70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights
The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, a unique international treaty which was signed on 4 November 1950 in Rome, entered into force in 1953 and has been ratified by the 47 member States of the Council of Europe.
The European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the fundamental civil and political rights not only of the citizens of the 47 member States, but also of all persons within their jurisdiction. The European Court of Human Rights – an institution of the Council of Europe – has jurisdiction to rule on individual or state applications alleging violations of the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe promotes the territorial dimension of human rights through its statutory work – in particular when monitoring the European Charter of Local Self-Government – as well as through its co-operation and thematic activities.
The Congress is convinced that local and regional authorities, whose political authorities are accountable to their citizens, play an essential role in the protection of fundamental rights. Indeed, in their functions as mayors, councillors or governors, local and regional elected representatives are responsible for local public services which are inseparable from the implementation of human rights, whether in the fields of housing, healthcare, education, social assistance, security and public order or town planning.
The European Court of Human Rights has dealt with various applications concerning local and regional authorities, which refer to the following articles of the European Convention on Human Rights:
- Right to life (Article 2)
- Prohibition of torture (Article 3)
- Prohibition of slavery and forced labour (Article 4)
- Right to liberty and security (Article 5)
- Right to a fair trial (Article 6)
- Right to respect for private and family life (Article 8)
- Freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 9)
- Freedom of expression (Article 10)
- Freedom of assembly and association (Article 11)
- Right to an effective remedy (Article 13)
- Protection of property (Article 1 Protocole n°1)
- Right to free elections (Article 3 Protocole n°1)
- Freedom of movement (Article 2 Protocole n°4)
- General prohibition of discrimination (Article 1 Protocole n°12)
Human Rights Handbook
The Congress created a "Human rights handbook for local and regional authorities" to provide a practical tool for local and regional elected representatives, but also for the staff of territorial administrations.
The first volume focuses on the right to non-discrimination across three categories requiring special attention: refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs); Roma and Travellers; LGBTI+ persons.
Developed with the support of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, this Handbook presents examples of initiatives implemented by communities and provides contact details for each of them. The aim is to highlight the practical implementation of human rights at local and regional levels and to facilitate the exchange of experience between local and regional elected representatives.
Congress Reference Texts
The Congress has adopted several recommendations and resolutions relating to human rights at local and regional levels. These texts aim to raise awareness among local and regional authorities to respect, protect, implement and promote human rights. The topics of the reports are:
- The role of local and regional authorities in the implementation of human rights;
- The development of indicators for human rights awareness at local and regional levels;
- Good practices for the implementation of human rights at local and regional levels in Council of Europe member States and other States.
The publication “Thematic Activities” presents the Congress’s reference texts in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030. Indeed, local and regional authorities contribute a significant share to the efforts of national governments to fulfil the SDGs and can build on the reports, recommendations and handbooks made available by the Congress.
The thematic activities on which the work of the Congress is based include human rights at local and regional levels, gender equality, children's rights and inclusive societies (rights of refugees and migrants, Roma and travellers, LGBTI+ persons).
The links between human rights and environmental protection are evidenced by several decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Addressing the environmental challenge is one of the priorities of the Congress, in line with SDG 13.
Republic of Moldova (EPP/CCE)