Strasbourg — The Council of Europe, a pan-continental rights watchdog, on Sunday marked its 70th anniversary at a time of mounting populism and a standoff with Russia as well as doubts over its own role in the modern world. “I didn’t know about it at all, this is really completely new to me,” admitted Zeinila, an 18-year-old student who was visiting the building hosting the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, in northeastern France, during an open day to mark its anniversary. The 70-year-old body suffers from being often confused with the EU Council. But its 47-nation membership stretches far beyond the EU’s reaches to include the likes of Russia, Turkey, Switzerland, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Britain’s World War 2 leader Winston Churchill was the first to suggest the creation of such a body back in 1942, at the height of the war, when he expressed the hope that “the European family may act unitedly as one under a Council of Europe”. The rights body was created through the Treaty of Lo...

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