Today, on 11 October we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Council of Europe project on Education for Democratic Citizenship. The challenges that Europe is facing today – including disenchantment with democracy, integration of refugees and the rise of violent extremism - make education for democratic citizenship and human rights more important than ever, and we need to step up this work in the years to come.
Since 1997, the Council of Europe worked closely with the member states to promote education for democracy and human rights, and a broad range of materials, networks and initiatives provide us with a solid foundation. The Council of Europe Charter on education for democratic citizenship and human rights education is a common European standard and impetus for action. The Council of Europe Reference framework of competences for democratic culture is a practical instrument for translating key principles into education practice. The Report on the state of citizenship and human rights education in Europe gives us a useful overview of the current obstacles, successful practices and priorities for action. The Council of Europe is committed to supporting its member states in improving quality and strengthening effectiveness of education in this area. We rely on all our partners in making this work better known and in giving education for democracy and human rights the priority and visibility that it deserves.
The project was launched at the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe held in Strasbourg in October 1997. In the final declaration of the Summit the member states stressed that the far-reaching changes in Europe and the great challenges to our societies required intensified cooperation between all European democracies. They confirmed their goal of achieving a greater unity between the member states, with a view to building freer, more tolerant and just European society based on common values. The member states gave their full support to the Council of Europe with a view to intensifying its contribution to cohesion, stability and security in Europe and stressed the essential role of culture and education in strengthening mutual understanding and confidence between people.