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Human rights and the rule of law can only prevail if they are guaranteed at grassroots level

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, which this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Congress President Marc Cools made the following statement:

“Respect for human rights is more necessary than ever to meet the complex challenges facing our societies. Local authorities have an essential role to play in defending human rights and building democratic, peaceful and sustainable societies.

On this Human Rights Day, and as we approach the Council of Europe’s 75th anniversary, I welcome the support given by the Reykjavik Summit to the essential role of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in the promotion and protection of human rights. This year, the leaders of Europe have come together at the historic Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavik and adopted the Reykjavik Declaration to renew their resolve to stay united around the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.  

This unity is essential, both across and within the state borders, at all levels of governance, if we are to succeed in countering the complex common challenges to human rights and the rule of law in Europe. Human rights and the rule of law cannot prevail if they are not guaranteed at the grassroots level.

To implement the decisions of the Summit, the Congress will continue to deliver on human rights to firmly anchor the culture of human rights in the very foundations of democracies, by acting at the level closest to citizens. Our actions will include promoting and protecting human rights at the local level and improving the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights relating to local and regional authorities.

I commend the resolve of European local and regional authorities to stay united in our shared commitment to building a Europe where human rights violations have no place and where citizens can live in peace, freedom and justice. I call on national governments to extend full support to European municipalities, cities and regions in standing up for human rights”.

Human Rights Day Strasbourg, France 11 December 2023
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