For over sixty years, the Council of Europe has contributed towards the protection of citizens within their states. States and citizens stand before the European Court of Human Rights on an equal footing, a development which was inconceivable prior to 1950.
Moving beyond equality, the 2005 Warsaw Declaration calls for a further step in the relationship between state and citizen: states should evolve effective, transparent and accountable democratic institutions responsive to the needs and aspirations of all, in order to create “sustainable communities where people want to live and work together, now and in the future”. This further step requires “the active involvement of citizens and civil society”.
Six years after the Warsaw Declaration, the time has come for Council of Europe member states to put words into action. A new vision of the relationship between state and citizen should be structured, reflecting the right of citizens to control their lives and enabling communities to influence decisions.
In particular, the Parliamentary Assembly should propose specific models which follow current expedients and discussions in member states, putting power in people’s hands and thus increasing their confidence in the democratic process and promoting well-being in society.