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What are Social Rights?

Social rights are human rights and have all their characteristics. Social rights are moral, legal or societal rules and an understanding of what is necessary to fulfil people’s social needs and to promote social inclusion and social solidarity. Social rights concern how people live and work together and the basic necessities of life. They are based on the ideas of equality and guaranteed access to essential social and economic goods, services, and opportunities.

At the European level, social rights have been mostly the subject of two Council of Europe conventions: the European Social Charter and the revised European Social Charter. This adds to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms that also includes provisions for social human rights. The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation. It comprises 47 member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union. The Council of Europe develops standards for, monitors and cooperates with its member states regarding human rights, democracy and the rule of law. 

The social rights set out in the Revised European Social Charter include:

  • Access to quality public services
  • Access to education
  • Access to health services
  • Access to social protection
  • Access to housing
  • Access to employment
  • Access to social rights for minority social groups

What is a Recommendation?

The Committee of Ministers is the main decision making body of the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers elaborates recommendations for the member states of the Council of Europe on matters that concern human rights, democracy or the rule of law. A recommendation is not binding to the member states; however, it provides a policy framework and proposals that governments can implement on the national level.

Where did the Enter! Recommendation come from?

The Enter! project has among its aims to develop policy responses based on social rights to situations of exclusion, discrimination and violence affecting young people.

Based on the activities of the Enter! project, in particular the training of youth workers and local interventions developed by youth workers in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, a first list of proposals was developed in 2011.

These are proposals regarding what young people, youth workers and policy makers from the local and regional levels considered essential for the social inclusion of young people living in Europe today.

These proposals were processed both by an expert group in youth policy, as well as by the decision-making bodies of the Youth Department of the Council of Europe.

These proposals and the subsequent discussions formed the basis for Recommendation (CM/Rec(2015)3) adopted by the Committee of Ministers in January 2015.  

What does the Recommendation say?

The Recommendation recognises that for young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to be included and to become active citizens, they must have access to quality education, secure employment, decent living conditions, adequate transport, health care, technology and opportunities for social, cultural and economic participation.

It also recognises that young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, especially those living in poverty, are less likely to have access to these opportunities. As a result they are more vulnerable to all kinds of risks, including poor physical and mental health, substance abuse, self-harm, violence, discrimination and exclusion.

What does the recommendation call for?

Firstly, the Recommendation advocates that the member States develop and implement policies on the needs of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. It says that these policies should aim to prevent and eradicate poverty, discrimination, violence and exclusion.  To do this the Recommendation suggests that public authorities should:

  • Improve living conditions for young people living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods by providing easy access to affordable and youth-friendly public services in:
    • Education and training
    • Employment
    • Health
    • Housing
    • Information and counselling
    • Sports, leisure and culture
  • Implement measures to achieve an end to segregation and isolation
  • Promote opportunities and programmes that ensure young people are consulted about and able to participate in decisions related to their living environment
  • Ensure that young people can play an active role in society, without discrimination
  • Recognise the role of non-formal education, youth workers and youth organisations in promoting active citizenship and preventing discrimination, violence and social exclusion
  • Ensure that youth policies are gender-sensitive and support the equal participation of young women and men living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The Recommendation calls on public authorities to translate the recommendation and its appendix, and to distribute it as widely as possible, especially to young people using youth friendly communication.

Finally it asks the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to bring the recommendation to the attention of governments that are not member states of the Council of Europe, but who are members of the European Cultural Convention.

70 years of the Council of Europe