Ref. :  000022292
Date :  2004-05-05
Language :  English
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Declaration of the Founding Congress of the New Unified World Organisation of Local Authorities “United Cities and Local Governments”



Paris, 5 may 2004

“Cities, Local Governments: the Future for Development”


We the Mayors, leaders and representatives of the cities and local governments of the world, serving the populations of rural and urban communities; small, medium and large towns, metropolises and regions; gathered in Paris, France on 5 May 2004 to create a new unified world organisation of local governments;

Recognising the achievements of the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA) since 1913, the World Federation of United Towns and Cities (UTO) since 1957, and Metropolis since 1984, in developing municipal international relations and strengthening local government worldwide;
Welcoming with the greatest satisfaction the fulfilment of the commitments made by mayors and local leaders at the 1996 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements to establish a single voice for cities and local governments across the world;

Convinced that global challenges of a rapidly changing world are felt first locally and need to be dealt with principally at the local level, by the sphere of government closest to the citizen;

Aware of the challenges posed to local governments with unprecedented urbanisation with more than half of the population living in urban areas.

Strongly committed to creating peaceful, fair, sustainable, equal and inclusive societies for all, based on solidarity, citizenship, good governance and human rights;
Emphasising our core values of democracy, self-government and decentralisation, as set out in the Worldwide Declaration of Local Self-Government;
Recognising the vital role of local government as a force for development, and essential to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which are part of our daily duties in serving our cities and communities.

Establish a new world organisation, United Cities and Local Governments, to be the united voice and world advocate of democratic local self-government, and commit ourselves to:
Establishing a strong, democratic organisation, with a broad, diverse membership, and representatives in every country of the world;
Renewing and deepening our partnership with United Nations and the international community, and building a formal consultative role for local government as a pillar of the international system;
Developing an internationally agreed set of principles on decentralisation, the strengthening of local governments and local democracy, ultimately to be set out in a World Charter of Local Self-Government;

Underliningour commitment to promote world peace through increasing involvement of local authorities and their communities in the development of a more fair world based on solidarity and democratic values.
Supporting the development of strong and effective democratic local self-government, and the establishment and strengthening of national local government associations throughout the world, through initiatives, programmes and platforms for capacity building exchanges and partnerships, within the framework of decentralised cooperation and Municipal International Cooperation;
Becoming the source of key information and intelligence the situation and the evolution of local government all over the world, through the establishment of a Local Democracy Watch;
Addressing the issues, concerns and challenges for our cities and communities and, in particular, sustainable development and social inclusion, decentralisation and local democracy, and cooperation and diplomacy. We, the Mayors and local leaders, commit to supporting the achievement of the Millennium Goals and propose to tackle issues in these three key areas in order to reach the goals.

-o0o-

I. Sustainable Development in a Globalising World

Globalisation is particularly visible at the local level. Current global dynamics stimulate exchange and communication, but they also increase the impact of local issues internationally, potentially deepening inequalities and challenging existing international institutions and balances as never before. Local Governments have, in this context, a key role to play in sustainable growth. We local leaders from around the world commit to the following principles:

Poverty alleviation and social inclusion
Our multidimensional and integral approach (with an economic, social, political and cultural dimension) allows us to apply broad social policies that include economic growth, protection of citizens’ rights and increasing participation. Our broad responsibilities, from housing to health and education, give us unique knowledge of the needs of our communities. Our strategic role in economic development makes it possible for us to create more possibilities for our citizens and to improve their lives and working conditions.
Sustainable environment
Building on our work to disseminate and implement Local Agenda 21 and the agreements of Rio at the local level, local governments are committed to finding innovative ways to ensure quality of life on our planet for future generations, and make optimal use of the resources available for the benefit of our communities.

Water for all
Water is a basic need, and a basic right, of our communities. Access to sufficient, good quality water at a reasonable price should be a right for all, and requires both legislative and social measures to protect the least advantaged communities. We, local governments are committed to ensuring efficient, fair and sustainable water management and sanitation within our responsibilities. We also commit ourselves to raising awareness of the importance of water and its proper use by all sectors (agricultural and industrial), and to participating in initiatives that stimulate knowledge exchange, recognizing the crucial role that local governments play in this field.

Creating multicultural cities
The cities of the 21st century are multicultural spaces. Different languages, religions and cultures amalgamate, creating innovative cultures, which constitute a major asset of our cities. The protection of cultural diversity, within the framework of democratic co-existence, should be one of the pillars for local action of local governments. Local government is the only sphere of government where new citizens are allowed to vote in most countries, and are able to influence the shape of their new home. Local governments are committed to developing an Agenda 21 for Culture that should be presented in the World Urban Forum in September 2004 in Barcelona.
Broad basic rights
Well aware of the needs of our communities, local governments are committed to supporting the development of a broad legal framework that will allow the understanding of human rights in a broad sense, including: the right to education, proper health care, housing, work and equality in all its dimensions. We are committed to adopting and promoting the implementation of the European Charter of Human Rights in our cities.

-o0o-

II. Decentralisation and Local Democracy

In recent years, local governments and their associations have promoted innovation in public administration and States, advocating decentralisation and local self-government. The adoption of a World Charter on Local Self-government remains one of the key objectives of the World Organization of local governments, United Cities and Local Governments, building on the work of its founding organisations and their partnership with UN-Habitat.

Respecting Diversity
Respecting the differences and diversity of the different regions of the world, and conscious of the fact that local government is an integral part of the national structure of each country and that it needs to adapt to the national context, we commit ourselves to advocate decentralisation processes that develop a democratic system of governance and an adequate basic service provision for, by and with the community.

This process should be based on general principles such as subsidiary, accountability, transparency, predictability and the rule of law, and should be accompanied by broad devolution of powers and adequate resources. We, local leaders of the world, are committed to protecting the following values in our communities:
Adequate Resources
A clear arrangement for the intergovernmental transfer of financial resources is a basic requisite for a successful decentralisation policy. At the same time, the involvement of local governments in decisions concerning their income is crucial. Further, the power to generate income locally is indispensable in the complex contexts in which local governments operate.
Strategic Partnerships
Local governments need to work closely with all stakeholders in the governance processes to be successful. Public-private partnerships are crucial to the efficient management of public resources and the improvement of services. The complexity of the services demanded by our citizens, and the interdependent factors that go beyond local government powers, make it a local government responsibility to protect the interest of its community when dealing with private sector.
Increased participation of Women and Minorities
Equality is not enough. There cannot be democracy without the inclusion of all men and women in local decision making. While gender mainstreaming remains and important aim, it should not be the end of specific gender sensitive policies in all aspects of live. Particularly the participation of women in local politics will be on the top of the agenda of our World Organization, working in partnership with all women groups.
Innovative and Inclusive Decision Making
In the globalising world, public decision making processes are more and more complex with very far reaching impacts. Broader community participation is not only a demand from the citizens themselves, but also necessary for local government to increase its legitimacy and to contribute to the development of social ties. The development of innovative participation tools, like urban councils, e-democracy, participatory budgeting, are examples of these developments.

-o0o-

III. Cooperation and Diplomacy – a challenge for our cities

Cities, local governments and associations of local authorities have developed great experience and interest in relations with peers from around the world. They have a major contribution to make to peace, growth and international programmes of development cooperation - via Decentralised Cooperation and Municipal International Cooperation.

Learning from our peers
The strengthening of democratic local government is a prerequisite for development and requires a balanced approach towards building the democratic and operational capacity of local government on the one hand and encouraging the growth of effective civil society organisations. Local government and its associations have an important role to play as facilitators between sectors, encouraging partnerships between local governments and their communities, including partnerships with the private sector.

Local governments have wide cross-sector responsibilities and the potential ability to develop integrated approaches in working with their communities. United Cities and Local Governments welcomes the support received by innovative initiatives such as the Cities Alliance, and is committed to strengthening the links with all multilateral partners and in particular with the UN Programmes and Agencies.

World Health – a local challenge
Health issues and particularly pandemics such as AIDS are global threats that need to be tackled locally. The recent examples of rapidly spreading epidemics have shown the impact of local approaches and the importance of developed capacities of local governments. The strengthened role of local authorities accompanied by resources and training, will not only enable efficient measures to be taken when tackling the problem, but will also reduce the risks of the disease spreading.

United Cities and Local Governments is committed to working with existing networks, such as the Alliance of Mayors Against AIDS, AMMICALL, UNAIDS and the World Heath Organization, to optimise the fight against AIDS and other pandemics by promoting the exchange of knowledge between local authorities in this field.

Peace and dialogue start locally
Within the wider concept of Decentralised Cooperation, the main concerns of United Cities and Local Governments and its members are twofold. First to ensure the development of pluralist, democratic institutions in the local sphere that can effectively answer the needs of their citizenship. Second to promote tolerance and understanding for the situation of communities around the world and increase the support to international cooperation and solidarity.

United Cities and Local Governments is committed to promoting dialogue and peace through `city diplomacy` and decentralised cooperation. The exchange between local governments, with the involvement of their communities, creates joint values"that catalyse tolerance, friendship and mutual understanding.

From Information Society to an Inclusive Society
New Information Technologies must contribute to increasing the possibilities of all citizens to enjoy their full potential rights, to increasing the capacity of local governments to provide universal basic services, and to improving participation of the citizens in local decision-making.

United Cities and Local Governments will work towards an information society of inclusive cities, where diversity in culture, languages and information for all is valued and promoted. We recall the Lyon Local Government Declaration on the Information Society and are committed to promoting its implementation.

-o0o-

United Cities and Local Governments, as the global representative of local governments and their associations, believes decentralised cooperation, municipal international cooperation and city to city relations contribute to transforming the international relations arena into relations between communities, from and about the citizens of the world. We local leaders and local governments are committed to creating a strong network through United Cities and Local Governments that will support the development of local governments across the world working for sustainable future.


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