EUROPEAN LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEK 2011

“HUMAN RIGHTS AT LOCAL LEVEL”

This document is also available in the following languages:
FrenchEnglishItalianGermanSpanishPolish - Russian

20 Thematic ideas

Generally speaking one might think that rights and freedoms are the responsibility of central governments, and that international bodies are the guardians of such universal values. This is wrong. Human rights are an integral part of democracy, and local democracy incorporates full respect for human rights. In addition, many human rights and freedoms are usually implemented at local level, as is the case for many social and civic rights (e.g. equal access to public services, protection of disadvantaged people, elderly people, minorities, etc). But very often local authorities are not aware of this.

This year, European Local Democracy Week aims to raise awareness of the local dimension of human rights, so as to render both local authorities and citizens, guardians of human rights and actors in local democracy.

We have explored four main domains of local policies, and 20 thematic ideas are presented in this document, to be developed and implemented with citizens during the ELDW 2011, thus enabling local communities to become more cohesive, tolerant and respectful of human rights and freedoms.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I . Disseminate a culture of human rights 2

II. Promote social rights and access to public services and support structures 3

III. Promote access to public life for less represented groups 4

IV. The human rights mediator/ombudsman office 5

I . Disseminate a culture of human rights

Human rights protection has been a fundamental issue since the atrocities of the Second World War, and in 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal declaration of Human Rights.
In 1953 the Council of Europe adopted the European Convention on Human Rights, which constituted a milestone for enforcing democracy throughout the European continent in the post-war reconstruction and stands as a perennial reference.
Fifty years later, in 2000, preparing for its enlargement to the Eastern European countries, the European Union adopted the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, reaffirming the corpus of freedoms and rights of the earlier European Convention.
Raising awareness of the long path travelled by several generations in the name of these values is extremely important for enhancing solidarity, respect and tolerance in our communities.

Cultural activities

Youth cultural and intercultural activities

II. Promote social rights and access to public services and support structures

Public and support services are commonly open to all citizens, but disadvantaged people, for different reasons, are far from being fully informed of them. This very often happens to elderly people, people with disabilities, young people in difficulties, families dealing with poverty and immigrants. Financial crisis and sudden unemployment might increase these areas of distress and social exclusion.
The following initiatives aim to encounter the citizens where they live, anticipating and preventing the risk of distress.

Counter the onset of disadvantages

Promoting social inclusion of immigrants and minorities

Prevent abuses and sexual exploitation

Environmental rights
Providing all residents with human living conditions in a community is crucial to the preservation of security and safety.
Environmental protection and remediation of polluted areas guarantees citizens the right to safe and healthy conditions. Drinking water and sanitation are also primary services.

III. Promote access to public life for less represented groups

Many activities may meet the challenge of securing equal opportunities to the different target groups of citizens and residents in taking part in public life, avoiding any kind of discrimination. By overcoming cultural resistance or lack of self-confidence, people will be more stimulated to take part in public life.

Participatory initiatives

Promoting the freedom to associate and meet in peaceful assembly

IV. The human rights mediator/ombudsman office