Council of Europe

I love my surname Zwerver. It means wanderer, vagabond or tramp.
What I like even more is living according to it. As a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe I did exactly that.

Speech Ans Zwerver for the Council of Europe seminar "Unity in Diversity" organized by the Dutch National Youth Council.

A two-day forum organised by the Council of Europe will discuss how Europe can respond to growing feelings of insecurity among its citizens. Forum 2003, which takes place on 23 and 24 October at the Council's headquarters in Strasbourg, will ask why people are feeling less safe and less confident about the future, despite rising living standards.

I was one of the speakers in this Forum 2003.

The member states of the Council of Europe have a great deal in common regarding housing policies: demographic developments with an increasing ageing population, integration policies and placement policies for the migrants in their societies.

The Mexico City Policy, the pro-life centerpiece of Bush administration foreign policy, was attacked on two separate fronts this week. On Tuesday, the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly voted 89 to 8 to condemn the Mexico City Policy and to encourage President Bush to rescind it.

Some newspaper articles:

This weeks issue of the well-known British magazine The Economist contains an article on the impact of the Mexico City Policy, entitled Pregnant pause.
The article explains how the laudable efforts of the current American administration to step up the fight against HIV/AIDS worldwide is being undermined by the Mexico City Policy which the same administration reinstated in January 2001.

[29/09/03 13:00:00] In her report on policies for the integration of immigrants in Council of Europe member states, Ana Zwerver, Dutch member of parliament and member of the Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, says that all immigrants should be granted the right to vote in local elections. As she told our interviewer, the right to vote gives people the sense of belonging to society. In many countries there is also opposition to the concept of dual nationality. Here we can learn from the example of the United States. Too often, she says, immigrants are seen as a threat and as potential criminals.

The Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men is very concerned by the increasing number of delegations with a very low representation of women and even delegations composed exclusively of male parliamentarians. Therefore, in 2001, I initiated a motion for a resolution on gender-balanced representation in the Assembly, which suggested several changes in the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure aimed at a better respect of the principle of gender equality in the work of the Assembly.

M. Kroupa, Czech Republic, EPP/CD, made the report
Gender-balanced representation in the Parliamentary Assembly

It is a very good report, but I felt that the report could be more explicit.
That is why I wrote the following opinion in which I propose some amendments.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that, every year, over 500.000 women die worldwide as a result of pregnancy related causes; seven million more become ill or disabled. In addition, some 40 million abortions occur each year, often under unsafe conditions – claiming some 70.000 extra female lives. In the developing world, pregnancy and childbirth remain the greatest single threat to a woman’s health in her reproductive years. Contrary to popular belief, Europe is also concerned by this blight.

Integration policies for immigrants have been the object of the attention of the Council of Europe since its very creation. The events of 11 September, however, have threatened to undermine the progress achieved by Council of Europe member states in this area. Before then, the international community and governments were involved in a comprehensive debate on fostering the rights of migrants, improving their integration and participation in society, preventing illegal border crossing and establishing clear and transparent channels for legal migration. Since 11 September the immigration debate has been dominated by security and border control concerns. Governments have changed their political priorities: the legitimate aim of the fight against terrorism has been accompanied by a tightening of immigration policies while integration has taken second place. Besides, 11 September has affected the public opinion's perception of foreigners and national and religious minorities, especially those issued from immigration, who are now often seen as a potential threat to national security and to fundamental values of host societies.

Strasbourg, 25 June - By adopting the report by Ans Zwerver (Netherlands, SOC), the Assembly today asked for more help for the victims of human trafficking and demanded stronger measures against those benefiting from this criminal trade. The trafficking of women for prostitution - often poorer women duped by criminal gangs - has turned into a gigantic, highly-organised international criminal trade which violates womens' dignity, depriving them of their liberty and in some cases their lives.

The resolution proposes to Council of Europe member states to:

· develop legal migration channels so that women are less vulnerable to traffickers
· introduce harsher penalties for traffickers
· provide more help for victims, including residence permits on humanitarian grounds,
· do more to reduce the poverty which drives this abusive trade.

- Adopted texts: resolution & recommendation

Hundreds of thousands of people fled Yugoslavia and then Kosovo between 1991 and 1999 and sought asylum in Western Europe. Many of these were Roma and each person brought with them stories of fear and violence. Voluntary return programmes have been on going, but today, now that fighting has finished, forcible return programmes of Roma and other groups are being concluded and one between Germany and Serbia and Montenegro has already begun.

I was member of the Council Of Europe fact-finding mission to Serbia and Montenegro in february this year.

Eind juni wordt mijn rapport "Migration connected with trafficking in women and prostitution" in de plenaire vergadering van de Raad van Europa besproken.
Het rapport is aangenomen door de Commissie Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.

Het is nog steeds mogelijk om amendementen in te dienen.

Hieronder volgt de tekst van het rapport.

The Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, is a policy of the US administration which cuts funding to any organisation outside the United States which is involved in any abortion-related activity. It is important to understand that such funding is not to provide abortions per se, the US has prohibited use of its funds for abortion provision since the 1970s, but rather the funding of related activities such as counselling and/or referral and of any organisation involved in such activities, even when these activities are funded by other donors.

At this moment I am working on my report "Impact of the Reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy by the United States of America".
What you read here is a revised outline of the report.
I welcome comments and suggestions for this report, especially suggestions for a new title.

De parlementaire Assemblée van de Raad van Europa heeft zich vandaag uitgesproken voor de komst van een Tsjetsjenië-Tribunaal. Dit tegen de zin van de Russische delegatie en Moskou. Zij zien niets in dit plan en kondigden al aan een dergelijk tribunaal te gaan boycotten.

Het is koud in Yerevan. Het regent. De stad ligt er verlaten en troosteloos bij. De straatverlichting doet het niet. De weg zit vol gaten en kuilen.
Welkom in Yerevan.

Op het vliegveld in Yerevan worden we hartelijk welkom geheten door Mary Khachatryan, diecteur van FPA (Family Planning Association) Armenië en haar man Albert.
Ik ben een weekje in Armenië voor een fact-finding missie in het kader van mijn rapport over de Global Gag Rule.

Hieronder volgt een verslag van de missie.

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