For democracy through law
The European Commission for Democracy through Law - better known as the Venice Commission as it meets in Venice - is the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters.
The role of the Venice Commission is to provide legal advice to its member states and, in particular, to help states wishing to bring their legal and institutional structures into line with European standards and international experience in the fields of democracy, human rights and the rule of law1. The full name of the Commission is the “European Commission for democracy through law”.
It also helps to ensure the dissemination and consolidation of a common constitutional heritage, playing a unique role in conflict management, and provides “emergency constitutional aid” to states in transition.
The Commission has 61 member states: the 46 Council of Europe member states2 and 15 other countries (Algeria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Mexico, Peru, Tunisia and the USA). Argentina, Japan, the Holy See and Uruguay are observers, Belarus has a status of an associate member state (suspended)3. South Africa and the Palestinian National Authority have a special cooperation status. The Commission also cooperates closely with the European Union, OSCE/ODIHR and the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Its individual members are university professors of public and international law, supreme and constitutional court judges, members of national parliaments and a number of civil servants. They are designated for four years by the member states, but act in their individual capacity. Antonio La Pergola, Jan Helgesen and Gianni Buquicchio were the first presidents of the Commission. In December 2021 the Commission elected Ms Claire BAZY MALAURIE as its president.
The Commission works in three areas:
The Commission shares the standards and best practices adopted within the countries of the Council of Europe beyond its borders notably in neighboring countries.
Its permanent secretariat is located in Strasbourg, France, at the headquarters of the Council of Europe. Its plenary sessions are held in Venice, Italy, at the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista, four times a year (March, June, October and December).
1 Request for opinion may be sent to the President or the Secretary of the Commission by email / fax / post.
2 Council of Europe has 46 member States (as of 16.03.2022): Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
3 On 17/03/2022 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to suspend the participation of Belarus as associate member in the work of the Venice Commission (Resolution CM/Res(2022)2).