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Geneva Conventions after 11/9, the European Constitution, the Constitutional reform in Ukraine and free elections in South Caucasus - 57th Plenary Session of the Commission (Venice, Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista)

12/12/2003 - 13/12/2003

The Commission will finalise its reply to the question by the Parliamentary Assembly whether the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners of war and the protection of civilians should be amended in the light of post September 11 developments, in particularly taking into account the debate around the detainees kept in Guantanamo Bay.

The Commission will also round up its discussions on the impact of the future European Constitution on human rights protection in Europe. The coexistence of the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights within the European legal space requires certain steps – notably EU accession to the ECHR - to guarantee legal certainty for all European citizens.

The proposals for the revision of the Constitution of Ukraine currently pending before the Ukrainian parliament are also a subject of an opinion. The various drafts address in particular the balance of powers between the President and Parliament.

Taking into account the experience of the recent elections in South Caucasus, the Commission will also adopt recommendations to improve the electoral legislation and practice, in particular in Armenia and Georgia. It will also discuss the establishment, organisation and activities of political parties in Europe. This report will be followed by the guidelines on this topic.

Finally, the Commission will examine the freedom of religion in Georgia, the possible settlement of Transnistrian conflict in Moldova and new constitutions to be adopted in Serbia and Montenegro.

The Council for Democratic Elections, a tripartite Parliamentary Assembly, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and Venice Commission organ - will meet prior to the plenary session (11 December 2003) and inter alia discuss the criteria for the choice of the electoral systems and e-voting.

Peter Schieder, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and Luzius Wildhaber, President of the European Court of Human Rights, will participate in the work of the plenary session.

All the opinions adopted by the Venice Commission will be public and made available after the plenary session on

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