Recommendation CM/Rec(2015)3of the Committee of Ministers to member Stateson the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights
Social cohesion is important for the sustainability of democracy and human rights (as codified in the European Convention on Human Rights and the Revised European Social Charter); it implies an acceptance of shared responsibility for the welfare of all members of society, especially those who are at risk of poverty or exclusion. In line with this, the youth policy of the Council of Europe aims at providing young people with “equal opportunities and experience which enable them to develop knowledge, skills and competencies to play a full part in all aspects of society”. The Council of Europe’s youth sector is running the Enter! project aiming at the development of youth policy and youth work responses to exclusion, discrimination and violence affecting young people, particularly in multicultural disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
The project was set in response to the growing concern and attention of the European Steering Committee for Youth and the Advisory Council on Youth, the governmental and non-governmental partners of the youth sector of the Council of Europe, to matters of social cohesion and inclusion of young people. The experiences of the Enter! project are at the origin of the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to the member States of the Council of Europe on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights adopted in January 2015.
In this recommendation, the Committee of Ministers recognises that young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, especially those living in poverty, are more vulnerable to all kinds of risks, including poor physical and mental health, substance abuse, self-harm, violence, discrimination and exclusion. The Recommendation proposes measures in various fields of youth, education and social policy. Furthermore, the text is accompanied by guidelines for its implementation by public authorities, including local or regional providers of youth work and social policies, which should help making it a truly useful instrument for the social inclusion of all young people.
On 28th September 2016, Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)7 on Young People’s Access to Rights. The Recommendation highlights that access to rights requires young people, youth organisations and youth workers to know about the rights that young people should be able to enjoy and what they can do if their rights are violated.
On access to information (section 3.6), the Recommendation calls for the provision of "effective mechanisms for informing and advising young people of their rights and the possibilities for seeking redress if these rights are violated or withheld". The recommendation calls on Member States to establish or develop youth policies that more effectively facilitate young people’s access to rights. In this regard, Member States are invited to consider a series of specific measures to promote and facilitate young people’s access to rights and encourage local and regional authorities to do the same. The measures are set out under the following headings:
Education plays an essential role in the promotion of the core values of the Council of Europe: democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as in the prevention of human rights violations. More generally, education is increasingly seen as a defence against the rise of violence, racism, extremism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance.
This growing awareness is reflected in the adoption of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education by the Organisation’s 47 member states in the framework of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)7.
The Charter is an important reference point for all those dealing with citizenship and human rights education. It will hopefully provide a focus and catalyst for action in the member states. It is also a way of disseminating good practice and raising standards throughout Europe and beyond.
Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life
The active participation of young people in decisions and actions at local and regional level is essential if we are to build more democratic, inclusive and prosperous societies. Participation in the democratic life of any community is about more than voting or standing for election, although these are important elements. Participation and active citizenship is about having the right, the means, the space and the opportunity and where necessary the support to participate in and influence decisions and engage in actions and activities so as to contribute to building a better society.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU brings together in a single document the fundamental rights protected in the EU. The Charter contains rights and freedoms under six titles: Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens' Rights, and Justice. Proclaimed in 2000, the Charter has become legally binding on the EU with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in December 2009.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly abbreviated as the CRC, CROC, or UNCRC) is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. The Convention defines a child as any human being under the age of eighteen, unless the age of majority is attained earlier under national legislation.
Nations that ratify this convention are bound to it by international law. Compliance is monitored by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is composed of members from countries around the world. Once a year, the Committee submits a report to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which also hears a statement from the CRC Chair, and the Assembly adopts a Resolution on the Rights of the Child.
The 1951 Refugee Convention
The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key legal document that forms the basis of our work. Ratified by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.
The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law. UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected.
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the European Convention on Human Rights, was opened for signature in Rome on 4 November 1950 and came into force in 1953. It was the first instrument to give effect to certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and make them binding.
Since its adoption in 1950 the Convention has been amended a number of times and supplemented with many rights in addition to those set forth in the original text.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.