Resource Centre > Key Players > Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is an International organisation with 47 member countries, 1 applicant country (Belarus), and 5 observer countries (including USA and Canada). Established in 1949.

It aims at protecting human rights (the key legal instrument is the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which the Council members signed in 1950), and promotes political, legislative and constitutional reform in many areas of law and justice: including medical liability, administrative law, debt management, as well as civil justice (including litigation and ADR mechanisms – especially mediation). In 1959 it established the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It also promotes cooperation between the member countries with regard to challenges such as discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, bioethics and cloning, terrorism, trafficking in human beings, organised crime and corruption, cybercrime, and violence against children. The website of the Council contains very useful updates on developments in the member countries (also with regard to civil justice – civil procedure as well as ADR).

The work in the area of civil justice is done through CEPEJ (European Commission for Efficiency of Justice). Established in 2002 to improve efficiency of civil justice systems of the member countries, CEPEJ conducts regular reviews of European civil justice systems, organises events devoted to civil justice, and deals with specific challenges to civil justice. The current priorities include:

The recent report of CEPEJ Evaluating European Judicial Systems (Edition 2008, Data: 2006), is available on the website.

Other Council of Europe bodies involved in the area of civil justice: