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 will be strengthened by the wide outreach of the No Hate Speech Movement to individuals in the member States.
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.
The strategic priorities for each biennial programme of the youth sector are defined by the Joint Council on Youth, which is the central co‐managed political body of the youth sector.
The three strategic priorities for the 2018‐19 biennium will be to focus on:
- access to rights;
- youth participation and youth work;
- inclusive and peaceful societies.
The Programming Committee on Youth is the co‐managed body taking decisions on the programme of the youth sector, including the grants awarded by the European Youth Foundation.
When taking its decisions, the Programming Committee on Youth examines a proposed project’s links with the expected results and how it can contribute to achieving the overall objectives of the youth sector.
The following expected results and programme orientations have been defined for 2018‐19.
Young people and youth organisations have been supported in accessing their rights and advocating human rights and citizenship education
- Implementation and dissemination of Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)7 on young people’s access to rights (following a roadmap to be approved by the Joint Council on Youth in 2017)
- Support measures to member States, local authorities and youth organisations in the implementation and review of Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2015)3 on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights (ENTER! Recommendation)
- Continuation of the Human Rights Education Youth Programme, including media literacy with children and young people
- Implementation of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education, based on the conclusions of the review
Young people access their rights and advocate human rights and citizenship education as a result of the support provided by the Council of Europe to young people, youth organisations and member states.
The Council of Europe’s youth sector will consolidate its rights-based approach to youth policies in order to address the needs of young people across different policy areas. The promotion of all young people’s access to rights will be pursued with member States and youth organisations through measures to support the implementation (at local, national and European levels) 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. Special attention will be paid to the continuation of the Human Rights Education Youth Programme on- and offline, the review of the implementation of the EDC/HRE Charter and relevant experiences of the NHSM campaign, evaluation and other latest developments within the Council of Europe in the field of Internet and media literacy.
Youth organisations and member States have been supported in developing youth policy and youth work for democratic participation of young people
Programme orientations: youth participation
- Removing barriers for youth civil society to organise itself and participate (including legal barriers)
- Supporting youth participation in Internet governance processes (taking into consideration the results of the NHSM campaign evaluation)
- Supporting member States and youth organisations to implement the principles of the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life; further dissemination of the ”Have your say” manual to public authorities and the non-governmental sector
Programme orientations: youth work
- Supporting the dissemination and implementation of the future Committee of Ministers’ recommendation on youth work (following the roadmap and mid-term strategy to be developed in 2017)
- Supporting the dissemination of the Council of Europe Youth Work Portfolio
- Measures to support the quality development and recognition of youth work and non-formal education and learning in the programme of the European Youth Centres and their dissemination to member States (e.g. through training staff of youth centres having been awarded the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres)
Young people participate in democracy and develop youth policy and youth work at local, regional, national and European levels as a result of the assistance provided by the Council of Europe to young people, youth organisations and member States.
The sustainability of the Council of Europe’s core values relies also on the creativity, competencies, 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. 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. Young people active in civil society require support and assistance to remove obstacles to their involvement and to their full enjoyment of the freedom of association.
Youth workers and youth organisations have been supported in their work on peace-building and intercultural dialogue to prevent and combat discrimination, exclusion and violent extremism
Programme orientations: Combating all forms of discrimination and exclusion, with a specific focus on:
- Roma youth participation
- Social inclusion of young refugees and their transition from childhood to adulthood
- Multiple discrimination and intersectionality (including gender equality, sexual orientation LGBTQI, gender identity and disability)
Programme orientations: Enabling young people to promote peaceful societies by providing them with opportunities to play an active role in:
- Intercultural dialogue/learning
- Preventing violent extremism (follow up to the NHSM)
- Peacebuilding and conflict transformation
- Co-operation with neighbouring and other world regions
Young people engage in and lead intercultural dialogue as a result of the Council of Europe’s support to young people, youth organisations and youth workers in preventing and combating discrimination exclusion and violent extremism
Persistent forms of structural discrimination, combined with prejudice and stigma, impact negatively on the prospects of social inclusion and well-being of vulnerable and/or minority groups of young people, notably young Roma, refugees and migrants and young people with disabilities. Sexual orientation and gender identity are additional factors of vulnerability that affect young people. Mental health difficulties are a supplementary ground of discrimination against young people. Preventing and counter-acting discrimination, to allow the participation of all young people, remains central to the youth policy of the Council of Europe and a permanent concern of its partners. In addition, the lives of too many young people are still shaped by armed conflicts and their sequels. Youth organisations and youth workers play an important role in supporting young people in these situations and in promoting the application of the Council of Europe’s standards and experiences across the member states; and 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 Resolution on Youth, Peace and Security and of the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue.