Cités Unies France (CUF), “French United local governments” is a federation of French local and regional governments involved in international relations and, in particular, in decentralized co-operation. Its members become automatically members of the world organisation United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), based in Barcelona.
Cités Unies France was created in 1975; its president is M. Ries, Mayor of Strasbourg.
Cités Unies France aims at promoting local democracy, peace, international solidarity, and a strong and genuine participation of the population in local affairs. It also firmly believes cities and other levels of local and regional government can only win by exchanging on challenges that face them all over the world.
Cités Unies France is:
a network of 3 000 French local governments engaged in international cooperation with their counterparts worldwide;
more than 30 years of experience in facilitating the engagement of French elected local officials and their staff in international cooperation to share expertise and experience with their peers in public matters;
a branch of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), a world-wide organization of local authorities, promoting democratic local self-government;
an advocate of city diplomacy;
several partnership agreements with local government associations abroad ;
a platform of “country-groups” dedicated to a number of focus countries offering a unique opportunity for local governments to develop, together with their partners abroad, programs that tackle complex local challenges;
a team of 20 people in day-to-day working relations with international and national bodies dealing with issues that are of interest for local governments;
a website (www.cites-unies-france.org) visited more than 200.000 times a year.
Since 1992, French legislation has authorized all local authorities to sign agreements with foreign counterparts, provided that they do not conflict with French national commitments (treaties, in particular).
A substantial and growing number of local and regional authorities are involved in this new mode of action: thousands of partnerships exist with over one hundred countries throughout the world. Within the field of international co-operation, Cités Unies France provides information and advice, organises working groups on specific issues, and co-ordinates more than twenty “country-groups”, bringing together French local governments in order to facilitate exchange of information and experiences, and foster a closer co-operation between its members. These “country-groups” contribute to a better understanding of the cultural, social, economic, and political environment of their foreign counterparts and are chaired by a local elected official.
CUF maintains a close working relation with French national authorities - it has a three-year agreement with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, French NGOs, several institutions in the field of international co-operation, and the European Commission.