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Enlarged’ Standing Committee: debates on the impact of COVID-19 and the challenges of artificial intelligence

The Standing Committee (*) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will meet successively on 12 and 13 October, then on 22 and 23 October, by video-conference. This “enlarged” meeting replaces the October part-session of PACE and will allow all PACE members to take the floor – however, only members of the Standing Committee will have the right to vote.

Highlights of the meetings include debates on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of artificial intelligence.

Two current affairs debates have been requested, the first one on the “New crack down of political and social opposition in Turkey: how to safeguard human rights, fundamental freedoms and the protection of Turkish citizens by the European Court of Human Rights”, and the second one on “Armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, failure of peaceful conflict resolution and a risk to regional stability”.

Meeting of 12-13 October

On 12 October, after the opening of the meeting by PACE President Rik Daems, the parliamentarians will hold an exchange of views with Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (to be confirmed). They will continue with a second exchange of views with Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD.

On 13 October, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, is due to address the Standing Committee. Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, will present her annual activity report for 2019. The day will also be devoted to a series of debates on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on democracies, human rights and the rule of law, equality, as well as on migrants and refugees.

Meeting of 22-23 October

On 22 October, several debates will be held on the challenges of artificial intelligence, in particular: the need for democratic governance of AI; the role of AI in policing and criminal justice systems; discrimination caused by AI; threats to fundamental freedoms; medical, legal and ethical challenges in the field of health care; consequences on labour markets; and legal aspects of ‘autonomous vehicles’.

On the following day, discussions will focus on the principles and guarantees of advocates; the gender dimension of foreign policy; and threats to academic freedom and autonomy of universities in Europe.

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