March 6, 2020

PACE’s winter session


“PACE risks becoming a watchdog with no bite,” by Oleksiy Goncharenko, UkraineAlert blog, Atlantic Council, January 27 (


The winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) got under way on January 27 in Strasbourg. The agenda includes a controversial resolution that would significantly complicate the body’s future ability to apply sanctions. With the scandal still simmering over an unrepentant Russia’s return to PACE in summer 2019, opponents say the move could further undermine the legitimacy of an organization dedicated to upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law across Europe. The Ukrainian delegation, which is returning to PACE following an autumn 2019 boycott, is leading calls to block the new sanctions regulations.

…Ukraine sees these efforts to revise sanctions procedures as a continuation of the steps that caused a crisis within PACE last year. In the summer of 2019, the Russian delegation returned to PACE despite the fact that Moscow had not fulfilled any of the conditions set when sanctions were first imposed in 2014 over Russian aggression against Ukraine. …

The Ukrainian PACE delegation will do everything in its power to ensure that the current resolution proposing to complicate existing sanctions mechanisms is amended to become more realistic. The Council of Europe must be able to effectively defend human rights and European values throughout Europe, as well as respond to challenges and crises that arise within the organization. This means taking the interests of all members into account rather than becoming an instrument for the political agendas of individual states.

Unless PACE offers equal rights and a level playing field to all its members, it risks becoming a parody of itself and making a mockery of its stated mission to defend human rights and democracy equally across all Europe.