International Day of Democracy: statement by the President of the Congress

Congress Strasbourg 15 September 2020
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International Day of Democracy: statement by the President of the Congress

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Anders Knape, made the following statement on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy:

"If democracy is the foundation on which our common values are based, it is at the level closest to citizens, within our cities and regions, that local democracy offers a unique opportunity to engage citizens in decision making. That is why we must defend it and ensure that democratic principles are respected at all levels of governance: European, national, regional and local. Democracy is a form of government which allows the full participation of citizens in the decisions that affect them, and, must be practiced daily through concrete measures. It is based on a real partnership between the different levels of governance and with the citizens in our States.

This is the objective defended by the Congress through the European Charter of Local Self-Government and its Additional Protocol on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority, which advocates the establishment of consultation procedures, local referendums or petitions, access to public documents, or even mechanisms allowing citizens to address local authorities. With the ratification of the additional protocol by France on 1st September 2020, twenty countries have now recognised the exercise of the individual right of citizens to participate in the affairs of local communities, as a democratic principle common to all member States of the Council of Europe. The Congress will continue its efforts to unite all 47 member States around this essential treaty for local democracy. In addition, each year the European Local Democracy Week, a pan-European initiative coordinated by the Congress, enables local and regional authorities to bring elected officials and citizens closer together through events, in particular around October 15, the date of adoption of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. "

Countries which have ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires compliance with a minimum number of rights, which form the European bedrock of local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities ensures that these principles are respected through a regular monitoring of its implementation country-by-country and the observation of local and regional elections.

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