Working Group on Democratic Institutions (1992-2009)

One of the main objectives of the CBSS since its founding was to provide a framework for common efforts aimed at promoting democratic development in the Baltic Sea region. For this purpose, the Council established a Working Group on Democratic Institutions (WGDI). In close coordination with the CSO, the WGDI studied and made recommendations on ways of promoting democratic values and principles and supported the development of democratic institutions in the Baltic Sea region, by i.a.: sharing experience in relevant fields, particularly with respect to the rule of law, civil society, transparency in administrative practices, access to information and local democracy; launching and overseeing concrete projects in the field of strengthening of democratic institutions, including technical assistance, good governance, local self-government and good law-making; promoting people-to-people contacts and cross-border exchanges in the region.

The WGDI maintained close contact with relevant working structures in other organisations at the national and subnational levels in the Baltic Sea region, with a view to avoiding duplication of efforts and ensuring harmonisation and synergy of activities. WGDI activities were supplemented by expert activities, e.g. conferences, workshops and seminars. The WGDI drafted policy recommendations on the basis of conclusions made by experts and forwarded these to the CSO. The chairmanship rotated among the CBSS members on an annual basis.

Period chaired by each country:

2008-2009         Denmark
2007-2008         Latvia
2006-2007         Poland
2005-2006         Sweden
2004-2005         Estonia
2003-2004         Lithuania
2002-2003         Germany
2001-2002         Norway
2000-2001         Iceland
1999-2000         Russia
1998-1999         Finland
1997-1998         Latvia
1996-1997         Denmark
1995-1996         Poland
1994-1995         Sweden
1992-1994         No standing chair in the WGDI, the working group was chaired by a representative of the State where the WG held its meetings.

Following acknowledgement on the results achieved by the WGDI at the 15th Ministerial Session in Elsinore, Denmark 4 June 2009 the group has now been dissolved in accordance with the Reform Declaration.

CBSS Commissioner on Democratic Development (1994-2003)

In 1994 the CBSS created the position of a Commissioner on Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The Commissioner supported the functioning and development of democratic institutions in the Member States, concentrating on issues such as democracy, good governance and law-making, the strengthening of civil society and promotion of human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

The Commissioners could issue recommendations to the Member States concerning the topics outlined above. A unique feature of the Commissioner's mandate was to serve as a regional Ombudsman function. In this capacity, the citizens of the Baltic Sea region could turn to the Commissioner with their requests for assistance to remedy their situation. In 2000, the CBSS decided to rename the institution to the more political and not least more ideomatic "Commissioner on Democratic Development", compared to the former more judicual title "Commissioner on democratic institutions and human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities".  

In light of the region's progress in the field of democratic development, the Commissioner's mandate was deemed fulfilled, and the position subsequently terminated at the end of 2003.

The Commissioner´s were:
1994-2000: Mr Ole Espersen, Professor, Former Minister. MP
2000-2003: Ms Helle Degn, Former Minister, MP