The EU/Council of Europe joint programme “Ensuring sustainable democratic governance and human rights in the Southern Mediterranean”, known as the South Programme III (2018-2020), held its Regional Steering Committee meeting in Brussels on 16-17 September 2019. The programme is funded by the European Union, and co-funded and implemented by the Council of Europe.
The South Programme III aims at reinforcing human rights, the rule of law and democracy in the Southern Mediterranean region in line with European standards. Since its launch in March 2018, the programme has helped national authorities in the region work towards acceding to certain Council of Europe conventions and partial agreements, using a demand-driven approach.
The Regional Steering Committee meeting brought together more than 70 participants, including government officials, parliamentarians and representatives of the judiciary and civil society organisations from the Southern Mediterranean region, as well as representatives of the EU and Council of Europe. Participants took stock of success stories and lessons learned from the implementation of the programme, and also exchanged views on new prospects for co-operation.
The fight against violence against women, which is a priority of the joint programme, was a key focus of the meeting. Participants concluded that this topic remains of crucial importance and that efforts to promote the Council of Europe’s “Istanbul Convention” on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence should continue to be a priority in future work.