Wednesday 16 March 2022

Formal End of Russia's Council of Europe Membership

The day has come: this morning, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has today formally decided that the Russian Federation ceases to be a member of the organisation. This happens after just over a quarter century of membership, since Russia joined on 28 February 1996. 

This follows upon the earlier decision on 25 February, on which we reported here, to suspend Russia's rights of representation in organisation under article 8 of the Statute of the Council of Europe. Consultations with the Parliamentary Assembly were also ongoing in the past few days, leading to yesterday's unanimous adoption of it's Opinion that the Russian Federation because of the invasion of Ukraine, can no longer be a member of the Council of Europe. Yesterday evening, as a reaction, the Russian government formally informed the Secretary General of their withdrawal from the organisation and its intention to denounce the ECHR. Today's decision is the culmination of this sad chain of events, which offers a mixed picture in timing of Russia being kicked out and leaving itself.

Yesterday evening, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chair of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, Luigi Di Maio, the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Tiny Kox, and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, issued a joint statement, in which they, amongst other things. stated: 

"Through their actions in Ukraine the Russian authorities deprive the Russian people of the benefit of the most advanced human rights protection system in the world, including the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and our vast convention system.

We express solidarity with the Russian people who, we firmly believe, share democratic values and aspire to remain part of the European family where they belong."

The flag of the Russian Federation, as pictured, has been taken down from the square in front of the Palais de L'Europe in Strasbourg. It is to be hoped, for all those within the Russian Federation's jurisdiction, that in the near future - at some yet uncertain point - the state will be able to re-join, just like Greece did decades ago after democracy had returned there, so that the protection of the ECHR and its Court will once again be available for them. On  consequences of the current steps, see the guest post of a few days ago here.

More analysis will follow later.