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References to the work of the Venice Commission

On this page:

I. REFERENCES WITHIN THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE

  1. Secretary General of the Council of Europe

  2. Parliamentary Assembly

  3. European Court of Human Rights

  4. Commissioner for Human Rights

  5. Congress for Local and Regional Authorities

 

II. REFERENCES BY OTHER INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

  1. EU

  2. UN Human Rights Council

  3. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

  4. Other organisations

  5. International NGOs


III. REFERENCES BY INDIVIDUAL STATES

 

“The expertise of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission should be swiftly used to good effect.”
 

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and François Hollande, President of France - joint declaration on Ukraine[1]

10 May 2014

After being established in May 1990, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe largely contributed to setting up democratic institutions and bringing in line with European human rights standards the legal systems of more than 50 countries worldwide. 

 

Today, being an internationally acknowledged advisory body of the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission’s opinions and studies are extensively referred by governmental and non-governmental, as well as international and national organisations worldwide.

 

References within the Council of Europe

  1. Secretary General

“Our Venice Commission – the most respected in the world on constitutional matters.”

 

Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe[2]

29 January 2015

Apart from exercising the right to request the opinions from the Venice Commission on various issues, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe refers to the Venice Commission’s works in his speeches.

 

In the recent years (2013 – October 2015) he acclaimed the importance of the work of Venice Commission on many occasions. Among others, at the

 

2. Parliamentary Assembly

“The Assembly shares its [Venice Commission] analysis and endorses its findings, notably that “the measures in question appear to be incompatible with the underlying values of the [European Convention on Human Rights]”, in addition to their failure to meet the requirements for restrictions prescribed by Articles 10, 11 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights …”
 

Resolution 1948 (2013) on tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity[3]

 

By October 2015 about 180 Parliamentary Assembly documents refer to Venice Commission’s work. These documents call on the Member-States either to cooperate with the Venice Commission, or to implement its respective recommendations.

 

The main highlights of cooperation between the Parliamentary Assembly and the Venice Commission involve several comprehensive reports/studies prepared by the latter on the request of the Parliamentary Assembly.

 

These reports refer to topical contemporary issues and considering their nature and significance, they have been later published as the series of Council of Europe publications “Points of view - Points of Law”. These series of publications involve, on the one hand, Venice Commission reports/opinions – “Point of Law” and, on the other hand, Parliamentary Assembly studies on the same issues - “Points of view”. Relevant Venice Commission reports/opinions are:

 . Report on the Democratic Oversight of the Security Services (CDL-AD(2007)016-f) and Report on the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces CDL-AD(2008)004 – both serve as the basis for the publication: “Armed forces and security services: what democratic controls?” (2009);

In the years 2010 – September 2016 more than 30 Parliamentary Assembly documents cited Venice Commission’s respective work, namely:

“The Assembly shares the opinion of the Venice Commission on the Amendments to the Federal Law on Defence of the RF and considers that justifying the military action by a member state against another member State by the need to protect its own citizens is not compatible with the Council of Europe standards.”

Resolution 1989 (2014) on the Access to nationality and the effective implementation of the European Convention on Nationality[4]

  General issues:

 . Judicial corruption: urgent need to implement the Assembly’s proposals - Resolution 2098 (2016)

 . Combating international terrorism while protecting Council of Europe standards and values - Resolution 2090 (2016)

 . Urgent need to prevent human rights violations during peaceful protests  - Report no. 14060 (2016)

 . Terrorist attacks in Paris: together for a democratic response  - Report No. 13684 (2015)

 . The inclusion of children’s rights in national constitutions as an essential component of effective national child policies (Report No. 13787 (2015))

 . European institutions and human rights in Europe - Resolution 2041 (2015)

 . Women’s rights and prospects for Euro-Mediterranean co-operation - Recommendation 2053 (2014)

 . Women’s rights and prospects for Euro-Mediterranean co­operation (Resolution 2012 (2014))

 . Access to nationality and the effective implementation of the European Convention on Nationality (Resolution 1989 (2014))

 . Internet and politics: the impact of new information and communication technology on democracy (Resolution 1970 (2014))


Country-specific issues:

 

Albania:

Azerbaijan:

Belgium

  • The progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure (October 2014-August 2015) Periodic review report of countries not under the monitoring procedure sensu stricto or engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue: Belgium (Report Doc. 13868 Part 3)

Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Bulgaria:

Egypt:

Georgia:

Hungary:

Kosovo:

Kyrgyz Republic:

  • Request for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic (Resolution 1984 (2014))

Morocco:

Palestinian National Council:

  • Evaluation of the partnership for democracy in respect of the Palestinian National Council  - Resolution 2105 (2016))

Republic of Moldova:

  • Evaluation of the partnership for democracy in respect of the Palestinian National Council - Resolution 2105 (2016)

  • The Honouring of obligations and commitments by the Republic of Moldova (Resolution 1955 (2013))

    “ Je rends ici hommage à l’action du commissaire aux Droits de l’Homme, à la Commission de Venise, qui a joué un rôle très important depuis 1990 dans la transition constitutionnelle de l’Europe centrale et orientale, notamment dans les Balkans, et aujourd’hui en Ukraine .”

    President of France François Hollande at the PACE session, Council of Europe

    11 October 2016 ( text of the speech)

     

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:

Tunisia:

  • Women’s rights and prospects for Euro-Mediterranean co-operation (Recommendation 2053 (2014))

    “ ...I thus very much welcome the fact that the Council of Europe is continuing to play an important role in Ukraine. The guidance provided by the Venice Commission has proved to be extremely important. .”

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the PACE session

    16 October 2016 ( text of the speech)

     

  • The situation in Tunisia (Recommendation 1972 (2011)) (Resolution 1819 (2011))

Turkey:

Ukraine:

 

 

3. European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)

By August 2016 more than 100 judgments of the ECtHR refer to Venice Commission documents. Since 2004, when the ECtHR first referred to Venice Commission’s Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters in case of Hirst v. the United Kingdom (30 March 2004), the reference to Venice Commission documents became systematic.
 

Nowadays the reasoning of many judgments is directly linked to the Venice Commission opinions/studies. Other judgments mention Venice Commission documents either as part of the judges’ dissenting/concurring opinions or as relevant international law and practice.

 

"The 2011 report [on out-of-country voting] by the Venice Commission made an important contribution to the debate… "

          Schindler v UK[7]

 

"At the outset, the Court takes note of the Venice Commission’s Code of Good Practices in Electoral Matters… " 

                                          Karimov v Azerbaijan[8]

 

In the years 2010 – August 2016 more than 40 ECtHR judgments referred to Venice Commission documents as part of

 

Court’s assessment:

          Reference to: Opinion on the balance of powers in the Constitution and the legislation of   
          the Principality of Monaco (CDL-AD(2013)018)

Concurring or dissenting opinion of a Judge:

           Reference to: OSCE/ODIHR – Venice Commission Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly (second edition) (CDL-AD(2010)020)

  • Kharlamov v. Russia (8 October 2015)

    Reference to:  Code of good practice in electoral matters (CDL-AD (2002) 23 rev)

  • Sõro v. Estonia (3 September 2015)

    Reference to:

    • Amicus Curie on the Law on the Cleanliness of the Figure of High Functionaries of the Public Administration and Elected Persons of Albania (CDL-AD(2009)044):

    • Amicus Curie Brief on Determining a Criterion for Limiting the Exercise of Public Office, Access to Documents and Publishing, the Co-operation with the Bodies of the State Security (“lustration law”) of “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(CDL-AD(2012)028):

    • Final opinion on the law on government cleansing (lustration law) of Ukraine (CDL-AD(2015)012);

  • Navalny and Yashin v. Russia (4 December 2014)

    Reference to:  Compilation of Venice Commission opinions concerning freedom of Assembly (CDL(2012)014rev3);

  • Firth and others . UK (12 August 2014)

    Reference to:  N/A;

  • Sitaropoulos and others v. Greece (8 July 2010)

    Reference to:

    • Code of good practice in electoral matters (CDL-AD (2002) 23 rev);

    • Report on the compatibility of remote voting and electronic voting with the standards of the Council of Europe (CDL-AD(2004)012);

    • Draft report on electoral law and electoral administration in Europe (CDL-EL(2006)023)

       

Relevant international law and practice:

Reference to:  Report on the Role of the Opposition in a Democratic Parliament (CDL-AD(2010)025);

Reference to: Guidelines for Legislative Reviews of Laws affecting Religion or Belief (CDL-AD(2004)028); Opinion on the Legal Status of Religious Communities in Turkey and the Right of the Orthodox Patricarchate of Istanbul to use the adjective "Ecumenical” adopted by the Venice Commission at its 82nd Plenary Session (CDL-AD(201O)005);

Reference to:  Opinion on the compatibility with human rights standards of the legislation on non-governmental organisations of the Republic of Azerbaijan CDL-AD(2011)035;

           Reference to: Guidelines on freedom of peaceful assembly (CDL-AD(2010)020);     

    Reference to: OSCE/ODIHR – Venice Commission Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly (second edition) (CDL-AD(2010)020);

 

 

4. Commissioner for Human Rights

Activity reports

  • 2nd quarterly activity report 2014: CommDH(2014)17

  • Annual activity report 2013 by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: CommDH(2014)5

Reports

  • Report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to Ukraine: CommDH(2015)23

  • Report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to Armenia: CommDH(2015)2

  • Report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to Hungary: CommDH(2014)21

  • Report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to Georgia: CommDH(2014)9

  • Report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to Albania: CommDH(2014)1

Comments on reports

  • Comments by the Georgian Government on the report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: CommDH/GovRep(2014)9

  • Comments of the Albanian authorities on the report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to Albania (23-27 September 2013): CommDH/GovRep(2014)1

     Opinions

Opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights on the legislation of the Russian Federation on non-commercial organisations in light of Council of Europe standards: CommDH(2015)17


Observations

  • Observations by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan: an update on freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and the right to property: CommDH(2014)10

     

    Issue papers

  • Democratic and effective oversight of national security services. Issue paper published by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: CommDH/IssuePaper(2015)2

  • The rule of law on the Internet and in the wider digital world. Issue Paper published by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: CommDH/IssuePaper(2014)1

     

    Third party interventions

  • Third party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights under Article 36, paragraph 3, of the European Convention on Human Rights. Application No. 68817/14, Leyla YUNUSOVA and Arif YUNUSOV v. Azerbaijan: CommDH(2015)10

     

  • Third party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights under Article 36, paragraph 3, of the European Convention on Human Rights. Application no. 69981/14 - Rasul JAFAROV v. Azerbaijan: CommDH(2015)8

     

  • Third party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights under Article 36, paragraph 3, of the European Convention on Human Rights. Application no. 47145/14 - Anar MAMMADLI v. Azerbaijan: CommDH(2015)7

     

  • Third party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights under Article 36, paragraph 3, of the European Convention on Human Rights. Application No. 68762/14 - Intigam ALIYEV v. Azerbaijan: CommDH(2015)6

     

5. Congress for Local and Regional Authorities

Speeches

 

 

II. References by other international organisations

“The Venice Commission has done much to help our southern neighbours draft new constitutions and our eastern neighbours implement electoral and judicial reform.”

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 30 January 2014 [9]

“The European Parliament calls for increased cooperation between the European Parliament and the Venice Commission“

Resolution of 12 March 2014 on evaluation of justice in relation to criminal justice and the rule of law (2014/2006(INI))[10]

 

1. European Union

European Parliament

The European Parliament has referred to the importance of the work of Venice Commission and/or its documents on more than 60 occasions. In the years 2010 – mid 2016 more than 40 resolutions of the European Parliament credit Venice Commission’s advisory competencies and call for close cooperation with it on various issues (elections, democratic institutions etc.)

 

The references to Venice Commission, in the years 2010 – mid 2016, are the following:

General issues:

 

 

Country-specific issues:

 

Albania

Azerbaijan

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • European Parliament resolution of 14 April 2016 on the 2015 Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina (2015/2897(RSP))

  • Resolution of 6 February 2014 on the 2013 progress report on Bosnia and Herzegovina (2013/2884(RSP))

 

Georgia

 

Hungary

Iceland

 

Kazakhstan

  • Resolution of 18 April 2013 on the human rights situation in Kazakhstan (2013/2600(RSP))

  • Resolution of 22 November 2012 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the negotiations for an EU-Kazakhstan enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement (2012/2153(INI))

Kosovo

  • European Parliament resolution of 4 February 2016 on the 2015 Report on Kosovo (2015/2893(RSP)

  • Resolution of 16 January 2014 on the European integration process of Kosovo (2013/2881(RSP))

Kyrgyzstan

Montenegro

 

Poland

  • Recent developments in Poland and their impact on fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union - European Parliament resolution of 14 September 2016 (P8_TA-PROV(2016)0344)

  • European Parliament resolution of 13 April 2016 on the situation in Poland (2015/3031(RSP))

  • Parliamentary Immunity in Poland ( September 2015)

Russia

Serbia

 

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Turkey

Ukraine

 

2. European Commission

Around 125 European Commission documents (reports, communications to the European Parliament and other documents) mention Venice Commission studies/opinions concerning various countries. In the years 2010 – mid 2015 nearly 50 documents make references to Venice Commission opinions/reports. Compliance with Venice Commission recommendations is thoroughly assessed in the European Commission progress reports on Eastern Partnership countries as well as in other relevant documents.


The references to Venice Commission documents made by the European Commission during the years 2010 – mid 2015 include the following:

 

General issues:

 

Country-specific issues:

 

Albania

 

Armenia

 

Azerbaijan

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Bulgaria


Georgia

 

Kosovo

The Republic of Moldova

 

Montenegro

Poland

  • Rule of Law Recommendation on the situation in Poland, 27 July 2016 (press release)
  • Opinion on the rule of law in Poland (EUROPE 11563 - memo)

     

Romania

 

Serbia

 

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

 

Turkey

 

 

Ukraine

 

3.       European Council and Council of Ministers

 

4.       European Union External Action

 

 

5.    EEAS Delegations:

Albania:

Armenia:

Georgia:

Ukraine:

 

2. UNITED NATIONS (UN) Human Rights Council

In the years 2010 – mid 2015 nearly 30 UN Human Right Council documents (reports/press releases) refer to Venice Commission guidelines/opinions as to the relevant international standards in the field. Country-specific documents evaluate countries’ progress to comply with Venice Commission recommendations on certain issues such as racial discrimination, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, general human rights protection etc.     

 

UN Human Rights Council references to Venice Commission documents in the years 2010 – mid 2015 are the following:

 

General issues:

 

Country-specific issues:

 

Georgia

Hungary

 

Italy

 

Kazakhstan

Montenegro

 

Ukraine

 

Uzbekistan

 

 

3. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

 

“[…] These concerns have also been echoed in other international fora such as the European Commission and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission”

            Implementing the OECD Anti-Bribery

            Convention in Turkey[11]

            October 2014

 

About 40 OECD monitoring reports and other studies refer to Venice Commission opinions. The consideration of the Venice Commission recommendations are specifically discussed in various countries’ progress reports. In the years 2010 - mid 2015 more than 20 OECD documents mention Venice Commission work.

 

The most recent references (2010 – mid 2015) involve:

 

General issues:

Country-specific issues:

 

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Georgia

Kazakhstan

Kyrgyz Republic

Turkey

Ukraine

4. Other International Organisations

 

As Europe’s most important independent legal think tank, the Venice Commission provides first-class legal advice to States and international organisations on a broad range of issues in the areas of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

Knut Vollebaek, Former OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, 12 October 2012

 

The Venice Commission  closely cooperates with the OSCE and especially with the OSCE/ODIHR and btoh institutions refer to each other acquis regularly. OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission have often published joint documents relating mainly to electoral processes. Here an approximate list of the latest joint documents:

 

Other international organisations such as International IDEA also refer to Venice Commission work in their own documents.

 

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in their Comments to the UN Human Rights Committee on its discussion in preparation for a General Comment on Article 9 of ICCPR (September 2012) referred to the Opinion of the Venice Commission on the international legal obligations of Council of Europe member states in respect of secret detention facilities and inter-state transport of prisoners (CDL-AD(2006)009-e).

 

 

5. International NGOs

 

“Human Rights Watch urges the government to implement the recommendation by the Venice Commission.”

Human Rights Watch Letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (April 29, 2014)[12]

 

International NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, INTERIGHTS, International IDEA frequently refer to Venice Commission work in their own documents.

In the years of 2013 – mid 2016 more than 60 Human Rights Watch documents[13] (open letters, reports) cited Venice Commission as an authoritative advisory body and called on respective countries to closely cooperate with it and implement its recommendations. 

INTERIGHTS discusses the Venice Commission guidelines in its Manual on Freedom of peaceful assembly and association under the ECHR (2010), while International IDEA refers to Venice Commission guiding principles on the misuse of administrative funds during electoral processes in its Annual Report 2014.

 

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in their Comments to the UN Human Rights Committee on its discussion in preparation for a General Comment on Article 9 of ICCPR (September 2012) referred to the Opinion of the Venice Commission on the international legal obligations of Council of Europe member states in respect of secret detention facilities and inter-state transport of prisoners (CDL-AD(2006)009-e).

 

 

III. REFERENCES BY INDIVIDUAL STATES

 

  1. U.S. Department of State on Ukraine, 2015

    http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/rm/2015/jul/244978.htm

     

    “This is a package of amendments that has passed through the Venice Commission — the gold standard of European review. It has met — it’s gotten the Venice Commission’s seal of approval. And it will bring to your constitution European standards of decentralized power.”

     

  2. Statement on Turkey delivered to the Human Rights Council by Ambassador Keith Harper, the U.S. Representative:
    “We recommend Turkey… Foster an independent judiciary and consult with civil society, OSCE/ODIHR, and the Venice Commission on any judicial reform;”

     

  3.  Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation  (09-04-2015)

    We have discussed the situation in Ukraine in detail. We proceed from the assumption that there is no alternative to the implementation of all provisions, without exception, of the Package of Measures approved in Minsk on February 12, including those on dealing with the acute humanitarian problems, discontinuing the economic blockade, holding municipal elections, and reforming the constitution in keeping with the recommendations addressed to Ukraine by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. The Commission’s recent report has expressed concern about delays in carrying out constitutional reforms in Ukraine, reforms that it has clearly affirmed. This was agreed in Minsk, where the constitutional reforms, including primarily the process of decentralisation, were mapped out in sufficient detail in concrete areas to be discussed at talks between Kiev and Ukraine’s regions, including Lugansk and Donetsk.
     

  4. Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime minister and Foreign affairs minister of Belgium

    « Je souligne dans ce contexte en particulier le rôle d’accompagnement des accords de Minsk que le Conseil, notamment la Commission de Venise, peut jouer, en particulier dans le cadre de la réforme de la constitution, de la décentralisation et de l’organisation d’élections locales. »

     

  5. Ukraine: telephone conversation between President François Hollande, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr Volodymyr Hroisman, President of the Ukrainian Parliament, Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the French Republic, Paris, July 14, 2015:

     

    The French President and the German Chancellor welcomed the launch of the process to reform the Ukrainian constitution, which puts particular emphasis on the issue of decentralization.


    They signalled their appreciation of the efforts under way to conduct this reform in accordance with the Package of Measures adopted in Minsk and the recommendations of the Venice Commission.”

 
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