Internal quarrelling marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Council of Europe, with the mandate of Terry Davis as Secretary-General having only weeks left to run. The parliamentary assembly of the continent’s top human rights watchdog has cancelled its election of a replacement for Davis.
This is in protest over the Committee of Ministers’ passing over the assembly’s candidates in favour of its own. Committe Chairman Samuel Zbogar said its choice was definitive: “The Committee of Ministers decided and made it known that it would scrutinize all proposed candidates in order to retain only those who meet the criteria of ability, integrity and suitability to a higher degree.” Ever since 1957 secretary-generals have been drawn from within the parliamentary assembly. One of its proposed candidates is Luc Van den Brande. “We say that when we go on missions in the Council’s 47 member countries that it’s necessary to have free elections, that one must be able to give one’s opinion. In this instance it is not the case.” Davis steps down at the end of August. Deputy Secretary-General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio will fill in until Europe’s oldest political body finds a way forward.