On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, a round table on "A Charter for the future of our communities" took place on 26 October 2010 during the 19th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
Speakers at the debate
Ulrich Bohner, former Secretary General of the Congress
Introducing the round table, Ulrich Bohner, former Secretary General of the Congress, said: "As well as recognising the need for devolution, the Charter took forward our understanding of democracy, reflecting our conviction that local democracy is a component part of democracy itself, and not just a tribute paid to the growing power of local authorities".
Robert Hertzog, Professor at the University of Strasbourg
"The great originality of the Charter is that it is addressed to two different groups. As an international Convention, it requires signatory States to comply with it, and as a product of the Congress, it is also the political instrument of its power, at one and the same time a body of doctrine and a legal reference point", said Robert Hertzog, Professor at the University of Strasbourg, as he put forward a historical analysis of the role of this legal instrument in the development of local and regional democracy. He emphasised that "the effectiveness of the principles of the Charter is nevertheless subject to some uncertainties; hence the extreme importance of external supervision by both the Congress and the Committee of Ministers". The Congress is in practice the sole body responsible for supervising application of the principles set out in the Charter, through regular monitoring in the 44 countries which have ratified it.
Claude Haegi, former President of the Congress
Claude Haegi, former President of the Congress, emphasised the relevance of the Charter, particularly to the meeting of new challenges in fields such as sustainable development and immigration. "Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Charter means drawing inspiration from the spirit of a text which contains not only rights, but also duties and responsibilities to be carried out with a clear vision, as our populations would wish. This anniversary will be all the more significant if, once it has been celebrated, the Congress sets itself the challenge of committing itself even more actively, and undogmatically, to a new approach to immigration issues, thanks to the will of its members and the resources granted to it by the Council of Europe member States", he concluded.