DPP - Debates on European Identity

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Boualem Sansal  “Islam and Democracy” with Boualem SANSAL, on Wednesday 27 November - Fourth open debate
One year after having launched, together with the Israelian writer David Grossman, the “Strasbourg appeal for peace” on the occasion of the 1st World Forum for Democracy, the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal was back in the Council of Europe – and in Strasbourg on ?? November 2013.

The author of “The village of the German” (2008) or “Darwin Street” (2012), winner of many prestigious literary prices and committed Arab intellectual,  presented his reflections on Islam and democracy, based on his latest book “Ruling on behalf of Allah”, published in October 2013 by the Gallimard Editions.

The presentation was followed by a discussion with the audience.
The ‘Open-Ended Debate Series’ has been initiated by the Directorate of Policy Planning in order to address the dilemma facing the Council of Europe as the values and standards promoted by the Organisation are challenged by new political, economic and social trends. The Organisation’s capacity to react and adapt to the profound and accelerating changes to the context in which it operates needs to be reinforced. Can the Council of Europe respond in a meaningful way to the threats facing the European model?

The Euro-crisis has highlighted a number of challenges to Europe’s social and economic models. Pension and health systems are at stake, the education is also exposed to change. The political model is changing as well with new divisions appearing across the continent. Possible challenges such as the emergence of new collective or common rights, access to drinking water, to non-polluted air, to resources located in international waters or to biological resources such as DNA may arise and have a major impact on future generations’ way of life and fundamental rights.

 Other challenges include international mobility and the following increasing diversity; new continent-wide demographic challenges; uncontrolled urbanisation and its consequences on the societal model; the pervasive presence of the state; the limits to European values in a globalised world; and good governance and its link to the perception of institutional legitimacy.

The open-ended debate series will provide an opportunity for diplomats, CoE staff and experts to constructively contribute to defining relevant approaches for the future of the Council of Europe by anticipating future systemic challenges.

The debates will be organised regularly during 2012 and 2013 and will be open-ended. The issues will be introduced by a specialist on the topic. The introduction will be followed by a question & answer session with the audience.

Concept paper


Third Debate, ‘The rights of animals and human obligations', by Prof. Peter Singer, Strasbourg, Palais de l'Europe, 23 May 2013.’

Video of the Conference - Video on youtube

Peter Singer

Professor Peter Singer


The third debate on ‘The rights of animals and human obligations’ was introduced by Professor Peter Singer, an Australian moral philosopher, currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne (Australia).

Professor Singer is an outstanding personality engaged in favour of the protection of animals. He travels the world raising awareness, seeking to convince industries, lobbyists, politics and policy makers to make radical changes in this field. He believes that humans, as the most intelligent species, have a particular responsibility to preserve the environment in which they live. Any changes in it may in the long term have catastrophic effects on the quality of human life and on the future of humanity, and thus Mr Singer propagates the need for harmony and balance between all species in order to maintain an environmental equilibrium, underlining that in the long term this would be in the interest of humanity too. He is the author of Animal Liberation, a book that is today considered a “bible” for those campaigning for basic humane living conditions for animals. His position is sometimes controversial and he uses strong arguments to provoke his audience.

Can the interests of humans and animals be compatible? Should animals have the same rights as humans? Is it possible to treat animals in a humane way? Professor Singer’s presentation addressed concerns related to this topic and was followed by a discussion with the audience.

The exposé was followed by a discussion with a very numerous audience.

Video recording - Audio recording - Video on youtube

Second Debate, ‘The City by the Yardstick of great Anthropological Changes’, Strasbourg, 14 February 2013, by Professor Philippe Breton

 Video recording - Audio recording

Philippe Breton

Professor Philippe Breton


The second debate on ‘The City by the Yardstick of great Anthropological Changes’ was introduced by Professor Philippe Breton, laureate of the Institut de France, University Professor at the University Centre of Media Studies, University of Strasbourg.

The impact of urbanisation on human rights and the stability of democracy in a world where more than half of the population is now living in urban areas. Urbanisation is closely linked with growing cultural diversity and finding new ways of living together. Cities are the place where friction can emerge and, more importantly, where solutions are to be found. Cities are also the locus where perceptions of social fairness are fabricated and social hierarchy is established. The impact of urbanisation on social cohesion is of growing concern to public opinion and therefore highly politicised.

Professor Philippe Breton started his presentation from a recognition that the invention of the city is perhaps at the exact intersection of three major anthropological changes in the history of humankind. The first concerns the shift from the tool to the machine, the second the transition from traditional societies to individualistic societies. And finally, the third change concerns the establishment of a process of de-legitimisation of violence and civilising of behaviour.

The exposé was followed by a discussion with a very numerous audience.

Inaugural Debate, ‘Human Rights, Economic Freedom and State Solvency’ by Professor Erich WEEDE, Strasbourg, 19 November 2012

Audio recording


Professor Erich Weede
The inaugural conference on ‘Human Rights, Economic Freedom and State Solvency’ was given by Professor Erich WEEDE, Emeritus Professor, University of Bonn. What would the consequences be for the Council of Europe if the European welfare-state model changed radically? Are we witnessing a shift towards a world in which the implementation and protection of human rights depends entirely on the resources allocated to the state?

To address these and other concerns, the presentation started from a recognition that the role of the modern state is evolving in European countries as it adapts its presence to a virtual era and to shrinking resources. Although the presence of the state in peoples’ lives has grown extensively, it appears to have lent parts of its power to the markets and to corporations and has become unable to provide solid structural answers to the complexity of globalised activity. At the same time, it is vital that the state continues its role as protector of human rights and the rule of law as no other institution seems to be able to cope with the task.

The exposé was followed by a discussion with a numerous audience.

Concept paper