FFD-AB(2010) 9 rev E

Strasbourg, 23 April 2010

Advisory Board
18th meeting
Strasbourg, 23 April 2010

Concept paper
for the 2010 Session of the
Forum for the Future of Democracy
Yerevan, 19-21 October

(as endorsed by the FFD Advisory Board on 23 April)

prepared by the
Directorate General of Democracy and Political Affairs

1. Title
European Democracy in the 21st Century – Principles and Challenges

2. Background
Twenty years on from the end of the Cold War, the Council of Europe bears witness to unprecedented pan-European unity based on the common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. However, the Organisation and its members are fully cognisant of the continued challenges to democracy in Europe. The Forum for the Future of Democracy has been set up to engage our societies in a collective and cross-sectoral analysis of the state of democracy in Europe in order to maintain and further develop effective democratic institutions, processes and practice capable of addressing contemporary challenges.
Governments with democratic legitimacy are required to deliver on both the rights and needs of people or they risk losing legitimacy and public support. This means guaranteeing fundamental freedoms whilst fostering sustainable economic development and sustainable communities, social cohesion, education. In order to achieve this, Governments need to respect, promote and practice democratic governance. Basing democratic governance on a series of clear and solid principles is a key building block to creating and sustaining the “soft security” that facilitates enduring domestic and international peace and social and economic progress.
Principles of democratic governance have been addressed in various thematic contexts in the acquis of the Council of Europe, though at different levels of intensity and comprehensiveness. Amongst other texts, the Council of Europe’s Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level, which brings together a set of twelve principles of good democratic governance at local level, could offer inspiration for the content of the 2010 Forum.

3. Themes
Bearing in mind the aforementioned, the Yerevan Forum will address the principles of democratic governance by analysing their application to, and their repercussions on, contemporary political and societal challenges in Council of Europe member states. In other words, the objective will be to examine the achievements and shortcomings in various policy fields and the respective institutional frameworks through the prism of the principles of democratic governance.
Whilst recognising the variety of political and institutional systems, civil societies and patterns of interactions and mutual reinforcements between different groups and their governments to be found throughout Europe, this analysis will be done with full respect for common principles of pluralist democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
For the purpose of analysis in the framework of the Forum, the principles of democratic governance may be broken down into three clusters: legal framework, institutional requirements and the ethical dimension.
Consequently, the following sub-themes could be addressed in the workshops of the Yerevan Forum:
Sub-theme 1 : The legal framework of democratic governance
For example, rule of law, human rights, accountability, transparency
Sub-theme 2: The institutional requirements of democratic governance
For example, representation and participation, efficiency and effectiveness, responsiveness, competence and capacity, openness to innovation and change
Sub-theme 3: The ethical dimension of democratic governance
For example, equality, diversity, social cohesion, non-discrimination, sustainability

4. Working methods for the preparatory phase
In order to enhance co-operation and joint ownership within the Council of Europe and beyond, and to help define expectations and themes, regular consultations are being held with relevant Council of Europe sectors, the Armenian hosts as well as with selected external experts on democracy questions.
Following the recent external evaluation of the first five years of the Forum, the Advisory Board is considering modifications to the Forum Guidelines as part of the reform of the Forum process. Any such changes will be applied to the 2010 Forum in the best possible way.

5. Structure of the Forum
Apart from the formal opening session, the first day will include a high-level panel of experts which would identify main trends in, and threats to, democratic governance.
On the afternoon of day 1 and the morning of day 2, there would be three parallel workshops, some of which might have several sub-sessions.
The afternoon of day 2 would be devoted to reporting back, presentation and discussion of results, closing keynote(s) and formal closing.

6. Expected results
The Yerevan Forum is expected to provide orientation on how the Council of Europe could support the improvement of good democratic governance in its member states. This would include:

The Forum might, in a perspective beyond 2010, focus on shaping democracy within an evolving context of democratic governance, based on a set of pointers deriving from the common principles on democracy. Such pointers would make it possible to better compare and analyse key challenges facing political actors and societies by sectoral and, increasingly, cross-sectoral approaches, thus facilitating the formulation of innovative solutions at both the national and European levels.