The Council of Europe (CoE) was established after the Second World War to achieve a greater unity and collaboration in Europe on the basis of common European values, standards and institutions.
The Council was created in 1948 with two statutory bodies; the Committee of Ministers representing the governments and the Council of Europe (then) Consultative Assembly representing the parliaments.
The London Agreement that established the Council was signed on 5 May 1949 by 10 European countries. The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which forms the backbone of the Council of Europe was signed on 4 November 1950 in Rome. Türkiye is among the first signatories of the ECHR.
The Council of Europe focuses on creating, codifying and monitoring the standards in member states and streamlining political cooperation among them. In addition to its intergovernmental, parliamentary and local dimensions, the Council also contains a system of more than 200 conventions and protocols. The Organization has several monitoring mechanisms including the European Court of Human Rights to which all member states have accepted the right to individual application.
The democratization process that took place at the end of the Cold War highlighted the political and legal effectiveness of the Council. With the membership of the countries in transition in Central and Eastern Europe, the Organization expanded rapidly. From 2000s, influenced in part, by globalization, the need to reform has arisen within the CoE, which could more effectively address the recent challenges. The reform process aims at increasing the benefits of the work and contributions of the Council of Europe as well as strengthening its political role and visibility both at regional and international levels for 830 million Europeans in 47 member states. The Council has also initiated a number of activities for North Africa and the Middle East to share its experiences on human rights, democratization and the rule of law norms and standards.
Relations with the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe embodies Türkiye’s first institutional tie with Europe after the Second World War. Türkiye was invited to the organization as a founding member in August 1949.
CoE Conventions and international activities that have utmost importance for Türkiye are listed hereinbelow:
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR):
Drafted by the Council of Europe, the ECHR was signed by 15 countries, including Türkiye, on 4 November 1950 and entered into force on 3 September 1953. The Convention aims at ensuring that fundamental human rights and freedoms are guaranteed. Türkiye accepted the right to individual application to the ECtHR based on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 1987 and recognized the compulsory jurisdiction of the ECtHR in 1990.
European Social Charter and Revised Charter
The European Social Charter (ECC) is a fundamental human rights instrument that aims to guarantee human rights, particularly in economic and social fields, in order to bring full functionality to democratic systems. The European Social Charter was opened for signature on 18 October 1961 and entered into force on 26 February 1965. Türkiye signed the Charter on 18 October 1961; ratified it on 24 November 1989. Thus, it entered into force in Türkiye on 24 December 1989.
The European Social Charter constitutes one of the two most important basic instruments adopted by the Council of Europe in the field of human rights. The first is 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which regulates civil and political rights. The second is the European Social Charter, which covers provisions on fundamental human rights in the fields of working life, social security-social welfare, health care and other related fields.
In line with the decision taken at the European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights held in Rome on 5 November 1990; in order to maintain the integrity of human rights in terms of personal, political, economic, social and cultural contexts and to strengthen the European Social Charter; the current version of the Charter was updated to cover the social changes that occurred after its adoption. Consequently, a new text containing the rights in the annexed protocol of 1988 and some new rights was prepared. The Revised European Social Charter, which replaced the 1961 European Social Charter, was opened for signature on 3 May 1996 and entered into force on 1 July 1999.
Along with the rights guaranteed by the 1961 Charter, the Revised European Social Charter includes the 4 rights contained in the 1988 Additional Protocol (Articles 20 – 23) and introduces 8 new rights (Articles 24 – 31).
The Revised European Social Charter (RESC) consists of a total of 98 paragraphs and 31 articles, 9 (1, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 16, 19 and 20) of which are “core provisions”. Compared to the 1961 Social Charter, The RESC covers an additional two core provisions (Articles 7 and 20).
Articles of the Revised European Social Charter
1 - The right to work
2 – The right to just conditions of work
3 – The right to safe and healthy working conditions
4 – The right to a fair remuneration
5 – The right to organise
6 – The right to bargain collectively
7 – The right of children and young persons to protection
8 – The right of employed women to protection of maternity
9 – The right to vocational guidance
10 – The right to vocational training
11 – The right to protection of health
12 – The right to social security
13 – The right to social and medical assistance
14 – The right to benefit from social welfare services
15 – The right of persons with disabilities to independence, social integration
and participation in the life of the community
16 – The right of the family to social, legal and economic protection
17 – The right of children and young persons to social, legal and economic protection
18 – The right to engage in a gainful occupation in the territory of other Parties
19 – The right of migrant workers and their families to protection and assistance
20 - The right to equal opportunities and equal treatment in matters of employment and occupation without discrimination on the grounds of sex
21 - The right to information and consultation
22 - The right to take part in the determination and improvement of the working conditions and working environment
23 - The right of elderly persons to social protection
24 - The right to protection in cases of termination of employment
25 - The right of workers to the protection of their claims in the event of the insolvency of their employer
26 - The right to dignity at work
27 - The right of workers with family responsibilities to equal opportunities and equal treatment
28 - The right of workers' representatives to protection in the undertaking and facilities to be accorded to them
29 - The right to information and consultation in collective redundancy procedures
30 - The right to protection against poverty and social exclusion
31 - The right to housing
(Note: Articles written in bold are core provisions)
Türkiye signed The Revised European Social Charter on 6 October 2004 and ratified it on 27 June 2007. It entered into force in Türkiye by 1 August 2007.
Within the framework of the implementation monitoring system stipulated by the European Social Charter, the Ministry prepares reports on the national implementation of the relevant articles and paragraphs of the Charter and submits them to the Council of Europe.
European Code of Social Security
“European Social Security Code" of 1964, aimed at bringing the social security systems to the optimal level in all member states of Council of Europe, and determining the norms for social security coverage in areas such as medical assistance, sickness benefits, unemployment benefits, old-age benefits and maternity benefits, as well as the minimum levels of social protection that must be provided by member states.
The European Code of Social Security was signed by Türkiye on 13 May 1964. With Law No. 2170 of 21 September 1978, relevant parts of the Code was approved, excluding the seventh part on Family Benefits and the fourth part on Unemployment Benefits. Thus, the Code entered into force in Türkiye on 8 March 1981.
In accordance with the European Code of Social Security, various implementation reports are prepared annually and submitted to the Council of Europe.
European Social Cohesion Platform (PECS)
The Social Cohesion Platform (PECS), which replaced the European Committee for Social Cohesion, Human Dignity and Equality (CDDECS), started its activities in 2016. The objectives of the Platform are promoting equal access to social rights, observing the social cohesion perspective in all activities of the Council, identifying and scrutinising the developments, trends and problems in social cohesion.
The Mutual Information System on Social Protection of the Council of Europe (MISSCEO)
MISSCEO started its work in 1999 and it aims to promote a regular exchange of information on social protection in 12 member states of the Council of Europe that are not members of the EU's MISSOC network. Within the scope of social protection systems, the Ministry prepares comparative data tables for MISSOC.
Relations between the Ministry and CoE
The Ministry prepares periodic reports to monitor the implementation of the Revised European Social Charter and the European Code of Social Security, makes presentations of the submitted national reports, carries out the ratification process of the CoE conventions that are deemed appropriate for ratification, and it represents Türkiye in relevant Committees and contributes to the work of the CoE.