Welcome to COMPASS, the manual on human rights education with young people!

Welcome to Compass, the manual for human rights education with young people,in this fully revised and updated edition!
Compass was first published in 2002 within the framework of the Human Rights Education Youth Programme of the Directorate of Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe. The programme was created because human rights education (HRE) – meaning educational programmes and activities that focus on promoting equality in human dignity – was, and remains, of incalculable value in shaping a dimension of democratic citizenship for all young people and in promoting a culture of universal human rights. (Read more)

Message from the Secretary General

Image:Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is to ensure that human rights are for all.
Responding to new challenges posed to human rights is a permanent challenge for the Council of Europe. However, human rights cannot be implemented through legal processes alone. Human rights are best respected, protected and appreciated when all of us understand them, stand up for them and apply them in our actions.

Human rights education – learning about, through and for human rights – is therefore essential in preventing human rights violations and in making democracy a sustainable way of life. This is especially relevant to children and young people. Human rights education is in itself a right, enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 2010 calls upon the member states to provide every person within their territory with the opportunity of education for democratic citizenship and human rights education, by all means of education, including non-formal education. It also recognises the irreplaceable role of non-governmental organisations and youth organisations in this process.

"Compass" was first published in 2002 to support the work of facilitators of human rights education with young people. Available in more than 30 languages, "Compass" has brought human rights education to the lives of countless young people in Europe and other world regions. Its version for children – "Compasito" – enjoys a similar success.

Growing up in Europe today can be difficult and painful. Too many young people look at the future with apprehension and fear instead of confidence. The human rights framework of the Council of Europe provides youth policy and youth work with an ethical and normative ground within which the rights and responsibilities of young people should be addressed. The practices of human rights education with young people enabled by "Compass" are examples of the empowerment of young people as responsible citizens, educators and advocates for human rights.

I trust that this new edition of the manual will inspire and motivate human rights education practitioners in their important work.


Thorbjørn Jagland