Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Citizens’ Participation at the Local Level: Possible action for change in Belarus

Antonella Valmorbida, the Director of ALDA ( and coordinator of the Subgroup on Local Government and Public Administration Reform of the Civil Society Forum for the Eastern Partnership is her article says that Belarus ‘is so much a European country and yet so much a different game’,  representing a challenge for Europe as a whole. It is the only European country fully engaged in the Customs Union with Russia and not a member of the Council of Europe.

Citizens’ participation in decision making at the local level as an action for change, towards development, democracy and better life for citizens is a challenge not only for Belarus but also for other Eastern Partnership countries which experiencing enduring effects from the Soviet system, such as centralised bureaucracy and a passive citizenry, she argues.

Any possible European orientation would focus on the role of regions and the decentralisation of power (and request a minimum standard of consultation with citizens) is highly perceived as a breach in the monolithic and centralised way of power and, therefore, seen as potential threat.

Among the more effective instruments in capacity building, policy making and awareness raising for civil society in the Eastern Partnership countries, we can refer to the work of the Civil Society Forum for Eastern Partnership, the article continues.

Its Subgroup on Local Government and Public Administration Reform has worked intensively in studying and identifying priorities in 2012 and produced a comparative approach to the citizens’ participation possibilities in the region. The primary references include: European Charter on Local Self Government; Additional protocol to the European Charter of Local Self Government on the right to participate in the affairs of local authority; the strategy for innovation and good governance at the local level; and the Code of Good Practices of Citizens participation. It studied in particular the access to public information, the direct democracy mechanisms and consultative democracy.

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Project funded by the European UnionEU