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Cities commit to greater democracy in historic Magna Charta

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Mayor Virginia Raggi of Rome, Minister for Direct Democracy Riccardo Fraccaro and Flavia Marzano, Rome City Councillor on Innovation

Cities commit to greater democracy in historic Magna Charta


World cities have committed to collaborating to protect and expand democracy, even in the face of threats from higher levels of government.


Rome, Italy

The announcement of this collaboration came in the form of a draft charter – dubbed the New Magna Charta — produced this weekend at the 2018 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy in Rome. The drafting of the Magna Charta and the Global Forum were officially authorized by Rome’s city parliament and Mayor Virginia Raggi earlier this year.

“Rome wants to be a leader in Italy of this experience,” said Raggi. “We really think that sharing the power to make decisions with people helps make everybody more conscious of helping our environment and our city.”

The Magna Charta answers the question “What Does It Mean To Be A Democracy City?” and will serve as a charter for a new organization, the International League of Democracy Cities.

The Global Forum took place over four days and included more than 150 speakers from more than 90 nations and hundreds of cities around the world. They backed a charter for two reasons. First, to establish cities as the natural unit of democracy, as opposed to the nation-state. And, second, to urge cities to improve themselves as  they band together to protect democracy at a time when many worry about declining democracy nationally and internationally.

In their conversation and the new draft charter, Global Forum participants outlined proven methods of democratization and innovations in local, participatory democracy. The cities of Rome, Italy; Seoul, Republic of Korea and Taichung, Taiwan led the effort to produce the groundbreaking charter and committed to fostering more democracy and citizen participation in their cities.

Through the new International League of Democracy Cities, cities and their citizens will exchange ideas, best practices and even personnel. Over the next year, The Magna Charta will circulate around the world; cities and citizens are asked to offer their suggestions for the document, and to support the Magna Charta and join the new International League of Cemocracy Cities.

“Cities are the world’s most innovative democratic actors, because they are the level of government at which citizens can participate most fully,” said Joe Mathews, co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy: “In putting forth the Magna Charta for democracy cities, we are going back to the future, and re-establishing democracy as first and foremost a local entity, just as democracy was when it was first established – by the city of Athens 2,500 years ago.”

The process of developing and adopting the Magna Charta globally will last one year and the results of this process will be presented at the next Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy in Taichung, Taiwan, from 2 until 5 October 2019.

“Democracy cities are places that are never satisfied—they are always trying to become more democratic and participatory,” Bruno Kaufmann, co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy:  “Cities, by joining the International League will be able to share information, experience and staff so that they came become even more democratic.”

The Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy is a free, public and politically independent conference to which everyone is invited and where all are welcome. It is held in a different city each year and is the largest gathering globally of activists, academics and officials working on issues of direct democracy and citizen participation. The Global Forum is co-organized by Democracy International, an NGO registered in Germany aimed at promoting direct democracy worldwide. The Rome Forum was the 7th edition of the conference which earlier was held in Aarau/Switzerland (2008), Seoul/Korea (2009), San Francisco/California (2010), Montevideo/Uruguay (2012), Tunis/Tunisia (2015) and San Sebastian/Basque Country (2016).


Links and materials

Read the full Magna Charta here.

Find all the info on the Global Forum here.


For any questions/further information, please contact:

- Caroline Vernaillen:,
- Bruno Kaufmann:, or
- Joe Mathews:

Website Info

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