Strasbourg, 10.05.2010 - Today 20 years ago in Strasbourg, on 10 May 1990, 18 member states of the Council of Europe - Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey - established the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, formally called "The European Commission for Democracy through law".
Its initial purpose was to assist countries coming out of totalitarian regimes to bring their constitutions and other fundamental laws into conformity with Council of Europe standards: democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The Commission’s founder and its first President Professor Antonio La Pergola defined the goal of the Commission “Peace through democracy and democracy through law are going to be our steadfast commitment…”.
Since its establishment, the Commission has become internationally recognised as a reference for the quality standards of democracy in Europe. It has given hundreds of opinions and developed dozens of studies, codes and guidelines on numerous subjects of constitutional law. With the accession of Mexico and Tunisia in 2010, the Commission has 57 full member states; the population "covered" by its expertise is around 1.3 billion people. Since 2002 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) refers to the legal opinions of the Venice Commission and has done so in more than 45 cases. The Commission is the driving force behind the establishment of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice created in order to promote a global human rights case-law and the independence of the judiciary world wide.
"20 years later - said the President of the Commission Mr Gianni Buquicchio in an interview today - I would particularly like to thank the founding member states who believed in the idea of the Commission. Today we highly appreciate the strong support we receive from all Council of Europe member states as well as of other international organisations and in particular the European Union which regularly requests our expertise and refers to our work.”
"The challenge today – continued President Buquicchio - is to cement the basis of the democratic future of Europe and beyond by firmly rooting in our societies the values of the European constitutional heritage that we will continue to consolidate and develop”.
A ceremony to celebrate the Commission’s 20th anniversary in the presence of Heads of states and other personalities will take place in Venice on 5 June 2010.