25th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 29-31 October 2013
Monitoring of local democracy and election observation: procedures now clearer
Strasbourg, 30.10.2013 – The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on Wednesday 30 October 2013 adopted a series of three resolutions concerning procedures for monitoring local and regional democracy and observing elections, as well as post-monitoring and post-observation procedures. The resolutions presented by the Chair of the Monitoring Committee, Lars O. Molin (Sweden, EPP/CCE), now give the Congress a sounder procedural basis for managing the relevant activities.
Resolution 307 REV2 concerns monitoring visits conducted in connection with the European Charter of Local Self-Government. In the text, the Congress underlines the need to hold such visits regularly, approximately once every five years. Rules are laid down for the organisation and conduct of the visits. While the Congress delegations mainly meet the political and administrative authorities in charge of local and regional policies and, of course, local and regional elected representatives, they also hold talks with national, regional and local ombudsmen. The resolution also includes a code of conduct for the delegations, which applies to the rapporteurs, experts and the Secretariat. Compared with the previous versions, the revised resolution should enable the Congress delegations to work more effectively, using a standard flow chart for monitoring procedures included in the new text.
Resolution 306 REV lays down new rules for the practical organisation of Congress election observation exercises, and includes a code of conduct for the observers. The code clarifies the nature and limits of their tasks and underlines their obligations, stressing that observation must be performed thoroughly and with professionalism. It also emphasises their duties of impartiality and integrity; in particular, observers must not have any conflicts of interest and must refuse any inappropriate gifts.
Lastly, Resolution 353 REV lays down the procedures for post-monitoring visits, one of the major new developments at the Congress since 2012: they are intended to make sure that the recommendations made by the Congress in connection with monitoring visits or election observation exercises are actually followed up. The key objective of post-monitoring is to establish political dialogue with the state concerned. This dialogue should identify the priorities to be implemented and involve the drawing up of a roadmap by the Congress and the state concerned, setting out specific deadlines. If necessary, this may lead to an action plan or assistance programme. The new post-monitoring procedure has already been put in place with three countries (Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Azerbaijan). It has met the expectations of its advocates by bringing about fruitful dialogue with the authorities in the countries concerned.