A short history…

The Organisation

The Council of Europe is one of the oldest international organisations dedicated to fostering co-operation in Europe through the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Founded in 1949 by the Treaty of London, it was established by a group of national leaders to ensure that the horror and suffering of the 20th century’s two world wars would never be repeated.

Since then, the ten original members (Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom) have been joined by almost all of Europe’s other countries, and the Council now has 47 member states.


Since its creation, the Council of Europe has successfully evolved in the pursuit of its goals. It has responded to major changes in Europe’s political and social landscape and to the emergence of new threats to the human rights of the European population.

The Council of Europe was one of the first international institutions to open its doors to central and eastern European countries following the fall of the Berlin Wall and it has introduced new treaties to tackle modern issues such as cybercrime, healthcare crime, international terrorism and people trafficking.


The Council of Europe was established to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Council believes that these values form the basis of a tolerant and civilized society, and that they are indispensable in building a stable, functional and cohesive Europe.

The circumstances in which the Council of Europe operates have changed dramatically since its fouding in 1949. Technological, scientific, political, social and economic developments have brought new opportunities, but also new threats to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Central to its mandate is the role of co-operation as a means of meeting the challenges of modern European society. Nurturing Europe’s cultural identity and diversity, and achieving democratic stability through political, legislative and constitutional reform are at the heart of this process.

For the key dates, visit the website Council of Europe in brief