Human Rights Day: “The protection of human rights begins close to citizens, in their daily lives,” says Council of Europe Congress spokesperson on Human Rights

Human Rights Day: “The protection of human rights begins close to citizens, in their daily lives,” says Council of Europe Congress spokesperson on Human Rights

10.12.2022

The spokesperson on Human Rights of the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Harald Bergmann (Netherlands, ILDG), made  the following statement, on the eve of the Human Rights Day:

“This year, we mark Human Rights Day at a time of unprecedented challenges. In the face of the ongoing consequences of the pandemic, the fallout of climate change, havoc caused by war in Europe, and the cost-of-living and energy crises, citizens are turning towards their communities for support. At a time when human rights are too often threatened and denied, particularly to the most vulnerable, it is our duty as local leaders to provide this support.

Our proximity to citizens is our strength, as it allows us to respond to their everyday needs and concerns in the most efficient way. We should lead by example and place our citizens and their rights at the heart of our policies and their implementation.

On Human Rights Day, I would like to reiterate the importance of adopting a human-rights based approach to local and regional governance. The capacity of our cities and regions to adapt and innovate is vital as ever. Our citizens need equal access to rights and a fair distribution of public services. They also need sustainable environmental solutions at the level closest to them.

We must respond to the difficulties we are facing by redoubling our commitment to solidarity and inclusiveness. Now is the time to strengthen resilience while guaranteeing the dignity and human rights of all people, in every situation and at every level of government.  

I am happy to stand up for human rights on behalf of the Congress, which has invested a tremendous amount of effort into human rights protection and making them a tangible reality, closer to citizens.  This is the aim of our series of Human Rights Handbooks for local and regional authorities, the third volume of which focuses on the environment and sustainable development. We have stepped up our efforts to localise the UN Sustainable Development Goals and we have also put forward the idea of an Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government to strengthen the capacity of cities and communities to respond to climate change.

The 4th Summit of the Council of Europe in May 2023 in Reykjavik provides a unique opportunity for the Congress to highlight a much-needed local and regional dimension in the Council of Europe’s role as “the conscience of Europe”. This conscience begins at the grassroots level, in our cities, municipalities and regions.

More here: https://www.coe.int/en/web/congress/-/human-rights-day-the-protection-of-human-rights-begins-close-to-citizens-in-their-daily-lives-says-council-of-europe-congress-spokesperson-on-human-rights


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