Commonwealth Local Government Forum

The Aberdeen Agenda

The CLGF Aberdeen Agenda: Commonwealth principles on good practice for local democracy and good governance, provides a set of standards to promote healthy local democracy and good governance. The principles were discussed at the 2005 Commonwealth Local Government Conference in Aberdeen, and formally approved by the CLGF Members meeting on 18 March 2005. In 2013, the Aberdeen Agenda was incorporated into the new Commonwealth Charter.

CLGF is widely disseminating the Aberdeen Agenda throughout the Commonwealth to its members and partner organisations and encouraging local government and ministry members to discuss how the principles can be used to help develop and monitor policies and practice throughout the Commonwealth.

CLGF’s work in this area is being shaped by how it can help its members to implement the principles.


The twelve Aberdeen principles:


1 Constitutional and legal recognition for local democracy:  local democracy should enjoy constitutional and legal recognition
2 The ability to elect local representatives: citizens should be able to elect their local representatives in conditions of political freedom.
3 Partnerships between spheres of government: there should be cooperation and partnership among local, regional/provincial and national spheres of government.
4 Defined legislative framework:  local democracy should ensure local government has appropriate powers in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.
5 Opportunity to participate in local decision-making: all citizens should be able to participate actively in the local democratic process.
6 Open local government – accountability:  local government should be accountable to the community it serves.
7 Open local government – transparency:  the local decision making process should be open and transparent.
8 Openness to scrutiny: the work of the executive should be subject to scrutiny.
9 Inclusiveness: the process of local decision-making must reflect the social, economic, environmental and cultural needs of the entire community.
10 Adequate and equitable resource allocation:  in order to respond to the needs of the local community
11 Equitable service delivery:  the distribution of services should reflect the diverse needs of the local community.
12 Building strong local democracy and good governance:  commitment to continuous capacity development of democratic local government.

Related links and documents

CLGF submission to the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy in Scotland, CLGF 2013

Benchmarking Rwanda against the Aberdeen principles, RALGA 2013, 
Implimenting the Aberdeen Agenda in South Asia: A regional training programme for elected councillors, CLGF 2009
Meeting the challenges of the Aberdeen Agenda - an assessment of local democracy in Uganda, CLGF 2007 
Commonwealth Local Government Conference 2005: Conference Report, CLGF 2005

How CLGF members having been using the Aberdeen principles in developing local government policy and practice

Commonwealth Principles on good practice for local democracy and good governance in Belize city, Belize City Council

Local government in Namibia reform Position Paper April 2013,  Ministry of Regional and Local government, housing and rural development  Namibia 2013

The state of local democracy and good local governance in Tanzania 2011, Association of Local Authorities of Tanzania (ALAT) 2011

Good to know for RALGA members: the Aberdeen Agenda and Cardiff Consensus. Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities 2014

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