Democracy Through Law

Venice Commission

Democracy through law

The Venice Commission

Established in May 1990, the European Commission for Democracy through Law - better known as the Venice Commission – acts as the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters.

The Venice Commission is composed of constitutional and international law experts, supreme or constitutional court judges and members of national parliaments. It is dedicated to the promotion of Europe’s legal heritage and is now recognised as an international independent legal think-tank.

The commission has been particularly active in former eastern bloc countries, assisting them in the drafting of new constitutions or laws on constitutional courts, electoral codes, minority rights and the legal framework relating to democratic institutions.

It identifies possible risks and incompatibilities, legal anomalies and ‘loose’ drafting but leaves countries free to draw their own conclusions and tackle specific problems in the manner thought most appropriate.

The expertise and standing of the commission is such that its work now extends beyond Europe’s borders. The commission counts 58 full members, with Argentina, Canada, the Holy See, Japan, Kazakhstan, the United States and Uruguay enjoying observer status.

South Africa and and Palestinian National Authority have a special status similar to that of observer countries.

US intends to join Council of Europe constitutional expert body

Strasbourg, 30/01/2013 – Secretary General Jagland welcomed the announcement of the US State Department at the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers today to seek full membership of the European Commission for Democracy through Law, known as the “Venice Commission”.

“This announcement by the State Department is good news for Europe and good for the United States. It will enable the US and Europe to share expertise and co-operate more closely in promoting human rights, the rule of law and democracy, both in Council of Europe member states and in our neighbourhood”, Mr Jagland said.

The US already has observer status with the Venice Commission. (more...)

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2nd Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice on ''Separation of Powers and Independence of Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Bodies'', 16-18 January 2011, Rio de Janeiro

The Congress allowed 88 Courts from around the globe to discuss problems in their relations with other state powers, especially pressure from the executive or the legislative but sometimes also from the media. The participating judges drew inspiration from their peers in other countries at a time when constitutional justice is endangered in a number of countries.