On September 22nd, 1976, Portugal deposited the instrument of accession to the pan-European organization, becoming its 19th Member State. Mário Soares was Prime Minister and José Medeiros Ferreira Minister of Foreign Affairs.
One of the oldest European political organisations, founded in 1949, the Council of Europe includes 47 Member States and is based on three pillars: human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The Council of Europe's achievements are numerous. The most emblematic are the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, which constituted the first international system of human rights protection. But also, the fact that it is a geographical area totally free of the death penalty: the abolition of capital punishment is a condition for membership of the organisation.
The action of the Council of Europe extends to the protection of children, the promotion of gender equality, the protection of minorities, combating racism, preventing torture and monitoring the treatment of people deprived of liberty, the defence of freedom of expression, legal and judicial cooperation, the fight against corruption and various forms of crime, and improving the quality of justice. It also covers social rights, education and culture.
Portugal is party to most conventions concluded within the framework of the CoE. Throughout these 45 years, Portugal has had an active and committed participation in the organisation and in the defence of its values.
Portugal hosts, in Lisbon, the headquarters of the "North-South Centre", the Council of Europe's European Centre for World Interdependence and Solidarity. The Centre constitutes a multilateral cooperation platform for the promotion of the rule of law, democracy, and human rights, enhancing dialogue with non-Member States of the Council of Europe, in particular in the Mediterranean, strengthening intercultural and intercivilizational dialogue.
Marking its 45th anniversary, Portugal renews its commitment to the Council of Europe and its values.