Opinions and Co-operation Activities
- Co-operation activities with specific countries
- Regional co-operation activities
The Venice Commission is mainly known for its legal opinions. Some countries from the Southern Mediterranean Region have requested legal opinions on their draft legislation. The Venice Commission also shares the standards and the best practice adopted within the countries of the Council of Europe beyond its borders, including through conferences, seminars and other co-operation activities.
These activities are organised with the financial support of the European Union, in particular, through the South Programme, and with voluntary contributions from France, Italy, Norway and Turkey.
In the year 2015, the Venice Commission received the two following requests for opinions from Tunisia: the first was on the draft institutional law on the Constitutional Court of Tunisia; and the second, was on the institutional aspects of the draft law on special procedures concerning reconciliation in the economic and financial fields in Tunisia.
As to the first request, on 28 May 2015, a delegation of the Venice Commission held an exchange of views in Tunis with members of the Justice Ministry’s Committee on the drawing up the draft Institutional Law of the Constitutional Court of Tunisia. On 7 August, 2015, the Tunisian Foreign Ministry made a request to the Venice Commission for an opinion on the draft Institutional Law of the Constitutional Court of Tunisia. An opinion was sent to the Tunisian authorities as a preliminary opinion and published on 14 August 2015. The Opinion on the draft institutional law on the Constitutional Court of Tunisia (CDL-AD (2015)24) was adopted by the Venice Commission at its 104th Session (Venice, 23-24 October 2015).
As to the second request, in July 2015, the Truth and Dignity Body of Tunisia requested an opinion of the Venice Commission on the draft organic law related to specific proceedings regarding reconciliation in economic and financial areas. At its 104th Session (Venice, 23-24 October 2015), the Venice Commission adopted the Interim Opinion on the institutional aspects of the draft law on special procedures concerning reconciliation in the economic and financial fields in Tunisia (CDL-AD (2015)032).
Those requests were related to the implementation of the new Constitution, which was adopted on 26 January, 2014, after two years of close and fruitful co-operation between the Venice Commission and the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia. In this context, in 2013, at the request of the National Constituent Assembly, the Venice Commission adopted the Opinion on the final draft Constitution of Tunisia (CDL-AD (2013) 032). In June 2013, the Venice Commission also adopted a joint opinion on the Law of 2008 on the High Committee on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (CDL-AD (2013)019).
In March 2013, the Egyptian authorities requested an opinion from the Venice Commission on the draft law on Civic Work Organisations of Egypt. A representative from the Egyptian authorities participated in exchanges of views with the Commission at its June 2013 Plenary Session. The interim opinion was adopted by the Commission (CDL-AD(2013)023) and forwarded to the authorities.
Requests for assistance: informal opinions
Countries may request the assistance of the Venice Commission in the preparation of draft laws or the establishing of authorities provided for by the Constitution. One form that this assistance might take is that of an informal opinion, including one prepared with other experts of the Council of Europe. For example, this was done in 2014 following a request by a minister from Morocco for the Council of Europe’s assistance in preparing two organic laws concerning the High Judicial Council and the Status of Judges; and earlier in 2013, following a request by a minister from Morocco asking for assistance in establishing the authority responsible for equality and the fight against discrimination and the Consultative Council for the family and children, two bodies provided for under the Constitution.
Seminars, conferences, workshops
The Venice Commission also engages in co-operation activities, such as contributing to conferences, seminars and workshops; and engaging in dialogues with the authorities. Some examples of these activities may be found below.
In addition to co-organising the legal capacity-building seminars of the UniDem Campus for the Southern Mediterranean Countries, the Venice Commission also contributes to other seminars in the region. The following are examples.
On 18 December 2014, in Tunisia, the Venice Commission participated in a working seminar and exchange of views concerning the setting-up of the new anti-corruption instance “the instance for good governance and the fight against corruption” provided for by Article 130 of the Constitution.
On 10‑11 September 2014, in Tunis, the Venice Commission contributed to a training seminar for judges dealing with electoral disputes. This seminar dealt with candidates’ disputes and disputes on results. This workshop was organised by the technical assistance team of the European Union, the International Foundation for Electoral systems (IFES), the Venice Commission and the Swiss Embassy in Tunisia in partnership with the Administrative Tribunal.
In June 2014, in Rabat, the Venice Commission presented its report on “The role of the opposition” at the seminar on “The functioning of the parliamentary system: the role of the opposition and the role of the majority”, organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, at the invitation of the Moroccan Parliament.
In May 2015, in view of Morocco’s adoption of an organic law on preliminary (individual) requests before the Constitutional Court, the Venice Commission and the Ministry of Justice and Liberties of Morocco co-organised a conference on preliminary requests (“exception d’inconstitutionalité”) to constitutional courts. The experience of the Constitutional Court of Jordan was presented as well as the experience of European courts (Constitutional Courts of Lithuania, Spain and Belgium).
On 13 and 14 November 2014, at the invitation of the Constitutional Council of Lebanon, the President of the Venice Commission participated in a conference entitled “Evaluation of the constitutional control in the Arab states”. This event was organised by the Constitutional Council of Lebanon in co‑operation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Union of Arab Constitutional Courts and Councils.
With respect to electoral law in Tunisia, the Venice Commission participated in the following workshops:
- On 17 March 2014, the Venice Commission participated in the workshop on “The participation of women in politics: a key factor for dialogue and democratic consolidation”.
- On 24 and 25 June 2014, the Venice Commission contributed to the “Study days on electoral disputes”, a workshop on international standards and national experiences on electoral disputes.
- In December 2014, the Venice Commission organised, in Amman, Jordan in co-operation with the Constitutional Court of Jordan, a workshop on the internal organisation of a constitutional court.
Contribution to training sessions for staff of Ombudsmen
The Venice Commission has been co-operating with the Office of the Mediator of Morocco since 2012. In particular, in 2014 and 2015, the Venice Commission contributed to the training sessions for staff of the Ombudsmen (members of AMOF (Association of Ombudsmen and Mediators of the Francophonie) and members of AMO (Association of Mediterranean Ombudsmen)) on the following subjects:
- "The role of the Ombudsman in simplifying administrative procedures and access to public services” (November 2013);
- "Self-referral: methods and impact" ( May 2014) ;
- “The means of intervention of ombudsmen and mediators” (September 2014);
- “Strategic planning as a vector of performance for the ombudsman/mediator institutions of the Francophonie” (December 2014);
- "Simplification of administrative proceedings and access to public services”( May 2015); and
- “Ombudsmen and the challenges of new information technologies” (October 2015).
Other meetings and exchanges of views
In addition to seminars, training sessions and conferences, co-operation activities may include meetings and exchanges of views. For example, in 2015, the meetings and exchanges of view that took place in Tunis with respect to justice and constitutional justice include the following:
- On 28 May 2015, members of the Commission of the Ministry of Justice responsible for the drafting of the law on the Constitutional Court of Tunisia had an exchange of view with judges from European Constitutional Courts of Venice Commission’s member States. The composition of courts, their jurisdiction and the effects of their decisions were discussed.
- On 14 May 2015, the Head of the Constitutional Justice Division of the Venice Commission met with the President of the expert Commission of the Ministry of Justice preparing a draft law on the Constitutional Court of Tunisia, in order to discuss future co-operation with the Venice Commission.
- On 30 March 2015, a delegation of the Venice Commission participated in an exchange of views with the Parliament of Tunisia on the High Judicial Council.
As to electoral issues, a meeting took place on 27 April and 28 April 2015 on the financing of electoral campaigns. The meeting aimed at (i) examining the question of the financing of electoral campaigns: a challenge for the electoral processes, and (ii) formulating concrete proposals which respond to the requirements of a democratic, transparent and equal electoral process. An expert of the Venice Commission took part in that meeting and presented a report on "Financing of electoral campaigns: a challenge for democracy".
Legal advice in election observation
In Tunisia, the Venice Commission participated, as a legal adviser, in a mission observing the parliamentary elections on 26 October 2014 and in a mission observing the presidential Elections on 23 November 2014.
Regional co-operation activities
UniDem Campus for the Southern Mediterranean Countries
The Venice Commission, in co-operation with the Ministry of Public Service and Modernisation of the Administration of the Kingdom of Morocco, launched the UniDem (University for Democracy) Campus for the Southern Mediterranean countries. This programme provides legal capacity-building seminars—in areas related to good governance, the rule of law and fundamental rights—for high-level civil servants of the MENA region. The first UniDem seminar, which focused on “Human Rights and public service”, was held in Rabat in September 2015. In the context of PATHS Module 1 “Constitutional justice, transitional justice and legislative process”, held in Venice in late 2015, UniDem dealt with the topics of constitutional justice and the legislative process.
The second UniDem seminar, which focused on “Open Government”, was held in Rabat in April 2016. Further UniDem seminars are planned for the period of 2016-2017.
Intercultural workshops on democracy
Regional co-operation activities include the programme of Intercultural workshops on democracy, launched by the Venice Commission in 2012. They have dealt with topics such as:
Link to the page on the Intercultural workshops on democracy
Co-operation with the Organisation of Arabic Speaking Electoral Management Bodies
On 8-9 June 2015, the Venice Commission participated in the official launching of the Regional Organization of the Arab Electoral Management Bodies, which took place in Beirut, Lebanon. The main topics of the event were the establishment of the Organization and strategies for regional cooperation in the field of elections in the Arab world.
The Organization of Arabic Speaking Electoral Management Bodies is an independent, non-profit regional organization aiming to support co-operation between the different electoral bodies in the Arab region.
On 24 October 2015, at the 104th Plenary Session (23-24 October 2015), the Venice Commission and the Organization of Arabic Speaking Electoral Management Bodies signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which sets out the terms and conditions for cooperation.
Text of the Memorandum of Understanding
Other examples of regional co-operation
In November 2014, at the invitation of the Parliament and of the Ombudsman of the Kingdom of Morocco to contribute to the debates of specific round tables and thematic forums, the Venice Commission participated in the Second World Human Rights Forum, held in Marrakech.
In February 2014, the Venice Commission contributed to the 5th plenary session of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), held in Tangier.