Switzerland celebrates the 50th anniversary of its accession to the Council of Europe, which took place on 6 May 1963.
Although Switzerland has always placed respect for the will of the people at the heart of its political system while according prime importance to the protection of the rights of individuals, its accession to the Council of Europe in 1963 has had a significant influence on the development of fundamental rights within the country.
Accession has above all enabled Switzerland to take part in debates and to have its voice heard. Through accession, Switzerland now has the opportunity to share its experience with the other countries and to participate closely in the definition of norms with regard to human rights, rule of law and democracy at the European level.
Fifty years after accession, the Council of Europe remains for Switzerland an important place to meet and debate issues of relevance for the whole region. This forum gives Switzerland the opportunity to participle fully, and on an equal footing with other member states, in European co-operation in the field of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. The enlargement of the European Union, doubling its membership in the last 20 years, has forced the Council of Europe to redefine its role within the European multilateral architecture. Although many themes are now addressed in Brussels rather than Strasbourg, it is within the Council of Europe that European states create and monitor all the standards and laws that apply throughout the continent. This role remains essential for the success of the political transition processes under way in Eastern and Southern Europe. The experience and knowhow of the Council of Europe have also aroused a certain interest in the Mediterranean region among those countries currently searching for stability and prosperity.