Winter session: Finnish President addresses the Assembly

Strasbourg, 21-25 January 2019

Adopting its final agenda at the opening of the 2019 Winter Session, the Assembly held urgent debates on Thursday, on "The escalation of tensions around the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait and threats to European security" (morning) and on "The worsening situation of opposition politicians in Turkey: what to do to protect their fundamental rights in a Council of Europe member State?" (afternoon)

The President of Finland delivered a speech. In addition, the Finnish Foreign Minister presented the Communication from the Committee of Ministers and the Organisation's Secretary General addressed the Assembly.

The Assembly held a joint debate on public service media in the context of disinformation and propaganda and media freedom as a condition for democratic elections. It also discussed Internet governance and human rights.

During its session, PACE updated guidelines for fair referendums and examined the compatibility of Sharia law with the European Convention on Human Rights. It was also invited to assess if withdrawing nationality as a measure to combat terrorism is a human rights-compatible approach and discussed the promotion of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.

Other debates focused on fighting impunity by targeted sanctions in the case of Sergei Magnitsky and others, ensuring better follow-up to recommendations by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and the progress of PACE's monitoring procedure in 2018, together with periodic reviews of the honouring of obligations by Iceland and Italy.

A second joint debate focused on discrimination in access to employment and the need for a disability-inclusive workforce.

At a ceremony in the plenary, PACE members pledged to take action in their national parliaments to eradicate sexism, harassment and violence against women, following the initiative by the Assembly's President #NotInMyParliament.