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The Historical Legitimacy of the Charter

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Chapter Summary

In order to make clear why constitutional guarantees of local self-government are laid down not only in domestic Constitutions but also in an international treaty, the first Chapter will focus on the roots of both the terms “charter” and “local self-government”, claiming that the European Charter originates from a narrative of “municipal freedom” rooted in the Middle Ages and abruptly rediscovered during the nineteenth century (§ 1.I.). The historical anchoring and the moral legitimacy of the Charter are reflected in the history of the origins of the Charter within the Council of Europe (§ 1.II.), the first international organisation in Europe committed to promote the rule of law, democracy and human rights. It is precisely this rhetoric of autonomy and self-government against centralisation at both European and domestic level which led to the ratification of the Charter in the 1980s. The narrative of “municipal freedom” did not only reach out to influence Central and Eastern Europe member States in the 1990s, but stretched out beyond Council of Europe borders in more recent times (§ 1.III.).



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