Minister for Europe Nusrat Ghani gave a speech at the Council of Europe foreign ministers’ meeting in Strasbourg on 17 May 2024.

Nusrat Ghani MP

Thank you Domenique and Maria for bringing us together.

For 75 years, this Council has stood as a beacon of hope, unity and progress.

Those who founded this venerable institution in 1949 had lived through two world wars. They were the pioneers of a new era of peace in Europe, founded on the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Today we stand in their shoes. With the burning desire to live up to their legacy of hope.

Yet, once again, war is raging in Europe. An appalling, unjust, brutal war against Ukraine.

Together, we have united in standing up for Ukraine and its people – swiftly suspending and expelling Russia, and using all the tools at our disposal to help our Ukrainian friends, including the Register of Damage that will be a crucial means of documenting and preserving evidence of the damage, loss, and injury caused by Russia’s invasion.

There are, of course, many other fine examples of our united action to meet the challenges of today. To live up to the hopes of those founding fathers.

From the leading role this Council played in abolishing the death penalty, to improving standards throughout the Continent to adopting our Convention on Artificial Intelligence.

That Convention is a perfect example of this Council evolving to tackle 21st century problems. But we must not rest on our laurels. We must continue to evolve, to meet head-on the challenges of today – and tomorrow.

Like the scourge of people smuggling – we must crush the business model of the criminal gangs preying on vulnerable people.

And ensure that the ECHR system, which has protected so many people over so many years, remains fit for purpose.

And we must welcome those who share our ideals to join us in our mission.

The UK has long supported Kosovo’s ambition to join this Council – we continue to support that ambition, and I hope we will be able to welcome them soon. Because it is clear, the last 7-and-a-half decades have shown us, that there is strength in unity.

As Winston Churchill put it at the founding of this Council:

Our hopes and our work point to an era of peace, prosperity and abundance.

Yes, it is true – that remains a hope, not a reality right now. But together, united in purpose and resolve, we can get there. Thank you.