Airpaq in the Council of Europe

Airpaq im Europarat | Airpaq UG
For six months, Germany chairs the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and selects Airpaq backpacks, among other products, as gifts for high-ranking guests.

Every six months, the 47 member states of the Council of Europe take turns chairing the Committee of Ministers, and since November 18, Germany has now followed Greece in holding the chairmanship. Since its foundation more than 70 years ago, the Council of Europe has been committed to promoting human rights. Time and again, visits by important guests are honored with selected gift items from Germany. For example, sculptures of the Berlin Bear, or this time even our Airpaq backpacks, bearing the logo of the German Chairmanship. We are very happy about this honor to represent Germany with our sustainable products in the context of the Council of Europe. And because we find the work of the Council of Europe so important, we would like to tell you in this blog article about its work and the goals of the German Presidency.

Außenminister Heiko Mass steht mit Maske neben einer Frau, die auch Maske trägt, vor einem Tisch mit verschiedenen Artikeln. Beide halten einem Bären in der Hand

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas with a selection of guest gifts  (©photothek)

A Europe without borders visualized with a logo

For some time now, Airpaq has offered the option of having backpacks and accessories customized before purchase, i.e. having the products printed or embroidered with a personal logo or slogan. The German Foreign Office has also taken advantage of this option and ordered several backpacks for the German chairmanship of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers. In future, these will be given to high-ranking guests such as participants at various conferences or foreign diplomats. The logo used, which can also be seen on our backpacks, was created as part of a school competition. Several schools from the German-French border region around Strasbourg took part. For the students in this region, Europe is omnipresent every day, because their lives naturally take place across national borders. Highlighting common values was the goal of many of the participating students' designs. In the end, a depiction of three figures in black, red and gold in front of a European flag prevailed (Auswärtiges Amt (2020): German Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe). The combination of the "colors of the German flag and the symbol of Europe creates a symbol of diversity in action," says Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office. (Deutsche Botschaft Luxemburg (2020): Deutscher Vorsitz im Ministerkomitee des Europarats).

Zwei blaue Rucksäcke von Airpaq mit zwei verschiedenen Logos des Vorsitzes Deutschlands im Europarat im unteren Teil des Rucksacks.

Two Airpaq backpacks with the logo of the Presidency of the Council of Europe (©Stefania Carniato) 

What is the Council of Europe?

Founded on May 5, 1949, as the first major European post-war organization, the Council of Europe is primarily concerned with the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. From Greenland to Russia - with the exception of Belarus and Kosovo - a total of 47 member states, 800 million Europeans and thus almost all European territorial states belong to this international organization based in Strasbourg. Attention, risk of confusion with the European Council: 47 member states of the European continent are represented in the Council of Europe, but it is not an organ of the European Union. The European Council, on the other hand, consists of the 27 heads of state and government of the European Union and usually meets in Brussels. All 27 EU member states of the European Council are also represented in the Council of Europe. (Die Bundesregierung (2020): Deutschland übernimmt Vorsitz – Fragen und Antworten. Europarat: das Gewissen Europas). 

What does the Council of Europe do?

With its member states, the Council of Europe has established a binding legal framework. More than 200 conventions and protocols have been agreed in its seventy-year career. These include, for example, the Istanbul Convention, the so-called Convention against Torture or the European Social Charter. The Istanbul Convention was drawn up in 2011 and is a convention on "preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence".

(BMFSFJ (2018): Verhütung und Bekämpfung von Gewalt gegen Frauen und häuslicher Gewalt).

The Convention against Torture entered into force in 1987 and created a European Committee for the "Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment"

(Brummer (2008): Der Europarat. Eine Einführung).

The European Social Charter (ESC) was adopted in 1961 by the majority of the members of the Council of Europe and is a "binding agreement under international law that guarantees comprehensive social rights to the population within the signatory states"

(Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (2019): Europäische Sozialcharta). 

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The most important convention within the Council of Europe is the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), signed in Rome in 1950

(Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (2020): Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention (EMRK)).

Signing it is obligatory for every state that wants to become a member of the Council of Europe. Thus, the ECHR is applicable law in all 47 member states. "It guarantees people important fundamental rights, for example the right to life, the prohibition of torture or the freedom of expression". (Die Bundesregierung (2020): Deutschland übernimmt Vorsitz – Fragen und Antworten. Europarat: das Gewissen Europas).

Since 1998, there has also been the possibility for anyone to file a complaint "against a violation of their rights under the Convention before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg" (so-called "individual complaint"). Individual member states can also bring an action before the ECtHR for a violation of the Convention by another member state ("state complaint") (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (2020): Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention (EMRK)). "Member States are bound by the Court's judgments. With its judgments, the ECtHR has thus been able to massively strengthen the commitment of human rights defenders time and again" (Die Bundesregierung (2020): Deutschland übernimmt Vorsitz – Fragen und Antworten. Europarat: das Gewissen Europas).

Außenminister Heiko Maas sitzt vor einem Pult mit Mikrofonen drauf.

Heiko Maas at the virtual takeover of the presidency (©photothek)

What does Germany want to achieve during its presidency of the Council of Europe?

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is made up of the foreign ministers of the member states and decides on the Council of Europe's policies. During its chairmanship, Germany would like to devote its attention not only to the Council of Europe's core competencies - democracy, human rights and the rule of law - but also to combating hate speech on the Internet and the issue of artificial intelligence. "[The] dream of a more peaceful, just and tolerant Europe is not a self-fulfilling prophecy . It challenges us anew every day," emphasized Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the virtual assumption of the presidency (Auswärtiges Amt (2020): Pressekonferenz: Übernahme Vorsitz im Ministerkomitee des Europarats).

Pursuing the EU's accession to the ECHR is another important goal for Germany. To draw attention to these and other issues, conferences and citizens' dialogues will be organized until the end of the presidency in May 2021.


1 Comment

  • Joachim Bauer

    Hello. I am working at a big car supplier and me and my group are responsible for Airbag controller software. We celebrated in 2020 40 years of airbag and 90.000 saved life’s til today. I just ordered a bag as gift for a group member who leaves for a new position. I like to get more info about your doings. Are you aware that people that buy your airpaqs are carrying a released “Schutzengel” for anyone’s health or life?
    Regards Joachim


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