium sized local businesses, cultural entities and social enterprises affected by the related restrictive measures. Final beneficiaries will be the residents of Lisbon directly impacted by the pandemic.
DIRECTORATE OF ANTI DISCRIMINATION
Promoting the Saint-Denis Convention at global level
At the initiative of Interpol (Project «Stadia»), various Secretariats of international organisations met online on 16 June 2021 to discuss better coordination of their respective work on the security of major sports events.
Representatives from the Secretariat of the Saint-Denis Convention, together with key stakeholders such as Interpol, Europol, the International Olympic Committee, United Nations agencies (UNICRI, UNOCT) and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) exchanged on their working programme and achievements and on how to improve coordination and cooperation.
The event provided an excellent opportunity to recall that the Saint-Denis Convention is the only legally binding instrument worldwide in the field of safety, security and service at sports events. The balanced multi-agency integrated approach, which is the ethos of this modern Convention, is the best way to ensure a safe, secure and welcoming environment at sports events, be it major football competitions or at any other types of sports events.
It also enabled to highlight that the Committee of the Saint-Denis Convention is now in place, as the only competent body for interpreting its provisions and for monitoring its implementation by States Parties. Furthermore, it was important to recall that any country in the world can join the Convention and benefit from its principles and high standards, as well as from its monitoring and international cooperation mechanisms, and that any country or sport organisation can request to be part or observer to the Saint-Denis Committee and benefit from this international platform of cooperation.
The CDADI furthermore adopted a Model Framework for an intercultural integration strategy which aims to guide the development of national strategies and multi-stakeholder governance mechanisms for intercultural integration. It is inspired by the successful experience of the nearly 150 intercultural cities in Europe and across the world, and by leading practice in some Council of Europe member states in fostering inclusion, community cohesion and diversity advantage. The document outlines the principles of intercultural integration, based on CoE standards and values, and provides a menu of policy measures and practice examples which can help meet these requirements.
The Committee has also adopted the Study on active political participationof national minority youth that is built on good practices in member states, exchanged views on Artificial Intelligence (AI), equality and discrimination, and held discussions on the situation and participation of Roma women and girls and cooperation with civil society.
All documents will be published on the CDADI website.
National Minorities and Minority Languages
On 14-17 June, the Committee of Experts (COMEX) of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) carried out an on-the-spot visit in Poland. Resuming its monitoring activities, a delegation of experts met with minority and regional speakers as well as with authorities.
On 16 June, the Committee of Ministers took note of three new mid-reports of the COMEX on the implementation of the Recommendations for Immediate Action contained in the preceding evaluation reports on the Slovak Republic, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Moreover, on 22 June, Vesna Crnić-Grotić, Chair of the COMEX, and Jeroen Schokkenbroek, Director of Anti-Discrimination, participated in an exchange of views with the PACE Sub-Committee on the Rights of Minorities. Mr Schokkenbroek presented the 10th report of the Secretary General on the application of the ECRML (2018-2020). Ms Crnić-Grotić informed the PACE members of the latest developments regarding the implementation of the COMEX recommendations and of the need to promote new ratifications. She also gave an overview of the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic in respect of the use of minority and regional languages.
Committee of experts on the rights and the best interests of the child in parental separation and in care proceedings
On 24 June 2021, the Committee of experts on the rights and the best interests of the child in parental separation and in care proceedings (CJ/ENF-ISE) and the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) held a joint Bureau meeting. They examined and approved the feasibility studies on the protection of the best interest of the child and their rights in situations of parental separation and in care proceedings, and held an exchange of views on the proposals of draft legal instrument(s) and practical tool(s).
Committee of the Parties to the Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse
On 28-30 June 2021, the Committee of the Parties to the Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (Lanzarote Committee) held its 32nd meeting. This meeting opened with a live public presentation of the independent experts’ report on “Respecting human rights and the rule of law when using automated technology to detect online child sexual exploitation and abuse” was presented at an open public event. It generated high media attention. The report was elaborated in response to the request of the Lanzarote Committee to support Council of Europe member states in light of a debate triggered in the context of the European Union to allow the processing of personal and other data for the purpose of combating online child sexual exploitation and abuse. The Lanzarote Committee pursued its examination of draft chapters of its 2nd monitoring round draft implementation report dedicated to “The protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse facilitated by information and communication technologies (ICTs): addressing the challenges raised by child self-generated sexual images and/or videos”. The Lanzarote Committee further examined “draft compliance reports” with regard to 4 of the 10 Recommendations of its Special report “Protecting children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse”. The Lanzarote Committee also considered a Reflection Paper containing suggestions to strengthen the effectiveness of the monitoring mechanism and procedure in the short or medium term. It approved its 6th activity report (covering the period 19 October 2019-30 June 2021). Finally, the Lanzarote Committee held elections of its Bureau and re-elected Ms Christel De Craim (Belgium) as its Chairperson and Ms Maria José Castello-Branco (Portugal) as its Vice-Chairperson.
Annual meeting of the EPAS Governing Board and Consultative Committee
The EPAS Governing Board and Consultative Committee held their annual joint online meeting to discuss the EPAS programme of activities: the impact of COVID-19 on sports activities, safeguarding children and the revision of the European Sports Charter, among others.
The meeting approved the 4th revised version of the European Sports Charter, thus concluding an ambitious and intense process initiated by the 15th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport. The final draft will be forwarded to the Committee of Ministers for consideration and possible adoption in the autumn of this year. The Governing Board also defined the framework for supporting and monitoring the implementation of the Charter at national level and recognised its strategic dimension for EPAS activities.
Discussions were also held with the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Bjørn Berge who presented his priorities in the field of sport for the next four years:
To promote values-based sport,
To put the protection of human rights and the fight against corruption high on the agenda of governments and the sport movement and,
To reaffirm the role of the Council of Europe as a key partner working with bodies including, the IOC, FIFA, UEFA, Interpol, UNESCO etc. in addressing European sports issues.
The Governing Board decided to organise the 17th Ministerial Conference in 2022 in Turkey.
Second meeting of the Committee of the Convention
The Follow-Up Committee of the Macolin Convention held its second meeting online on 23 and 24 June 2021. Delegates from the seven State Parties (Greece, Italy, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Moldova, Switzerland and Ukraine) granted UEFA and FIFA the status of Observer to the Committee and welcomed the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sports (EPAS) amongst the Council of Europe bodies invited to participate in its future meetings.
The list of decisions also includes the adoption of the Terms of Reference of the Advisory Group on the Network of National Platforms (Group of Copenhagen), as well as the election of the Bureau of the Committee for a two-year term. The Committee additionally identified outputs for the incoming period, including a draft list of sport organisations and the basis for a discussion on Malta’s recent commitment to sign the Convention.
Engaging in dialogue with Serbian authorities to improve the protection of national minorities
On 16 June, a seminar on the Implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe by Serbia was organised in Belgrade.
Following a presentation of the Advisory Committee opinion and the relevant Committee of Ministers recommendations by Marie B. Hagsgård, Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention, representatives of national minorities as well as national and local authorities discussed practical steps of implementation. More details in the relevant web article.
Closing of a four-month integrated training of trainers for police, prosecutors and judges in the Republic of Moldova on hate crime
On 16 June, the closing event of the four-month integrated training of trainers for police, prosecutors and judges in the Republic of Moldova on hate crime took place. The training course involved 28 participants and included the Council of Europe HELP course on hate crime, together with practical sessions based on case studies relevant to the Moldovan context. The National Institute of Justice, the Superior Council of Prosecutors, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the General Police Inspectorate of the Republic of Moldova were all partners in this course. Training of law enforcement and the judiciary on hate crime is one of the ECRI recommendations from its last monitoring cycle on the Republic of Moldova and this was also the topic of the 2021 round table, organised earlier in June.
The course will be followed up as of autumn 2021 by cascade trainings, as well as a thematic school for all three types of professionals in order to ensure good coordination and a common understanding of the hate crime problem. This activity was organised as part of the EU – Council of Europe’s project “Strengthening access to justice for victims of discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes in the Eastern Partnership”.
18-20 June the CoE office in Tbilisi in cooperation with CSO’s and tech companies completed a 48-hour Equality Hackathon. The event brought together marketing specialists, business professionals, students, data analysts, developers and designers, civil activists, policy makers, NGO workers to produce data driven digital products on equality and diversity. Four wining proposals will be worked out by September, including: Wheel map - a map showing the adapted streets and buildings in Tbilisi, that can be updated by users; Game on equality - player will experience the challenges LGBTI people are facing in Georgia; An interactive map on gender equality: bring together statistics to show the gender equality gaps in Georgia; Queer: social campaign to show how diverse, colourful and at the same time equal we are.
Age assessment for children in migration
On the occasion of the World Refugee Day (20 June), the Children’s Rights Division launchedsix new language versions of the joint Council of Europe and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) video animation on age assessment for children in migration, as well as a child-friendly leaflet “Your rights in the age assessment procedure”. Both the animation and leaflet seek to inform children about the age assessment procedures in an adapted way, so that they understand that the age assessment should be conducted in a manner that respects their human rights and dignity, with their informed consent, and that takes into account any particular vulnerabilities, their gender and cultural background.
The Joint Project CP4Europe-Strengthening National Child Participation Frameworks and Action in Europe concluded its 3 National Induction Seminars led by Anne Crowley and Gerison Lansdown, child participation leading experts, for Portugal (2-3 June), Iceland (15-16 June) with the Czech Republic on 22 and 24 June 2021. These first seminars stand as a crucial step before initiating respective national assessments of child participation on the basis of the Council of Europe Child Participation Assessment Tool (CPAT) as from September 2021 for a period of 12 months. A follow-up roundtable was held on 28 June 2021 with all 5 CP4 Partners including Slovenia and Finland to benefit from their experience of the CPAT with examples of good practices and acknowledging potential challenges and means to overcome them. On 21 June, the Council of Europe opened the CP4 kick-off meeting in Slovenia which will focus on creating child participation innovative tools as a response to the findings of their CPAT assessment in 2019. Finally, on 30 June 2021, the first CP4 Steering Committee took place before the end of the inception phase of the project to clarify the role of the Committee, present the results of the inception phase and agree on the project’s workplan, and expected outputs at national and European levels.
DIRECTORATE OF DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION
High Level Dialogue: Decision-makers and Youth talk about democracy and the environment
The World Forum for Democracy hosted on 29 June a High-Level Dialogue between decision makers and youth delegates to provide insights into the challenges young people face in influencing the debate and response to climate crisis.
World Forum for Democracy Youth Delegates
The Youth Delegation is a group of young people from 24 countries around the world, carefully selected by the Youth Department out of 420 applicants.
The WFD Youth Delegation is prepared and accompanied by a team of 4 trainers from the Trainer's Pool of the Youth Department to connect with the themes of the WFD Campaign and to actively participate in the online activities.
Forum Talk - Our climate, our future: young people leading global climate action
Co-organised with the council of Europe’s Advisory Council of youth
‘Children and youth leading the fight against climate change’ was the thematic priority of the month of June in the framework of the World Forum for Democracy 2021. The Advisory Council on Youth co-organised an on-line talk on 25 June to discuss how full participation for young people in decision making processes can be ensured.
Increasingly, the right to a healthy environment is seen as a human rights issue most dramatically impacting children and youth. Youth climate activism, however, is also a direct example of the opportunity for increasing citizen participation in agenda-setting and decision-making processes. Young people consistently demonstrate creative and forward-looking methods of expressing the political will for climate action, but how can our governmental and institutional systems ensure these expressions are being heard and reflected in policies and actions?
Webinar "Greening the youth sector: sustainability checklist"
‘Children and youth leading the fight against climate change’ was the thematic priority of the month of June of the World Forum for Democracy 2021. On 15 June, the EU-CoE youth partnership organised a webinar to look into ways for the youth sector to make its projects and activities more sustainable.
This was the occasion for a presentation of the sustainability checklist, which will serve as guidelines for youth initiatives across Europe.
The checklist was developed by the EU-CoE youth partnership, in cooperation with the Task Force on greening the youth sector, and in consultation with youth organisations.
On 23 June, the Youth Department hosted an informal meeting with young refugees and refugee-led youth organisations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the World Refugee Day. The meeting discussed the current priorities and agendas of the youth/refugee-led organisations on social inclusion of young refugees and their expectations on cooperation with the Council of Europe. Chaired by Zuzana Pavelková, member of the Advisory Council on Youth, the meeting took note to the results of on-going research and work with young refugees across Europe. Young refugees are being particularly hit by the pandemic, with worrying news about deterioration in mental health, loss of any support systems and connections or students facing dire difficulties to survive due to, for example, closing of university restaurants. The consultation and communication with refugee-led youth organisations will continue in 2021 with the view to best represent their experiences in the Youth for Democracy programme, notably about the role of youth work
At its 163rd meeting held online, the Board of Management of the Council of Europe's Eurimages Fund agreed to support 49 feature film projects, including 6 documentaries and 3 animation films, for a total amount of €10.8M. The share of eligible projects with female directors examined at this Eurimages Board of Management meeting was 36.23%. Since it was set up in 1988, EURIMAGES has supported 2 236 co-productions for a total amount of approximately 640 million euros.
The Eurimages Board of Management also agreed to award a total amount of €530.4K to 73 cinemas based on their 2020 programming and to distribute a part of the remainder of the Cinemas Support budget, namely €167.6K, to the 28 cinemas in the network most impacted by the effects of Covid-19.
NORTH SOUTH CENTRE
The North-South Centre of the Council of Europe coordinates a grant scheme to support initiatives carried out in the framework of its annual campaign Global Education Week (GEW) from 15 to 21 November 2021, with the objective to raise awareness about global education/global development education in Europe, under the overarching GEW motto “ It’s our world, let’s take action together!”.
With a maximum amount of five thousand Euros each, the grants will be attributed to practitioners and activists to design, implement and carry out global education awareness raising initiatives and learning activities, during the GEW.
The GEW is a call to rethink our habits and ways of living, spending and consuming but also find new ways of education and socialisation. It relates to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) that aim at eliminating extreme poverty, reduce inequalities and combat the threat of climate change by 2030.
On the 18 June the North-South Centre: an Enlarged Partial Agreement of the Council of Europe, was presented to an audience of around 100 participants, including several Permanent representatives accredited to the Council of Europe.
On the 23 June the North-South Centre met with Eamon Gilmore, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights. Both gained knowledge about the complementarity of their respective mandates, in particular the external vocation of both offices to building resilient, inclusive, and democratic societies in Europe and abroad. The EUSR was invited to participate at the upcoming Lisbon Forum 2021.
COMMITTEES, BOARDS,WORKING GROUPS
Steering Committee For Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP)
The CDCPP held part I of its 10th plenary session on 18 June 2021, in an online format. The agenda included, inter alia, discussions on a new CDCPP Strategy in 2022-2025, and a forthcoming draft recommendation on the essential role of culture, cultural heritage and landscape in helping to address global crises, with special consideration of the impact of AI in these areas. Exchanges were also held on envisaged work on a set of principles for inspired policy making, derived from the Organisation’s existing conventions in the CDCPP's realm.
As the Committee responsible for all matters relating to culture, including policy measures regarding the digitisation of the audio-visual sector, the CDCPP held preliminary discussions with members of the Eurimages secretariat about a possible future new scheme of pan-European public financial support and a legal framework to facilitate international TV series co-productions. At the plenary session, expert curator Kata Krasznahorkai updated delegations about latest developments in the digital exhibition “Free to Create – Create to be Free”. Other subjects of interest included the new 10-module MOOC (massive open online courses) on Strategy 21.
EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement
On 16 June the Committee of Permanent Correspondents held online its 75th meeting. At the meeting the Medium-Term Plan 2021-2025 for the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement was adopted and preparations for the Ministerial Meeting to be held on 24 November were discussed.
The Nicosia Convention on Offences Relating to Cultural Property
The UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, representatives of the OHCHR, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, country delegations, civil society, academia and experts from all regions of the world discussed mainstreaming a human rights-based approach to cultural heritage, cultural heritage in crisis and supporting the work of cultural rights defenders working on cultural heritage protection.
The Council of Europe Criminal Law Co-operation Unit (DGI) and the Culture and Cultural Heritage Division (DGII) gave a joint presentation promoting the Council of Europe Convention on “Offences Relating to Cultural Property” (the Nicosia Convention) which is the only international treaty aiming to prevent and combat cultural property crimes, by providing for the criminalisation of certain acts, strengthening the criminal justice response and promoting national and international cooperation in this context.
Finally, and most importantly, particular emphasis was placed on the universal character of the Nicosia Convention, allowing any country in the world to join it. Therefore, the States were encouraged to ratify this important Convention in order for it to enter into force.
European Heritage Days - virtual coffee break sessions
The European Heritage Days programme held a series of virtual coffee break sessions with the Network of National Coordinators with a view to sharing innovative practice and exchanging ideas on a wide range of heritage topics.
The sessions mainly focused on preparations for the 2021 EHD theme of ‘Inclusive and Diverse Heritage’, as well as on ‘Sustainable Heritage’, the pan-continental theme proposed for 2022. The impact of the pandemic and the digitisation of EHD events were also discussed.
It was a valuable opportunity to meet with the new National Coordinators, and to provide them with first-hand guidance on the European promotion of their events.
The sessions were well-received by all and further informal exchanges will probably be organised in late summer.
The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment organised the presentation of the Council of Europe Landscape Award to the Project “Renaturation of the Aire river”. In accordance with the decision of the Committee of Ministers, this Award was given by the Secretariat General of the Council of Europe to the Republic and Canton of Geneva and partners from Switzerland and France, in a spirit of transfrontier co-operation, in accordance with Article 9 of the European Landscape Convention.
Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention)
The 3rd meeting of the Inter-sessional Working Group on Finances was held online on 15 June.
The 2nd meeting of the Working Group on developing a vision and strategic plan for the Bern Convention for the period to 2030 took place virtually on 21 June.
Furthermore, online meetings were held with counterparts related to the conservation of marine turtles and the sturgeon, the follow-up to the Action Plan on the eradication of the Ruddy Duck, the Emerald Network and on-the-spot-appraisals for pending case-files and EDPA sites. The team also met online with DC colleagues to discuss communications plans for the Bern Convention.
The documents for launching an international public call for tenders were finalised and sent to the Tenders Board for approval.
EDUCATION IN BRIEF
Observatory on History Teaching in Europe Executive Director Ms Aurora Ailincai and the Chair of the Governing Board Mr Alain Lamassoure took part in the DGII Opens Doors Day on Enlarged Partial Agreements of the CoE, along with the Director for Democratic Participation Mr Matjaž Gruden to present different aspects of the Agreement’s work, including its objectives, structure and added value within the field of history teaching.
The CoE is a member of the Working Group established to suggest criteria for assessing the implementation of the fundamental values of higher education, as defined in the Communiqués of the EHEA. The Group held its first meeting on 18June and agreed on the priorities for its work. The workplan will include a mapping of the currently available sources of independent information on the state of the fundamental values of higher education as well as hearings with experts in the field.
On 18 June, the Ministers of Education of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan met to adopt the Turkestan Declaration establishing the Central Asian Higher Education Area (CAHEA). The EHEA, of which Kazakhstan is a member, provides part of the inspiration for the new entity. As a key actor in the EHEA, the CoE was invited to contribute to the Conference. The Head of the Education Department, Sjur Bergan, provided an analysis of the experience of the EHEA with a view to identifying lessons learned that could be of relevance to Central Asia.
The Executive Director of the ECML, Sarah Breslin, represented the Secretary General at a hybrid event entitled “Europe: your languages” organised jointly by the Goethe Institut, the Portuguese and German foreign ministries, and the Instituto Camões. She outlined the importance of plurilingualism for the Council of Europe and its contribution to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
An ECML bilingual webinar entitled Fostering digital citizenship through language education attracted around 130 language teachers and teacher educators. The team from the ECML project Digital citizenship through language education proposed a profile of a digital citizen as a user of languages and digital technology, based on the analysis of around one hundred recently published texts and presented classroom tasks to strengthen communication skills, plurilingual competences and mediation skills through the critical use of digital media.
A national training course on human rights education, Compass in Youth Work, was jointly organised with the Croatian Youth Network and DrOne association between 18 and 22 June in Zagreb. Twenty youth worker, from a variety of regions and organisations in Croatia developed their competences to prepare and deliver human rights education activities and to advocate for furthering human rights education in youth work. As a result of the training a number of new projects in the field of human rights education were prepared and expected to be implemented in the coming months.
A Compass national training course, co-organised in Georgia with NNLE Tbilisi Youth Centers Union, took place in Bakuriani between 10 and 15 June. The activity developed the capacity of youth workers, trainers and educators from local municipalities to manage human rights education activities. The training was officially opened by Kakha Abuladze, the director of NNLE Tbilisi Youth Centers Union and Vahagn Muradyan, the deputy-head of Council of Europe office in Georgia. During the five-day activity, 26 youth workers, trainers and educators were introduced with the principles and approaches of non-formal education and human rights education, explored the activities of the Compass manual and discussed the possibilities on adapting them to their local realities. The participants also deepened their understanding of the existing mechanisms for human rights protection in Georgia and the opportunities for young people in the field of human rights education. The training was concluded with the development of plans for specific follow up local activities.
Within the framework of “Youth for Democracy in Ukraine” project, the second Ukrainian edition of the Compass: Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People has been revised with a focus on the standards of Council of Europe for the use of non-sexist language. The process contributes to the promotion of education for democratic citizenship and human rights education within the non-formal education programmes. The quality and sustainability of non-formal education in Ukraine continue developing through informal pool of experts and trainers in the field of youth which are trained within the Council of Europe Youth Department activities and projects.
EYF Consultancy service to help NGOs adapt supported activities
The EYF’s online consultancy service to assist youth organisations with approved grants in implementing and adapting projects during the COVID-19 pandemic shall remain available until at least the end of 2021.
The consultancy service supports NGOs in:
Transforming or adapting EYF funded activities from offline meetings to online or hybrid meetings;
Replanning activities, within a new timeline and a revised budget if necessary.
EDQM - THE EUROPEAN DIRECTORATE FOR THE QUALITY OF MEDICINES & HEALTHCARE
Fertility preservation guidance for people facing an illness or life events that may affect their capacity to procreate naturally later in life: a new booklet from the EDQM
There are many circumstances in which fertility preservation can be a valuable option. Making informed decisions in this highly personal area is of great importance to the health and well-being of individuals everywhere. The European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare (EDQM) has therefore released a booklet entitled “Fertility preservation – A guide for people facing an illness or life events that may affect their fertility”.
Fertility preservation is the process of freezing and storing a person’s oocytes (“eggs”), sperm, reproductive tissue and/or embryo(s), enabling them to try to have biological children later in life. The method of fertility preservation and potential implications of the choices made will depend on the specific situation of each person and their age, among many other factors.
Drafted by the European Committee on Organ Transplantation (CD-P-TO), composed of independent and internationally recognised experts, in collaboration with the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), this booklet aims to provide clear, accurate and balanced information on fertility preservation. It describes situations in which fertility preservation may be considered, the cryopreservation techniques available and the possible uses of stored cells, tissues and embryos. It is intended to inform readers on the different options available so they can ask healthcare professionals the right questions and make decisions suited to their needs and values.
Another successful virtual session of the European Pharmacopoeia Commission
The 170th session of the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.) Commission was held on 22 and 23 June 2021 and was attended by 110 people from all over the world with, in addition to delegations of the Ph. Eur. Member States, participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, India, Japan, Mexico (observer since 2020), the Russian Federation as well as South Africa. The participation of so many representatives was clearly facilitated by the fact that the session was again held virtually.
This session saw the adoption of 3 new and 66 revised texts which will be published in Supplement 10.8, the last supplement of the 10th Edition.
The EDQM informed the Commission about forthcoming changes in the way revision marks will be indicated in Ph. Eur. texts from the 11th Edition onwards. These changes are being introduced to reduce the number of manual interventions on Ph. Eur. texts before publication, both to decrease the scope for human error and to enhance the user-friendliness of the revision marks.
The Chair of the Ph. Eur. Commission took advantage of the annual report made by a number of chairs of groups of experts and working parties to ask them to share their experience with the virtual meeting format. While all praised the organisation of the meetings as not having had a negative impact on the progress of the work and even allowing experts who could not easily travel to Strasbourg to participate, they also stressed that they miss the opportunity to see and interact directly with the experts. For the future, a mixed approach between virtual and face-to-face meetings would be favoured.
On a more technical topic, the delegations discussed the future of the monograph on Gonadotrophin, equine serum, for veterinary use. The stock of the Equine serum gonadotrophin International Standard (IS), established under the responsibility of the WHO in the 1960s, had been unavailable since 2019 with no plans to replace it. This missing IS renders the application of the monograph in question impossible. The EDQM therefore launched an enquiry among national pharmacopoeia authorities (NPAs) proposing the suppression of this monograph from the Ph. Eur. Requests for suppression of the same monograph had also been received from four animal protection associations (Animal Welfare Foundation – AWF – , Eurogroup for Animals, German Animal Welfare Federation, European Parliament Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals) as, in view of the methods used to obtain the serum, the use of the substance and hence the monograph were not considered to be in line with the 3R principles (i.e. Replace, Reduce, Refine animal testing). However, six delegations opposed the suppression based on the grounds that several products were available on their respective markets. The future of this monograph in the Ph. Eur. was discussed several times by the Ph. Eur. Commission but no consensus could be reached. The EDQM therefore added the topic to the agenda of the annual NPA meeting held in May 2021. During this virtual meeting, experts from national competent authorities also joined the discussion, allowing participants to exchange views in an informal setting. As a result of these discussions, an enquiry to suspend the monograph (i.e. to remove it from the Ph. Eur. from Supplement 10.8 but to keep it in the Ph. Eur. work programme until a solution to this situation could be found as well as a final decision on the future of the monograph) was launched. Although one delegation still expressed reservations on this proposal, all the other delegations were able to accept this proposed approach that should allow the Ph. Eur. to break the current stalemate.
Kick-off meeting for the development of a post-marketing risk assessment tool for the planning of market surveillance testing activities of medicines
Over the last few years, a multidisciplinary working group composed of representatives from national competent authorities, Official Medicines Control Laboratories (OMCLs), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), EDQM and IT specialists have worked on a general risk assessment tool with the aim of facilitating the selection of critical medicines for planned market surveillance testing activities. This tool focuses on risk factors which can be identified during the assessment process of new medicines before they are authorised to enter the European market. Along with this risk assessment which is performed by Quality assessors from national competent authorities, test recommendations for future post-marketing testing are also provided by completing an e-template. The validated data set is then transferred to an OMCL database used for the planning of testing activities. Since December 2020, product-related risk scores and test recommendations are on this way made available to the labs.
On 17 June 2021, the kick-off meeting of a newly formed Post-Marketing Risk Assessment Tool Working Group took place with the aim of building on the existing risk assessment model and extending it to risk factors arising during the life-cycle of medicines. This could be major changes to their Marketing Authorisation (e.g. introduction of a new source of the active pharmaceutical ingredient or new manufacturing processes), quality defect reports, GMP non-compliance statements of manufacturing sites, findings during independent quality testing by OMCLs, pharmacovigilance events, etc. The work of the new group, which includes members of the previous working group and new entrants, will require the involvement of a number of stakeholders and the interconnection of data from different sources. Led by the Irish Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and the EDQM, the work is supported by the Heads of Medicines Agencies of the European Economic Area.
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