The Council of Europe is an international organization based in Strasbourg, which aims to establish and review minimum standards for compliance with human rights, democracy and the rule of law. With 47 member states, almost all European countries are represented in the European Council. All European member states have signed the European Convention on Human Rights – and the European Human Rights Court monitors whether the rules are complied with in the member states. The organization is built on four pillars: the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Conference of INGOs (International Non-Governmental Organizations).
The Conference of INGOs is the only independent civil society organization that plays an institutional role within the intergovernmental international organization. Its goal is to promote the values and the fundamental rights of a European and democratic identity and to further the dialogue between the public authorities and institutions. Thanks to the participating status, the STP International is a member of this body and consequently also has a right to say.
According to the extensive range of activities of the Council of Europe, the work of the INGO Conference is diverse – covering topics such as gender equality, a dialogue between north and south as well as the understanding between different cultures and religions. On of the major concerns relates to the consolidation of the civil society and democratic values as well as well as to legal concerns in various Eastern European countries. The topic-oriented co-operations between INGOs and the drawing up of relevant documents takes place in various working groups levels within the three commissions “Democracy, Social Cohesion and Global Challenges”, “Education and Culture” and “Human Rights”.
Usually, the Society for Threatened Peoples International is represented by its representatives at the European Council – in the plenary meetings of the INGO Conference, which takes place twice a year, and in a working group on “Climate Change and Human Rights”. Relating to the latter, the STP issued Human Rights Report No. 44 in 2006, entitled “The Arctic is melting and is being plundered – indigenous peoples are suffering under the climate change and the mining of resources“. The working group has now compiled a position paper, addressing the issue from a global and European-centered perspective. The effects and the dramatic consequences of climate change are already visible. It should be noted that there are not enough efforts to curb human rights violations such as the right to life and of basic needs, the right to social cohesion and justice and the right to a healthy environment. Thus, we try to emphasize our demands to draw attention to the topics in politics, in society and the economy on a local basis but also on a national and international level. The right to a healthy environment is still to be officially recognized by the Council of Europe and to be codified in an additional protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the third generation of human rights. The Council of Europe Conference of Ministers Responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT) should agree to prioritize the inclusion of climate concerns and human rights. The Council of Europe and the United Nations in general should also take more effective measures to further international laws to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, especially in connection with environmental issues.