Council of Europe
The Council of Europe, founded in 1949, is the oldest pan-European Organization. The Council was originally created to promote cooperation and to strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Today, it serves primarily as a forum for examining a wide range of social issues such as culture, education, sports, health, human rights, and new technologies. Canada was granted Official Observer status to the Committee of Ministers in 1996, and to the Parliamentary Assembly in 1997. Canadian Heritage has been active in the various Steering Committees for many years.
Canadian Heritage's current focus is on the activities of the Directorate General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport and the Directorate General of Human Rights.
Within these directorates, Canadian Heritage and its portfolio agencies advance Canadian interests on a range of issues including cultural diversity, human rights, freedom of the media, and sport, among others. Canada worked very closely with the Council in its preparation of a Declaration on Cultural Diversity, which helped advance understanding of European approaches to this important Canadian priority. Participation in the deliberations of the Council of Europe have and will continue to enable Canada to exchange with, and learn from, a range of important European partners. Canadian Heritage and its portfolio will continue to engage with the Council as a means of deepening our cooperation on a variety of issues with partners from Western, Central and Eastern Europe.