Compendium of Council of Europe documents related to youth NGOs and youth participation
Welcome to the Compendium!
Welcome to this selection of Council of Europe texts which relate to NGOs and citizen, especially youth participation, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association. This compendium is an online resource to guide you through the complex world of policies and political statements.
The aim of this Compendium is to provide civil society organisations, especially youth organisations – whether formal or non-formal – with various Council of Europe policy documents and statements that relate to young people, youth participation (or participation in general) and NGOs. It is primarily intended to support youth organisations in finding relevant policies or statements they can use to inform their work and develop or defend their stand on youth issues. It can also be helpful in understanding the role of youth NGOs and their work in the wider frame of human rights.
Policy documents are not always easy to read or understand; sometimes they are considered to be of little or no importance or relevance to people or organisations working on local or regional levels. However, they become important when civil society organisations need to clarify their objectives, decide on strategies for fostering youth participation, or protect/defend their vision/mission and activities. It is clear that, in a democratic society, civil society organisations should not find themselves in a situation where such action is necessary. However nowadays, NGOs in different parts of Europe are facing increasing infringements on their freedom of association, assembly and expression, and in such circumstances, it is important to be able to explain their mission to those who may oppose their beliefs.
The policy documents presented in this Compendium
- provide you with the conceptual framework for youth participation and civil society organisations;
- help you to understand the meaning of freedom of assembly and association and its limits;
- give you useful tips on how to develop your mission and vision of the organisation and how to address the issues of youth participation in your activities;
- provide you with practical guidelines on the legal frameworks for civil society organisations;
- inform you of state authorities’ obligations with regard to youth participation and NGOs;
- make you think and reflect on what you do or what you intend to do.
How is this Compendium organised?
Each entry in this Compendium consists of:
- the title of the document;
- the name of the Council of Europe institution having adopted it and the date of adoption;
- the reference number – the number that is used by the institutions as a unique identifier for each text and to organise their work;
- a description of the document, including a short explanation of the aim, a description of the content and sometimes links to other practical tools that may help you to understand the concepts and ideas included in the document;
- the website where you can find the document.
Each entry also includes information on whether the document is related exclusively to youth issues or not, as well as some tags that will hopefully help you to find the information you are looking for.
Glossary of the types of documents
- Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers – recommendations issued by the Committee of Ministers to the member states of the Council of Europe on various matters. They are not binding on member states, however, the Committee of Ministers can ask governments "to inform it of the action taken by them" (Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe)
- Explanatory memorandum – document appended to policy papers (charters, conventions, etc.) prepared by the Council of Europe Secretariat or groups of experts explaining the nature of the document and its provisions in order to make them easier to understand.
- Recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly – documents prepared by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that contain proposals addressed to the Committee of Ministers for implementation by that Committee or by the member states’ governments.
- Resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly – documents adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that embody the Assembly’s decisions on questions of substance which it is empowered to put into effect, or a point of view for which it alone is responsible.
- Convention – a type of treaty, an international agreement between the states on a particular matter and governed by international law. Conventions are open for signature by member states of the Council of Europe (sometimes other countries can also become parties to conventions). Once signed, conventions must be ratified by a national institution constituted to do it. By ratifying the convention, the state expresses its consent to be bound by a treaty. The Convention enters into force when a sufficient number of states have expressed their consent to be bound by the treaty (this number is usually specified in the document). Then, the treaty has a legal existence in the international legal system and in the legal systems of states parties. Conventions are legally binding for the states that have signed and ratified them however states may record “reservations”, ie they may exclude themselves from certain provisions. Conventions usually have a monitoring mechanism that monitors their implementation in the member states.
- Charter – a type of treaty in the Council of Europe dealing with a specific matter, e.g social rights. Some charters have a legally non-binding character, which means that the states do not have to sign and ratify them and their provisions are meant to guide member states in the development and implementation of specific policies. However, some of them, like the European Social Charter, are legally binding. In such situations, the process of signing and ratifying them is the same as in the case of conventions.
Samarkand Human Rights Forum for Youth
Nika Bakhsoliani, Bureau member of the Advisory Council on Youth co-ordinator of the Access to rights priority focus group, spoke about human rights education at the Samarkand Human Rights Forum on 13 August 2020. As an expert in human rights education (HRE), Nika referred to HRE as "a many-faced...
17 May 2019
129th Session of the Committee of Ministers (Helsinki, 17 May 2019), 2. A shared responsibility for democratic security in Europe
Youth specific: Yes Link to source
Adopted on: 17 May 2019
Declaration by the Committee of Ministers on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe
Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 17 May 2019 at the 129th Session of the Ministers' Deputies Youth specific: No Link to source
1 April 2019
Ready for future challenges - Reinforcing the Council of Europe - Report by the Secretary General for the Ministerial Session in Helsinki, 16-17 May 2019
Youth specific: No Link to source
Adopted on: 30 June 2018
Compendium of Council of Europe practice relating to the right to freedom of association and the position of non-governmental organisations
This document, prepared by Jeremy McBride on behalf of the Expert Council on NGO Law of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, examines the practice of Council of Europe bodies whose activities deal in some way with the enjoyment of the right to freedom of association and/or the...
Adopted on: 27 June 2018
In this resolution, the Parliamentary Assembly stresses the importance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for the development and realisation of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It also notices that the space for civil society has been shrinking over the last few years,...
Adopted on: 18 May 2018
Report on the State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: Role of Institutions, Threats to Institutions
In his annual report to the Committee of Ministers, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe focuses on the role of institutions, both domestic and international, including NGOs. The report consists of five chapters that look at the key building blocks of democratic security: efficient,...
Adopted on: 21 March 2018
This recommendation aims to serve as a helpful guide for local and national authorities committed to improving the opportunities for citizen participation in the life of the local community. It contains general advice and identifies basic principles and practical measures that could form the...
Adopted on: December 2017
Non-governmental organisations: review of developments in standards, mechanisms and case law 2015-2017
This review, prepared by Jeremy McBride on behalf of the Expert Council of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, deals with a wide range of issues relating to standards, the work of various mechanisms and case law related to NGOs. The review explains different decisions and opinions...
Adopted on: 27 September 2017
These guidelines aim to strengthen and facilitate participation by individuals, NGOs and civil society at large in political decision making. The document enumerates the conditions and principles that enable active participation as well as the fundamentals of civil participation in political...
Adopted on: 31 May 2017
This recommendation encourages member states to develop and strengthen youth work policies and practice. The recommendation also includes proposals for the youth sector of the Council of Europe to support member states in this task, maximising the positive contribution that youth work can make to...
Adopted on: 4 April 2017
In this comment, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights describes different cases of actions undertaken by national governments in several member States of the Council of Europe that aim to limit freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association of human rights...
Adopted on: 28 September 2016
This recommendation calls on member states to adopt a human rights-based approach to ensuring young people’s access to rights in order to empower people to know and claim their rights and increases the ability of individuals and institutions to take responsibility for respecting, protecting and...
Adopted on: May 2016
Civil participation in decision-making processes – An overview of standards and practices in Council of Europe member states
This overview was prepared by the European Centre for Not-for-profit Law for the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) with a view to preparing guidelines on civil participation in political decision-making processes. The scope of the civil participation covered in the overview...
Adopted on: 2 March 2016
These guidelines provide practical advice on how to address the challenges to human rights in culturally diverse societies and ensure better protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on respect for the inherent and equal dignity of every human being. The Committee of Ministers...
Adopted on: 28 January 2016
The Parliamentary Assembly recognises that the protection of human rights defenders lies with states and that in some circumstances states may be held responsible for the action of non-state actors aimed at intimidating human rights defenders and for failing to carry out effective investigations...
Adopted on: 12 – 13 December 2014
These guidelines have been developed to further the goal of implementing the right to freedom of association. Although they are primarily intended for use by legislators tasked with drafting laws that regulate or affect associations, they can be of use to anyone who is interested in the practical...
Adopted on: July 2014 (revised version)
This document is a compilation of extracts taken from opinions and reports/studies adopted by the Venice Commission on issues concerning the freedom of assembly. The aim of this compilation is to give an overview of the doctrine of the Venice Commission in this field. Each opinion presented...
Adopted on: July 2014 (revised version)
This document is a compilation of extracts taken from opinions and reports/studies adopted by the Venice Commission on issues concerning the freedom of association. The aim of this compilation is to give an overview of the doctrine of the Venice Commission in this field. Each opinion presented...
Adopted on: 30 April 2014
In this recommendation, the Council of Europe recognises the value of whistleblowing in deterring and preventing wrongdoing, and in strengthening democratic accountability and transparency stating at the same time that whistlebowing is a fundamental aspect of freedom of expression and freedom of...
Adopted on: 16 April 2014
This recommendation introduces the Guide to human rights for Internet users that is appended to the document, it calls on the member states to promote and disseminate it among authorities and citizens to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms apply equally offline and online. The guide...
Adopted on: 28 March 2012
The recommendation covers the rights of children and young people to be heard in all settings, including in schools, in communities and in the family as well as at national and European levels. It also contains guidelines that member states are encouraged to follow when implementing the...
Adopted on: 4 June 2010
These guidelines are primarily addressed to practitioners – legislative draftspersons, politicians, legal professionals, police officers and other law enforcement personnel, local officials, trade unionists, assembly organisers and participants, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil...
Adopted on: 11 May 2010
Recommendation on the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education
With this recommendation, the Council of Europe introduces the Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (EDC/HRE), which is appended to the document. The Charter defines EDC and HRE and describes the relationship between both concepts. It is divided into four...
Adopted on: 31 March 2010
Recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity
This recommendation sets out the principles deriving from existing European and international instruments, with particular emphasis on the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights case law in relation to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The...
Adopted on: 1 October 2009
The Code of Good Practice aims to provide a framework and guidelines for improving the participation of NGOs in decision making, to learn from each other through sharing good practices and bringing them to the attention of NGOs and public authorities alike. The Code is addressed to public...
Adopted on: 13 March 2009
In this recommendation, the Parliamentary Assembly recalls that participation of every individual in all matters that affect them is a fundamental right of every person. It urges the member states to launch public education programmes for children and parents, so they are informed of the right of...
Adopted on: 11 March 2009
Recommendation on the evaluation, auditing and monitoring of participation and participation policies at local and regional level
In this document, the Committee of Ministers recommends to the member states of the Council of Europe to co-operate with local and regional authorities and other stakeholders, including associations of local authorities; to undertake or step up work to evaluate democratic participation and its...
Adopted on: 18 February 2009
This recommendation sets out recommendations, principles and guidelines relating to e‑democracy; it lists 80 principles and 102 guidelines that should be considered when implementing the principles of e-democracy. The recommendation is accompanied by a series of indicative guides: a set of...
Adopted on: 17 November 2004
In this recommendation, the Committee of Ministers calls on the member states to support and promote the implementation of the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life, adopted within Recommendation 128(2003) of the Congress of Local and Regional...
Adopted on: 10 October 2007
This recommendation looks at the legal and fiscal framework of NGOs in the member states to ensure they can continue to make a valuable contribution to public and social life. The document recognises different types of NGOs, such as formal (registered) and informal, membership based and those...
Adopted on: 25 October 2006
In this recommendation, the Committee of Ministers calls on the member states to enhance and support youth participation. This can be done through different measures, such as: providing young people with learning opportunities that will increase their participation in public life; encouraging the...
Adopted on: 11 January 2006
This recommendation recognises the role of the national youth councils as active contributors to the development of public youth policy. The member states, therefore, should respect their specific nature, consider them as partners of public authorities in youth policy development, and legitimise...
Adopted on: 24 April 1986
European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations
This Convention, in its preamble, recognises the role and work of international non-governmental organisations. It applies to associations, foundations and other private institutions (referred as NGOs) that fulfil the following criteria: have a non-profit-making aim of international utility; have...
Adopted on: 4 November 1950 (3 September 1953 – entry into force)
European Convention on Human Rights (Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms)
The European Convention on Human Rights sets forth a number of fundamental rights and freedoms that apply to all people who are on the territory of the states having signed and ratified it (including foreigners from other states that have not ratified the Convention). It also establishes an...