The European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission, is the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters. Established in 1990, the commission has played a leading role in the adoption of constitutions that conform to the standards of Europe's constitutional heritage.
Initially conceived as a tool for emergency constitutional engineering, the commission has become an internationally recognised independent legal think-tank.
It contributes to the dissemination of the European constitutional heritage, based on the continent's fundamental legal values while continuing to provide “constitutional first-aid” to individual states. The Venice Commission also plays a unique and unrivalled role in crisis management and conflict prevention through constitution building and advice.
Video presenting the Venice Commission
The Commission's legal status and composition
Statute of the Commission
Established in 1990 as a partial agreement of 18 member states of the Council of Europe, the commission in February 2002 became an enlarged agreement, allowing non-European states to become full members.
The Venice Commission is composed of “independent experts who have achieved eminence through their experience in democratic institutions or by their contribution to the enhancement of law and political science” (article 2 of the revised Statute).
The members are senior academics, particularly in the fields of constitutional or international law, supreme or constitutional court judges or members of national parliaments. Acting on the commission in their individual capacity, the members are appointed for four years by the participating countries.
All Council of Europe member states1 are members of the Venice Commission; in addition, Kyrgyzstan joined the commission in 2004, Chile in 2005, the Republic of Korea in 2006, Morocco and Algeria in 2007, Israel in 2008. The Commission thus has 53 full members in all. Tunisia was recently invited to become a member of the Commission, Belarus is associate member, while Argentina, Canada, the Holy See, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, the United States and Uruguay are observers. South Africa has a special co-operation status similar to that of the observers.
The European Commission and OSCE/ODIHR participate in the plenary sessions of the Commission.
The work of the European Commission for Democracy through Law aims at upholding the three underlying principles of Europe's constitutional heritage: democracy, human rights and the rule of law - the cornerstones of the Council of Europe. Accordingly, the Commission works in the following four key-areas:
• Constitutional assistance
• Elections and referendums
• Co-operation with constitutional courts
• Transnational studies, reports and seminars
Council of Europe has 47 member states: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, ”The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Last updated 2008-10-17 06:40:00