25th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg, 29-31 October 2013

Statement by Herwig van Staa, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe - Ceremony for the ratification of the European Charter of Local Self-Government by the Republic of San Marino

Secretary General,

Minister,

Ambassador,

Dear Colleagues,

The time has come to celebrate a landmark moment for us all. The European Charter of Local Self-Government has now been ratified by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

I am very glad to welcome M. Giancarlo Venturini, Minister for the Interior and Justice of San Marino (Ministre pour les Affaires Intérieures, la Fonction publique, la Justice et les Relations avec les conseils municipaux), and Ambassador Barbara Para, Permanent Representative of San Marino, whose country ratified the Charter last week, on 23 October 2013. 

The Charter is a unique international treaty, which provides fundamental principles governing basic rights of local and regional authorities, and which now covers effectively a huge pan-european area.

It also has influence beyond the frontiers of the member States. We must remember that the Charter is also a reference text in neighbouring regions such as the southern Mediterranean – here I am thinking of Tunisia and Morocco where we have not only good contacts but where we also carry out activities to promote our Charter. I am also thinking of Kazakhstan in Central Asia.  

And the fact that the complete ratification of the Charter coincides this year with the 25th anniversary of its entry into force is another reason for us to take pride in the progress made in a quarter of a century.

The ratification by San Marino closes the list, after Monaco, and Andorra.

I would particularly like to thank Ambassador Para and her deputy, Ms Bovi, for their contribution to this outcome, as I also wish to thank the delegation of San Marino to the Congress for all its efforts in this respect.

It is not an easy task for a small country to consider the ratification of the Charter. It had deserved a special attention and a special analysis on how such a convention should apply to small size countries. The president of the Chamber of Local Authorities, Jean-Claude FRECON, visited San Marinese authorities a couple of times to discuss the modalities of its application. The Government of San Marino worked very hard on the issue and then the Parliament discussed it in depth before taking this decision of the ratification last Wednesday.

This is indeed a success for San Marino, a success for the Congress. I have been member of the Congress for 17 years, and I must say that the Congress was a pioneer when it started the monitoring of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. This text was not very well known. I can see the change now, today, the Charter became a landmark Convention in the field of local democracy and moreover, when its text is monitored, we realise that more and more often, domestic jurisdictions all over the pan European continent, refer to it. It is a positive outcome and a sign of change of culture and mentality. More and more authorities in member States think and act “local democracy”. More and more member States know the European Charter of Local Self-Government as much as they know the European Convention of Human rights or the European Social Charter.

It is a success of the Council of Europe and we can be proud of it. I would like to thank you Secretary General for your commitment and all your efforts in that way. It is definitely a shared success, let me thank you on behalf of the Congress Mr Jagland.



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