AIV 40 engels

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AIV 40 engels

The European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) also plays animportant and leading role in the process of strengthening national democracies. Establishedin 1990, it consists of independent legal experts and judges from supreme andconstitutional courts who are each appointed for a period of four years. The PA was agreat advocate of the Venice Commission 24 and frequently turns to it for assistance. TheCommission’s aim is to promote the shared core values of the Council of Europe, which itdoes in part by assisting with the drafting of constitutions and the preparation and organisationof elections and referendums, conducting transnational studies and organisingseminars. The Commission’s activities initially focused on bringing about constitutionalchange, but it is increasingly regarded as an independent legal think-tank of the Councilof Europe, albeit one based on a partial agreement and open to non-Europeancountries. 25 The AIV warmly welcomes this development.II.8Core tasks, core functions and related activitiesThe issue of strengthening national democracies links up perfectly with one of the corefunctions – rather than one of the core tasks – that the PA has for decades regarded aspart of its remit: providing a meeting place for the representatives of young democraciesand new member states. By participating in the PA’s activities and witnessing democracyin action, parliamentarians from these countries, including members of opposition parties,gradually become familiar with the conventions that are part and parcel of the democraticprocess: freedom of expression, respect for other opinions and a willingness to considerthe intense wishes of minorities. Learning to deal with democracy is not a rationalprocess but an experiential one. Incidentally, this learning experience also applies to parliamentariansfrom the older European democracies. 26 For them, too, a democratic orderis not an immutable and straightforward given that could survive without constant maintenanceor attention to the issues that threaten it or grant it lasting legitimacy. The reciprocallearning experience is further strengthened by the existence of the double mandate,which means that experiences in the Council of Europe can have an impact at nationallevel. This may occur in a fragmented and random manner or more systematically, forexample when members of the PA are asked to report on their experiences in theirnational parliamentary parties and incorporate these experiences into the national debate.24 See, for example, Recommendation 1103 (1989), ‘The future role of the Council of Europe in the processof European construction’, 15 March 1989.25 In addition to all the member states of the Council of Europe, Kyrgyzstan has been a member of the Commissionsince 2004. Belarus is an associate member, and Argentina, Canada, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan,Korea, Mexico, the United States, Uruguay and Vatican City are observers. On the basis of a special cooperationagreement, South Africa enjoys the same status as the other observers.26 See also Doc. A/1685, ‘Parliamentary diplomacy: the role of international assemblies’, report byMs Squarcialupi, adopted on 6 June 2000.18

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