The resolution comes as part of the Council of Europe’s push to improve relations with North Africa.
Rabat – Europe’s leading human rights organization, the Council of Europe, named Morocco a “partner for local democracy” in a resolution on Tuesday. Morocco is the first country to hold the title.
The status gives Morocco a platform at the Council’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. The body serves as a hub for Europe’s local political authorities and aims to promote democracy and good governance on a regional level.
Morocco has sent a nine-person delegation to the Congress’s 36th session, which began April 2 and will conclude April 4. Headed by Mohand Laenser, who leads Morocco’s Popular Movement (MP) Party, the delegation will participate in the Congress’s discussion and debate—though delegates will not be able to vote.
Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior applied for the status in May 2018 jointly with two Moroccan regional political associations. Council spokesperson Piero Fassino said the move reflected Morocco’s strong relationship with the Congress.
“It is in this promising context that we look forward to the ambitious co-operation work that is about to begin,” Fassino said.
For the Council of Europe, granting the status to Morocco advances a strategy of bettering ties with Europe’s border nations—what it calls its “neighborhood policy.” The policy, announced in 2011 after the Arab Spring, has always centered on North Africa.
Since the Council launched the policy, it has collaborated extensively with Morocco. The Moroccan Parliament holds “Partner for Democracy” status with the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, and the Council opened up a bureau in Rabat in 2014.
In 2018, Morocco and the Council announced a three-year partnership plan, developed jointly, that laid out objectives for their collaboration through 2021.
On April 3, Laenser and Abdelouahab El Jabri, governor and official at the Ministry of the Interior, will address the Congress following a presentation on the importance of Morocco’s partnership with the Council.