The importance of citizen participation in drafting policies and laws has been accepted widely. The larger intergovernmental organizations have drafted documents and created models to support and strengthen citizen participation. Although some of these documents are not of an obligatory character, they present standards, principles and best practices which should be taken under consideration at the time of various initiatives at the state level.
In 2001 European Commission drafted the European Governance White Paper (European Governance – A White Paper), which, amongst others, had a purpose of empowering the consultation and dialogue culture at EU level, so as to increase the legitimacy of decisions. The five principles of “good governance” are emphasized in this document: transparency, participation, effectiveness and coherency which not only support democracy and rule of law in EU member states, but they apply to all levels of government (global, European, state, regional and local). One of the results of the White Paper is the approval, by the European Commission, of the general Principles and minimum standards to consult stakeholders. This document emphasizes the importance of offering clear documents for consultation, consultation of all interest groups, allowing sufficient time for participation, publishing results and informing the participants with the results of their comments.
Also, the participating approach in drafting laws and policies at EU level and member states is emphasized in the Lisbon Treaty, specifically in Article 10 “every citizen has the right to participate in the EU democratic life; decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.”
Citizen participation in drafting laws and policies is also treated by the Council of Europe through Recommendations CM/Rec (2007) 14, CM/Rec (2010) 5, Rec (2001) 19. To this end, the EC recommends that all governmental mechanisms and agencies need to ensure effective participation of NGOs in all the levels of public policy drafting, by respecting and valuing freedom of expression and the variety of citizens’ thoughts. A special emphasis needs to be placed on policy drafting for the protection of human rights, namely consulting marginalized communities: homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transvestite.
Other important documents that deal with citizen participation are the Arhus Convention approved by the UN Economic Council for Europe – which treats the right of the citizens to access information, the right to participate in decision-making and justice relating to environmental issues; guidelines, reports and various studies drafted by the World Bank and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development etc.