History of the Council of Europe
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History of the Council of Europe


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249 pages

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The Council of Europe, the oldest European organisation, was founded in 1949 with the aim of unifying the continent as a whole. The decision to establish its headquarters in Strasbourg was, moreover, symbolic of the desire for reconciliation between peoples. From the outset the Council of Europe adopted an institutional structure comprising a committee of ministers and a parliamentary assembly - the first in Europe. This book retraces the history of the Organisation.

Consisting initially of Western European states, the Council of Europe was destined to embrace all the continent's countries, but the Cold War delayed its enlargement. It is only since 1989 that the Council of Europe has become a truly pan-European organisation, now comprising 47 member states.

Its mission is based on three major goals: protecting human rights, promoting democratic values and guaranteeing the rule of law. The Council of Europe is also very active in fostering co-operation in all areas of life: education, sport, culture, etc. Starting in 1959, the European Court of Human Rights grew to become the Organisation's flagship institution: its judgments are binding on the member states.

As an intergovernmental organisation, the Council of Europe has had to contend with the growth of the European Union and has sought constantly to redefine its role in international relations. In these early years of the 21st century, will it succeed in securing a key position in the European institutional architecture?



Publié par
Date de parution 01 avril 2013
Nombre de lectures 5
EAN13 9789287178459
Langue English

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French edition:
Histoire du Conseil de l’Europe
ISBN 978-92-871-7604-2
The opinions expressed in this work are the responsibility of the author and do not neces- sarily reflect the official policy of the Council of Europe.
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© Council of Europe, July 2013
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List of acronyms and abbreviations
CAP Common Agricultural Policy
CCC/CDCC Council for Cultural Co-operation/Steering Committee for Cultural Co-operation
CDDS Steering Committee for the Development of Sport
CEM Council of European Municipalities
CEPEJ European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice
CETS Council of Europe Treaty Series
CICMUE International Co-ordinating Committee of Movements for European Unity
CLRAE Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe
Convention/ECHR Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms or European Convention on Human Rights
Court European Court of Human Rights
CPT European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
CSCE Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe
ECRI European Commission against Racism and Intolerance
ECSC European Coal and Steel Community
EDC European Defence Community
EEC European Economic Community
EFTA European Free Trade Association
ENP European Neighbourhood Policy
EPA European Political Authority
EPAS Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport
EPC European Political Cooperation
ETS European Treaty Series
EU European Union
Euratom European Atomic Energy Community
EUR-OPA European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement
EYC European Youth Centre
EYCB European Youth Centre Budapest
EYF European Youth Foundation
FRG Federal Republic of Germany
GDR German Democratic Republic
GMT Multidisciplinary Group on International Action against Terrorism
GRECO Group of States against Corruption
ILO International Labour Organization
INGO International non-governmental organisation
IRA Irish Republican Army
LDA Local Democracy Agency
NALAS Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South- East Europe
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NGO Non-governmental organisation
NSC North-South Centre
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OEEC Organisation for European Economic Co-operation
OSCE Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
UEF Union of European Federalists
WEU Western European Union
WHO World Health Organization
More than 60 years after its foundation, the Council of Europe has finally found its historian, a young lecturer at the University of Strasbourg. Since the 1980s, it has been a recurrent wish of this organisation to have its history written. Several times abandoned, the project has become a reality with this book, an abridged version of a post-doctoral thesis submitted in 2011, the full text of which was recently published by a specialist publisher of books on European issues. {1} More concise than the original academic work, this publication provides an excellent overview for readers anxious to get to the heart of the matter.
The story of the Council of Europe is an unusual one. Founded in the aftermath of the Second World War to achieve greater unity among Europeans through "common action in economic, social, cultural, scientific, legal and administrative matters and in the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms" {2} , the Council of Europe was rapidly supplanted by the European Economic Community, which evolved into the current European Union (EU). Based in Strasbourg, which is the seat of all its institutions (for example the Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly, Secretariat General, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, European Court of Human Rights and the Commissioner for Human Rights), it is often confused in the public mind with the European Parliament, an EU body which for a long time held its sessions in the Council of Europe’s assembly chamber. The institutionalisation of summits of the heads of state or government of the EU member states in the form of the European Council adds to the confusion, not to mention the frequent mistranslations. {3}
While the Council of Europe’s image may seem a little vague, it is also paradoxical. Established as a traditional inter-governmental organisation in which the Committee of Ministers takes the important decisions on a unanimous basis while the Parliamentary Assembly is purely consultative, the Council of Europe is most famous for its human rights protection system, the keystone of which, the European Court of Human Rights, is in practice a supranational body based on acceptance by the member states of its jurisdiction and the right of individual petition. Perceived initially as an embodiment of the Cold War, like all the organisations founded in Europe before the détente of the 1970s, it emerged after the fall of the Berlin Wall as the organisation ideally placed to integrate the former communist countries with minimum delay. After being founded in 1949 with only 10 member states and then gradually extended to include all European states west of the Iron Curtain, it came to embody after 1989 a "Greater Europe" covering the whole continent from the Atlantic to the Urals. Conceived by its founders to defend the democratic values of peace, liberty, solidarity and human rights, it has a low profile among the general public, which is largely indifferent to it.
Birte Wassenberg’s book does justice to the Council of Europe. In analysing its activities over the years it shows the scale of the co-operation instituted. First of all, in its major sphere of interest, the furtherance of human rights: the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms has not only been periodically amended by protocols to improve protection of those rights, it has also been supplemented by numerous other conventions. For instance, the European Social Charter seeks to protect economic and social rights. Other agreements concern the prevention of torture or terrorism, the rights of minorities, the fight against violence or against organised crime, biomedicine, and so on. Activities were quickly extended to other fields, too: cultural exchanges, harmonisation in education, heritage and environmental conservation, animal welfare, and so on.
While the Council of Europe is active on many fronts, the method employed makes this co-operation unclear to some observers. This is because it involves complex intergovernmental agreements which take a long time to adopt and are difficult to implement. Jointly prepared by Committee of Ministers experts, members of the Parliamentary Assembly, Secretariat officials and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) representing civil society, these agreements are not necessarily accepted by all the member states but may sometimes be signed by non-member states, and signatories are not always obliged to sign up to all the articles. Once adopted, these treaties come into force after they have been ratified by a certain minimum number of states determined on an ad hoc basis, thus creating an à la carte, variable-geometry Europe. This phenomenon has become even more marked since the latest waves of accessions, involving states the political culture of which differs from that of the founders. The Council of Europe may well be a "school of democracy", but it is more diverse with a membership of 47 than with a membership of 10 or 23, as in earlier days.
The Council of Europe is therefore compelled to find other ways of asserting its identity. The Assembly in particular realised the need for this at a very early stage. It began by taking control of its agenda. It granted itself the right to discuss the political aspects of security and defence issues, which are not officially part of its mandate. It made it its practice to debate all problems emerging on the international scene with the intention of becoming a think tank of European unification. It changed its name on its own authority, taking the title "Parliamentary Assembly" in 1974 in place of "Consultative Assembly", as it is referred to in the Statute. Even more importantly, it sought for decades to make the Council of Europe the overall framework for European integration. Initially, in the 1950s, it was able to count on the United Kingdom, which wanted to exercise external oversight over the European Economic Community, of which it was not yet a member. When London applied to join the Community, these hopes vanished for a time. They were revived in 1989 when, at the instigation of its Secretary General, the Council of Europe (which was opening up rapidly to the former Eastern bloc countries) became the embodiment of "Greater Europe". Starting in 1993-94, however, it was faced with competition. This was from the EU, again, as it widened its remit and expanded eastwards, and from the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), which became the "Organization" for Security and Co-operation in Europe, with virtually the same aims as the Council of Europe.
Birte Wassenberg gives a very detailed account of the efforts, hopes and disappointments which have punctuated the history of the Council of Europe. She offers a subtle analysis of the relations among its institutions, and particularly those between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly, in which one is the more cautious partner by force of circumstance – namely due to the need to reach a consensus among member states – while the other seems bolder and seeks to be a driving force. Birte Wassenberg mentions the increasing role of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who has taken advantage of the exceptional circumstances of the early post-communist years to impart fresh impetus. She underlines the original contribution by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities to the democratisation of the continent. She discusses the role of the European Court of Human Rights, not as a lawyer but as a historian, highlighting not only its prestige and growing authority but also its difficulty in coping with its ever-increasing caseload – to the point that it sometimes appears to be a victim of its own success, doomed to continual reform of its working methods.
The book also provides a comparative study of the history of the Council of Europe and that of the other organisations: the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and, above all, the EU. The latter can be seen at one and the same time as a model, in terms of effectiveness and being in the public eye; as a counter-model, too concerned with economic matters and not enough with promoting culture and democracy; as a competitor, with more media exposure and more money; and as an indispensable partner which, however, often pursues its own interests. Yet 27 European states are members of both the EU and the Council of Europe, which also includes a number of successor states to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, a few micro-states and two large states, Turkey and Russia, which does not always facilitate its work.
Set at each stage in its European and international context, the history of the Council of Europe as it is presented here is a fascinating adventure. Although the dense narrative demands a certain amount of attention on the part of readers, on every page they will have the satisfaction of discovering some little known facts about this organisation. Everyone should take pleasure in consulting this book, which is destined to become a reference work.

Marie-Thérèse Bitsch
Emeritus Professor at the University of Strasbourg
General introduction
"We must re-create the European Family in a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe. And the first practical step would be to form a Council of Europe." {4}
In his famous speech at the University of Zurich on 19 September 1946, Winston Churchill called on Europe to unite. With the Second World War barely in the past, he made an eloquent plea for reconciliation and urged the European family to establish a "Council of Europe".
His words helped to generate the impetus which inspired staunch Europeans from some 20 countries to meet in The Hague two years later and give Europe an organisation dedicated to achieving "greater unity between its members". This was the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, brought into being by a treaty signed in London on 5 May 1949 by 10 founding states (Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom). It had a decision-making body, the Committee of Ministers, which consisted of government representatives, and a "deliberative" assembly of parliamentarians from all the member states. Its field of action was vast, but its Statute barred it from dealing with defence, which was covered by the North Atlantic Treaty, signed just a month earlier, on 4 April 1949. It was also given a law-making role – that of drawing up European conventions for adoption by the Committee of Ministers, and later signature and ratification by the member states.
At first sight, one might think that the Council of Europe was exactly what Churchill had in mind in 1946: a European organisation bringing the European family together and enabling its members to co-operate in many different areas. In reality, however, it would be wrong to see the Council of Europe as simply the real-life projection of his vision. In its structure, modus operandi and membership, it was essentially the fruit of a compromise between differing visions of Europe: between the intergovernmental Europe envisaged by the United Kingdom, and the more federalist version favoured (chiefly) by France and Italy; between a political Europe based on a European organisation, and an economic Europe resting on a large common market; and, finally, between a Europe based on a shared culture and shared basic values, and a Europe defined solely in terms of geography.
The Council of Europe, indeed, embodies the "European idea" – a multiform concept, which has inspired numerous projects since the 19th century. {5} Even Churchill’s term, "United States of Europe", had been coined in the great revolutionary year of 1848 and later taken up by countless intellectuals and writers. The best known was Victor Hugo, who, addressing the Paris Peace Congress on 21 August 1849, suggested that "a day will come when we shall see those two immense groupings, the United States of America and the United States of Europe, face to face and clasping hands across the ocean". {6}
At a much later stage, between the two world wars, many "Europeanist" movements came forward with plans for European unity. There was no fixed pattern. Some wanted a cultural, others an economic, and others again a political Europe. Some favoured a vast, federal Europe, others a Europe based on new regional organisations, or existing international organisations, such as the League of Nations. Some felt that Europe should include Russia and the United Kingdom, and even forge ties with Africa, while others saw it in strictly continental terms, with France and Germany as its central elements.
And so the establishment of the Council of Europe marked the end of one story, the story of the European idea, and the start of another, the story of how that idea was realised after 1945, a process usually known as the building of Europe. {7} No study of the Council of Europe’s development from 1949 to 2009 can ignore that switch between narratives.
The Council of Europe was actually born as part of a Europe-building process which began soon after 1945, in a Cold War context, initially with projects aimed at reconstructing and reorganising the continent’s economies. This was the focus of the Marshall Plan, launched by the United States in June 1947, which led to the founding on 16 April 1948 of the first European organisation, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), to ensure that Europeans worked together in allocating and administering American aid. At the same time, "military" Europe began to take shape after the Prague coup of February 1948 which brought the communists to power in Czechoslovakia. The continent was now divided, and five west European states {8} signed a mutual support and defence treaty, the Brussels Pact, on 17 March 1948. A year later, on 4 April 1949, Western Europe established military ties with the United States in the North Atlantic Treaty, from which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) emerged in 1950. The Council of Europe was established just one month after the birth of this "Atlantic" Europe, on 5 May 1949. Then, barely a year later, on 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman proposed the pooling of coal and steel production, and this led to the Treaty of Paris, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which was signed on 18 April 1951.
The Council of Europe’s story is thus bound up with that of several other European and Atlantic organisations – the European Economic Community (EEC), NATO, the ECSC – which were founded in short order between 1948 and 1951. Its main feature was the relationship which developed between "Greater Europe" (the Council of Europe’s 10 member states) and "Smaller Europe" (the ECSC’s six member states or "the Six" {9} , all Council members too, whose integration centred on France and Germany). As time went on, however, the smaller group, which bonded within the EEC in 1957 and, from 1992, the European Union (EU), grew steadily. The Council of Europe was largely sidelined and even forgotten, both by specialists on the development of Europe and by the public at large. How many people realise that Europe still comes in two sizes today – "smaller" (the 27-member EU) and "greater" (the 47-member Council of Europe)?
So why – given that Europe seems largely the creation of the EEC and, later, the EU – should we look more closely at the Council of Europe? Perhaps because the Council embodies another Europe, a Europe which stands less for an economic market than for a community of fundamental values based on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. A Europe the geographical boundaries of which extend far beyond that of the EU and which includes both Russia and Turkey, two states which, for different reasons, invariably feature in any discussion of the limits of "Community" Europe. Retracing the Council of Europe’s history thus involves seeing the European process in broader terms and shifting the focus away from the (chiefly economic) integration achieved by the smaller group.
The Strasbourg organisation’s development falls into three main periods. The first runs from its inception in 1949 to the "Greek crisis", that is, the Greek military leaders’ decision to withdraw from it in 1969. The second covers its search for a new identity in the ensuing two decades up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In fact, once the Europe of the Six had expanded to include the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland in 1973, the Council increasingly found itself facing competition from the EEC. Finally, the third period, running from 1989 to 2009, sees it becoming a pan-European organisation and progressively opening its doors to the formerly Soviet-bloc countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia.
Part One: From inception to the Greek crisis (1949-1969)
Introduction to Part One
The Council of Europe’s genesis was extensively influenced by the emergence of a bipolar world and a new pattern of international relations based on confrontation between two superpowers – the United States and the Soviet Union.
Europe had barely emerged from the Second World War when it found itself dragged into the Cold War. By 1947, East–West tensions were increasing as the Soviet Union tightened its hold on a chain of communist satellites which formed its outer defence ring in Central Europe and the Balkans. The US, for its part, was pursuing a strategy of "containment" aimed at stopping countries still safe from communist rule from falling into the Soviet sphere. Following the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, relations between East and West worsened steadily. The West’s chief concern was Europe’s ability to hold out against the Soviet Union, and attention focused on the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), which had been established in 1949 and found itself facing a communist counterpart, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), across the Iron Curtain. The tensions eased briefly after Stalin’s death in 1953, but were again inflamed by the Soviets’ use of military force to crush Hungary’s democratic uprising in 1956. In the period from 1958 to 1962, the Cuban missile crisis and the second Berlin crisis drove an even deeper wedge between the rival blocs. This had particularly grave implications for Germany, where the building of the Berlin Wall in August 1961 turned the Iron Curtain into a physical reality. The international climate did not start to soften until 1963, when hesitant signs of détente became visible and the two superpowers decided to start talking. East–West relations slowly improved – until 1968, when the suppression of Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring renewed the chill. Of course there were conflicts in other parts of the world as well: the US became involved in the Vietnam War and, in the Middle East, the third Israeli-Arab war (the Six-Day War) erupted on 5 June 1967. It was against this background of strained international relations that the Council of Europe gradually took shape.
Its development was strongly influenced by the presence on the scene of other European organisations, particularly the OEEC (from 1948), the ECSC (from 1951) and the Western European Union (WEU), which emerged from the five-member Brussels Pact (France, the United Kingdom, the three Benelux countries, 1948) extended in October 1954 to Italy and the FRG. But relations between the ten-member Council and the six-member ECSC were the chief shaping factor. Competition became a threat when the Treaty of Rome established the EEC on 25 March 1957, obliging the Council to assert its own position and differentiate itself clearly from the newcomer (more concerned with economics, but also more supranational and federalist), as the Six became steadily more integrated between 1957 and 1969.
A customs union was initiated on 1 January 1959 and completed on 1 July 1968. In January 1962, the Six agreed on the principles of a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Following the failure of plans for a vast free-trade area covering all the OEEC states, the non-EEC countries signed the Stockholm Convention, establishing the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), on 4 January 1960. The Six were unable, however, to secure political union. Following adoption of the Bonn declaration on political union on 18 July 1961, the Fouchet Plan failed to win unanimous acceptance and was finally dropped on 17 April 1962. Other EEC projects stalled too, particularly owing to the recalcitrance of General de Gaulle, President of France from 1958 to 1969, who twice vetoed British membership, on 14 January 1963 and 27 November 1967. When the European Commission and its President, Walter Hallstein, proposed reforming the financing of the CAP through the introduction of own resources and restructuring of the EEC institutions, de Gaulle operated an "empty chair" policy from July 1965 to January 1966, when the Luxembourg Compromise was agreed on. The latter also led, on 1 July 1967, to the merging of the executives of the three communities (ECSC, EEC, European Atomic Energy Community – Euratom) into a single European Commission. Finally, following de Gaulle’s resignation, the Hague Summit (1 to 2 December 1969) decided to relaunch the European integration process, opening the way to enlargement of the EEC, strengthening of its institutions and the establishment of European Political Cooperation (EPC) – all of which meant that competition between the Council of Europe and Community Europe was now inevitable.

1. The setting up of the Council of Europe
The impetus which led to the Council of Europe came from various sections of the European Movement, which came together in 1946-47 and proposed that all proponents of European unity meet at a major congress in The Hague from 7 to 10 May 1948. {10} This was the congress which turned plans for unity into something more practical by suggesting that a European organisation be set up to realise them.

The Hague Congress, May 1948
There were numerous pro-Europe groupings, but just two main tendencies
– two visions of European unity. The Federalists, mainly French, Italian and Belgian, wanted a supranational organisation with strong political powers (which meant at least partial surrender of national sovereignty). This was the aim, for example, of the Union of European Federalists (UEF), founded on 15 December 1946, with Hendrick Brugmans (Netherlands) as its President and French writer Alexandre Marc as its Secretary General. The Unionists, on the other hand, preferred confederal union to federation, rejected radical change and relied on intergovernmental co-operation among sovereign states to defuse national enmities. Mostly British, they were represented in the UK by the United Europe Movement, founded on 14 May 1947 by Winston Churchill, leader of the opposition since July 1945, and his son-in-law, Duncan Sandys. In other European countries, they included such well-known figures as journalist René Courtain, resistance leader Raoul Dautry, and former heads of government Paul Ramadier and Paul Reynaud (France), Paul van Zeeland (Belgium) and Józef Retinger (Poland). Just before the Hague Congress, the leaders of the two groups decided to establish an International Co-ordinating Committee of Movements for European Unity (Comité international de coordination des mouvements pour l’unité européenne – CICMUE) to ensure that disagreement on methods did not jeopardise the shared aim of uniting Europe. At its constituent meeting on 13 and 14 December 1947, CICMUE decided to act on a proposal put forward by the Federalists in August, at the UEF Congress in Montreux, and convene a full-scale "Estates General of Europe", attended by all pro-Europe activists. Three working committees – Political, Economic and Cultural – were set up to prepare the Hague Congress and produce reports for discussion. The Unionists were responsible for co-ordinating the Political Committee, which dealt with institutional issues, and so were decisively involved from the start in planning the projected European organisation. Adopting Winston Churchill’s term, Sandys submitted a preliminary draft report calling for the setting up of a "Council of Europe".
The Hague Congress was held from 7 to 10 May 1948 in the "Ridderzaal" (Knights’ Hall) of the Netherlands’ Parliament. Churchill was honorary president, and some 740 delegates attended from 18 European countries. France and the UK sent the largest delegations (some 150 members each), and Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Switzerland came next, with several dozen each. There were also numerous observers from, for example, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the United States, Canada and the Holy See.
The differences between Federalists and Unionists resurfaced as soon as the Congress opened. Hendrick Brugmans talked of a supranational organisation, while Churchill saw "his" Council of Europe as subordinate to the United Nations at world level. Of the three working committees, the Political Committee was the one which played the biggest part in setting up the Council of Europe. Its discussion of Europe’s institutional future, chaired by the French socialist and former Prime Minister Paul Ramadier, again reflected deep-seated disagreement between the Federalists and Unionists. The Federalists demanded supranational institutions, to which states would surrender their sovereignty. They wanted a constituent assembly, and some even suggested that this be elected by universal suffrage of all Europeans. The Unionists stuck to their vision of a consultative assembly, which would help the European idea make headway by identifying and discussing problems and suggesting solutions to governments. The Final Resolution was drafted by Duncan Sandys and René Courtin – both Unionists. It was unanimously adopted thanks to the balance it struck between the two rival visions of European unification. On the one hand, it declared that "the time has come when the European nations must transfer and merge some portion of their sovereign rights". On the other, it simply proposed the establishment of "a European Assembly chosen by the parliaments of the participating nations". This compromise between the Unionist and Federalist positions already pointed the way to the binary structure of the future Council of Europe, which would have both an intergovernmental committee (key feature for the Unionists) and a parliamentary assembly (key feature for the Federalists). The influence of the economic and cultural committees, chaired respectively by Paul van Zeeland (Belgium) and the Spanish writer and philosopher Salvador de Madariaga, on the Council of Europe’s institutional structure was less direct. The Economic Committee’s primary concern was to defend liberal principles, and the Economic Resolution advocated a free market, removal of trade barriers and customs tariffs and free movement of workers. The Cultural Committee, on which the Federalists Denis de Rougemont and Alexandre Marc were prominent, called for the setting up of a European cultural centre and European youth centre, thus anticipating two of the future Council’s priorities.
At the closing session, a "Message to Europeans" was read out by Rougemont and applauded by the whole Congress. But it was not, as originally planned, signed by the participants, and this marked the end of a proposed Europe-wide campaign to collect further signatures and mobilise public opinion. The Unionists seem, ultimately, to have dominated the Congress, which nonetheless succeeded in bringing the various pro-Europe groups together in the European Movement, which was founded on 25 October 1948 with Winston Churchill, Paul-Henri Spaak, Alcide de Gasperi and Léon Blum as its honorary presidents.
The actual task of organising Europe was left to national governments, which began negotiating in the winter of 1948-49.

The Treaty of London, 5 May 1949
In July 1948, the pro-Europeans sent the Political Resolution adopted in The Hague to the 16 OEEC member states. To win support for a European assembly, they also sent a memorandum to the foreign ministers of the five Brussels Treaty states. Georges Bidault, French Foreign Minister, and Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgian Prime Minister, were immediately in favour, but negotiations within the five states on setting up the Council of Europe proved long and arduous: they were initiated in London by a Standing Committee in September 1948, then taken further by a study committee in Paris, and concluded only at the London Conference in spring 1949. {11}
On the initiative of Spaak and Robert Schuman, Bidault’s successor as French Foreign Minister, a blueprint for the projected organisation was submitted to the Standing Committee on 2 September. But British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin feared that the British House of Commons might lose its sovereign rights to the proposed European assembly and preferred a "Council of Europe" consisting of government representatives. He was backed by the foreign ministers of Luxembourg and the Netherlands, Joseph Bech and Dirk Stikker. To break the deadlock, Schuman and Spaak suggested that the Brussels Treaty states set up a special committee to study the whole issue. This committee met in Paris in November 1948 with Édouard Herriot, President of the French National Assembly, in the chair. {12} The French and British positions were still fundamentally opposed. On 26 November, Hugh Dalton, the British delegation’s chairman, submitted a memorandum insisting on a "Council of Europe" with government-appointed members only. Faithful to the European Movement’s line, the French delegation demanded a consultative assembly with members appointed by the parliaments of "all the nations of Europe". The project’s geographical coverage was the only non-contentious issue, and some additional West European countries were now included. On 15 December, a compromise started to emerge concerning the membership, appointment and powers of the future European assembly: its members would be appointed by national parliaments, it would have no constituent, legislative or executive powers and would not deal with military matters, and a Council of Europe comprising ministers from the member states would be set up alongside it. This scheme was closer to the British than to the Franco-Belgian position since it reduced the assembly’s scope for action by assigning greater decision-making powers to the future ministerial body. Nonetheless, Hugh Dalton returned on 18 January 1949 with a new British proposal, which threatened this compromise solution: the UK now insisted that the members of the assembly be government appointees, and further suggested that it be called a "conference". On that occasion, too, Dalton officially proposed Strasbourg as the location for the new body. Bevin had already put this idea to Schuman at their meeting in London on 14 January, giving the impression that the UK favoured Strasbourg solely for its symbolic value, as an ideal setting for a fresh attempt to reconcile France and Germany and unite Europe. {13} In reality, there were other reasons too. The UK was wary of the whole project and hoped that putting the Council in Strasbourg (well away from the major European trunk routes, and not easily reached from the capitals of the five Brussels Treaty states) would clip its wings. {14} With the earlier compromise now in doubt, negotiations ground to a halt. It was not until the Consultative Council of the five states met in London on 27 and 28 January 1949 that concessions made by Spaak and Schuman to Bevin at last opened the way to agreement on the structure and character of the new European organisation, which – it was decided – would comprise two bodies, a "Committee of Ministers" and a "Consultative Assembly". In March, the Standing Committee of the five states spelt out the relationship between them: the Committee of Ministers would take all decisions and determine the Consultative Assembly’s agenda, while the Assembly would discuss the issues referred to it and make recommendations for action to the Committee. The decisive role assigned to the latter gave the UK what it wanted. At this point, too, the five states invited the Standing Committee to involve the ambassadors of Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Ireland in the negotiations. The now 10-member ambassadorial conference opened in London on 28 March and set out to finalise the future Council’s Statute. Its report indicated that the Greek and Turkish governments wished to join, but left final decisions on this point, and on the new organisation’s name, to the ministerial conference, which met in London from 3 to 5 May 1949. Opinions on the name were sharply divided: Robert Schuman preferred the more Federalist "European Union", while Ernest Bevin favoured "Council of Europe". Schuman gave way and the name "Council of Europe" became official. Opinions were also divided on admitting Greece and Turkey: the UK, Belgium, France and Italy were in favour, but Sweden and Norway were opposed, fearing that the Soviet Union might see enlargement as part of a plan to encircle it. The decision was left to the Committee of Ministers, which was due to meet in Strasbourg in summer 1949.
The Treaty of London, which officially established the Council of Europe and its Statute (European Treaty Series – ETS, No. 1) was signed on 5 May 1949 by 10 states – Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. {15} The preamble to the Statute of the Council of Europe was akin to that of a European constitution: it listed the basic values of Europeans, including "individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy", while Article 1 declared that the Council of Europe’s aim was "to achieve a greater unity between its members". The organisation was given wide-ranging powers, covering action in the economic, social, cultural, scientific, legal and administrative spheres. Defence, however, was excluded. The UK had insisted on this from the outset, but the recent signing of the North Atlantic Treaty by the US and the Western European allies, on 4 April 1949, gave it extra significance, since defence was now strictly the preserve of the Atlantic Alliance. The Statute also regulated admission to the Council and member states’ obligations. There were three conditions for membership – the rule of law, respect for human rights and respect for fundamental freedoms (Article 3). The Committee of Ministers could invite states to join (Article 4) or become associate members (Article 5), but could also suspend the representation of any state which seriously violated its obligations or request it to withdraw. Otherwise, the Statute contained various provisions on the Council of Europe’s institutions and their modus operandi. The organisation was based in Strasbourg and had two official languages – English and French.
As agreed in London, the Council of Europe was given a Committee of Ministers, a decision-making body comprising government representatives, and a "deliberative" Consultative Assembly, comprising national parliamentarians from the member states. The Committee of Ministers was the Council of Europe’s executive body, and empowered to act on its behalf (Article 13). It normally did this by unanimously adopting recommendations to governments or decisions on "important" matters, such as amendment of the Statute. Other decisions could be taken in three ways {16} , although simple majority decisions were rare in practice. Each member state had only one representative on the Committee – normally its minister of foreign affairs. In May 1951, however, the Committee decided that each government should have a "permanent representative" at the Council in Strasbourg. In 1952, these representatives acquired "deputy" status, and were empowered to act for the Committee between its "statutory" meetings, normally held once yearly, in camera, just before the Assembly’s session. {17} Progressively, the Committee also introduced a system for preparation and organisation of its own work. It decided, for example, that specialised governmental committees might be established to examine recommendations made by the Assembly on technical issues. The first – a committee of experts on human rights – was set up in November 1949.
The Consultative Assembly’s statutory position was weaker than that of the Committee of Ministers. As the Council of Europe’s deliberative body, it was to discuss "matters within its competence under this Statute and present its conclusions, in the form of recommendations, to the Committee of Ministers" (Article 22). Its freedom to select questions for discussion was limited by the fact that its agenda required the Committee’s approval (Article 23). Moreover, its annual ordinary session was held after that of the Committee, which had sole power to convene extraordinary sessions. Supervision by national governments was also an important part of the procedure for appointment of its members. At their preparatory conference at St James’s Palace in 1949, the 10 signatory states had agreed that it would have 87 members – 3 for Luxembourg, 4 for Ireland, Denmark and Norway, 6 for Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden, and 18 for France, Italy and the UK (Article 26). Each representative might also have a substitute, with authority to sit and vote in his/her place. Under Article 25, governments determined the procedure for appointment of members (not necessarily nominated by national parliaments), which allowed them to control their national delegations’ composition, eliminate "undesirables" and, indirectly, influence the Assembly’s activity. {18}
The concluding sections of the Statute covered the Council of Europe’s Secretariat and funding, and amendment of the Statute itself. The Secretariat was to comprise a secretary general and deputy secretary general, both appointed by the Consultative Assembly on the Committee of Ministers’ recommendation, and also "such other staff" as might be required (Article 36). The first Secretary General of the Council of Europe, whom the Assembly elected at its inaugural session in August 1949, was Jacques Camille Paris, with Aubrey Halford as his deputy. The first came from the French Foreign Ministry, the second from the UK’s Foreign Office – another example of the care taken to strike a balance between France and the UK, the two most important founding countries. National contributions, annually assessed as a percentage of each state’s population, were levied to fund the Council (Article 38). Proposals on amendment of the Statute might be submitted to the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly, and were then to be embodied in an amending protocol, requiring the member governments’ approval (Article 41).
When it actually arrived on the scene, the Council of Europe got a muted reception. The European Movement was unhappy with the "London compromise", and particularly the Consultative Assembly’s weak position within the new organisation. Ernest Bevin had accepted the project only because he feared that staying out might leave the UK isolated. French Communists were bitterly against, seeing the Council as pro-US and anti-Soviet. Belgium’s Liberals complained of its "limited" powers, and Italy’s Foreign Minister, Carlo Sforza, made no secret of his disappointment that it was not, as he put it, "a genuine European Union". {19} In general, therefore, support for the Council as set up in London was far from unanimous in national parliaments. Strasbourg, at least, was preparing to welcome it with open arms. Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, picked the town hall on Place Broglie as the venue for the Committee of Ministers’ first meeting, on 8 August 1949. This was merely a provisional choice, however, and Place Lenôtre was soon chosen as the site for a new building to house the organisation’s headquarters. The foundation stone was laid on 11 March 1950, and the "Maison de l’Europe" was ready for use by the end of the year (the "Palais de l’Europe", designed by French architect Henry Bernard, replaced it in 1977).

Federalist beginnings: the Assembly starts work
The Consultative Assembly’s first session, held in the main lecture hall at the University of Strasbourg in August-September 1949, was a great event in the city. The European Movement’s flag – a large "E" on a white background – was everywhere, and Winston Churchill, speaking on 12 August from a balcony on the city’s main square, Place Kléber, told a vast crowd: "We are meeting here in this new Assembly, not as representatives of our different countries or different political parties, but as Europeans marching forward, hand in hand, if necessary shoulder to shoulder, in order to revive the former glories of Europe." {20} The opening session, on 10 August 1949, was attended by Churchill himself and a host of other well-known figures – Harold Macmillan from the UK, Alcide de Gasperi from Italy, Guy Mollet and André Philip from France, and Paul-Henri Spaak from Belgium. In his opening speech, Édouard Herriot, the honorary President, insisted that the Council of Europe was open, dedicated to peace and in no sense an "ideological arm" of the Atlantic Alliance. Indeed, the Assembly’s parliamentarians were convinced that they could best defend the West’s core values – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – by positioning themselves between the two opposing blocs and ideologies. On the morning of 11 August, they unanimously elected Paul-Henri Spaak as their President. {21}
Under his presidency, the Assembly followed a Federalist line, seeking both to give the Council of Europe a bigger political role and (above all) to strengthen its own position vis-à-vis the Committee of Ministers. It affirmed the first objective at its inaugural session, when it proposed – with the Committee of Ministers’ consent – putting "consideration of any necessary changes in the political structure of Europe" on its agenda. The General Affairs Committee {22} was established and its chairman, Georges Bidault, immediately came forward with proposals on setting up a European Political Authority (EPA) and revising the Stature of the Council of Europe to put the Assembly on a more equal footing with the Committee of Ministers. On 5 September 1949, Guy Mollet presented a report which led to lively discussion of the Organisation’s political role. Since no agreement could be reached, the study on an EPA was referred to the General Affairs Committee. Nonetheless, the Assembly unanimously adopted an amendment by Ronald W. G. Mackay, which declared unequivocally that "the Assembly considers that the aim and goal of the Council of Europe is the creation of a European political authority with limited functions but real powers". It also took action to increase its own powers, deciding, on 6 September 1949, to set up a Standing Committee to carry on its work between sessions and co-ordinate resolutions and recommendations submitted by its various committees. {23} This marked its first step towards becoming a parliament, and also enabled it to work continuously and consistently. To improve its position vis-à-vis the Committee of Ministers, it was already campaigning for the right to discuss all subjects freely: above all, it wanted to determine its own agenda, which required the Committee’s approval. This situation was deeply resented by its parliamentarians, including Winston Churchill, who declared that no "free" assembly had ever let itself be muzzled like this in the past. He called for a vote on a text allowing the Assembly to discuss anything, even defence, although this was excluded from its brief by the Statute. But many members were unwilling to follow his bold lead and preferred to leave their agenda in the Ministers’ hands. The Assembly’s "revolt" {24} was thus the work of an (admittedly sizeable) minority of its members.
In 1950, those same members maintained their efforts to secure revision of the Statute of the Council of Europe and freedom of discussion for themselves. The international situation was on their side. The Korean War broke out on 25 June 1950 and, when the Ministers appealed to the Assembly, on 4 August, to declare its solidarity with the action taken by the UN Security Council to defend "peaceful peoples against aggression", Paul-Henri Spaak took this as his cue and suggested that they, in return, give it the right of free discussion and amend the Statute accordingly. His plea fell on deaf ears, but this did not stop the Assembly from holding a full-scale debate on questions relating to European defence. On 11 August, Winston Churchill even proposed the establishment of a European army. Supported by over 80 members, his draft recommendation was forwarded to the Committee of Ministers, which had no intention of giving the Assembly more say in defence matters and promptly rejected it. True, the Committee had implicitly acknowledged the Assembly’s right to discuss defence, but implicit recognition was not enough to secure amendment of the Statute. Its only real concession was to accept closer, more frequent contacts with the Assembly. At its meeting on 3 June, it had already agreed to the setting up of the Joint Committee, with members drawn from both bodies, principally to co-ordinate activities by regularly discussing questions of mutual interest.
The General Affairs Committee, for its part, produced three new reports on the EPA between 1950 and 1951. When the second was presented by Guy Mollet at the Assembly’s second session in August 1950, reform of the Statute of the Council of Europe was already being discussed against a new background. On 9 May, Robert Schuman had formally proposed the creation of a body designed to manage the production of coal and steel, which marked the establishment of the ECSC, under the supervision of a "High Authority". Supranational, sector-based integration of France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries within the new body seemed a possible source of competition for the Council. Schuman came to the Assembly in August to explain his project and canvass support for it. The members’ reactions were mixed. Many felt that Europe’s best hopes of integration now lay outside the Council, since the UK’s refusal to budge on sovereignty, and its readiness to use its veto in the Committee of Ministers, were sufficient in themselves to block any move by the Assembly aimed at political union. Others sought to dilute the Schuman scheme by suggesting that ECSC-type authorities be set up in other areas too, for example transport and agriculture, under Council of Europe auspices. Their underlying idea was to give the Assembly supervisory control of the ECSC’s High Authority, which was why a fresh report by the General Affairs Committee of the Assembly also supported this proposal. The nature and form of these specialised authorities were hotly discussed: should they be functional, regional or federal entities? The clash between Federalists and Intergovernmentalists on this issue seemed likely to end in a breakdown. The text eventually adopted spoke of the establishment, within the Council of Europe, of functional authorities with responsibilities in the political, economic, social, legal and cultural sectors. Member states would be free to join one, several or none. This was a modest solution, giving the Council limited political powers and averting the risk of collapse.
To put this project into practice, an amending protocol to the Statute of the Council of Europe was planned and Robert Mackay was given the task of drafting it. At the November 1950 session, he presented the General Affairs Committee’s third report, also known as the "Mackay Protocol", which envisaged substantial changes in the Council of Europe’s political structure. The plan was to transfer the functions and administrative bodies established by the Brussels Treaty signatories and the OEEC to the Council of Europe and turn it into a European political authority with executive and legislative powers. Legislative powers would be shared between the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly, and executive powers would be entrusted to a Council elected by the Assembly, and answerable both to it and to the Committee. These were revolutionary proposals, but a motion tabled by a group of Italian parliamentarians, led by Ugo La Malfa, was less ambitious, seeking merely to expand the Assembly’s consultative role. The "La Malfa proposals" required member governments to notify the Committee of Ministers of "any project or proposal with European implications" which they might adopt, so that it could refer it to the Assembly for opinion. The Assembly forwarded the Mackay and La Malfa proposals to the Committee, which, at its meeting in Rome on 3 and 4 November 1950, essentially accepted the former’s recommendations concerning the specialised authorities and decided to set up a committee of senior officials to examine its proposals on revision of the Statute.
These senior officials submitted their findings to the Assembly in May 1951, suggesting that the Statute be amended by adding further texts to it. Among other things, the first such text provided for the establishment of specialised authorities and institutionalised the Joint Committee. The Assembly put forward a broad range of projects: European agricultural and transport authorities, a postal union, a raw materials and purchases office and an association of European airlines. As things turned out, none of these schemes materialised: they either resurfaced, in another form, within the OEEC or became autonomous authorities. {25} At the end of August 1951, a second text provided for "partial agreements", binding only on certain member states, and so allowing the Council to become active in areas that were not of interest to all. In these texts, there were only two provisions which actually increased the Assembly’s powers. Firstly, the Committee of Ministers was now required to consult it on admitting new members. Secondly, it at last secured the right to determine its own agenda freely.
The Assembly made one last attempt to establish an EPA at its session in November-December 1951. On 27 November, Paul Truye (Belgium) presented the General Affairs Committee’s fourth report, containing a new version of the Mackay Protocol on revision of the Statute. It proposed one bold initiative – the holding of a major conference, attended by representatives of member governments and parliaments, an Assembly delegation and a number of observers {26} , to co-ordinate the work of the specialised European organisations (for example the ECSC) and the Council. Support for this idea was far from universal, however, when the Assembly discussed a European defence plan based on a European Defence Community (EDC), with the same membership as the ECSC, in December. On 10 December, four foreign ministers – van Zeeland, Schuman, de Gasperi and Konrad Adenauer – who regarded the EDC as vital to a united Europe, backed it in the Assembly. Otherwise, the unbridgeable gap between Federalists and Intergovernmentalists dashed all hope of agreement on reform of the Council. The Assembly eventually adopted two very limited recommendations. Recommendation 23 (1951) on a draft new Statute was a token statement of its political aspirations, since the UK and the Nordic countries were clearly against it from the start, and the Committee of Ministers was certain to reject it. Recommendation 21 (1951) on prospects for a European policy took a tentative line on the EPA, making membership optional and thus implicitly recognising that some states would choose to stay out of it. Having tried, but failed, to rally the Assembly behind a bolder proposal, Paul-Henri Spaak resigned the presidency at the end of a stormy sitting on 11 December.
The Assembly’s initial efforts to give the Council quasi-parliamentary status, and a definite role as the ECSC’s institutional framework, yielded meagre results – amounting merely to a few cosmetic changes in the Statute, which were incorporated in the "texts of a statutory character" added in 1951. They also led to the sensational resignation of Paul-Henri Spaak, deeply discouraged by the Federalists’ waning fortunes at the Council. From now on, there would be two Europes: one (the ECSC) smaller-scale and supranational, the other (the Council of Europe) larger-scale and intergovernmental.

First new members: Greece, Turkey, Iceland and the FRG
From the start, the Council wanted to project itself as an open-door organisation with room for any European state qualified to join it. The general conditions for membership are clearly set out in the Statute. Article 3 stipulates that "every member of the Council of Europe must accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms". {27} Under Article 4, any European state which satisfies these conditions may be invited to become a member of the Council by the Committee of Ministers.
The first three admissions were rapid and problem-free. The Council was barely established when the Committee of Ministers decided, at its first meeting on 8 August 1949, to invite Greece, Iceland and Turkey to join. Greece and Turkey deposited their instruments of accession immediately and took their seats on the Committee of Ministers the following day. Delegations of Greek and Turkish parliamentarians also attended the Assembly’s first session on 10 August 1949. Iceland deposited its instrument of accession on 9 March 1950 and its foreign minister took his seat on the Committee at its third session at the end of that month.
There were problems, however, with other new accessions. At the Assembly’s first session in August 1949, its members emphasised that the Organisation’s vocation was pan-European, and decided to keep places open for representatives from Central and Eastern Europe as yet unable to use them. But consolidation of the Iron Curtain and the absence of democracy in the East blocked any move towards inviting applications from that part of Europe. All the parliamentarians could do to express their open-door intentions – despite the outbreak of the Korean War – was to set up a special committee on European nations not yet eligible for membership, the Committee on Non-represented Nations.
Admitting Germany was difficult too, although Robert Schuman had acknowledged, even before the Treaty of London had been signed, that it must be in the Council. First, however, it needed a constitution and a democratic political system, based on free elections. This problem was rapidly solved: on 23 May 1949, the German Basic Law established the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), first elections to the Bundestag were held on 14 August, and Konrad Adenauer became Chancellor in September. But the young republic was still under allied control and lacked full sovereignty, including the right to determine its own foreign policy. Until March 1951, it had no foreign minister. Its status at the Council was thus uncertain, particularly since the Saar had been a French "protectorate" since 1947, with its own constitution, a government controlled by a French High Commissioner – and an equal claim to membership. Nonetheless, Winston Churchill, speaking at the Assembly’s first session in August 1949, insisted that the FRG had to be included, declaring: "A united Europe cannot live without the help and strength of Germany". Not all the Assembly’s members agreed, and the General Affairs Committee was instructed to prepare an opinion on the question for the Committee of Ministers. At the same time, the Assembly called on the latter to seek its approval before initiating the admission procedure for new members. Although no provision had been made for this in the Statute, the Committee of Ministers agreed, at its second session (November 1949), to consult the Assembly before inviting any new state to join – a practice confirmed by the Statutory Resolution of 3 May 1951. When the Committee of Ministers met on 4 November 1949, all the delegates were in favour of admitting the FRG, even though full membership was clearly impossible. Instead, they decided to offer it "associate membership". Specially devised for the FRG and covered by Article 5 of the Treaty of London, this confers equal rights in the Assembly, but not, normally, representation on the Committee of Ministers.
Meeting in Paris on 9 October 1949, the foreign ministers of France, the UK and the US accordingly decided that the FRG should formally apply for associate membership – which France also demanded for the Saar. On 10 November 1949, the Assembly’s General Affairs Committee gave a favourable opinion on the FRG’s accession. But the German Chancellor was not prepared to let the Allies make all the decisions. Encouraged by the Petersberg agreement, aimed at bringing the FRG progressively into the community of free peoples, which he had signed with the occupying powers on 22 November 1949, he notified the three high commissioners that German acceptance of the Saar’s involvement in the Council was provisional only, pending determination of its final status in a peace treaty with Germany. He also asked for observer status with the Committee of Ministers and requested that the FRG be admitted to full membership with minimum delay. The French Foreign Ministry reacted sharply, but the Committee of Ministers decided, at its meeting on 30 March 1950, that the Council of Europe’s Secretary General, Jacques Camille Paris, should simultaneously invite both the Saar (through the French Government) and the FRG (through the Allied High Commission) to become associate members. The Saar and the FRG deposited their instruments of accession on 13 May and 13 July 1950 respectively. The Committee of Ministers also granted Adenauer’s request for observer status for the FRG. Starting on 5 August 1950, representatives of the FRG attended its meetings and, later, meetings of the Deputies as well.
The FRG did not remain an associate member for long. Once its occupied status had been modified on 6 March 1951, allowing it to re-establish its foreign ministry and exchange diplomatic representatives with other states, Adenauer immediately wrote to the Secretary General, suggesting that the conditions for full membership had now been satisfied – and, at its meeting on 2 May, the Committee of Ministers agreed. The Saar remained an associate member until it again became part of the FRG in January 1957. Austria having joined in 1956, this left the Council with 15 member states.

2. Co-operation gets under way in key areas
From the very beginning, the Council of Europe has been launching cooperative activities in a broad range of fields. Most are based on European conventions and charters, forming part of international law and requiring signature and ratification by the member states. But others are based on committees of experts, exhibitions, thematic conferences and specialised institutions. The Council is particularly active in the fields of human rights, culture and education, local authorities, social co-operation and health. But it also produces many European conventions on legal co-operation.

Human rights: Convention and Court
The Organisation’s first convention was the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 5), usually known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). {28} The final declaration adopted at the Hague Congress in May 1948 had already envisaged such a convention, with an independent European court to enforce it. Negotiations on both began between the Consultative Assembly and the Committee of Ministers in summer 1949, and continued until November 1950.
The Assembly had discussed human rights in general terms at its first session, on 19 August 1949, but without reaching any agreed conclusions. Specifically, opinions differed as to which rights were fundamental and how they should be defined. Some parliamentarians wanted to take the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in Paris on 10 December 1948, as a model, while others felt that the Convention should go further, for example by prohibiting torture, and recognising social and economic rights. After the debate, the Legal Affairs Committee was instructed to prepare a first outline convention, and this was submitted to the Assembly on 8 September 1949. {29} It did not define human rights in detail, but listed 10 rights specified in the Universal Declaration of December 1948. {30} To guarantee them collectively, it proposed the setting up of the European Commission of Human Rights, and also a European court of human rights to which Europeans could apply directly. Not all the ministers of foreign affairs of the Committee of Ministers accepted the notion of a court, or of individual applications. They also thought that human rights, and permissible restrictions on human rights, required clearer definition. They accordingly set up a committee of experts to prepare a second draft convention. It started work in February 1950, but failed to produce an agreed definition of fundamental rights. There were two opposing schools of thought: the first wanted precise definitions, while the second looked to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and preferred a simple list of general principles. It was not until June 1950 that a committee of senior officials produced an acceptable compromise text, which leant more towards the school of thought favouring detailed definitions. To guarantee human rights, it endorsed the proposal for a European commission to examine complaints made against member states. It also approved the idea of a European court of human rights, but decided that its jurisdiction would be optional, applying only to states which accepted it. The right of individual petition, too, would be optional. This text was approved by the Committee of Ministers on 7 August and sent to the Assembly, which endorsed it in principle at the end of the month. The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms {31} was signed by the Ministers in Rome on 4 November 1950.
The Convention’s political philosophy was set out in the Preamble: one way of achieving greater unity among the Organisation’s member states was "the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms", and the chief aim was to provide for "collective enforcement" of those rights and freedoms. Section 1 of the Convention listed 18 rights and freedoms, most of which had already featured in the Assembly’s first text in 1949. {32} The Convention owed its powerful and innovative character chiefly to its supervision machinery. As well as allowing states to accuse other states of violating human rights, it recognised individual rights and a possible right of individual petition against states (although this was optional). It also broke new ground by setting up the European Commission of Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights, the rulings of which were to take precedence over national law. Once the Convention had been signed, the Assembly’s legal experts immediately started work again – on a first protocol. This was ready in 1951, and recognised three further rights already discussed the previous summer: the right to protection of property, the right to education, and the right to free elections. The Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 9) was signed on 20 March 1952. So that states could ratify more easily, the main text of the Convention allowed them to derogate from certain provisions in exceptional circumstances, and also to enter reservations, when ratifying, to provisions which raised problems in domestic law. Ten ratifications were needed to bring the Convention into force, and it eventually took effect on 3 September 1953 following ratification by, successively, the UK, Norway, Sweden, the FRG, the Saar, Ireland, Greece, Denmark, Iceland and Luxembourg – and the remaining member states were not far behind. {33} Only France hung back, essentially because its government feared that the military courts set up in response to the Algerian conflict might be accused of violating human rights. {34} With the Convention itself in force, the way was now open for the establishment of the commission and Court to ensure that member states honoured their undertakings. The European Commission of Human Rights, comprising one national of each member state, became operational on 18 May 1954. {35} Initially, it dealt solely with inter-state applications, since individual petition did not become effective until 5 July 1955 once six states (Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland, the FRG and Belgium) had formally accepted it. On declaring an application admissible, the commission immediately offered to help the state parties to secure a friendly settlement and, if this proved impossible, sent an opinion on the merits of the case to the Committee of Ministers, which decided whether the Convention had been breached. Starting in 1955 until its integration into the Court in 1998, the commission processed an impressive number of individual applications (approximately 1 000 up to 1961), most of which it dismissed as inadmissible. The fact that only a few member states were quick to recognise the right of individual petition (the larger countries, such as the UK, Italy and France, waited over 10 years) makes the figure even more striking. {36} The first inter-state applications were brought by Greece against the UK in 1956 and 1957, and concerned the situation in Cyprus.
The European Court of Human Rights could not start work until at least eight contracting parties had recognised its jurisdiction – and this took longer than expected. Only five states (Belgium, Denmark, the FRG, Ireland and the Netherlands) had done so by 1955, and the necessary quorum was not secured until 1958, when Luxembourg, Austria and Iceland followed suit. This enabled the Court to intervene in the monitoring procedure regarding compliance with the Convention. Thus if a respondent state accepted its compulsory jurisdiction, the European Commission of Human Rights could refer a case before the Court for a final and binding decision. Subsequently, it was the role of the Committee of Ministers to supervise the execution of the Court’s judgments.
The solemn installation of the Court in Strasbourg on 28 April 1959 was an important and symbolic event for the Council of Europe. It had as many judges as the Council had member states – elected by the Assembly for a nine-year term (renewable) from lists submitted by the member states. The Committee of Ministers compiled the first list in January 1959, and the Assembly duly elected the judges at its session on the 21st of that month. Its first task, in spring 1959, was thus to draw up rules on its own modus operandi. Later that year, from 15 to 16 September 1959, the judges elected their president, vice-president and registrar {37} – and the Court was now open for business. The principal provisions on jurisdiction and procedure before the Court were contained in Section II of the Convention. {38} It set out that in any case brought before it the Court consisted of one seven-judge chamber. Its business was, largely, to examine cases the commission had failed to settle amicably and had referred to it. However, its jurisdiction applied only to states which recognised it, and its active role only began once the commission – responsible for checking admissibility and for initial processing of individual applications – had already had its say (individual applications, authorised since 1955, could not be sent directly to the Court). The Court had to give reasons for a judgment, but this judgment was final and the contracting parties undertook to abide by the Court’s decisions.
Individual applications began to reach the Court in summer 1957. The first concerned the "reasonable" character of detention on remand, and was brought against Ireland by G. R. Lawless, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) militant, who had been arrested and held without trial for five months under a special law passed to deal with a series of attacks on public order, which permitted detention without trial for the purpose of preserving peace in the community. In the judgment it gave on 1 July 1961, the Court ruled that Ireland’s action was justified by the existence of a state of emergency, which entitled it to adopt special measures. This first judgment {39} gave states confidence in the Court, the Court itself credibility as a European judicial authority – and the Irish Government a solid sense of relief. After that, the number of cases handled by the Court remained small: by 1968, only 51 of nearly 4 000 applications had been referred to it, and it gave no judgments from 1962 to 1967. Most of the applications it considered up to 1970 concerned the very question which Lawless v. Ireland had raised: how long could detention on remand continue and still be "reasonable"? As judgments gradually accumulated, the Court built up a body of case law which member states could apply to their own remand practice. {40}
Inter-state applications were another matter. For one thing, they were less common (only seven up to the late 1960s), and most of them, for various reasons, never reached the Court. {41} The two applications prompted by the situation in Cyprus, for example, were indirectly settled in 1959 by the international agreements on independence for the island. They were notable, however, in being the first which the commission chose to refer to the Court. It had asked the UK to justify the extreme measures, derogating from the ECHR, which it had adopted in Cyprus – and the latter had argued that the insurrectional situation on the island made them necessary. A third inter-state case was brought against Italy in July 1960 by the Austrian Government, which alleged that criminal proceedings leading to the conviction of six young men charged with murdering an Italian customs officer in the German-speaking region of South Tyrol (Alto Adige) had breached the ECHR. However, the commission – which had declared the application partly admissible in 1961 – decided two years later that there had been no violation. Finally, four inter-state applications were brought, in September 1969, by the Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Netherlands governments against Greece, where a military dictatorship had seized power in 1967. They argued that the suspension of certain sections of the Greek Constitution violated the Convention and denounced various instances of torture and inhuman treatment. In 1968, a sub-committee was set up to investigate these allegations in Greece itself. The case had political implications extending beyond violation of the ECHR: Greece’s very membership of the Council was at stake – and indeed, it eventually withdrew before the matter was referred to the Court.
The Court may have given relatively few judgments in its early years, but these had a clear impact on the interpretation of human rights. Further protocols to the ECHR were soon needed, too, to clarify the concept of human rights and the roles of the Court and commission – and four more were adopted between 1963 and 1966. Protocol No. 2 to the Convention (ETS No. 44) of 6 May 1963 empowered the Court to issue advisory opinions in certain circumstances, and Protocol No. 3 (ETS No. 45), also of 6 May 1963, made a number of changes in the commission’s procedure. Protocol No. 4 (ETS No. 46) of 16 September 1963 added four new rights and freedoms to those already listed in the Convention: no one may be imprisoned for debt; anyone lawfully resident in a state is entitled to move freely, and reside where he/she chooses, on its territory; no one may be forbidden to enter, or be expelled from, the state of which he/she is a national; aliens may not be collectively expelled. Finally, Protocol No. 5 (ETS No. 55) of 20 January 1966 modified the procedure for electing members of the commission and Court.

Cultural co-operation
Culture was already a priority theme in 1948 at the Hague Congress, where the Cultural Resolution emphasised "the common heritage of Christian and other spiritual and cultural values", and proposed that a European Cultural Centre be established as a meeting place for "leaders of thought".
At their very first session in August 1949, the Assembly’s parliamentarians set out to implement this resolution. {42} They proposed a "cultural plan" covering various initiatives: cultural conventions between the Organisation’s member states, free circulation of books and works of art, co-operation on scientific research, a cultural centre, and so on. The Committee of Ministers responded by setting up the Committee of Cultural Experts, comprising senior officials from the ministries of education of the member states, to devise a cultural programme for the Council. It first met in June 1950 and submitted its programme to the Ministers and the Assembly in May 1951. Covering activities in the fields of both culture and education, this was designed to promote a sense of shared cultural identity, and was progressively implemented from 1952. Its most striking feature was the brainchild of Julien Kuypers, Belgian member of the Committee of Cultural Experts, who suggested a series of major exhibitions in Council of Europe states. The Ministers liked the idea, and the first exhibition – on "Humanist Europe" – ran from December 1954 to February 1955 in Brussels at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. From then on, a new Council of Europe exhibition was staged almost yearly in a different member state. {43} The Council of Europe also introduced a cultural identity card – originally suggested by the signatory states of the Brussels Treaty as a way of giving students easier access to libraries, museums and other places of cultural interest in participating countries. In the education sector, it sponsored research fellowships, courses in European studies (at the University of Strasbourg from 1952) and conferences on European Integration in history teaching. Co-operation between universities was another concern, and three major conventions on equivalence were concluded in 1953, 1956 and 1959. {44} In 1959, the Conference of European Ministers of Education was established on the initiative of Jozef Cals, the Netherlands Minister of Education, Culture and Science. This brought together ministers from member states of the Council of Europe that had signed the Cultural Convention (ETS No. 15), and also Finland (from 1970 onwards), to discuss topical issues in education. Although not structurally part of the Council of Europe, it submitted resolutions to the Committee of Ministers.
At a very early stage, the Council had decided that cultural co-operation, already current among its member states in practice, required a formal basis in international law – hence the European Cultural Convention, on which the Committee of Cultural Experts started work in 1953. States which signed the European Cultural Convention were required to safeguard Europe’s shared cultural heritage and encourage its development (Article 1), promote study of their own language, history and civilisation by nationals of other states party to the convention (Article 2), and work together in promoting cultural activities of European interest (Article 3). The Committee of Cultural Experts was expressly made responsible for examining proposed action on the Convention and interpreting the text – a form of statutory recognition enjoyed by no other such committee at the Council. The convention was opened for signature in Paris on 19 December 1954. Unlike the ECHR, it needed only three ratifications to start functioning. Ireland was first to ratify on 11 March 1955, followed by France on 19 March and the UK on 5 May, when the European Cultural Convention took effect – henceforth providing a legal basis for the Organisation’s efforts to reinforce European cultural identity and co-operation. {45} It also broke new ground as the first Council of Europe convention open to non-member states. The first to avail itself of this possibility was Spain, which signed in 1957, followed by Switzerland and the Holy See in 1962.
The Consultative Assembly also kept culture in its sights. In summer 1955, it adopted a declaration on the Council of Europe’s role in the cultural field (Opinion Nos. 13 and 14, chapter IV), containing proposals on making it responsible for co-ordinating the cultural activities of the other European organisations (including WEU). It also advocated the setting up of a Council of Europe Cultural Fund, financially supported by member governments and cultural organisations, to implement its cultural programme, Recommendation 74 (1955). The Committee of Cultural Experts endorsed this proposal in October 1957, and the Committee of Ministers then approved the statute of the Cultural Fund of the Council of Europe, Resolution (1958) 13, the following year. The new body went into action in January 1959 as a source of finance for the Council of Europe’s cultural activities. {46}
In 1961, the Committee of Ministers decided to entrust all aspects of culture and education to an intergovernmental body at the highest level – the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CCC), with members drawn from ministries of foreign affairs, education and, when appropriate, culture, leisure and sport. The Assembly was also involved, and this allowed it to play a major galvanising role on what was, in effect, another "joint committee" of parliamentary and governmental representatives. The CCC was assisted in its work by three standing committees – on higher education and research, general and technical education, and out-of-school education (youth, physical education, adult education). However, the Committee of Ministers remained the final arbiter in matters of cultural policy, as Resolution (1961) 39 made clear, when it stated that the CCC’s task was to draw up proposals for submission to it.

A flag for Europe
The question of a European flag had already been an issue for the organisers of the Hague Congress, who eventually opted, at Duncan Sandys’ suggestion, for the European Movement’s banner (a green "E" on a white background). This was subsequently used at the Assembly’s first session in 1949, but not adopted as the "official" European flag, since the Committee of Ministers feared that it might make the Council seem like an offshoot of the European Movement.
The Assembly raised the matter again in August 1950, suggesting that an eye-catching emblem would effectively focus attention on Europe. Its Committee on Rules of Procedure looked into the matter and was flooded with unsolicited suggestions, all dutifully relayed by the Council Secretariat – flags, stars, crosses and straightforward colour combinations. One proposal was the flag of Count Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Pan-Europa Union – a resplendent sun surmounted by a red cross on a white background. Half the Assembly’s parliamentarians voted for this when polled in December 1951, but the Turkish delegates were unhappy with its obvious Christian associations. Salvador de Madariaga, who had chaired the Cultural Committee at the Hague Congress, came up with an alternative: a blue flag, with gold stars marking the location of Europe’s free capitals in 1938, and a larger gold star for Strasbourg. Most of the parliamentarians liked the basic concept and, at its September session in 1953, the Assembly passed a resolution recommending that the Committee of Ministers adopt a dark blue flag, with 15 stars in a circle, as the Council of Europe’s emblem. However, the FRG objected that, since there were 15 countries in the Council, this might suggest that the Saar was now a full member for good – and so vetoed the 15-star flag in the Committee. A committee of experts was then set up to solve the problem and, on 8 December 1955, the Ministers at last approved a modified version, suggested by the then Secretary General, Léon Marchal, and his Director of Communications, Paul Lévy. Instead of 15 stars, the flag now had only 12 – a "symbolic" number, unconnected with the Council of Europe’s membership, which could be seen as a symbol of unity and plenitude, but also the 12 signs of the zodiac, the 12 months of the year, the 12 Tribes of Israel, the 12 Apostles (a tacit Christian reference), and so on. {47}

The European Conference of Local Authorities
Many of the Assembly’s members were active in local politics and convinced that local authorities were ideally placed to forge useful links between the Council and the peoples of Europe – and should thus be involved in its work.
On 27 September 1952, the Assembly set up the special Committee on Municipal and Regional Affairs. This was the brainchild of Jacques Chaban-Delmas, a member of the French National Assembly and Mayor of Bordeaux, who had already played a key part in helping to found the Council of European Municipalities (CEM) in Geneva in 1951. {48} He became the chairman of the new committee which had, from the start, the support and co-operation of several international organisations, mostly of local authorities. {49} It was obvious, however, that its aims could not be fully realised until local authority representatives were themselves directly and effectively involved. And so, in July 1955, Chaban-Delmas proposed the setting up, at the Council of Europe, of the European Conference of Local Authorities, meeting annually. The Committee of Ministers gave its approval in June 1956, but stipulated that the future conference might only discuss matters of interest to local and regional authorities. {50} Organisational details and rules on membership were then worked out by the Committee on Local Authorities, again chaired by Chaban-Delmas. The Assembly was taken as a model, giving the Conference the same total membership (135), and each country the number of seats it had in the Assembly.
The first session was held in Strasbourg from 12 to 14 January 1957. {51} Chaban-Delmas was unanimously elected President – a post he held until 1962. Two of the Organisation’s 15 member states (Ireland and Greece) were not represented, but he still insisted, in his opening speech, that this was a major event – "the first time in the history of democracies that representatives of local authorities have been invited to give their opinion … with the approval of governments, on the possible terms of their participation in institutions being set up". The Assembly paid tribute to the work those local representatives had done at the first session and recommended that the Committee of Ministers approve the holding of a second session in 1958 and increase the Conference’s funding (Recommendation 138 (1957)). Some of the Ministers had reservations about a second session, and the combined efforts of Assembly President Fernand Dehousse and Chaban-Delmas himself were needed to win them over at the Joint Committee’s meeting in December 1957. The Ministers who opposed a second session cited budgetary constraints, but also had (unacknowledged) political reasons for objecting, since some member states were less than keen on giving local government more autonomy. Several local authority associations threatened, however, to organise the next conference without the Organisation’s help, and the Ministers were forced to relent. The second session took place in Strasbourg from 29 to 31 October 1958.
The local representatives present stressed the importance of cultural cooperation in promoting the concept of European Integration. They urged towns to build on their cultural heritage and co-operate, particularly via twinning schemes. They also took up the idea – floated by the Assembly in 1953 – of an annual "Europe Prize" for the municipality which had done most to propagate the ideal of European union. The Committee on Municipal and Regional Affairs had awarded the first such prize to the English city of Coventry in 1955. In 1958, the Conference awarded it jointly to Vienna and The Hague, partly because both capitals now had a specially renamed "Europe Square" – one of the largest in each city. The session’s main feature, however, was the delegates’ unanimous request that the Conference be given a "charter" to regulate its activity and ensure that it met every year. The Assembly backed this proposal and, on 22 January 1959, adopted Recommendation 191 (1959) to the Committee of Ministers to make sessions of the Conference a permanent, annual event. But the Committee refused and made the holding of a third session uncertain by initially withholding the necessary funds.
Finally, however, the third session went ahead, from 25 to 28 January 1960. This time, the delegates took up the Ministers’ suggestion that a "Europe Day" be celebrated annually by all the member states on 5 May (the anniversary of the Council of Europe’s foundation). The Assembly favoured the project, and its approval eventually encouraged the Ministers to give it the green light on 31 October 1964, when "Europe Day" became official. {52} Another major topic at the third session was a "charter" for the Conference. The Assembly adopted a text in September 1960 and sent it to the Committee of Ministers, which took a good year to agree to the Conference meeting regularly. The charter eventually adopted on 13 September 1961 through Resolution (1961) 20 had been substantially amended by the Ministers’ Deputies, who retained control both of the procedure for organising sessions and of the resolutions and opinions drawn up by the Conference. And this was not the Conference delegates’ only disappointment: sessions would be biennial, not annual. Nonetheless, the charter made the Conference permanent, and it met for the fourth time from 21 to 24 March 1962, as an official Council of Europe body. Henri Cravatte, its new President, hailed the decision as "an event of great significance from the point of view of … safeguarding local freedoms and respect for local authorities in Europe".
The Conference went on to give the Council of Europe’s work fresh impetus in three areas, helping it to: propagate the European idea and involve local authorities in forging closer ties between peoples (through the "Europe Prize", twinning schemes, and so on); strengthen local and regional structures and gear them to European unification; and, finally, organise and structure local and regional life. In Resolution 547 (1966), for example, the Conference urged local authorities to promote and organise co-operation among neighbouring municipalities, inner and outer city areas, central and regional authorities, and so on. That same year, on its recommendation, the Assembly submitted a draft European Convention to serve as a legal basis for co-operation between local authorities in Europe. Finally, in 1968, the Conference adopted a declaration of principle on local self-government, which it sent to the Committee of Ministers. This, however, was an area where governments were still very slow to move, if they were not positively hostile to change. Regional planning was another matter: here, the Conference’s proposals got a more favourable response from the Committee, which actually decided to convene, in 1970, an ad hoc European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning. {53} That year, too, the Committee of Experts on Municipal and Regional Matters – provisionally established in 1967 – was made permanent. All of these issues were now an integral part of the Organisation’s work.

Towards a European Social Charter
From the beginning, social issues had been high among the Council of Europe’s priorities. The Committee on Social Questions was established at the Assembly’s first session in August 1949, and at once drafted proposals on three issues: social security, migrant workers and housing problems. In 1953, on the Assembly’s initiative, the Committee of Experts on Social Security convened by the Committee of Ministers adopted two interim agreements on social security schemes – one concerned with old age, invalidity and survivors (ETS No. 12), the other with sickness and maternity benefits, death grants, accidents at work, unemployment and family allowances (ETS No. 13). The year 1953 saw the adoption of the European Convention on Social and Medical Assistance (ETS No. 14), and also a protocol (ETS No. 14A) extending its provisions to refugees. {54} At the same time, the Council of Europe launched a full-scale social programme, covering, among other things, the setting up of a Social Committee composed of senior officials from member states, preparation of a European Code of Social Security, and co-operation on the rights of refugees. The Committee of Ministers set up a Social Committee in 1954, through Resolution (1954) 17, and the Committee of Experts on Social Security prepared a draft European Code of Social Security in 1955. However, the Assembly – on receiving this text from the Committee of Ministers in March 1957 – criticised it sharply, complaining that the standards it laid down were wholly inadequate. The draft was accordingly returned to the source committee for further discussion, and the final European Code of Social Security was eventually signed in 1964, coming into force on 17 March 1968. Concerning the rights of refugees, the Committee of Ministers decided to appoint Pierre Schneiter, a former French Minister of Health and Population, as the Council of Europe’s special representative for national refugees and over-population in December 1953. A year later, he submitted a report containing proposals on, among other things, the resettlement of refugees in Europe, a common policy on emigration and a financial instrument – a European fund for the resettlement of national refugees and surplus population. The Committee adopted these measures in 1955, but some member governments opposed the funding scheme. To break the deadlock, the Minister’s Deputies drew up a partial agreement, making it possible to establish this resettlement fund, supported by a limited number of states. This agreement was adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 16 April 1956 and signed by eight governments. {55} As it evolved, the tasks carried out by the resettlement fund went beyond those of assistance to refugees and the rehabilitation of surplus population. It became a financial institution in its own right for development aid funding, and from the end of the 1980s became widely known as a social development fund. Thus on 1 November 1999, a new name was adopted, that of the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB).
A Social Charter was proposed in a memorandum submitted by the Council of Europe’s Secretary General, Jacques Camille Paris, on 16 April 1953. In fact, the idea of a treaty to guarantee fundamental economic and social rights had first been aired when the ECHR was being drafted in 1949-50. At the time, the complex problems involved and differing levels of social protection in the member states made it impossible to include those rights in the Convention. {56} Even now, preparing the Charter proved a long and arduous business: there were demarcation disputes between Council bodies (particularly the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly), and also disagreements concerning the Charter’s content, the scope of the rights covered, and legal guarantees to protect them. Small wonder, then, that it took several years to finalise a text. The first phase (1953-56) centred on the Assembly, which submitted three successive drafts to the Committee of Ministers. Next came the intergovernmental phase (1956-58), in which the Committee of Ministers’ Social Committee worked on the main text. Last came a tripartite conference, organised in Strasbourg in December 1958 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), to give workers’ and employers’ representatives a chance to comment on the draft.
The parliamentary phase began in 1953, when the Assembly – which was anxious to make its mark in the social sphere – instructed its Committee on Social Questions to draft a text for submission to the Ministers. The committee’s chairman, Henri Heyman, submitted a report to the Assembly on 17 September 1954, and a working party quickly produced a preliminary draft, which was ready by 3 September 1955. But it proved controversial in the Assembly, where the members were unable to agree on either the nature or the content of the future Charter. Specifically, the Committee on Social Questions clashed sharply with the Committee on Economic Questions, which complained that the text ran counter to the general principles of the OEEC’s economic policy. The disagreement went so deep that no vote could be taken, and the draft was sent back to the first committee. An unusual expedient was used to heal the rift: the Committee on Economic Questions put forward an alternative text, which the Committee on Social Questions accepted in March 1956. However, the Assembly failed to reach agreement on the new version at its plenary sitting on 20 April and referred it to the General Affairs Committee for review. The latter prepared a compromise text, which a sizeable majority of the Assembly could accept, and which substituted a draft European convention on social and economic rights for a charter. The Assembly discussed this in October, but failed, yet again, to reach agreement. It accordingly turned the matter over to the Committee of Ministers’ Social Committee, and sent the draft to the member governments – thus missing its chance to play the dominant role in this field at the Council.
The intergovernmental phase began in 1956, and a new approach was immediately followed. The Social Committee set to work behind closed doors and produced a text which embodied the minimum social standards accepted by all the member states. In fact, national positions were divergent. The UK and the FRG, for example, had to some extent opposed the Charter from the start, fearing that it might undermine existing collective agreements or open the way to excessive economic interference by states. The Nordic countries, on the other hand, backed the Charter and insisted that it should embody high social standards, as did France and Italy, which wanted a strong and binding text. In April 1956, the Social Committee set up a drafting committee to prepare a first text, which was sent to the member governments in October. It had little in common with the Assembly’s version, being a declaratory instrument drafted in very broad and general terms. The Council Secretariat now took up the Assembly’s cause with the Ministers, insisting that its wishes be taken into account. The Committee acceded, deciding that the Social Committee would work with the relevant Assembly committees – and that the Charter must be ready by 31 December 1957. Throughout that year, the Social Committee worked on a final draft in consultation with various Council of Europe departments and bodies.
The last stage in the preparation of the Charter was incorporation of the technical suggestions made by the ILO. A tripartite conference, attended by states which were members of both the Council and the ILO, was held at the Council for that purpose from 1 to 12 December 1958. Each national delegation comprised two representatives of government, one of employers, and one of workers. Ostensibly, everyone wanted consensus, but the conference still failed to produce unanimous conclusions – particularly concerning the minimum social rights which states must recognise in order to ratify the Charter. In April 1959, the Social Committee’s draft and the conference’s conclusions were sent for opinion to the Assembly, which was anxious to expedite the process. It made no further significant changes, and adopted the Charter on 19 January 1960. Having been shunted back and forth several times between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers, the European Social Charter (ETS No. 35) was finally opened for signature in Turin on 18 October 1961 and took effect on 26 February 1965 once five states had ratified it.
The final text of the Charter is declaratory. It lists the rights and principles it protects, and spells out the obligations it imposes. Signatory states must guarantee at least five of the seven fundamental rights on the list: the right to work; the right to organise; the right to bargain collectively; the right to social security; the right to social and medical assistance; the right of families to social, legal and economic protection; and the rights of migrant workers and their families to protection and assistance. The Charter was the first international treaty to recognise the right to strike. It also provides for supervision machinery to ensure compliance. Unlike the ECHR system, this is based, not on a court, but on reports which signatories must send the Council on their compliance with the Charter. These reports are examined by three bodies: a Committee of Independent Experts, a Governmental Committee composed of state representatives, and the Consultative Assembly. But the Committee of Ministers retains control of the procedure: it sends any "necessary recommendations" to each contracting party (Article 29) and may choose to send them to some states only. This system became operational in January 1968 when eight states had accepted the Charter. {57}
The Social Charter remains the Council of Europe’s main achievement in the social field.

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