IULA WORLD WIDE DECLARATION OF LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT

adopted by the IULA Council, Toronto, June 1993

The International Union of Local Authorities (IULA), the worldwide association of local governments, meeting in its 31st World Congress in Toronto on 13-17 June, 1993,

Recalling the Worldwide Declaration of Local Self-Government it adopted and proclaimed at its 27th World Congress in September, 1985, in Rio de Janeiro;

Aware of the tremendous changes in the world's social, political and economic situation since 1985, including the collapse of totalitarian regimes in many parts of the globe and the growing trend toward free and democratic societies in countries long repressed;

In view of the recognition that many global problems, as evidenced in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and its follow-up Agenda 21, must be dealt with at the local level;and in light of the growing trend among international bodies to regard local government as effective partners in social and economic development programmes and activities;

Determined that there must be a renewed campaign to promote and promulgate the essential nature of democratic local self-government and its critical role in securing social, economic and political justice for all citizens of every community in the world;

Considering that local government, as an integral part of the national structure, is the level of government closest to the citizens and therefore in the best position both to involve them in the making of decisions concerning their living conditions and to make use of their knowledge and capabilities in the promotion of development;

Recalling the principle, recognised in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that the will of the people is the basis of the authority of government;

Welcoming the fact that to date, 19 European Governments have signed, and 15 European Governments have ratified, the European Charter of Local Self-Government which was adopted as a Council of Europe Convention in 1985, and that this charter has been used by several governments of Central and Eastern Europe as a major guideline in the preparation of their new local government legislation;

Considering that it is at the local level that the conditions can best be provided for the creation of a harmonious community to which citizens feel they belong and for which they assume responsibility;

Emphasising that strengthening local government strengthens the entire nation by ensuring more effective and democratic public policies;

Considering that decentralised decision-making reduces congestion at the centre and improves and speeds up governmental action, that it stimulates local initiative, that it unleashes creative and innovative energies, gives vitality to new institutions, and that it increases the likelihood that services and amenities, once established, will be maintained and expanded;

Proclaims the following renewed Worldwide Declaration of Local Self-Government to serve as a standard to which all nations should aspire in their efforts to achieve a more effective democratic process, thereby improving the social and economic well-being of their populations.

Principles of Local Self-Government

Article 1: Constitutional foundation for local self-government
The principle of local self-government shall be recognised in the constitution or in the basic legislation concerning the governmental structures of the country.

Article 2: Concept of local self-government
1. Local self-government denotes the right and the duty of local authorities to regulate and manage public affairs under their own responsibility and in the interests of the local population.
2. This right shall be exercised by individuals and representative bodies freely elected on a periodical basis by equal, universal suffrage, and their chief executives shall be so elected or shall be appointed with the participation of the elected body.

Article 3:The scope of local self-government
1. Public responsibilities shall be exercised by those basic units of local government which are closest to the citizen. They may also be exercised by territorial units at an intermediate or regional level, in accordance with the practice in each country.
2. Local authorities shall have a general right to act on their own initiative with regard to any matter which is not exclusively assigned to any other authority nor specifically excluded from the competence of local government.
3. The basic responsibilities of local authorities as well as the procedures for changing these responsibilities shall be prescribed by the constitution or by statute.
4. Powers given to local authorities shall normally be full and exclusive. In so far as a central or regional authority is empowered by the constitution or by statute to intervene in matters for which responsibility is shared with local authorities, the latter shall retain the right to take initiatives and make decisions.
5. Where powers are delegated to them by a central or regional authority, local authorities shall be given discretion to adapt the implementation of legislation to local conditions.
6. Local authorities shall have a reasonable and effective share in decision-making by other levels of government which has local implications.

Article 4: Protection of existing local authorities
1. If the constitution or national law permits the suspension or dissolution of local councils or the suspension or dismissal of local executives, this shall be done in accordance with due process of law. Their functioning shall be restored within as short a period of time as possible which shall be prescribed by law.
2. Changes in local authority boundaries shall only be made by law and after consultation of the local community or communities concerned, including by means of a referendum where this is permitted by statute.

Article 5: Adequate organisational structures for local government
1. Local authorities shall determine their own internal administrative structures in order to adapt them to local needs and ensure effective management.
2. Conditions of employment and training opportunities for local government employees shall be such as to permit attractive career prospects. Central and/or other higher levels of government shall encourage and facilitate the introduction of career and merit systems in local government.

Article 6: Conditions of office of local elected representatives
1. The conditions of office of local elected representatives must guarantee them the free exercise of their functions.
2. These conditions must provide in particular for appropriate compensation and social welfare protection.
3. Any functions and activities which are deemed incompatible with the holding of local elective office shall be determined by statute only.

Article 7: Supervision of local authorities activities 1. Procedures for the supervision of local authorities shall be instituted only by the constitution or by statute.
2. The supervision of local authorities shall normally aim only at ensuring compliance with the law.

Article 8: The resources of local authorities 1. Local authorities shall be entitled to adequate financial resources of their own, distinct from those of other levels of government and to dispose freely of such revenue within the framework of their powers.
2. The allocation of resources to local authorities shall be in reasonable proportion to the tasks assumed by them. These resources shall be of a regular and recurring nature so as to permit uninterrupted public services and adequate financial planning. Any transfer of new responsibilities shall be accompanied by an allocation of the financial resources required for their fulfilment.
3. A reasonable proportion of financial resources of local authorities shall derive from local taxes, fees and charges of which they shall have the power to determine the rate.
4. Taxes which local authorities shall be entitled to levy, or of which they receive a guaranteed share, shall be of a sufficiently general, buoyant and flexible nature to enable them to keep pace with their responsibilities.
5. The autonomy of financially weaker local authorities requires a system of financial equalisation.
6. The right of local authorities to participate, in an appropriate manner, in framing the rules governing the general apportionment of redistributed resources shall be expressly recognised.
7. The provision of block grants, which are not earmarked for the financing of specific projects or services, shall be promoted. The provision of grants shall not justify any undue intervention in the policies pursued by local authorities within their own jurisdiction.

Article 9: Associations of local authorities
1. Local authorities shall be entitled, in exercising their powers, to form associations for the defence and promotion of their common interests as well as in order to provide certain services to their members.
2. Other levels of government shall consult associations of local authorities when passing legislation affecting local government.

Article 10: International links
1. Local authorities right of association shall include that of belonging to an international association of local authorities.
2. Local authorities shall also be entitled to maintain links with their counterparts in other countries for the purpose of interchange and cooperation and promoting international understanding.

Article 11: Legal protection of local authorities and their autonomy
Local authorities shall have the right of recourse to a judicial remedy in order to safeguard their autonomy and to ensure compliance with the laws which determine their functions and protect their interests.

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