Within the framework of the Armenian Chairmanship of the Committee in Ministers of the Council of Europe a Conference on “The European standards of the rule of law and the scope of discretion of powers in the member States of the Council of Europe” opened on 3 July at the National Assembly of Armenia. About 80 representatives from 32 countries and international structures took part in the conference.
Reading out the welcoming address of the President of Armenia, Mr Serzh Sargsyan, Vigen Sargsyan, Chief of Staff of the President, expressed confidence that “the conference, dedicated to the European standards of the rule of law and the scope of discretion of powers will make a lasting contribution to addressing challenges existing in our country and other member States of the Council of Europe and to more efficiently guarantee, ensure and protect human rights”.
The President of the National Assembly, Hovik Abrahamyan, in his opening remarks welcomed the participants of the conference: “The holding of this event is symbolic not only in the sense that it is taking place in the framework of the Armenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, but also attests to Armenia’s commitment to European values and its readiness to closely integrate in the large European family”.
The Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian, delivered a welcoming speech. He noted that since joining the Council of Europe, Armenia assumed the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers for the first time on 16 May 2013. He considered this to be an important mission and an additional opportunity for Armenia to make its contribution to the joint efforts of the member States of the Council of Europe aimed at the development of democracy.
The President of the European Court of Human Rights, Dean Spielmann, and the President of the Council of Europe Venice Commission, Gianni Buquicchio, addressed the participants with their welcoming speeches. The President of the European Court of Human Rights in particular touched upon the European legal standards, and highlighted the supervision of laws by courts, the creation of an effective system of maintaining constitutional norms, co-operation with different bodies of power on this matter, and the provision of checks and balances of different branches of power.
The President of the Venice Commission, Gianni Buquicchio, stressed the importance of the theme of the discussion of the conference. He noted that the rule of law is an important basis for the balance between branches of power and for social behaviour of the authorities and individuals, and securing constitutional guarantees is the first obligation of any State.
Within the framework of the theme “Principle of the rule of law as an axiological ground for the social behaviour of the authorities and an individual in a legal State: Constitutional guarantees in different countries”, the President of the Armenian Constitutional Court, Gagik Harutyunyan, delivered a speech on the theme “Position and role of the rule of law in human and citizen’s behaviour”. Gagik Harutyunyan noted that though the rule of law is the cornerstone of the State, nevertheless it is limited by inalienable human rights, which has become a key constitutional norm for many countries.
At the second session of the conference thematic speeches were delivered on the theme “Principle of the rule of law as criteria of determination of the scope of the discretion of the legislative and executive powers”.
The agenda of the three-day conference includes also discussions on the judicial review of the laws and other legal acts by independent judicial bodies, and co-operation of human rights’ defenders with different State and local self–government bodies in ensuring the effective implementation of the principle of the rule of law.