The fifth phase of the South Programme “Protecting human rights, rule of law, and democracy through shared standards in the Southern Mediterranean” has been officially launched. The South Programme V is a joint initiative between the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe (CoE) for the period of 2022 – 2025. It is co-financed by the two organisations and will be implemented by the Council of Europe with a budget of over € 5.5 million (EU: 89.99%, CoE: 10.01%).
The launching event presents the objectives and new features of the fifth phase with a focus on the progressive establishment of a common legal space between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean based on Council of Europe conventions. This high-level event with the participation of four Ministers from the two shores of the Mediterranean provides a platform for exchanges on the added value of shared standards and their implementation in the region. Over 70 representatives of Southern Mediterranean authorities, partner institutions, civil society and media share their experiences and discuss common challenges and perspectives to strengthen human rights, rule of law and co-operation in the region.
“The fifth phase of the South Programme builds on the long-standing cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe,” stressed Henrike Trautmann, Acting Director of the Directorate Neighbourhood South and Türkiye of the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (EU DG NEAR).
More than a decade after its launch, the South Programme continues to support democratic reforms in the Southern Mediterranean and to address global challenges, such as ending violence against women and children and protecting personal data, and combating transnational crimes, such as trafficking in human beings and economic crimes. Innovative action in reinforcing capacities of partners and institutions in the region include the University for Democracy for the Southern Mediterranean (UniDem Med) network and the Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) training programme.
The fifth phase of the South Programme introduces the provision of legislative support through the “Quick Response Mechanism”, which is tailored to the needs of partners. The South Programme continues to promote common standards as enshrined in Council of Europe conventions and to foster regional dialogue and cooperation. Furthermore, action empowering youth, civil society and women organisations, benefit from the long-standing expertise and networks of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe.