On 20-22 June 2017 over 400 representatives of governments, education institutions and civil society organisations debated the future of citizenship and human rights education at a conference in Strasbourg.
The discussions were based on the conclusions of the Report on the State of Citizenship and Human Rights Education in Europe. The Report highlighted growing inconsistencies between policy and practice, substantial differences in perceptions between government and civil society respondents and the need to demonstrate the essential connection of citizenship and human rights education with real life issues.
Gabriella BATTAINI-DRAGONI, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, stressed that “populism amounts to an emotional appeal that harnesses public grievance against the establishment. By claiming exclusive moral authority to act on behalf of the people it threatens to dismantle democratic checks and balances, undermine human rights and the protection of minorities, and delegitimise international checks on unrestrained state power. In Europe, we have been here before – and we must never go back. Education is a guarantor of resistance”.
“The promotion of human rights and democracy through education is one of the fundamental elements of democracy and also one of the Council of Europe´s as well as of the Czech Republic´s long-term priorities, - highlighted Prof. Stanislav ŠTEH, Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, - Promotion of human rights represents, inter alia, efforts to overcome barriers to equality. That is why the fundamental current issue is eliminating of all kinds of discrimination and ensuring the rights of persons belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as national or ethnic minorities and child migrants”.
“The present conference organised under the aegis of the Czech Chairmanship has given us the opportunity to conduct a constructive dialogue among the different stakeholders, - said Ambassador Esther RABASA GRAU, Permanent Representative of Andorra, - Over these past two days I appreciated the exchanges of good practices, as well as the search for ideas to improve the implementation of the Charter”.
“You are entitled to have high expectations from the Council of Europe, - stressed Snežana SAMARDŽIĆ-MARKOVIĆ, Directorate General of Democracy. - We are convinced that a systematic and standards-based dialogue with member states is the best way forward. And we are committed to further improve the quality of such dialogue. We are aware that we have a role to play supporting the recognition and role of civil society in its multiple forms, including youth organisations”.
The Conference was organised in the framework of the Czech Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, as part of the review of the Council of Europe Charter on education for democratic citizenship and human rights education, and in cooperation with the European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP), which supports the Council of Europe member states in implementing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) at the national level.