Addressing parliamentarians at the Spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić was asked about the danger of imminent armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, in the context of the build-up of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. She explained that while organisations such as the UN and OSCE were involved in the security dimension of the crisis, the Council of Europe’s role was to ensure that human rights were respected by all sides. She added that the Council of Europe would continue to fully support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Asked about the Istanbul Convention, which was recently renounced by Turkey, the Secretary General agreed that it was the international “gold standard” for protecting women against all forms of violence, including domestic violence. She underlined the treaty’s role as a standard setter, which surpassed most national legislation and had its own monitoring mechanism.
In response to a question about the wider convention system, the Secretary General praised the European Convention on Human Rights, which she described as the “mother of all conventions”, and also the European Social Charter. She called for a higher degree of implementation at national level and identified the organisation’s two main future challenges as being human rights in the context of both Artificial Intelligence and the environment.
Other questions from parliamentarians concerned the return of Armenian prisoners of war held in Azerbaijan, how to resolve the continuing tensions between those two member states, the future funding of the organisation and how best to deal with the rise of discrimination and racism in Europe.