PACE summer session: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, challenges to democracy in Georgia, Vigdís Prize

A joint debate on the legal and human rights aspects of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, on the role of sanctions and on the erasure of cultural identity, are among the highlights of the summer plenary session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, taking place from 24 to 28 June 2024 in Strasbourg. An urgent debate on challenges to democracy in Georgia has been requested, as well as a current affairs debate on the following issue: “Can the Council of Europe step up its efforts to counter threats to the freedom of expression?”.

A ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe is planned, with a statement by Wolfgang Sobotka, President of the National Council of Austria. A chamber orchestra will play the Ode to Joy under his direction. The Assembly will also award the first ever Vigdís Prize for Women’s Empowerment, which rewards outstanding initiatives to promote the empowerment of women in all their diversity in Europe and beyond, with statements by Guðni Thorlacius Jòhannesson, President of Iceland, and Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Market of Iceland.

During the session, the parliamentarians will also elect the new Secretary General of the Council of Europe for the next five years.

Lithuania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, the President of the Committee of Ministers, will present its communication to the Assembly and take questions from members. Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić will address the Assembly.

Also foreseen are a statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, and a joint debate on strengthening democracy through participatory and deliberative processes, and on strengthening the youth perspective in the work of the Assembly.

Items on the agenda also include Varosha’s return to its lawful inhabitants, protecting women human rights defenders in Europe, ensuring human rights compliant asylum procedures, and reparation and reconciliation processes to overcome past conflicts.

There will also be debates on policy solutions and support for the displaced people of Ukraine, on defusing ticking time bombs for a safe return of displaced populations, on safeguarding human rights for future generations, and on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Armenia.

The Assembly will decide its final agenda on the first day of the session.