The Permanent Representation of Liechtenstein to the Council of Europe is responsible for relations with the Council of Europe, including relations with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, and Permanent Representations of the other member States as well as French authorities at regional and national level.
The Permanent Representation is also responsible for contacts with the observer States of the Council of Europe (through their representations in Strasbourg) and with the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
In addition, the Permanent Representative represents Liechtenstein on the Administrative Council and Governing Board of the Council of Europe Development Bank in Paris.
Ambassador Daniel Ospelt has been Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the Council of Europe since 10 September 2002.
Liechtenstein has been a member of the Council of Europe since 23 November 1978. The organs of the Council of Europe are the Committee of Ministers (the decision-making organ), the Parliamentary Assembly, and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (advisory organs).
Committee of Ministers
Foreign Minister Aurelia Frick represents Liechtenstein in the Committee of Ministers.
The Liechtenstein delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly consists of two representatives and two substitutes. Head of delegation is Gerold Büchel. Further members of the delegation are: Judith Oehri, Rainer Gopp (substitute member) and Karin Rüdisser-Quaderer (substitute member).
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe
The Liechtenstein delegation to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe also consists of two representatives and two substitutes.
Donath Oehri, Mayor of Gamprin, is head of delegation. Further members of the delegation are: Susanne Eberle-Strub, Vice-Mayor of Vaduz, Eva Johann-Heidegger, Vice-Mayor of Triesen (substitute member) and Norman Wohlwend, Mayor of Schellenberg (substitute member).
The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 4 November 1950 entered into force for Liechtenstein on 8 September 1982.
Prof. Mark Villiger serves at Judge in respect of Liechtenstein at the European Court of Human Rights.
Liechtenstein is party to the following European agreements.
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 as the first transnational organization in Europe after the Second World War. The Statute, signed by 10 States (Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) on 5 May 1949 in London entered into force on 3 August 1949. The seat of the Council of Europe is the Alsatian metropolis of Strasbourg, a city regarded as a symbol of reconciliation between France and Germany, due to the many changes throughout its history.
The Council of Europe now has 47 members. Belarus is the only European state which has not yet joined. The Holy See, Israel, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and the United States have observer status (in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly respectively).
Liechtenstein was accepted as the 21st member of the Council of Europe on 23 November 1978. The accession was a milestone in the recognition of Liechtenstein as an independent member of the international community and as a part of the European family of democratic states.
Objectives and responsibilities
Since its founding, the Council of Europe has been an important platform for encounters, a rostrum for the European political and legal dialogue. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the admission of the countries of the former Eastern Bloc and Russia, the Council of Europe became a pan-European organization.
The objectives of the Council of Europe include:
The scope of its work includes virtually all aspects of European society, except for military issues. These include, in particular, human rights, media, migration issues, legal cooperation, social cohesion, education, health, culture, sports, youth, local democracy, and cross-border cooperation.
A particular merit of the Council of Europe are the 200 agreements elaborated in its various bodies on all of these subjects. As States Parties to these multilateral treaties, members are able to harmonize their national legal systems continually with European standards, thereby creating a common pan-European legal space. The most important instrument created by the Council of Europe is the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the accompanying mechanism to protect human rights in Europe. This mechanism enables all persons who have become victims of a violation of the rights guaranteed by the ECHR to lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, after exhausting domestic remedies. If the Court finds that a violation has occurred, it has the authority to order the State to pay compensation and to redress the violation legally.
The Secretary General, elected by the Parliamentary Assembly for five years, directs and coordinates the activities of the organization.
Liechtenstein’s work in the Council of Europe
Since its admission to the Council of Europe, Liechtenstein has been represented in Strasbourg by an ambassador. The ambassador takes part in the weekly meetings of the Ministers' Deputies and follows the various meetings of the preparatory working groups. Liechtenstein is also regularly represented at the ministerial level at the annual meetings of foreign ministers (Sessions of the Committee of Ministers) and engages in the specialized ministerial conferences also organized by the Council of Europe (such as in the areas of justice, education, migration, culture, sports, and youth).
A special feature of the Council of Europe are the regular meetings of experts from member states. These expert meetings prepare the agenda items to be adopted by the Committee of Ministers. These include, in particular, the conventions of the Council of Europe, but also political recommendations directed by the Committee of Ministers to the governments of the member states on various topics. The expert committees are not only responsible for elaborating legal instruments, but also for their progressive development. This includes the further development of the protection of human rights in Europe, the fight against transnational organized crime, cybercrime and international terrorism, the fight against money laundering and corruption as well as cooperation in the areas of education and preservation of cultural heritage.
Liechtenstein has twice held the six-month chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, in 1987 and 2001. The focus areas of the last chairmanship included the strengthening of the European Court of Human Rights, improvement of cooperation between the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers, and securing the necessary funds for the numerous responsibilities the Council of Europe fulfills in the new member states of South-Eastern Europe and the Caucasus to strengthen the protection of human rights and the rule of law. Coordination of the reaction of the Council of Europe to the terror attacks against the United States of 11 September 2001 also fell within the term of the Liechtenstein chairmanship.