The Council of Europe (CoE), which has 47 member States, is the continent's oldest political organization. Originally created in 1949 to promote cooperation and strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Western Europe in the aftermath of Nazi Germany's defeat, it now also serves as a forum for examining a wide range of social issues such as public health and bioethical issues, intolerance and the integration of migrants, terrorism, drug trafficking and criminal activities, privacy, and the impact of new technologies.
The Government of Canada and Canadian parliamentarians started participating in CoE activities in the 1960s, but Canada was not granted official observer status with the Committee of Ministers (a title also held by the United States, Japan, Mexico and the Holy See) until 1996. In 1997, Canadian parliamentarians were granted official observer status with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (a position it shares with Mexico and Israel).
The CoE is a valuable partner for Canada, given its work in support of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Canada also helped develop and signed several Council of Europe conventions, including the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and the Anti-Doping Convention (both ratified by Canada), as well as the Convention on Cybercrime. In July 2005, Canada signed the Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems. A complete list of conventions signed and/or ratified by Canada is available on the Council of Europe's website.
Canada also holds observer status with the Council of Europe's European Pharmacopoeia Commission, which manages European Pharmacopoeia, the official list of standards governing the makeup of drugs in Europe.
The Minister Counsellor and Deputy Ambassador of Canada to the European Union is Canada's Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe.
Further information on Canada and the CoE is available on the Council of Europe's website.