Perspectives 2020: Democracy in Europe - Principles and Challenges
Session of the Forum for the Future
of democracy -
19-21 October 2010)
acquis on democracy
Guests and experts
the crossroads of cultures
Council of Europe has a unique strategic role to play in
strengthening good democratic governance at all levels in the
European space'' (..) Democracy, or rather good democratic governance, is now
not only intrinsically linked to the respect of human rights but
is also recognised as the most effective form of governance to
ensure stability, sustainability and well-being. ''This is what
I call deep security,'' said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.
The Yerevan Forum addressed the principles of democratic
governance by analysing their application to, and their repercussions
on, contemporary political and societal changes in Council of Europe
Democracy Fairwas organised as a
complement to the plenary and working sessions of the Forum. It
was visited by up to 400 participants from the 47 Council of
Europe member States and its observer States, as well as
representatives of civil society and academia.
Reflections from our
"Continuing to build a truly just
society is certainly not simple. It requires political will, popular
support and resources. It requires legislation influenced by human
rights principles; a competent, non-corrupt judiciary; a disciplined
police force; a system for independent monitoring; a political
culture which is open for criticism and ready to take action for
reform. And it requires the courage to dream."
(Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights)
governments have operated in a vacuum, believing they could come up
with some magic formula to which they have an elusive patent. In a
democracy, government isn't something that a small group of people
do to everybody else, it's not even something they do for everybody
else, it should be something they do with everybody else." (Kim
Campbell, Former Prime Minister of Canada).
when the principle underlying democracy - that all men and women are
equal - is demonstrated to each and every voter. (..) It is not
enough for us to just rest on our laurels. I believe it is a very
important part of being a democrat to be constantly critical and
look at oneself". (Maria Leissner, Swedish Ambassador for
"The presence of good
governance principles help to sustain democracy and underpin
democratic principles and determine their successful
implementation." (Peter Ashman, Human Rights and democracy
Advisor, United Kingdom).
must be the underlying political regime for the effective
realisation of human rights (..). The respect of rights is itself a
tool for democratisation and maintaining democratic standards."
(Basak çali, Lecturer
in Human Rights, University College London)
"Political parties have
been widely regarded as the backbone of democracy, performing such
vital functions as presenting candidates for office, representing
various social groups, aggregating interests, and integrating
citizens into the political process. Yet they appear to be
underperforming". (Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Professor of democracy
studies, Hertie School of Governance, Germany)
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Council of Europe
- Forum for the Future of Democracy Secretariat
Directorate General of Democracy and Political Affairs
"Democracy is the government of the
people by the people. Its basic principles are the rule of law and
the separation of powers. Under a democratic system, the rule of law
governs the functioning of the government and administration, and
confers on judges the power to verify whether the administration has
complied with that rule."
Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly - Resolution
on the principles of democracy.
"Strengthening local and regional democracy and securing respect for
human rights are among the Council of Europe's main aims because a
properly functioning democracy provides one of the foundations for
peace and stability in Europe."
Council of Europe
Conference of Ministers responsible for Local and Regional
Government - "Good local and regional governance in turbulent times:
the challenge of change" (16th session, Utrecht, 16-17 November
It is essential that young people learn about participation and
democracy while in school and that courses on democracy,
participation and citizenship are available and properly resourced.
However school must also be a place where young people experience
democracy in action and where their participation in decision-making
is supported, promoted and is seen as effective."
(..)The active participation of young people in decisions and
actions at local and regional level is essential if we are to build
more democratic, inclusive and prosperous societies. Participation
in the democratic life of any community is about more than voting or
standing for election, although these are important elements.
Participation and active citizenship is about having the right, the
means, the space and the opportunity and where necessary the support
to participate in and influence decisions and engage in actions and
activities so as to contribute to building a better society.
Committee of Ministers
Recommendation Rec(2004)13 to member states on the participation
of young people in local and regional life (adopted by the committee
of Ministers on 17 November 2004, at the 904th meeting of the
The Assembly notes that [the recent financial crises] have hit
countries where democracy is weak, incomplete or even absent, while
the more fully developed democracies have on the whole withstood
their international impact. This points to the importance of
democracy for lasting economic development, including respect for
human rights, the rule of law, social justice and solidarity,
transparency and accountability in public affairs, and independent
judiciary, a free press and a firm stance against "cronyism",
corruption and economic crime. Similarly, economic development can
lead a country to a stage where more democracy will not only be
possible but even necessary for economic development to go further.
(..) Member states of the Council of Europe - an organisation
founded on these very values - must work actively with other
like-minded countries and international institutions to draw
attention to the importance of democracy for economic and social
development and the stability of the international economic system.
They must also do their utmost, individually and jointly, to improve
further the functioning of their own democracies in all the above
Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assembly - Resolution 1209 (2000) - Democracy and economic