On 25 January, Italian Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Benedetto Della Vedova held a speech as acting President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in front of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The Council of Europe, contrary to what one might imagine, is not an institution of the European Union: it is an autonomous international organization, founded in 1949 with the aim of upholding democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Europe. The Council of Europe has 47 members states, and itis based in Strasbourg, France. Italy is one of the ten founding members.
After over 20 years, Italy took over the Presidency of the Council of Europe on 17 November last year for a six-month term. A renewed commitment by member States to those common values and principles underlying the decision to join the Organization and the creation of a “people-friendly future” are the inspiring topics of the Italian Presidency, which will focus in particular on women’s rights and the fight against gender-based violence; the rights of the child and youth policies; the impact of AI on human rights, democracy and the rule of law; and the protection of cultural heritage.
As the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained in a press note, these priorities are in line with the traditional key themes of Italy’s international action for the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In his speech before the Parliamentary Assembly, Della Vedova presented the main elements of the activity of the Committee of Ministers, enhancing the initiatives promoted by the Italian Presidency, and emphasised the central role of the Council of Europe as “the continental emblem of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the expression of a multilateral vocation in which Italy fully recognises itself”, highlighting the importance of a common project to guide the commitment and work of each member State in the right direction.
The Undersecretary also took the opportunity to announce that the meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the Council of Europe, which will mark the end of the semester of Presidency, will be held on 20 May 2022 in the city of Turin.