Updated: Jun 24, 2021
(European Stability Initiative Report) – Can basic international norms be undermined by corruption? Can international politics be fundamentally reshaped by the personal greed of politicians? These are among the most important questions in global politics today. When it comes to the Council of Europe, guardian of the European Convention of Human Rights and, since its creation in 1949, the leading intergovernmental human rights institution in the world, the answer to both questions is yes.
In recent years, the leaders of Azerbaijan, a small autocracy in the Caucasus, have shown how easy it is to undermine core human rights standards and bend a formerly proud institution to its will. They have done so in close cooperation with Russia, and with the active support of elected politicians from across Europe, including from some of its oldest democracies. In the process, they filled a rolodex with names of politicians across the continent who have something to hide and can be blackmailed in the future. Nobody should have illusions that these methods are restricted to the Council of Europe. Nobody should assume that it is only Azerbaijan that is exploiting the greed of politicians. And it is not only the massive corruption that should worry us.