Resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organization founded in the wake of World War II to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, with a population of approximately 820 million, and operates with an annual budget of approximately 500 million euros.
The Council of Europe was founded the year after the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
European Convention on Human Rights (1950)
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953. All Council of Europe member states are parties to the Convention and new members are expected to ratify the convention at the earliest opportunity.
European Convention on Human Rights
The European Convention on Human Rights provides legal recognition of various human rights in the nations which are state-parties to the convention. The list of human rights is similar to but not identical to that provided by the United Nations. The list of human rights have been revised several times since its inception in 1950 by the publication of "protocols".
Original 1950 version:
- Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Protocol , Council of Europe. (4 November 1950). Retrieved 3 October 2020.
ECHR as amended:
- European Convention on Human Rights , Council of Europe. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
European Court of Human Rights
The Convention established the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which sits at Strasbourg. Any person who feels their rights have been violated under the Convention by a state-party can take a case to the Court. Judgments finding violations are binding on the States concerned and they are obliged to execute them. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe monitors the execution of judgements, particularly to ensure payment of the amounts awarded by the Court to the applicants in compensation for the damage they have sustained.
Protection of physical integrity of boys
The adoption of Resolution 1952 was preceeded by hearings in the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, presided over by Rapporteur Marlene Rupprecht, SOC. After the conclusion of the hearings, Rapporteur Marlene Rupprecht issued Document 13297, entitled Children's right to physical integrity.
With regard to non-therapeutic circumcision of boys, the report stated in part:
2.1. Male circumcision of young boys
13. Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin (or prepuce) from the penis. It is probably the oldest identified and the most frequently performed optional surgical procedure for males throughout the world. Neonatal circumcision or circumcision on young boys may be performed for medical, cultural or religious reasons. It is a widely observed religious practice performed almost universally in Jewish and Muslim communities.
14. However, the procedure is increasingly questioned and its perception is changing in the light of growing awareness for children’s human rights. Even within religious communities, an increasing number of people have started questioning traditional but harmful practices and looking for alternatives. Having explored this issue in detail during the recent legislative debate in my own country, Germany, I would like to show why circumcision applied to young boys clearly is a human rights violation against children, although it is so widely performed both in the medical and in the religious context.
Resolution no. 1952 (2013) 'Children's right to physical integrity' of the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe, which includes the issue of physical integrity of intersex children for the first time, was adopted on October 1, 2013 following an initiative of the German SPD politician Marlene Rupprecht.
The resolution includes other topics such as the female genital mutilation, the male circumcision for religious reasons, and the submission or coercion of a child to piercings, tattoos or cosmetic surgery.
The resolution calls on all member States to "examine the prevalence of different categories of non-medically justified operations and interventions impacting on the physical integrity of children in their respective countries, as well as the specific practices related to them, and to carefully consider them in light of the best interests of the child in order to define specific lines of action for each of them; initiate focused awareness-raising measures for each of these categories of violation of the physical integrity of children, to be carried out in the specific contexts where information may best be conveyed to families, such as the medical sector (hospitals and individual practitioners), schools, religious communities or service providers; [...]."
This first resolution of its kind by a European institution is not legally binding, but an important signal for further debate and action. It shifts the approach of the point of view of the topic from the current medical domain towards a human rights approach and identifies the right to bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination. It calls the for the end of non-therapeutic cosmetic medical and surgical interventions.
The Parliamentary Assembly issued a recommendation the Committee of Ministers to:
4.1. take fully into account the issue of children’s right to physical integrity when preparing and adopting its new strategy for the rights of the child as of 2015, in particular as regards the fight against all forms of violence against children and the promotion of child participation in decisions concerning them;
4.2. consider the explicit inclusion of children's right to physical integrity, as well as their right to participate in any decision concerning them, into relevant Council of Europe standards and,to this end,to examine in a comprehensive manner in which Council of Europe instruments such rights should be included.
Inside the Council of Europe narrated by David Cameron:
- Official website. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
- 47 Member States
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, G.A. res. 217A (III), U.N. Doc A/810 at 71 (1948). , United Nations. (1948). Retrieved 1 October 2020.
- The Council of Europe should not be confused with the Council of the European Union or the European Council.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Right , United Nations. (1967). Retrieved 3 October 2020.
- Rupprecht, Marlene: Children's right to physical integrity , Parliamentary Assembly. (June 2013). Retrieved 2 October 2020.
- Children's right to physical integrity , Parliamentary Assembly. (1 October 2013). Retrieved 2 October 2020.
- Children’s right to physical integrity , Parliamentary Assembly. (1 October 2013). Retrieved 3 October 2020.