In May 1994 a Commissioner on Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Including the Rights of Persons belonging to Minorities was appointed. Since 1994 the office has been held by Professor Ole Espersen, Denmark. A revised mandate was adopted in 1997 and Mr. Espersen was re-appointed for another 3-year term.
At its 9th Ministerial Session in Bergen (21-22 June 2000), the Council took note of the Commissioner’s annual report and expressed its satisfaction with his work. Taking into account the important development towards strengthening democratic institutions and the protection of human rights in the Baltic Sea Region the Council adopted a revised mandate for the Commissioner for the period from 1 October 2000 to 30 September 2003.The Council appointed Ms. Helle Degn (Denmark) as Commissioner of the Council of the Baltic Sea States on Democratic Development until 30 September 2003.
The Commissioner is an instrument for promoting and consolidating democratic development in the Member States, based upon respect of human rights. The Commissioner acts independently and is accountable to the Council.
The Commissioner is guided by the aims, principles and provisions of the UN Charter, the Council of Europe and OSCE standards, as well as other international standards relevant for democracy and human rights, and by relevant documents of the CBSS.
The Commissioner supports the functioning and development of democratic institutions, including human rights institutions, in the Member States, in particular concentrating his/her efforts on such issues as democracy at national, regional and local level, good governance and administration, good law-making, local self-government, strengthening of civil society and promotion of human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
The Commissioner may recommend/organise seminars and meetings on subjects comprising his/her Mandate, serves as a centre for exchange of information on available technical assistance and expertise, national and international programmes aimed at strengthening democratic institutions in the CBSS Member States.
In the beginning of each activity year, the Commissioner presents to the CSO a programme of planned seminars and meetings.
The Commissioner may receive communications from individuals, groups and organisations regarding functioning of democratic institutions and human rights issues. These communications are reviewed by the Commissioner confidentially. On these communications the Commissioner may report to the Council confidentially. The Council may, however, decide to publish the full report or parts of it. If the communications indicate the need for technical assistance, the Commissioner may propose concrete measures to assist CBSS Member States to such effect.
The Commissioner has issued a number of surveys and reports on specific issues. These publications always include recommendations.
The Commissioner participates in the annual meetings of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs. Every year the Office publishes an annual report.