European Commission for Democracy through Law
The European Commission for Democracy through Law - better known as the Venice Commission as it meets in Venice - is the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters.
The role of the Venice Commission is to provide legal advice to its member states and, in particular, to help states wishing to bring their legal and institutional structures into line with European standards and international experience in the fields of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
It also helps to ensure the dissemination and consolidation of a common constitutional heritage, playing a unique role in conflict management, and provides “emergency constitutional aid” to states in transition.
The Commission has 61 member states: the 47 Council of Europe member states, plus 14 other countries (Algeria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Mexico, Peru, Tunisia and the USA). The European Commission and OSCE/ODIHR participate in the plenary sessions of the Commission.
Its individual members are university professors of public and international law, supreme and constitutional court judges, members of national parliaments and a number of civil servants. They are designated for four years by the member states, but act in their individual capacity. Mr Gianni BUQUICCHIO, Italy, has been President of the Commission since December 2009.
The Commission works in three areas: • democratic institutions and fundamental rights • constitutional justice and ordinary justice • elections, referendums and political parties.
The Commission shares the standards and best practices adopted within the countries of the Council of Europe and beyond its borders notably in neighboring countries.
Its permanent secretariat is located in Strasbourg, France, at the headquarters of the Council of Europe. Its plenary sessions are held in Venice, Italy, at the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista, four times a year (March, June, October and December).