Council of Europe is the inter-governmental organization, established May 5, 1949 and currently uniting 47 European countries. His headquartered is in Strasbourg (France).
The governing bodies of the Council of Europe are the Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.
On September 16, 1992 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) granted the Special Guest status to the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus.
On March 12, 1993 Belarus applied for membership in the Council of Europe. However, in January 1997, the PACE Bureau decided to suspend the Special Guest status for the Belarusian Parliament. The consideration of the application of the Republic of Belarus to join the Council of Europe was also suspended, and bilateral cooperation was frozen. Despite of this, the relations between Belarus and the Council of Europe have continued to develop.
Belarus is a state-party in 9 out of more than 200 Council of Europe legal instruments (in the spheres of culture, education, law, corruption and sport). At present, possible accession of Belarus to a number of other Council of Europe conventions, open for non-member states of the Council of Europe, is under scrutiny.
From 1993 Belarus is a state-party to the European Cultural Convention. In January 2009 Belarus joined the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport. From January 2012 our country participates in the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and in the Civil Law Convention on Corruption. Belarus has become a member of the Group of States against corruption (GRECO). In 2010 Belarus received invitation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to join the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The internal procedures to accede to this Convention are currently being finalised.
Belarus is a full-fledged member of 4 Steering and Ad Hoc Committees (in the spheres of culture, heritage and landscape; on educational policy and practice; on youth; on World Antidoping Agency). It has also an observer status in a number of other Council of Europe Steering Committees.
In June 2012, the Republic of Belarus and the Council of Europe signed the arrangement on the participation of Belarus in the information system in the sphere of culture «Compendium».
Belarus takes an active part in the Council of Europe program «Pestalozzi» aimed at exchange of the best practices in the sphere of education. Our country is involved in the program “ENIC Network” facilitating recognition of education certificates.
From May 2011 the Republic of Belarus participates in the implementation of some components of the EU-Council of Europe Facility in the framework of the «Eastern Partnership» program.
In December 2008, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe granted observer status to the Council for Cooperation of Local Authorities Council at the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus.
According to mutual agreement between the Government of Belarus and the Council of Europe, the Information Point of the Council of Europe was opened at the Belarusian State University in June 2009. This step was taken for the first time in a country, which is not yet a member of the Council of Europe. The main task of the office is to inform government agencies, media, universities, NGOs and citizens of Belarus on the fundamental values, legal instruments, the achievements, and the policy of the Council of Europe.
From October 2010 Belarus takes part in the meetings of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) as an associated member.
The Republic of Belarus consistently stands for increasing its participation in the Council of Europe legal instruments and developing pragmatic cooperation with the Council of Europe and its governing bodies.