Council of Europe (German: Europarat), loose association of states founded by 10 European countries in 1949; headquarters in Strasbourg (France). Austria adhered to the Council on March 8, 1956. By 1999 membership in the Council of Europe had increased to 41; its objective is the promotion of the principles and ideals of the common European heritage. In 1950 the member countries signed the European Human Rights Convention and in 1959 established the European Court of Human Rights. By 1999 some 173 conventions and agreements had been adopted in such fields as human rights, environmental protection, minorities etc. Organs: Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly, Secretariat-General and others.
In 1999 the Austrian W. Schwimmer was elected Secretary General. Two other Austrians had fulfilled this function before him: L. Tončić-Sorinj (1969-1974) and F. Karasek (1979-1984). Another Austrian, K. Czernetz was president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 1975-1978.