The Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (in Swedish: Europarådet) was created in 1949 by ten like-minded countries, Sweden being one of them. The organisation, which is the continent's leading human rights organisation, works to preserve and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law. These are the three core areas of the organisation's work. The Council of Europe has 46 member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union. The two official languages of the Council are English and French. All member states have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, which came into force in 1953. The implementation by member states of the convention is overseen by the European Court of Human Rights, perhaps one of the most famous institutions of the Council. Individuals, as well as other member states, can submit complaints of human rights violations against a state to the Strasbourg Court.

The work of the Council of Europe

Secretary General

The Secretary General is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly, by recommendation from the Committee of Ministers, for a five-year term. The work consists of having the overall responsibility for the strategic management of the Council of Europe.

Committee of Ministers

The Committee of Ministers is the decision-making body of the Council of Europe. In everyday work and meetings member states are represented by their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg. Once every year a Committee of Ministers meeting is held where the states are represented by their ministers of foreign affairs. The Committee of Ministers monitor member states compliance with their obligations under the Council of Europe statute and works as a forum where member states address and conclude on current issues facing them. The Committee also decides on Council of Europe policy as well as approve the organisation’s budget and programme of activities.

Parliamentary Assembly (PACE)

The work of the Parliamentary Assembly mainly consists of politically monitoring the member states commitments as members of the Council of Europe. Among other things PACE elects the Secretary General, the Human Rights Commissioner and the judges of the European Court of Human Rights. The assembly furthermore provides a forum for debate between members of parliament from the different states.

Sweden has appointed twelve members (whereof 6 alternates) of the Swedish parliament to PACE.

Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has the objective to strengthening local and regional democracy and it represents more than 100 000 local and regional authorities. Sweden has appointed 12 local politicians to the Congress.

European Court of Human Rights

The European Court, which perhaps is one of the most famous institutions of the Council of Europe, is the permanent judicial body which guarantees the rights safeguarded by the European Convention on Human Rights. Both individuals and states can submit complaints to the court if they consider that a state has violated the Convention. The 46 member states of the Council of Europe are all parties to the Convention.

Commissioner for Human Rights

The Human Rights Commissioner independently addresses and brings attention to human rights violations in member states. Currently the position is held by Michael O' Flaherty, who was elected in 2024. He is the fifth Commissioner, succeeding Dunja Mijatović (2018-2024), Nils Muižnieks (2012-2018), Swedish Thomas Hammarberg (2006-2012) and Alvaro Gil-Robles (1999-2006).


An important part of the Council of Europe’s interstate work is to develop conventions on different areas of interest to the Council. Today there are around 200 conventions that have been adopted by the council throughout the years.

Global Co-operation

The Council of Europe has a close partnership with the EU, and co-operates with the United Nations, The Organization for Security and CO-operation in Europe. The organization also has agreements with countries in its neighborhood and worldwide.

Last updated 22 Nov 2023, 11.54 AM