Venice Commission e-Newsletter
May 2008
74th Plenary Session
The Venice Commission met on 13 and 14 March 2008 at the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice.

Next Plenary Session

The 75th Plenary Session of the Commission will take place in Venice on 13-14 June 2008.

Quick links

World Conference on Constitutional Justice 

The Venice Commission will organise, in co-operation with the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the first World Conference on Constitutional Justice to be held from 23 to 24 January 2009. The topic of the Conference will be "Influential Constitutional Justice - its influence on society and on developing a global jurisprudence on human rights".


This Conference will bring together for the first time in a single event constitutional courts and equivalent bodies from throughout the world.


Constitutional Justice has become a world-wide success.  More and more countries have introduced some form of constitutional review, either through specialised constitutional courts or councils or by attributing powers of constitutional review to supreme courts or specialised chambers within them.


The Constitutional Court of South Africa and the Venice Commission hope that this Conference will promote co-operation between courts engaged in constitutional review and further the development of global human rights principles to the benefit of the people of the world.

Constitutional co-operation

Study on the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces

At its 74th Plenary Session, the Venice Commission adopted a study on the democratic control of the armed forces.


This study was carried out at the request of the Committee of Ministers.


The report firstly explains that armies cannot escape the ever increasing requirement to see State institutions reply to their actions, and then goes on to show how much the role of the armed forces has evolved both at the domestic and international level.


This study describes specifically all the institutions involved in the control of armed forces' activities and shows the different types of legal tools which exist at the domestic level in Council of Europe member States.


At the international level, the study describes the types of control which exist today in different international structures such as the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.  The legal competence of international jurisdictions such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights is also studied in great detail.

Elections and referendums

Armenia - Pre-electoral Assistance

With a view to the Presidential elections on 19 February 2008, the Venice Commission organised seminars aimed at staff of the Central Electoral Commission and representatives of NGOs on the different stages of the electoral process and difficulties encountered.  A Conference on free and fair elections, was also organised for, in particular, judges on electoral disputes, in co-operation with the Constitutional Court of Armenia, the ArmenianLegalSchool and the American Bar Association.

Evaluation of the Constitution of Finland

The Finish authorities asked the Venice Commission to take part in the evaluation of Finland's Constitution, adopted in 1999.  This is a very important initiative occuring during a period of non-crisis. 


Within this framework, the Venice Commission adopted an opinion on the Constitution of Finland at its March 2008 session.  The Commission emphasised that on the whole the Constitution is in conformity with European standards in particular of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.  Nonetheless, some adjustments should be envisaged, in particular in the wording of some provisions relating to human rights.  The preeminence of international law, recognised in practice, should be recognised de jure.  The creation of a specialised constitutional court is not essential, however it would be preferable to extend the judicial control of constitutionality beyond the cases of evident conflict with the Constitution. 


Finally, institutionalisation of, already existing, mechanisms such as co-operation between the Prime Minister (responsible for European affairs) and the President (responsible for international affairs) could be considered.