Press release - 777(2010)
"Deep security" and freedom of expression are the basis of democracy, says Jagland at the Forum for the Future of Democracy
Yerevan, 21.10.2010 – "The Council of Europe has a unique strategic role to play in strengthening good democratic governance at all levels in the European space" – that was the main message of the 2010 Forum for the Future of Democracy, which ended in Yerevan today.
Democracy, or rather good democratic governance, is now not only intrinsically linked to the respect of human rights but is also recognised as the most effective form of governance to ensure stability, sustainability and well-being. "This is what I call deep security," said the Secretary General. "Deep security implies the need to change our mindset, to make it adaptive to change and to cultivate the culture of being open to change and diversity."
Discussions on political culture drew attention to a number of worrying cases in Europe in which distortions of the democratic processes tend to serve highly individualistic purposes of those in power. These situations strike at the very heart of the Council of Europe’s mission, namely living together as equals in dignity and being guaranteed freedom of expression across the European continent.
The Council of Europe has a multitude of acquis, tools and programmes buttressing democracy throughout the continent and contributing to bring democratic principles to life, for example through formal and non-formal citizenship and human rights education. The Secretary General also stressed the importance of new information and communication technologies in strengthening democratic governance.
The working sessions looking at legal issues provided challenging perspectives on the relationship between democracy and law. The concept of a right to democracy has been extensively debated, as well as the right for citizens to participate in public affairs in general. Participants in the Forum discussed whether this should be seen as a basic human right to be enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights, or the corner stone of a possible Council of Europe Charter on Good Democratic Governance.
At a time when the Council of Europe is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Forum was the occasion to confirm that the principles and values enshrined in the ECHR and the case-law of the Strasbourg Court are the unique basis on which democratic solutions to today’s challenges should be based. "Fundamental democratic rights are non-negotiable, they are an inalienable part of democratic political culture", says
the Secretary General.
The Forum called on all Council of Europe member states to equally address the growing gap between accepted commitments and their practical implementation by active support policies, co-operation and monitoring at all levels.
More than 200 experts and practitioners, politicians and administrators, civil society and elected representatives participated in the 6th Forum for the Future of Democracy held in Yerevan (Armenia) from 19 to 21 October and devoted to principles and challenges to democracy in Europe.
The conclusions of the Forum will be available at www.coe.int/democracy.
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