The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading organisation in the protection of human rights, democracy and rule of law. It was founded in 1949 in order to promote greater unity between its members and now includes 47 member states, all having signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights.
By Statute, the Council of Europe has two constituent organs: the Committee of Ministers, composed of the member states’ Ministers for Foreign Affairs, and the Parliamentary Assembly, comprising delegations from the national parliaments. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe represents the entities of local and regional self-government within the member states. The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent and impartial institution within the Council of Europe mandated to promote the awareness of and respect for human rights in member states.
The European Court of Human Rights is the judicial body which oversees the implementation of the Convention in the member states. Individuals can bring complaints of human rights violations to the Strasbourg Court once all possibilities of appeal have been exhausted in the member state concerned.
The Council of Europe has its permanent headquarters in Strasbourg (France) and in addition it maintains external presence in more than twenty countries. More information about the Council of Europe external presence.