Civil participation in political decision-making

The Council of Europe is preparing guidelines to help ensure meaningful civil participation in political decision-making in its member states. Before finalising these guidelines, the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) and the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (Conference of INGOs) are organising a wide public consultation on the draft text (to submit your observations by 4 September 2016).

These are my contributions:

The right of citizens to participate in the process of making political decisions is a human right under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In my opinion, these measures should necessary:

– The information should be published on the internet and spread in major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in order to invite citizens to participate before the decision is already taken. All required reports, or volunteers, should be published. If there is new documentation or major changes in the existing one, it will be published again detailing those alterations.

– Citizens have the right to file their claims online or email and receive an express reply, explaining the reasons for its acceptance or rejection. They also have the right to know the remaining allegations made and the answers.

– Citizens, whenever possible, have the right to meet the authorities and officials involved in the decision process.

– The publication of the decision finally adopted should include a detailed report on the outcome of citizen participation and real influence on the final decision report.

– The process of preparation and participation will not be made during holiday periods, unless justified need.

– Access to the Courts to review the legality of the participation process must be fast and free for everyone. The action must be public and legal advice should be voluntary to facilitate access to justice without unnecessary costs or obstacles.