Challenges to Democracy and Human Rights in Europe -

Forum for the Future of Democracy (Stockholm and Sigtuna,

13-15 June 2007)

Strasbourg, 11.06.2007 - Today more Europeans live in democracies than ever before. However, despite this unprecedented and favourable context, lack of confidence in the democratic system as a whole is growing among European citizens. Declining turnout in elections, political disaffection, distrust of politicians and the challenges of globalisation, are all challenging and threatening the very foundations of democracy in Europe.

The theme of the 2007 Council of Europe Forum on the Future of Democracy is "Power and empowerment - the interdependence of democracy and human rights". The Forum takes place in Stockholm and Sigtuna in Sweden from 13-15 June and is hosted by the Swedish Government, the Swedish Parliament and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.

400 participants from all over Europe and from many sectors of the European societies, including citizen-activists, will discuss a wide range of subjects. The keynote speech on the theme of Power and Empowerment will be given by Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, as the first item after the opening of the Forum.

The Forum opens on 13 June at the Swedish Parliament (Rikdagen) at 13h30 with a welcome address by Per Westerberg, Speaker of the Riksdag. The opening speeches include statements by Vuk Jeremic, Serbia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, René van der Linden, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Ms Nyamko Sabuni, the Swedish Minister for Integration and Gender Equality, Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe and Halvdan Skard, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

Immediately before the opening there will be a press briefing at 13h00 at the Riksdagen. Please contact the press desk for accreditation and more details.

On 14 June the Forum continues with discussions of sub-themes at four different venues in Sigtuna. There will be a press centre for journalists at the Sigtuna Stadshotell.

The following day, 15 June, the results of the discussions will be presented at a plenary session at Arlanda Conference and Business Centre. As the last item (at 12h00) the Forum conclusions will be presented by the general rapporteurs.

For further information on the Forum, see www.sweden.gov.se/democracyforum
The Forum programme can be found under "Information to delegates and agenda for the Forum".

To receive our press releases by e-mail, contact : Council.of.Europe.Press@coe.int

A political organisation set up in 1949, the Council of Europe works to promote democracy and human rights continent-wide. It also develops common responses to social, cultural and legal challenges in its 47 member states.