Council of Europe
The Council of Europe (CoE) is an international organization in Strasbourg which comprises 47 European countries. The CoE was set up to promote democracy and protect human rights and the rule of law in Europe and seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.
Its main objectives are:
- to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
- to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity;
- to find common solutions to the challenges facing European society;
- and to consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform.
People with disabilities
There are around 80 million people with disabilities living in Europe. This means that around 8 million are people with intellectual disability. Their situation is not the same all over Europe. In some member-states they still struggle to access certain rights and freedoms, namely in the fields of employment, education and political and public life.
To tackle this, the Council of Europe adopted in 2006 a Disability Action Plan addressing participation in political and public life, education, information and communication, employment, accessibility of the built environment and transport.
The Council of Europe makes recommendations to member-states regarding specific issues or concerns. These recommendations, although not legally binding, have a political weight, differing from a directive only by the absence of obligatory power.
In the last few years, the Council of Europe issued several recommendations that concern people with disabilities, like:
In November 2011, a recommendation on the right to participation in political and public life was adopted by the Council of Europe. This recommendation builds upon the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is really important for people with intellectual disabilities that are excluded from political participation in several European countries. You can also find the recommendation in easy-to-read format in English and French.
Inclusion Europe and the Council of Europe
Inclusion Europe is invited to participate as an observateur in the working groups related with disability. As an observateur we can give our opinion and participate at the meetings, but we do not have the right to vote. We also have been involved at the production of easy-to-read versions of some important documents, like the recommendation on the right to participation in political and public life.