Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Seat: Strasbourg, France    Operating Since: 1999

Part of the: European Human Rights System

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights is responsible for promoting respect for human rights in the 47 Council of Europe Member States through reports, dialogue and recommendations to States. The Commissioner is intended to be an independent and impartial entity, led by an individual human rights expert. The office of the Commissioner for Human Rights began operating in 1999, having been established in a resolution adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on May 7, 1999.

The Commissioner’s responsibilities include assisting Member States in implementing regional human rights standards, promoting understanding and awareness of human rights in the region, identifying gaps in protection, facilitating the activities of National Human Rights Institutions and similar actors, and providing advice and information on human rights protection in Europe. The Commissioner carries out country visits, engages in dialogue with States and civil society, prepares thematic reports and advice, and engages in a range of awareness-raising activities.

Notably, the Commissioner is not authorized to decide individual complaints. While the Commissioner may receive information related to specific violations, the office is not a judicial body and cannot make any decisions with respect to such allegations. To learn about the regional human rights complaints mechanisms in Europe, visit the pages on the European Court of Human Rights and European Committee of Social Rights.

The current mandate holder is Nils Muižnieks. His predecessors are Thomas Hammarberg (2006-2012) and Álvaro Gil-Robles (1999-2006). Each Commissioner is elected by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) form a list of three candidates prepared by the Committee of Ministers. The Commissioner serves a non-renewable term of six years.