Civil participation - Be PART
The Congress of the Council of Europe is convinced that local and regional authorities have the responsibility to promote civil participation by making sure that all citizens can have an active role in the decision-making process. It is also essential for local and regional authorities to establish a constructive dialogue with NGOs, ensuring that their concerns are systematically taken into consideration. The Congress has always recognised the importance of cooperation between local and regional authorities and NGOs, as witnessed by a joint memorandum with the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe published in 2008 in Resolution 260(2008) “Partnership between local and regional authorities and non-governmental organisations in Council of Europe member states”.
The online compendium BePART is a new project developed jointly by the Congress, the Conference of INGOs and the Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy. Launched in June 2022, it offers public authorities and NGOs the opportunity to share best practices on successful implementation of the Code. This compendium complements the online tool bE-Open, launched by the Congress in 2021, to support local and regional governance actors in their efforts to improve the quality of local democracy.
Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-making Process
The revised “Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-making Process”, adopted in parallel by the Congress and the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe in 2019, defines means to strengthen civil participation and mechanisms for NGO participation in the decision-making process while taking into account social and technological changes.
A toolkit to support the implementation of the Code was developed by the Centre of Expertise and is in use within different cooperation projects. It includes an inventory of good practices and provides guidelines for local and regional authorities to facilitate civil participation in political decision-making processes.
The Congress proposes four types of partnership status to European and international organisations and associations of cities and regions: Statutory Partner, Institutional Partner, Observer Partner and Guest Observer.
Information on how to become a partner organisation (including rules and contact details):
Since 2014, as part of its Rejuvenating politics initiative, the Congress invites 1 young person from each member state, chosen via a selection process, to participate as a youth delegate in its sessions and committee meetings.
How to become a youth delegate?
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has adopted the following reports and resolutions to promote participation of civil society. The Congress was also the driving force behind the European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life:
- Resolution 480 (2022) : Beyond elections - the use of deliberative methods in European municipalities and regions
- Resolution 452 (2019): Revised Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-making Process
- Resolution 385 (2015) : Fostering active citizenship by building partnerships with civil society
- Resolution 404 (2016) : Women's political participation and representation at local and regional levels
- Resolution 386 (2015) : Bringing down barriers to youth participation: adopting a lingua franca for local and regional authorities and young people
- Resolution 371 (2014) : Promoting equal opportunities for people with disabilities and their participation at local and regional levels
- Resolution 366 (2014) : Empowering Roma youth through participation : effective policy design at local and regional levels
- European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (2003)
Within its co-operation projects, the Congress provides support in relevant countries to address shortcomings of local democracy identified by various monitoring bodies of the Council of Europe and Congress thematic and monitoring recommendations on the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. The activities foster transparent and participatory local and regional governance, and build on a human rights-based approach, dialogue and partnership, thereby ensuring that under-represented groups and civil society are included in local decision-making.
bE-Open: Open Local Government | A tool for action
bE-Open has been developed by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in the framework of its co-operation activities. This online tool, launched in 2021, aims to support all local and regional governance actors in their efforts to improve the quality of local democracy in their villages, cities, and regions, as well as any citizen interested in public ethics, accountability, transparency and citizen participation.
bE-Open provides quick and easy access to relevant international standards and domestic context, legislation, case law, guidelines and good practices in Albania, Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Kosovo* – categorised in four themes:
- Public ethics and accountability
- Citizen participation
- Prevention of corruption
*All references to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.
An Additional Protocol on the right to participale at public life was adopted in 2009 to supplement the text of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. Its purpose is to bring within the scope of the Charter the right of any person to participate in the affairs of a local authority, a principle enshrined in the Preamble to the Charter.
The revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life, adopted by the Congress in 2003, contains principles, best practices and guidelines to enhance youth participation at local and regional levels. It also sets out the basic requirements for this participation to be meaningful, i.e. young people must have the necessary rights, means, space, opportunity and support. The Charter is not a legally binding instrument but member states have a moral responsibility to implement it.
The Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe is the representative body of the INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe.
The Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy promotes and assists the implementation of standards and mechanisms to engage citizens in political decision-making.