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 in many directions.
On October 18, 2016 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the Council of Europe Action Plan for Belarus 2016-2017. On November 24, 2017 the Belarusian side agreed to the proposal of the Council of Europe to extend the period covered by this document until the end of 2018.
Belarus participates in implementation of the Council of Europe and the European Union Program Partnership for Good Governance, covering cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries in 2015-2020 in various spheres (combating corruption, cybercrime, issues of judicial system, etc.).
From 2010 Belarus takes part in the meetings of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) as an associated member.
Belarus is a member of 7 Steering and Ad Hoc Committees (in the spheres of culture, heritage and landscape; on educational policy and practice; on youth; on World Antidoping Agency; on sports; on combat human trafficking, on the Bern Convention). It has also an observer status in a number of other Council of Europe Steering Committees.
Belarus is a state-party in 14 (in the spheres of culture, education, law, fight against corruption and human trafficking, sports).
In particular, from 1993 Belarus is a state-party to the European Cultural Convention. In 2014 Belarus joined the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, in 2015 – the Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption. On November 17, 2017 the Republic of Belarus ratified the Additional Protocol to the Anti-Doping Convention.
At present, accession of Belarus to the Council of Europe Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health is in progress. 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.
In recent years, there has been a positive dynamics in the dialogue between the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Belarusian parliamentarians continue to take part in exchange of views on the situation in Belarus of the PACE Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, as well as in the PACE thematic conferences.
On June 27, 2017 PACE adopted the report “Situation in Belarus”. The document reflects the necessity “to continue its activities and to maintain high-level contacts with Belarusian authorities”, to invite regularly Belarusian parliamentarians to the meetings of the PACE Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy.
In December 2008, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe granted observer status to the Council for Cooperation of Local Self-Governance Bodies (CCLSGB) under the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus.
The participation of CCLSGB representatives in the activities of the Congress contributes to obtaining information about the development of local government in the Council of Europe member-states, as well as acquainting foreign partners with the best practices of Belarus in this sphere.
According to mutual agreement between Belarus and the Council of Europe, the Information Point of the Council of Europe operates at the Belarusian State University since 2009. 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 priorities of the Council of Europe, as well as assistance in carrying out joint activities.
The National Parks «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» and «Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve» possess the European Diplomas of Protected Areas of the Council of Europe.
Laboratory of pharmaceutical analysis «Center of Expertise and Examinations in Healthcare» of the Ministry of Health of Belarus has the status of an associate member of the European network of the Official Medicines Control Laboratories (OMCL).
Belarus takes an active part in the Council of Europe programs «Pestalozzi» and the ENIC Network 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.
The Republic of Belarus is interested in the development of pragmatic cooperation with the Council of Europe and its statutory bodies, including the further accession to the legal instruments of the Council of Europe.