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Kox report on European convention system receives near-unanimous backing at Council of Europe

16 October 2017

Kox report on European convention system receives near-unanimous backing at Council of Europe

Today in Strasbourg, after two years of preparation, working visits, round table discussions and of going through a great deal of information, SP Senate leader Tiny Kox saw his report on ‘Defending the acquis of the Council of Europe: preserving 65 years of successful intergovernmental co-operation’ adopted by what was close to being a unanimous vote. “In my report I argue for the effective protection and sustainable development of the convention system on which the Council of Europe is based,” Senator Kox, who also heads the United Left Group in the Parliamentary Assembly  of the Council of Europe (PACE), explained. “In these conventions, which are embodied in international treaties, the human and social rights of all 835 million inhabitants of forty-seven member states are enumerated and guaranteed.”

Kox Report

Kox went on to give examples of the wide variety of problems dealt with in existing conventions, including the founding document of the Council of Europe itself, and amendments to its text since its original adoption in 1949. “Rules protecting women, protecting children, protecting national minorities,” he began his list, adding “agreements designed to combat terrorism and cybercrime. Regulations against match-fixing and doping in sport. Conventions banning torture and protecting prisoners, countering people-smuggling and the trade in human organs. Treaties to protect public health care. Agreements on data protection.” 

And these aren’t mere words on paper,  Kox stressed. “The European Convention on Human Rights – the ECHR - is binding and can be enforced by the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg,” he said.  “Hundreds of thousands of Europeans have already appealed to this court, and almost 100,000 are awaiting a judgment. As for the other conventions, in which Council of Europe member states can choose whether to participate, other mechanisms exist which are designed to promote compliance. Things often proceed slowly, but all things considered they make an essential contribution to the promotion of justice and equality before the law throughout Europe.”

Poroshenko

In other business, President Poroshenko of Ukraine addressed the assembly and was asked by Kox why the dialogue with the rebellious inhabitants of the country’s eastern regions had failed to materialise. Poroshenko blamed the whole thing on the Russians. “But what about your own responsibility,” Tiny Kox asked him, “if you claim to be president of the whole of the Ukraine?” Kox noted that Poroshenko had not been very happy with his questions, “but promises create responsibilities, don’t they? That’s certainly true now that a humanitarian disaster is threatening in eastern Ukraine.”

Catalonia

The United Left Group also requested, and was granted, an emergency debate on the situation in Catalonia. “After our request for a debate was lodged,” Senator Kox reports, “the Spanish Foreign Minister flew immediately by government jet to berate the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and others and demand that above all they not interfere with what’s happening in his country. But just like every other member state, Spain has ratified the ECHR, and compliance with that treaty concerns us all.”

When the debate was held it focused on the need for a political solution to the Catalonia conflict. Kox emphasised that he found it depressing that forty years after the demise of fascism and Spain’s entry into the Council of Europe and ratification of the ECHR, the riot police had attempted with brutal violence to prevent Catalan voters from getting to the polling booths and casting their ballots, and this in a regional election called by the regional government. “I requested the debate” said Kox, “but it was introduced by Andrej Konstantin Hunko  of Germany’s left party Die Linke, whose speech was impressive.”  You can watch Hunko’s speech – with English interpretation -  on the Council of Europe website .

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