Council of Europe: 132nd ministerial session marked by Ukraine war

Bern, 20.05.2022 - On 19 and 20 May, State Secretary Livia Leu took part in the 132nd Council of Europe ministerial session in Turin, organised by the Italian chair of the Committee of Ministers. This year's session, which was marked by Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and its consequent exclusion from the Council, provided the high representatives of the other 46 member states with the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to common values: human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In her speech, Ms Leu underscored the long-standing partnership between Switzerland and the Council of Europe in Ukraine, and referred to the upcoming Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) in Lugano.

"Today, we reaffirm our belief in multilateral cooperation based on norms and standards," said State Secretary Livia Leu. Against the backdrop of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, the Council of Europe has highlighted the importance of the organisation's role in the European architecture. The Council's rules and instruments continue to be particularly relevant in Ukraine.  

Ms Leu also highlighted the long-standing partnership between Switzerland and the Council of Europe in Ukraine, particularly since 2015 and the launch of the 2018–22 action plan. This year’s Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) in Lugano on 4 and 5 July, which will be organised jointly by Ukraine and Switzerland, will bring together both partners as well as other stakeholders involved in rebuilding Ukraine.

During the session in Turin, the foreign ministers of the current 46 member states stressed that the Council of Europe must have the necessary priorities, resources and visibility in order to continue to serve as an effective framework for cooperation. They also affirmed the progress of the Council's thematic work, such as the drafting of a legal instrument in the field of artificial intelligence.

Ireland to hold next Committee of Ministers chair

This year's ministerial session in Turin was the first to be held in person since 2019, following on from two virtual meetings of the Committee of Ministers under the Greek and German chairs in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Around 30 ministers, state secretaries and deputy ministers were in attendance. The next chair of the Committee of Ministers will be held by Ireland, which has announced that it will concentrate efforts on protecting human rights in conflict zones, promoting participatory democracy and youth engagement, as well as protecting the rights and freedoms of minorities and vulnerable groups.

Switzerland joined the Council of Europe in 1963, 14 years after it was founded. The Council is based in Strasbourg and has 46 member states. Russia was excluded in March 2022 following its military aggression against Ukraine.

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