The idea of a united Europe was commonly advanced at least as early as the XIXth century. Only after the Second World War, however, has that idea taken concrete form. The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 “to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress.”
On 5th May, 1949 the five Governments Members of the Brussels Treaty (Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) and the Governments of Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Norway and Sweden signed in London the Statute of this new body, the Council of Europe.
Today, it has 47 members, while observer status has been granted to the Holy See, the USA, Japan, Canada and Mexico. Israel attends the proceedings of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly as observer.
The oldest European political organization, with the main goal of the Council of Europe is to uphold human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law in its member states.
To date, the Council of Europe has achieved the adoption of a large number of legally binding European Conventions, which serve as the foundation for reform and harmonization of member-state legislation on a number of issues, including human rights, prevention of torture, fighting organized crime, data protection and cultural cooperation. It has also contributed to drafting policy guidelines on legal, health, educational, cultural, sports and other issues.