The Council of Europe is an international organization promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation including heritage. The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by the Treaty of London and now has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens.
It is not controlled by, and should not be confused with, the European Union. Unlike the European Union, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws. However it has an important 'moral' influence, especially in the fields of its competence.
Article 1(a) of the Statute states that "The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress."
It was the Council of Europe who designated 1975 as the European Architectural Heritage Year and who lays at the origins of the European Heritage Days / Journées européennes du Patrimoine