Good governance

Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform

 

ARMENIA - Country Specific Programmes for Capacity building 

 

Support to consolidating local democracy in Armenia 2013 - 2016

Timeframe

01.10.2013 – 30.09.2016

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark contribution

1.660.000 Euro

 

Council of Europe Contribution

370.000 Euro

 

Implementing institution

Council of Europe

 

Main Partners

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Government of Armenia

Local government units and their Associations

 

Context

The Council of Europe Action Plan for Armenia aims to support Armenia in its continued efforts to meet its statutory and specific obligations as a member state. The Action Plan lays the foundation for cooperation on the development of local democracy in Armenia by ensuring simultaneous implementation of legal assistance and capacity-building of local authorities, elected representatives and local administrations.

 

Objective

The overall objective of the project “Support to consolidating local democracy in Armenia” is to improve the quality of local self-government though further decentralisation, and increased capacity of Armenian Communities, in line with the principles enshrined in the European Charter of Local Self-Government and taking inspiration from the best European practice. The project is conceived as a consolidated intervention with three lines action and impact-oriented programmes:

 

Line of action I: Support to local government reform

To provide Council of Europe legal expertise, policy advice and assistance to the preparation and revision of legislation and policy governing the field of local self-government as well as to the envisaged territorial administrative reform.

 

Line of action II: Capacity building for local authorities

To improve the efficiency, capacities and service delivery of local authorities

To support the creation of new standards and efficient methods of on Human Resource Management (HRM), transposed into legislation and practice

To help local authorities to improve public ethics standards and compliance with them

To identify, celebrate and disseminate best practices undertaken by local authorities in selected areas

 

Line of action III: Strengthening local elected representatives’ leadership (implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe)

To strengthen leadership capacities of participating mayors, and to develop their ability to design and deliver good community projects based on clearly identified values.

To empower and engage local elected representatives in a constructive dialogue amongst themselves and with central authorities.

To assist in the development of successful participatory projects by implementing citizens’ fora initiatives in pilot communities.

To increase knowledge of good practices in local democracy and European standards of local-self-governance.

To increase trust and confidence in local authority representatives and improve local political governance in Armenia.

 

Outcomes and Outputs

 

Line of Action I

 

Provision of CoE legal expertise and advice, support to drafting of new legislation, peer reviews, seminars, training activities and study visits will be organized

aimed at achieving the following results;

a sound institutional and legislative framework for local democracy is established;

legislation and policy governing the field of local self-government are drafted, revised and improved in accordance with European standards;

the territorial administrative reform is initiated and implemented in accordance with European norms on territorial restructuring.

 

Line of Action II

 

The administrative capacities of Armenian local authorities are enhanced through tools developed by the Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe standards in the sphere of local self-government stipulate that local authorities should be empowered to properly implement their competences and make efficient use of their resources so as to deliver quality services to citizens.

HRM practices and standards are enhanced while methods for selecting, recruiting, training and promoting staff in pilot local authorities are improved;

pilot local authorities are equipped with knowledge and practical tools to devise and implement measures for establishing, respecting and promoting public ethics standards in their activities;

best practice initiatives, which have had a measurable impact on citizens’ life and perception of local self-government are identified, awarded, shared and disseminated on national level.

 

Line of Action III

 

Leadership capacities of local elected representatives are improved. The legislative and decentralisation processes are reinforced through an increased dialogue between local and central authorities.

local elected representatives are aware of good practices in local democracy and European Standards of local-self-governance; they increase their knowledge of legislation;

a spirit of co-operation is created through peer-to-peer exchanges and dialogue;

local elected representatives are empowered and improve their management and communication skills, including towards the citizens, and they start co-producing local policies.

 

Activity in 2012

Finalisation, translation and publication of five strategic municipal plans of Areni, Parakhar, Vanadzor, Dilijan and Goris – January –June 2012. These included a number of concrete project proposals that could be implemented in the near future.

Finalisation, translation and publication of a National Guidebook on Strategic Planning in Armenia. This was disseminated to all Armenian municipalities.

Closing Conference organised, dedicated to marking the finalisation of programme “Strategic Municipal Planning in Armenia” 8 June 2012

 

 

Future activity  

 

In 2013, the Centre will put forward a project proposal including, in addition to legal and policy assistance, three capacity-building programmes: on Public Ethics, Human Resource Management system and Best Practice programme which, if implemented, are most likely to reinforce in a significant way the capacities and service delivery qualities of Armenian municipalities. The proposals derive from the Action Plan agreed between Armenia and the Council of Europe for 2012-2015 and shall be implemented subject to financial contributions from possible donors. The Congress has developed another module of political co-operation which has been added to the programme. Denmark has expressed an interest in funding the programme.

 

 

Activity in 2011

 

1st series of field visits in 5 pilots municipalities (Areni, Parakhar, Vanadzor, Dilijan and Goris, 27-29 April) organised to revise existing strategic municipal plans and make them more comprehensive, project oriented and locally owned

Elected representatives and officials of the 5 pilots municipalities introduced to the Council of Europe municipal planning methodology and trained on planning techniques aimed at defining vision, goals, objectives, programmes and projects

Bilateral meetings and a Joint Evaluation Workshop (Yerevan, 21 and 22 November respectively) organised with officials of the 5 pilot municipalities resulting in identification of key objectives, programmes and projects for the period 2012/2017 in each of the municipalities’ strategic plans

 

Key outcomes in 2011  

Municipalities introduced to the SMP methodology and trained on planning techniques aimed at defining precise goals and objectives

Strong sense of local ownership of the planning process promoted

Discussion and SWOT analysis of draft community profiles and draft municipal vision and projects proposals for each of the 5 pilot municipalities

Key objectives, programmes and projects were identified and clearly stated for the period 2012/2017 in each of the pilot municipalities” strategic municipal plans. 

 

 

Activity in 2010

 

New Programme on Strategic Municipal Planning launched in June 2010

 

Activity description

The programme builds on the Communities’ Association of Armenia’s request and the success of previous Leadership and Strategic Municipal Planning Programmes implemented by the Council of Europe in Albania and Georgia.

 

Activity Aims

Develop the municipal planning capacities of Armenian local municipalities

Help them to improve their standards by providing them with the opportunity to take responsibility for their own improvement, and

Assist them in identifying clear visions, goals, objectives, programmes and projects to carry out and meet citizens’ needs.

 

Participants

Communities Association of Armenia

Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration, in 10 pilot municipalities: Yerevan, Goris, Vanadzor, Dilijan, Gyumri, Akhuryan, Meghrashen, Aragats, Mkhchyan and Areni.

Ministry of Territorial Administration

Elected representatives, officials and experts from pilot local authorities involved in the Albanian and Georgian Leadership/Strategic Municipal Planning Programmes. These will be invited from time to time to participate in some of the programme’s activities to favour exchange of know-how and experience with their Armenian counterparts. Such cooperation falls, in particular, within the framework of the agreement that the Communities’ Association of Armenia and the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) signed in 2009.

Armenian Ministry for Territorial Planning is also following the Programme implementation closely with the view probably to draft specific legislation and/or amend the current Organic Law on Local Self-Government in order to introduce items concerning the approach to strategic municipal planning to be used in all Armenian local authorities, and make the proposed Council of Europe’s methodology compulsory. The drafting of four-year municipal plans is already an obligation under Armenian Law but no specific approach is recommended.

 

Programme finish date: 2012

 

Activites

Launch workshop

- Date: 26 June 2010

- Participants: elected representatives of the 10 pilots.

 

Two training sessions with pilot officials

- Dates: 24 and 25 November 2010

- Participants: pilots officials responsible for planning/municipal planners

- One training specifically on City of Yerevan– special attention to this city on account of its size and socio-economic importance but also because, as opposed to most other pilot municipalities, it has some extensive planning experience.

 

Two workshops

Theme: Key elements of effective democratic leadership and strategic municipal planning at local level,

Material Examples from existing practices in UK, Albania and Georgia

Discussions: current needs, priorities and challenges of the Armenian municipalities and more especially of the pilot municipalities, as well as their current approach/experience of municipal planning were examined. draft action plan of the Armenia strategic municipal planning programme was discussed and agreed upon.

Publicity: An information leaflet about the programme was then produced and disseminated to all 10 pilot local authorities with the support of the Communities Association of Armenia.

 

 

Previous activities

 

Revision of the National Training Strategy

 

Activity description

Revision of the 2004 National Training Strategy (NTS), as requested by the Association of Communities, by a qualitative research carried out in 2008 and a survey in 2009.

 

Action carried out

Survey conducted on a representative, country-wide sample of 341 municipalities, out of which 291 village communities and 50 town communities, January to September 2009,

CoE expert assisted the Armenian Association in analysing the results of the survey.

Training activities have since been carried out within that framework by the Communities Association of Armenia and the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration but without direct Council of Europe involvement.