Youth for democracy
The current economic and social context in Europe today is creating very diverse challenges for young people. They are often the first to be affected by unemployment and discrimination. With increasing fragmentation and economic inequalities of our societies there is a real risk of democratic disillusionment and social exclusion of young people. The Youth for Democracy programme seeks to achieve the active participation and autonomy of young people in peaceful and inclusive societies of Europe. The work is based on a co-management principle that actively involves young people in the decision-making process.
A series of activities such as training courses, conferences, seminars, consultative meetings, youth peace camps and study sessions bringing youth NGOs to the European Youth Centres to study the priority themes prepares the beneficiaries to become multipliers for the values defended through the youth programme. Research and educational manuals are also produced and widely disseminated, thereby reaching out to a wider population of youth workers, NGOs and authorities on the priorities of the Youth for Democracy programme.
This programme line involves a double perspective.
- The first objective is that young people change their behaviour to influence decisions in democratic processes and increase their involvement in the development of inclusive and peaceful societies.
- The second objective is that member States take concrete measures for youth policy development facilitating young people’s access to rights.
2020-21 Priorities of the Council of Europe youth sector
The strategic priorities for each biennial programme of the youth sector are defined by the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ), which is the central co‐managed political body of the youth sector.
The three strategic priorities for the 2020‐21 biennium will be to focus on:
- promoting young people's access to rights and supporting them in advocating education for human rights and democracy;
- facilitating young people's autonomy and participation through the promotion of youth policies and youth work, as well as support for youth civil society;
- engaging young people in peace-building and social cohesion, to combat discrimination and exclusion.
The following expected results and programme orientations have been defined for 2020-21.
Young people and youth organisations have increased their capacity to access their rights and advocate for human rights and citizenship education
Programme orientations for expected result 1:
- Implementing the roadmap on the dissemination of Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)7 on young people’s access to rights and preparing its first five-year review.
- Implementing support measures to member states, local authorities and youth organisations to follow-up the conclusions of the review of Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2015)3 on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights (ENTER! Recommendation).
- Continuing the Human Rights Education Youth Programme, including information and media literacy with children and young people, as a contribution to the implementation of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education.
- Continuing to identify and remedy the effects of shrinking civic space on young people and youth organisations.
Young people’s access to rights requires the removal of legal, political and social barriers. Young people and youth organisations furthermore need support in order to promote human rights and democracy, particularly in light of the trend towards a shrinking space for civil society. Any obstacles to their work have to be removed. This requires the co-operation of member states and youth organisations at local, regional, national and European levels.
The promotion of access to rights for all young people will be pursued with member states and youth organisations through measures to support the implementation of the Committee of Ministers’ recommendations CM/Rec(2016)7 on young people’s access to rights and CM/Rec(2015)3 on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights (ENTER!). Special attention will be paid to the continuation of the Human Rights Education Youth Programme on- and offline, the implementation of the EDC/HRE Charter as well as latest developments within the Council of Europe in the field of information and media literacy.
Indicators (Target 2020-2021)
- Number of youth leaders, youth workers and other multipliers participating in study sessions, training courses, seminars and other activities on access to rights, human rights education and education for democratic citizenship (860).
- Percentage of participants in study sessions declaring that they have increased their knowledge on access to rights, human rights education and education for democratic citizenship (75%).
- Number of youth work projects and policy initiatives by municipalities and youth organisations to implement the ENTER! Recommendation on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights (Recommendation CM/Rec(2015)3) (20).
- Number of member States’ and youth organisations’ inputs to the review of the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)7 on Young People’s Access to Rights (80).
- Number of youth organisations and other multipliers involved in the implementation of the Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (40).
- Number of youth leaders involved in outreach activities for human rights at the European Youth Centres (2400).
Youth organisations and member States have increased their capacity to develop youth policy and youth work for the democratic participation of young people
Programme orientations for expected result 2:
- Supporting young people to access their rights to assemble and freely form, join and be active in associations; enhancing young people’s meaningful participation in political processes.
- Supporting youth participation in Internet governance processes.
- Promoting the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life and supporting member states and youth organisations to implement its principles.
- Further disseminating the “Have your say” manual to public authorities and the non-governmental sector.
- Pursuing the dissemination and implementation of Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)4 on youth work, developing and promoting a European youth work agenda;
- Supporting the quality development, sustainability and recognition of youth work and non-formal education and learning, notably through the use of Council of Europe instruments in the member states (e.g. through the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres and the Council of Europe Youth Work Portfolio).
The sustainability of the Council of Europe’s core values relies also on the creativity, competences, social commitment, and contribution of young people as well as on their confidence in the future. Youth policies and youth work practice must support young people to realise their full potential as autonomous members of society, enabling them to develop life plans and exercise their democratic citizenship. Special attention will be paid to young people’s meaningful participation in political processes.
Youth work as a social practice makes an important contribution to active citizenship and youth participation by providing opportunities to acquire the values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and critical understanding required for effective civic engagement and social action in democratic culture. In this respect, special attention will be paid to the dissemination of Council of Europe standards in relation to the training of youth workers, their promotion through partners at national and European levels, institutional bodies of the Council of Europe (e.g. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities) and other sectors concerned, and to the quality of youth work provisions.
Throughout this priority, the participation of young people with disabilities and inclusive youth work will be promoted.
Indicators (Target 2020-2021)
- Number of youth leaders and multipliers trained in study sessions (380).
- Percentage of participants in study sessions declaring that they have increased their capacity to develop youth policy (75%).
- Number of young people and public authorities’ officials supported through joint training courses (50/50) and seminars on the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (Recommendation Rec(2004)13) (160).
- Number of youth organisations involved in youth participation in Internet Governance forums at European and international levels (10).
- Number of multipliers reached in activities to support the quality development and the recognition of youth work and non-formal education and learning through the application of CM/Rec(2017)4 on youth work and the Council of Europe Youth Work Portfolio (450).
- Date of availability of a policy document with recommendations on protecting youth civil society organisations adopted by the co-management bodies (31/12/2021).
Youth workers and young people have gained knowledge and skills to work on peace-building and intercultural dialogue to prevent and combat discrimination, exclusion and violent extremism
Promoting social inclusion, fostering active participation, gender equality and combating all forms of discrimination on the grounds of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights – taking an intersectional approach – with a specific focus on:
- Roma youth and other minority groups;
- Young refugees and their transition from childhood to adulthood;
- Young people with disabilities;
- LGBTQI young people;
- Young women and girls.
Enabling young people to promote peaceful societies by providing them with opportunities to play an active role in:
- Intercultural dialogue/learning;
- Peacebuilding and conflict transformation;
- Challenging the rise of nationalism and populism;
- Co-operation with neighbouring and other world regions.
Preventing and counteracting discrimination, to allow the democratic participation of all young people, remain central to the Council of Europe’s youth policy and a permanent concern of its partners. These are necessary steps to strengthen social cohesion and respect for diversity. The lives of too many young people are still shaped by conflicts and the absence of peace. Peaceful and inclusive societies also depend on the recognition of intersectionality and combating all forms of discrimination and social exclusion. Persistent forms of structural discrimination combined with prejudice impact negatively on the prospect of social inclusion and the well-being of marginalised groups of young people, including young people with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, young Roma, refugees and migrants, women and girls, LGBTQI youth, etc. Youth organisations and youth workers play an important role in supporting intercultural dialogue with neighbouring regions and involving young people in confidence-building and conflict-transformation activities in the spirit of the UN Security Council Resolutions 2250 and 2419 on Youth, Peace and Security and of the Council of Europe White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue.
Indicators (Target 2020-2021)
- Number of youth workers supported through training courses, study sessions and youth peace and dialogue camps bringing together young people from conflict regions (360).
- Percentage of participants in the study sessions declaring that they have increased their knowledge and skills to work on peace-building and intercultural dialogue (75%).
- Number of multipliers participating in intercultural dialogue activities between European and Arab youth leaders (200).
- Number of young refugees involved in youth work projects inspired by Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)4 on supporting refugees in transition to adulthood (150).
- Number of young people involved in study sessions about combating all forms of discrimination with an intersectional approach (250).
- Date of availability of policy guidelines about Roma youth participation and inclusion at national level (31/12/2021).
Member States have increased their capacity to develop youth policies promoting Council of Europe standards
The fourth expected result focuses on supporting the member States in the development of their youth policy. This expected result is included in the programme of the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) and does not fall within the remit of the CMJ.
Programme orientations for expected result 4:
- assisting member States to integrate Council of Europe standards into national youth policies, action plans and strategies through a diversified package of assistance measures;
- supporting the capacity building of relevant public authorities to implement national youth policies in accordance with the Council of Europe’s standards and approaches, and fostering their co-operation with youth NGOs;
- ensuring the dissemination and implementation of Council of Europe standards (with a special focus on Committee of Ministers’ recommendations CM/Rec(2017)4 on youth work, CM/Rec(2016)7 on young people’s access to rights and CM/Rec(2015)3 on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights);
- assisting interested member States to develop national quality standards for youth centres, based on the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres;
- promoting and encouraging geographical balance in member states taking part in the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres programme.
Indicators (Target 2020-2021)
- Number of assistance measures on youth policy provided to member States through capacity-building and policy advice (6).
- Number of translations of Council of Europe youth policy standards in view of their dissemination in member States (12).
- Number of member States assisted in the development of quality standards for youth centres, notably through the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres (4).
- Date of adoption of the Council of Europe youth sector strategy 2030 (31/12/2020).