Special guest status

In order to facilitate the process of accession of the countries from Central and Eastern Europe, the Assembly introduced in 1989 a so-called special guest status, applicable to all national legislative assemblies of European non-member states, which have signed the Helsinki Final Act (1975) and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. The status is now open to parliaments whose member states have applied for membership to the Council of Europe.The decision to grant special guest status is taken by the Bureau of the PACE.

The National Assembly of Belarus obtained the status on 16 September 1992 but it was suspended on 13 January 1997 by a decision of the Bureau. The number of seats allocated to each special guest delegation is the same (although without substitutes) as that likely to be attributed when becoming a full member.

Special guests have many rights in the Assembly and in committees (except in the Joint Committee, the Monitoring Commitee and the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs), with the exception of the right to vote or to stand for election.