The Council of Europe, set up in 1949, is a political intergovernmental organisation which groups 47 pluralist democracies. Its permanent headquarters is situated at Palais de l'Europe, in Strasbourg, France.
The Council of Europe operates through three main bodies:
the Committee of Ministers, its decision-making body, composed of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the 47 member states or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg.
the Parliamentary Assembly, its deliberative body, with 315 members and 315 substitutes from the 47 national parliaments, as well as special guest delegations from non-member countries.
An international Secretariat serves these bodies and is headed by Secretary General, elected for a five-year period.
In Strasbourg is also situated the European Court of Human Rights, which, though belonging to the institutions of the Council of Europe, has its own, separate and independent role in the protection of human rights in Europe.