Since it was set up, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has drawn up a number of international treaties, including the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which has become the international benchmark in this field, laying down common European standards to protect local authorities' rights. In the framework of its work, the Congress relies on a set of other conventions and reference texts.

The European Charter of Local Self-Government (ECLSG) lays down standards for protecting the rights of local authorities and requires states which have ratified it to comply with a number of conditions, principles and practices. States undertake to respect a core of basic principles to which no reservation is possible – such as the right of citizens to participate in managing public affairs, the key rights of communities to enjoy autonomy and self-government, elect their local bodies and to have their own structures and financial resources.

The regional authorities of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, whatever their nature or institutional particularity, have references and principles concerning their democratic structure, their autonomous organisation, powers and resources, their place in the state, their relations with other powers and their relationship with citizens. All these elements are brought together in the "Council of Europe Reference Framework for Regional Democracy". Approved in 2009 by the Ministers of Local and Regional Government of the Council of Europe, this genuine code of rights and duties of regional entities, intended for intermediate powers - between the central and local levels - has two main functions. The first is to serve as a source of inspiration when countries decide to create or reform their regional authorities. The second is to serve as a body of political reference principles on which the Congress relies in the framework of its statutory task of monitoring regional democracy in Council of Europe countries.

The European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities (1980 and its three protocols) is intended to encourage and facilitate the conclusion of cross-border agreements between local and regional authorities within the scope of their respective powers. Such agreements may cover regional development, environmental protection, the improvement of public services, etc., and may include the setting up of transfrontier associations or consortia of local authorities. [Document STCE n° 106]

The Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (1992) aims to improve integration of foreign residents into the life of the community. It applies to all persons who are not nationals of the Party and who are lawfully resident on its territory. [Document STCE n°144]

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992) is a convention designed on the one hand to protect and promote regional and minority languages as a threatened aspect of Europe’s cultural heritage and on the other hand to enable speakers of a regional or minority language to use it in private and public life. Its overriding purpose is cultural. [Document STCE n° 148]

The urban Charter (1992) and the urban Charter II, Manifesto for a new urbanity (2008). The first urban Charter was a ground breaking step for Europe and marked a key stage in the necessary recognition of the urban phenomenon in the development of our societies. The European Urban Charter II - Manifesto for a new urbanity, adopted in May 2008, complements and updates the original Congress contribution and offers a new approach to urban living, urging European countries to build sustainable towns and cities. [Text of the Charter]

The  European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (2003) à la vie municipale et régionale (1992) and the Revised Charter (2003) is a tool to support young people, youth workers, youth organisations and local authorities in promoting and enhancing meaningful youth participation at local and regional level across Europe. [Text of the Charter]

The  European Code of conduct for the political integrity of local and regional elected representatives (1999) aims at consolidating the relationship between citizens and local and regional policy-makers by setting out, at European level, ethical principles approved by the delegates of Europe’s local and regional elected representatives. The Congress invites national governments and national associations of local and regional authorities of the member states to detail the standards and principles established by the code in their national legislation and in ethical codes. [Text of the Code - Recommendation 60 (1999)]

The European Landscape Convention (2000) aims to encourage public authorities to adopt policies and measures at local, regional, national and international level for protecting, managing and planning landscapes throughout Europe. It covers all landscapes, both outstanding and ordinary, that determine the quality of people’s living environment. The Convention proposes legal and financial measures at the national and international levels, aimed at shaping "landscape policies" and promoting interaction between local and central authorities as well as transfrontier cooperation in protecting landscapes. [Document STCE n°176]

Through its core principles to which no reservation is possible, the European Charter of Local Self-Government (ECLSG) seeks to ensure the compatibility of the diverse structures of local communities in the Council of Europe member states. However, the final aim remains the respect of all of the Charter’s provisions.

 The Charter, how it works

The European Charter of Local Self-Government, as well as other conventions and reference texts, are available in brochure format. In addition, a series of leaflets and brochures present the main activities of the Congress.