CM(2005)175 16 November 20051
951 Meeting, 14 December 2005
8 Youth and sport
8.1 7th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth (Budapest, 23-24 September 2005) – Report of the Secretary General
At the invitation of the Hungarian government, the 7th Council of Europe Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth took place in Budapest on 23-24 September 2005. The major part of the Conference was held at the Intercontinental Hotel and the closing session in the Upper Chamber of the Hungarian Parliament.
The main theme of the Conference was “Human dignity and social cohesion: youth policy responses to violence”. The objectives were:
- to take stock of policies in the youth field concerning the prevention of violence;
- to offer the possibility for ministers to share examples of good practice with regard to youth policy responses to violence;
- to propose strategies for the prevention of violence, within the framework of youth policies;
- to provide political support for the work priorities of the youth sector for 2006-2008, as established by the Joint Council on Youth.
Two hundred and twenty-three participants and observers attended the Conference, including one hundred and eighty-three members of national delegations from forty-three States Parties to the European Cultural Convention, as well as twenty-two youth representatives from non-governmental organisations partners of the Council of Europe’s youth sector. The Conference was also attended by the main Council of Europe bodies (Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly and Congress of Local and Regional Authorities). Thirty-six member states had included in their delegation at least one youth representative from the national youth council or similar structure. The list of participants is available on the web site of the Directorate General IV - Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport (http://www.coe.int/DGIVRestricted).
Furthermore, the Conference provided an ideal framework for the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Budapest European Youth Centre which had just been renovated on the initiative of and at the expense of the Hungarian government. On this occasion, the participants were offered the possibility to discover the new face of the Centre during an evening reception and to visit a street festival organised around the Centre by the Ministry of Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. The festival was a combination of a variety of activities, including an open day at the EYCB, an NGO fair, theatre performances, music concerts, folk dancing, art exhibitions, a living library, children’s programmes, as well as culinary specialities from different European countries.
Proceedings of the Conference
1. Opening of the Conference
Following a short visual presentation on the issue of violence, the Conference was opened by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Terry DAVIS.
In his introduction, the Secretary General recalled that violence was the most common form of human rights violation and that, although it concerned society as a whole, young people were particularly vulnerable, both as victims and perpetrators. Ministers responsible for youth had the power and the responsibility to propose effective responses to violence. Such policies should emphasize education, in particular non-formal, and social inclusion, taking into account the specific characteristics of adolescents and young people, and involving them as active participants. In this respect, youth organisations and networks should be recognised and supported as places where young people could experience and develop their skills in the fields of participation, solidarity, tolerance, intercultural dialogue, respect for diversity and conflict management.
The Secretary General also stressed that youth policies alone did not have all the answers to overcoming violence and that cross-sectoral co-operation was a key element for effective strategies in this respect. The contribution of youth policies to the European Campaign to eradicate all forms of violence against children, adopted by the third Summit of Heads of State and Government, would be important for supporting joint efforts to foster a more human and inclusive Europe. A major activity in this context would be the Council of Europe’s Youth Campaign on Diversity, Human Rights and Participation to be organised in 2006-2007.
2. Election of the Conference chair and two vice-chairs and adoption of the agenda
Ms Kinga GÖNCZ, Minister of Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Hungary, was elected chair of the Conference.
Mr Yuri PAVLENKO, Minister of Family, Youth and Sport of Ukraine, and Ms Vasso KOLLIA, Secretary General of Youth, Ministry of Education of Greece, were elected vice-chairs.
In her welcome address, the Conference chair stated there was no freedom without security and that the right to security was a fundamental human right. Therefore she was convinced that human rights education was an essential means for preventing violence, and that young people were to be considered as a resource in this respect rather than a problem. For youth policies, an important means of violence prevention was also the continuing education and training of youth leaders and youth workers to enable them to acquire useful skills for their work in dealing with the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and experience in human rights education. Ms GÖNCZ expressed the wish that this Conference be a good opportunity to become familiar with good practices in the field of violence prevention. In Hungary, for example, the Parliament had adopted a National Strategy on Crime Prevention in 2003 which had been prepared in accordance with several Council of Europe recommendations in the areas of domestic violence and assistance to victims.
Her Ministry was implementing programmes on violence prevention, notably through regional offices which provided education and co-ordinated the work of school social workers and youth workers. The ministry supported leisure activities for children, with particular emphasis on programmes that dealt with the prevention of domestic violence, drug misuse, education through sport as well as programmes aimed at community-building or environmental awareness. The Ministry also supported the training of social workers in the framework of the European Commission’s 2005-2006 Youth Programme with particular emphasis on underprivileged young people.
Hungarian youth organisations were also active in violence prevention and had developed several successful initiatives such as:
- the MESE (Hungarian Midnight Sports Championship Association), founded in 1993, which provided underprivileged young people with meaningful leisure activities;
- the Association VALTO-SAV, which had undertaken to re-socialise and re-integrate young people convicted of crimes;
- the KAVA-THEATRE, which mainly targeted underprivileged young people between 9 and 21 years of age and which had allowed more than 40,000 youngsters to benefit from its programmes.
3. Adoption of the agenda
The Conference agenda was adopted as appears in Appendix 1.
4. Presentation of the report on the implementation of the conclusions of the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth (7-9 November 2002, Thessaloniki)
Ms Vasso KOLLIA, Secretary General for Youth, Ministry of Education (Greece), introduced the report prepared by the Council of Europe on the implementation of the conclusions of the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth organised in Thessaloniki (Greece) in 2002.
The Thessaloniki Conference had represented an important step forward in defining common principles and objectives for youth policies in Europe, based on the core values of the Council of Europe. Youth policy responses to violence were to be seen in this context.
The Secretary General for Youth underlined some of the major achievements in the Council of Europe youth sector since 2002, in particular:
- the elaboration of effective tools for formulating and implementing youth policies, in particular with the international reviews of national youth policies and the creation of a European Knowledge Centre for Youth Policy, set up in partnership with the European Commission;
- the implementation of an ambitious human rights education programme with young people, in particular with the publication of the COMPASS manual, and national and regional training courses which enabled the network of multipliers involved in this field to be extended throughout Europe;
- the activities carried out in partnership with youth organisations and governments to promote intercultural dialogue and peace, examples being the training courses on conflict management and resolution, and the major Youth and Globalisation event organised in 2004.
Referring to the 50th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention, she stated that the objectives of this Convention had not yet been achieved and that there was still much to do to develop a more human society with less violence.
5. Address by Mr Jan FIGEL, Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Multilinguism
Mr Jan FIGEL addressed the issue of youth policy responses to violence from the European Commission’s viewpoint, underlining the importance of developing approaches based on the promotion of citizenship and active participation through non-formal education. He also stated that violence prevention should be seen in a social and economic context in which many young Europeans are victims of forms of economic and social violence such as unemployment and exclusion. In this context, the European Commission was undertaking a range of concrete actions and programmes aimed at supporting the social inclusion of young people, promoting intercultural dialogue and respect for diversity, enhancing citizenship education and mutual understanding among young people. These actions and programmes were being implemented through the Youth in Action Programme of the European Commission, and the excellent ongoing co-operation between the Commission and the Council of Europe in the youth field constituted an added value for the work of both partners.
6. Presentation of the results of the Youth Event
Mr Renaldas VAISBRODAS, President of the European Youth Forum, presented the results of the Youth Event which had been organised prior to the Conference for the youth representatives participating in it. The participants had had the opportunity to share their views and examples of best practice in responding to violence in society, particularly on the issues of gender-related violence, homophobic and domestic violence, violence based on racism and intolerance as well as urban violence and violence at school. Their main recommendations were as follows:
- violence should be seen and understood in its ongoing changing context. The meaningful involvement of young people as partners in violence prevention was therefore central to all actions;
- youth organisations had a role to play. A real impact could be achieved through cross-sectoral co-operation within the local community and partnerships between civil society organisations and authorities at all levels;
- responses to violence should be developed through human rights education programmes and intercultural dialogue. Participation of young people, notably from disadvantaged backgrounds, was a key element of violence prevention, and youth employment was a key element of youth participation. Appropriate measures should also be taken to remove obstacles to mobility whilst recognising its value, notably in terms of the skills acquired through it.
The European Youth Forum President concluded his presentation by drawing the Conference’s attention to the challenges that still required a response, namely to continue the fight against racism, discrimination and inequalities as well as to develop trust between young people and public authorities. In order to meet these challenges, it was not sufficient to work only within the close sphere of the Council of Europe’s youth sector. Youth policies, actions, programmes and projects must go out and reach a broader public under a common motto “All different, all equal”, and the co-management system developed by the Council of Europe must serve as a model for their implementation.
The conclusions of the Youth Event appear in Appendix 2.
7. Introduction to the Conference theme by three keynote speakers
Mr Hibat TABIB (France), director and founder of AFPAD (Association for Training, Prevention and Access to Rights) in the town of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine in the Parisian suburbs. His professional experience extended to: social mediation, citizenship education, action against violence, local and municipal public policies.
Mr Tabib’s introduction was centred around urban violence and backed up by examples and concrete results related to projects in which he had been involved.
One of the important messages of Mr Tabib’s introduction was that violence was an expression of the difficulty of living together in increasingly complex societies, where an increasing number of citizens, in particular young people, had no bearings. As a result, violence was a problem which concerned us all and which should thus be dealt with, in particular, through citizenship education and by improving social cohesion.
In this context, youth policies’ response to violence necessarily required a transversal and intersectoral approach which must consider young people as full actors and partners in the implementation of measures which stressed the strengthening of educational support and institutional socialisation (school, professional qualifications, recognition of non-formal education, the role of associations, etc).
Ms Vesna LESKOSEK (Slovenia), assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Ljubljana. Her professional experience included in particular social and political studies research as well as social work in the youth field. Her voluntary experience was mainly in working on campaigns against violence towards women and the fight against inequalities.
Ms Leskosek addressed the issue of hate speech which constituted one of the most widespread and commonplace forms of violence, as well as a most powerful means of discrimination. The use of hate speech was everywhere: in the streets, in schools, in families, in politics, etc. It often led to exclusion and was the starting point for all forms of discrimination: racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, and so on. It was dangerous because it legitimised other actions such as physical or institutional violence. Lastly, hate speech was difficult to recognise, prosecute and prevent.
We must fight and guard against the use of hate speech as an act of violence, including by use of legislative measures which defined hate speech and acknowledged it as a crime, as well as through awareness raising activities aimed at the general public. As far as youth policies were concerned, this phenomenon would necessarily be dealt with through (non formal) education to promote tolerance, respect for others and intercultural dialogue.
Mr Gavan TITLEY (Ireland), lecturer in media studies at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. His main current areas of research covered media coverage of the Iraq war in Ireland, the everyday phenomenology of media and global events, and media in multicultural societies. His experience also included working on young people, violence and masculinity, the relationship between anti-racism and intercultural learning, and youth policy.
Mr Titley’s introduction emphasized the degree of activity and involvement of young people and their associations and networks in violence prevention all over Europe. These young people had clear ideas about the kind of political climate, support and partnership that could enhance their work. Mr Titley represented these ideas by underlining elements such as:
- the need to develop a policy of “critical partnership” rather than a policy that placed too much emphasis on security as well as the tendency to see young people as “angels or devils”;
- the main areas where young people and their associations and organisations were active in violence prevention, with particular emphasis on gender-related violence and racist violence;
- the main criteria for partnership between youth initiatives and local and national government.
The above keynote presentations are summarised in Appendix 3.
8. Working sessions
The afternoon session of Friday 23 September was entirely given over to three parallel working sessions to discuss the theme of the Conference Youth policy responses to violence, taking into consideration youth policy strategies and measures to be developed at local, national and European levels, in areas such as:
- domestic violence;
- urban violence (including in disadvantaged neighbourhoods);
- violence in and around school; in and around sports areas;
- gender-related violence; homophobic violence;
- violence motivated by racism, disrespect and intolerance;
- violence in relation to the media;
The working sessions were to take into consideration the importance of developing partnerships between ministries responsible for youth, civil society and other governmental structures or public authorities. The discussions offered also an opportunity to share concrete examples of good practice.
Working session 1 was chaired by Mr Hans Olav SYVERSEN, State Secretary for Children and Family of Norway. The Rapporteur was Ms Dolores CRISTINA, Minister of Family and Social Solidarity of Malta.
Mr Hibat TABIB participated as resource person.
Working session 2 was chaired by Dr Laurentino DIAS, Secretary of State for Youth and Sport of Portugal. The rapporteur was Ms Vilija BLINKEVICIUTE, Minister of Social Security and Labour of Lithuania.
Ms Vesna LESKOSEK participated as resource person.
Working session 3 was chaired by Mr Yuri PAVLENKO, Minister of Family, Youth and Sport of Ukraine. The rapporteur was PaedDr Jaroslav MÜLLNER, Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sport of the Czech Republic. Mr Gavan TITLEY participated as resource person.
Closing session (Saturday 24 September, Hungarian Parliament)
9. Presentation of the conclusions of the working sessions
The conclusions of the three working sessions held during the afternoon of the previous day were presented in plenary by the respective rapporteurs. They appear in Appendix 4.
10. Presentation and adoption of the texts
The Conference Chair introduced the draft Final Declaration, recalling that it had been subject to in-depth discussions during the whole preparatory process of the Conference, within the regular meetings of senior officials and of the CDEJ.
The Final Declaration was unanimously adopted as appears in Appendix 5.
Mr Giuseppe PORCARO, Chair of the Joint Council on Youth, the co-managed body comprising the members of the CDEJ and those of the Advisory Council on Youth, introduced the draft Resolution on the priorities of the youth sector for 2006-2008.
Mr Porcaro stated that the priorities were the results of the joint efforts of both the governments and the youth organisations within the co-managed structures of the Council of Europe youth sector. Prior to the presentation of the priorities, and in view of the outcomes of the Conference, he called upon all governments to increase efforts in investing in young people. He added that a commitment in this respect had already been made by the third Summit of Heads of State and Government who had supported the organisation of a European Youth Campaign on Diversity, Human Rights and Participation “All different, all equal”, to be held in 2006-2007.
The Joint Council Chair concluded his presentation by underlining the role of the Advisory Council on Youth in youth policy development within the Council of Europe youth sector, and invited the governments and the Council of Europe to make full use of the possibilities of this body.
The draft Resolution on the priorities of the Council of Europe youth sector for 2006-2008 was unanimously adopted as appears in Appendix 6.
11. Closing addresses
Ms Kinga GÖNCZ, Conference Chair called upon the participants to take stock of the results achieved over the two days and stated that each Conference of youth ministers had added something unique to the development of the Council of Europe youth sector and of youth policies in the member states.
The 4th Conference held in Vienna in 1993 was for example very important for Hungary. As a result of this Conference, the European Youth Centre Budapest had opened two years later, and the European Youth Campaign “All different, all equal” had been launched, also two years later, following a proposal of the Norwegian Prime Minister at the 1st Summit of Heads of State and Government.
The 5th Conference (Bucharest 1998) had resulted in the formalisation of co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union in the youth field with the signature of the first Covenant as well as, a few years later, the creation of the Council of Europe Award Young Active Citizens, which rewarded youth projects on violence prevention in 2004. The 6th Conference (Thessaloniki, 2002) had made significant progress in defining common principles and objectives for youth policies.
As regards the follow up to the 7th Conference, Ms GÖNCZ stressed again the importance of the European Youth Campaign on Diversity, Human Rights and Participation, and invited the governments and the Council of Europe to consider the possibility of drafting a legal instrument on human rights education with young people as a basis for continuing the work on violence prevention.
Mr Christian TER STEPANIAN, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the Council of Europe and Chair of the Committee of Ministers’ Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport, Youth and Environment, said that the theme of the Conference was considered important in view of the Action Plan adopted by the 3rd Council of Europe Summit. The Final Declaration, which had just been adopted, represented in his view a relevant contribution in this respect not only because it proposed responses to violence, but also because it placed the issue at the heart of the core values and tasks of the Organisation. Indeed, human rights education and democratic citizenship were essential for effective violence prevention policies. Even if violence was the result of a state of mind that had often social, economical and family causes, one could question whether prosperity and good materialistic conditions for all would be sufficient to guarantee a society without violence. Violence was also a matter of being able to live together in a society founded on shared values, namely those promoted by the Council of Europe.
Ambassador Ter Stepanian expressed also his satisfaction to see that the Final Declaration underlined the importance of the active involvement of young people in policies and actions to overcome violence, but also called upon governments not to use this as an excuse to shirk their responsibilities, but to secure the necessary support to youth NGOs and networks active in preventing violence.
Finally, he underlined the need for cross-sectoral co-operation in dealing with violence, and, as regards the many activities implemented by the Council of Europe in this area, he expressed the wish that the Directorate of Youth and Sport contribute actively to this co-operation.
Lord RUSSELL-JOHNSTON, Chair of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport, opened his address with a word about resources, recalling that at times of economic unease it was often the case that youth issues were not considered as a budget priority. He noted, in this context, that much attention was being paid to the forthcoming Campaign for Diversity, Human Rights and Participation, but that there needed to be an unequivocal commitment to support the campaign financially, in order to ensure its success.
Referring to the fact that the Conference was taking place in Hungary, he recalled his role as the rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly on the establishment of the Budapest Youth Centre, and congratulated the Centre and its staff on the resounding success with which it had met since 1995, whilst thanking the Hungarian authorities for their continuing commitment to the Centre. Drawing attention to the symbolism of the Youth Centres as concerned the Council of Europe’s approach – shared by the Parliamentary Assembly - to youth issues, he underlined the value of the co-management system.
Youth, he said, was a time-definition, not an attitude-description. Violence, by the same token, was not a youth problem, but a human one. He noted that liberty should not be confused with disorder, and that means were needed to restrain those who would take advantage of liberty to indulge in acts of violence.
Referring to the various forms through which violence is manifested, he drew attention to domestic violence, and particularly to the need not to fall back on cultural divergence as an excuse for force in the family. He drew attention also to urban violence and to school violence, focusing in the latter both on bullying and on developing attitudes of hope, and on learning of the value of the hand of friendship. Gender-related violence, too, still flourished through, for example, manifestations of homophobia. Racism still needed to be tackled, and the new Campaign should build on the exceptionally good achievements of the 1995 “All Different, All Equal” Campaign in engaging with such issues. Finally, with regard to the media, and hate speech, one needed to be exposed to evil in order to understand and combat it; censorship exercises were susceptible to misuse.
In closing, Lord Russell-Johnston noted that words were not enough for tomorrow to be different and better, for hope to be transformed into reality, action and commitment were required.
Mr Guy REDIG, Deputy Head of the Private Office of the Minister of Culture, Youth, Sport and Brussels Affairs of the Flemish Community of Belgium, made an appeal to the participants, governments and the Council of Europe to support the European Youth Campaign on Diversity, Human Rights and Participation “All different, all equal”, which was to be organised in 2006-2007. He recalled that the Campaign was part of the Action Plan adopted by the third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, and that it was in complete harmony with the values and objectives of the Organisation. He stated that Europe and its institutions were facing big challenges, and that credibility, especially among young people, was neither achieved nor to be taken for granted. The campaign would be designed to reach all European citizens and would aim to:
- set up a multitude of initiatives promoting diversity as a strength and a challenge;
- strongly invest in the public debate on the basis of partnerships between public authorities and civil society (co-management);
- promote and support participation in democratic processes, both by taking part and by having a part in them.
Mr Redig concluded his address by inviting all governments to support the Campaign, and called upon the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly to provide the Campaign with adequate financial as well as human and other appropriate resources. The three communities of Belgium were already working actively on the Campaign at national level, and had committed the necessary means to this end.
Mr Yuri PAVLENKO, Minister of Family, Youth and Sport of Ukraine announced his government’s invitation to hold the 8th Conference of European Ministers for Youth in Kyiv in 2008.
Thursday, 22 September
14.30 Meeting of senior officials (CDEJ) at the Intercontinental Hotel
Arrival of delegations and registration at the Hotel Intercontinental (afternoon and evening)
19.00 Welcome dinner hosted by
Ms Kinga GÖNCZ, Minister for Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Hungary
(boat trip on the Danube)
Friday, 23 September
09.30 Opening session
Visual presentation on the theme of the Conference
Opening of the Conference by
Mr Terry DAVIS, Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Election of the Conference chair and two vice-chairs
Welcome address by
Ms Kinga GÖNCZ, Minister for Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Hungary
Adoption of the Conference agenda
Presentation of the report on the implementation of the conclusions of the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth (Thessaloniki, November 2002) by
Ms Vasso KOLLIA, Secretary General for Youth (Ministry of Education), Greece
Mr Ján FIGEL, Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism
Presentation of the results of the Youth Event by
Mr Renaldas VAISBRODAS, President of the European Youth Forum
11.00 Coffee break
11.30 Introduction to the theme of the Conference by:
13.00 Luncheon hosted by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for Ministers/Heads of Delegations (Four Seasons Hotel)
Lunch offered by the Hungarian Government for the other participants (Intercontinental Hotel)
14.452 Working sessions: “Youth policy responses to violence”
Note Working session 1:
Chairperson: Mr Hans Olav SYVERSEN
State Secretary for Children and Family Affairs of Norway
Rapporteur: Ms Dolores CRISTINA
Minister for Family and Social Solidarity of Malta
Resource person: Mr Hibat TABIB
Working session 2:
Chairperson: Dr Laurentino DIAS
Secretary of State for Youth and Sport of Portugal
Rapporteur: Ms Vilija BLINKEVICIUTE
Minister of Social Security and Labour of Lithuania
Resource person: Ms Vesna LESKOSEK
Working session 3:
Chairperson: Mr Yuri PAVLENKO
Minister of Family, Youth and Sport of Ukraine
Rapporteur: PaedDr Jaroslav MÜLLNER
Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sport of the Czech Republic
Resource person: Mr Gavan TITLEY
16.30 Coffee break
17.00 Continuation of the working sessions (until 18.30)
19.30 Social evening with buffet dinner at the European Youth Centre
Saturday, 24 September
09.30 Final session
Presentation of the conclusions of the three working sessions
Presentation and adoption of the texts:
11.00 Coffee break
11.30 Closing addresses:
- Ms Kinga GÖNCZ, Minister for Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Hungary
- Mr Christian TER STEPANIAN, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the Council of Europe, Chair of the Committee of Ministers’ Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport, Youth and Environment
- Lord RUSSELL-JOHNSTON, Chair of the Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;
- Dr Guy REDIG, Deputy Head of the Private Office of the Minister for Culture, Youth, Sport and Brussels Affairs of the Flemish Community of Belgium
- Mr Yuri PAVLENKO, Minister of Family, Youth and Sport of Ukraine
13.00 Buffet lunch hosted by Ms Kinga GÖNCZ, Minister for Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Close of the Conference
All day Saturday:
Street festival to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the European Youth Centre Budapest
Conclusions of the Youth Event
YOUNG PEOPLE RESPOND TO VIOLENCE
Young people should be considered as activists in the prevention of violence rather than victims or perpetrators. This was the conclusion that the youth participants, gathering for the Youth Event, wanted to present to the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth.
The European Youth Forum, in co-operation with the Council of Europe Directorate of Youth and Sport and the Hungarian Ministry responsible for youth (the Ministry of Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities) organised a Youth Event on 21 and 22 September prior to the 7th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth, in which they were invited to participate and expose the conclusions of the discussions. During these two days, the youth participants discussed the youth approach to public policies and actions, and gave their responses to the topic of violence.
Youth organisations, in working at grass roots level with young people and by acting on the causes of violence, already played a unique role in preventing youth violence from emerging. That was why dialogue between them and governments and institutions needed to be reinforced to become a real partnership.
After defining the different types and grounds of violence, the young participants came up with the following concrete proposals to be presented to the Conference of European Ministers for Youth:
- to promote closer co-operation and mutual recognition between youth organisations and local, national and European authorities;
- to implement the existing tools developed within the framework of the Council of Europe such as:
- to support the work done inside youth organisations on youth violence, notably through non-formal education, with the aim of reaching the most disadvantaged young people. The development of conflict resolution tools in youth work was critical to that end;
- to envisage new ways of gathering information on the practice of youth violence in every member state in order to co-ordinate national actions to prevent it;
- to provide further research on the issue and the emergence of multiple discriminations affecting youth.
Mr Renaldas Vaisbrodas, President of the European Youth Forum, said this Conference of Ministers provided the opportunity to involve all relevant actors and embark on a dialogue between governments and young people as that was the only way to have a sustainable impact on problems affecting young people specifically.
Summary of the introductions by the 3 keynote speakers
I. Violence in urban neighbourhoods by Mr Hibat TABIB (France)
The problem of violence and insecurity, whether actual or perceived, was the key challenge facing modern societies.
Security was really no more than the condition that made it possible to construct communal life. Combating violence was becoming an issue for each and every one of our societies, and the time had now come to consider the possible responses, thoroughly and serenely.
The presentation focused on a modest local experiment which was nevertheless worth discussing and reflecting upon.
It concerned the Cité des Poètes, an area of the town of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris (North) with 26,000 inhabitants, where 30% of the population were under 20 years old. The estate comprised 850 housing units with 3,000 residents, of whom 35% were foreigners, 50% unemployed, 35% were young unemployed persons, and where the extreme right-wing Front National party had up to 17% of the vote.
At the time, back in 1992, this area had had similar problems, to varying degrees, to those of any other suburb in difficulty: violence, unemployment, precarity, poverty, alcohol, drugs, isolation and so on. Excessive violence had prevailed in the area for several years. It was an estate where the public area had been taken over by a certain category of young people. Violence among children, children in danger who could become dangerous themselves, was a terrible worry for us. Young children hung around the streets at an increasingly young age, there was absenteeism from school and the like.
The common view was "We just don't know how to tackle them" as one resident said. The Cité des Poètes estate was a good illustration of the broken window theory: one window gets broken, soon a second one and then a third, and after that the entire building, street and district are vandalised.
The town council and the lessor decided to take on security guards to handle the situation. That failed, and everyone felt there was nothing they could do.
Then, at the initiative of the Pierrefitte-sur-Seine town council and the Family Benefits Office, a socio-cultural centre (called Georges Brassens, a famous French poet/singer) was set up in the Cité des Poètes estate. In the space of a few years, the centre, partnered by the town council, the state and the local community, created and developed a collective movement against violence. There was a new project based on an employment workshop, a public discussion area, cultural initiatives, a parenting centre, initiatives aimed at schools, efforts to integrate artists in the life of the estate and so on.
Reconquering the public area was the prime objective of the project, which became established as a shared effort and a true partnership in the district.
The project’s approach was developed as follows:
1 – A focus on young people and children
Young people were considered neither as problems nor risks but as individuals who had difficulties and who had rights and responsibilities. How to listen to children and young people, how to communicate with them and how to meet their needs without buying social harmony were questions needed clear answers.
2 – Violence is everyone's business
How to work together, how to mobilise residents and how to create a collective movement against violence. Violence was a complex and multidimensional phenomenon that concerned and, in a manner of speaking, imprisoned everyone. To deal with it, there had to be political will and a cross-sectoral partnership approach, tying in the different policy sectors (access to justice, housing, culture etc); this multisectoral approach put emphasis on educative guidance.
3 – The emergence of a community with a sense of responsibility
In order to help generate social ties and combat withdrawal, fears and rejection as well as the feeble vocabulary of hatred, it was necessary to set about organising a community with a sense of responsibility which would gradually integrate young people.
4 – Finding a way out of the stand-off
We had to bring peace to the district and find a way out of the ongoing stand-off between adults and young people, between young people and institutions, particularly the police. We had to create an area free of dominant forces where young people and adults could speak, to organise encounters and to downgrade violence to conflict and conflict resolution to mediation.
5 – Sanctions
Sanctions, particularly of an educative nature, to ensure respect for common rules, had an essential role.
6 – Social harmony
Durable and legitimate social harmony was not bought but constructed together.
7 – A project organised in the long term
8 – The need for regular assessment
This was required to make the necessary changes and adjustments to the project.
This multidimensional project, with its systematic drive to combat violence, helped the residents regain confidence in themselves and in institutions.
A few years later, everyone agreed there had been a substantial reduction in violence.
Objective indicators bore this out: cultural evenings organised until midnight or one o'clock in the morning in the centre or in public areas, a fall in the number of vacant flats (from 30% to 7%), police statistics, a drop in the popularity of the far-right party of 9 percentage points and so on.
The Cité des Poètes scheme and how it generated a collective movement against violence was described in detail in a book entitled "La cité des Poètes – How to create a collective dynamic against violence”.
This experience had enabled us to work on another project, aimed at creating an association for training, prevention and access to justice. It was a local project with national and European dimensions, geared to access to justice, citizenship education for children and young people and mediation.
Finally, the experience had also enabled us to develop a project called “education for citizenship and the fight against violence at school”, which aimed to:
- re-establish social dialogue between children and parents;
- speak about laws/rules and institutions, with a view to understanding their meaning;
- develop citizenship education.
Since 2003 the project had been directed at 3,000 children, with the active co-operation of teachers, lawyers, police, local politicians, etc.
The methodology included lectures/discussions in classrooms, visits of public institutions (parliament, town hall, law courts, police stations) as well as exhibitions and the production of educational materials.
II. Hate speech as an act of violence, by Ms Vesna LESKOSEK (Slovenia)
Hate speech was considered as one of the most powerful means of discrimination, especially because it was hard to define and even harder to investigate and prosecute. It was based on the belief that some people were inferior because they belonged to a certain group. The main goal of hate speech was to dehumanise those targeted by it. It intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against someone based on their race, ethnicity, national origins, religion, sexual orientation or disability. The term covered written as well as oral communication. Hate speech was especially dangerous because it gave legitimacy to other acts of hatred, like physical attacks or institutional violence and had an impact on the everyday life of the individuals and groups targeted by it. For example Roma people often could not find jobs because employers were convinced they were lazy and thieves. Women could not enter politics because they were seen primarily as housewives and mothers. Disabled people could not enter higher education because they were seen as intellectually incapable of learning. Homosexuals could hardly find jobs as teachers because they were seen as dangerous to children. Actions against different groups of people were the result of the way “the others” were construed in a certain society of culture.
Hate speech was also a controversial concept. In the past there had been debates on issues such as:
· Freedom of speech – should it be banned or even prosecuted?
· How could hate speech be defined to prevent violations of human rights?
· How could connections between hate speech and the social status of particular groups be proved?
· How (if at all) could hate speech affect the lives of certain people and their choices and opportunities?
· Was there a difference between the expression of stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination?
· If hate speech was a criminal act, how could it be proven and prosecuted?
When we understood hate speech as a means of discrimination it became not only a concern of civil society but also had to be legally regulated. To do so we had to believe that speech was not just an expression of personal thoughts but a social action that affected and harmed others. We had to believe that hate speech did not just provoke a healthy public debate but was injurious to them. We also had to believe that states must be capable not only of protecting the interests and rights of individuals but also the interests and rights of groups experiencing the consequences of hate speech. We had to believe that language itself not only reflected but also constructed reality.
We also had to take into consideration the fact that a lot of words, expressions and ideas about “the others” used in the past with neutral meanings, now had a derogatory meaning. Human rights awareness and consequent shifts in language had changed the public status of groups that had been exposed to discriminatory treatment. For example, we could no longer expect women to shut themselves off in their households and serve their families because we were now aware of gender equality, strongly promoted inside the EU. We could no longer expect people with disabilities to be institutionalised with no resistance because we were now aware of their rights to equal treatment and opportunities, etc. All these shifts in language were also a result of many antidiscrimination campaigns organised by the European Union in the past to promote equality and human rights. As a consequence we had become aware of the nature of intolerance and hatred and such actions were now more easily recognised than in the past. No one could now expect acts of discrimination and intolerance to go unnoticed or be accepted in today’s world.
On the other hand we had also learned that no matter how much money and energy were spent on antidiscrimination campaigns promoting tolerance, there would always be someone who was doing the opposite. Such actions were based either on personal beliefs or on potential benefits from the actions of hatred. One of the benefits could also be greater political power.
Hate speech had the most power when it came from places of authority, such as parliaments, political parties, governments, universities, churches and similar. These were the places that constructed our everyday reality and framed our choices and opportunities. At international level we had experienced a few cases of hate speech that ended with the withdrawal of the candidate from the position. At national level we were experiencing extreme forms of hate speech without any consequences at all although the impact on the targeted groups was frightening.
In this debate, we wanted to focus on hate speech used in national and international politics. We wanted to explore more closely the contribution European youth could make to change political culture where hate speech was concerned. To do so, we needed to raise the following questions and challenges for debate:
· What was the responsibility of individuals or public authorities for the use of hate speech?
· Could hate speech be treated as a crime and what changes in legislation were needed to support this?
· How could the results of hate speech be presented and contribute to a greater awareness of its effects?
· How could we support and advocate for the groups targeted by hate speech?
· What ways existed to enable a better self-representation of these groups?
· What successful non-discriminatory political campaigns existed that could contribute to cultural changes and greater tolerance, and how could youth political groups contribute to such campaigns?
III. Young people and violence prevention: towards sustainable youth policies,
by Dr Gavan TITLEY, National University of Ireland
This input contended that youth policy aimed at violence prevention must address the needs, realities and contributions of young people, and must build on their experiences and practice as protagonists of violence prevention. It argued that it was only by committing to sustainable, long-term strategies based on meaningful partnership that the underlying reasons for prevalent forms of violence could be addressed.
In this presentation, the speaker attempted to distil the important aspects of young people’s work as peer educators and mobilisers for violence prevention, an expertise that had been sourced from the seminars, training courses, research symposia and policy discussions facilitated by the Directorate of Youth and Sport as part of the Integrated Project ‘Responses to violence in everyday life in a democratic society’. Inherent in these aspects was a call for policy-makers to move beyond reductive notions of young people as either perpetrators or victims of violence, and instead to examine the ways in which rooted youth work and non-formal education organised in relation to intersecting forms of violence in communities, schools, urban areas and youth networks and associations. In doing so, young people often opened up new areas of focus in violence prevention that subsequently needed to be addressed by policy initiatives.
In a wider context, and certainly in relation to parallel work in the Council of Europe on ‘Developing Democracy in Europe’, policy-makers could regard sustainable partnership as a governance practice that also began to address systematic social exclusion and the distance between citizens and government. By viewing youth policy as a tool for enhancing participation, policy-makers could avoid diminishing the impact of their work by safeguarding policy cycles from the priorities of electoral cycles; by developing peer responses as complementary to public services rather than as substitutes for them; by enshrining sustainable approaches as an evidence-based pragmatism rather than as an ideological choice, and by promoting a vision of young people as key social actors now rather than in the future.
Conclusions of the working sessions
Working session 1
Mr Hans Olav SYVERSEN, State Secretary for Children and Family Affairs of Norway
Ms Dolores CRISTINA, Minister for Family and Social Solidarity of Malta
Mr Hibat TABIB (France)
The expert, Mr Tabib, had already introduced the working session in plenary by giving an inspiring and comprehensive example of combating violence in a suburban location in the vicinity of Paris. In this example the level of violence amongst young people and perpetrated by them, had gone beyond what the social order of the location could possibly master. Mr Tabib showed how this situation could be turned round through an integrated offer of cultural activity, youth and social work and a whole group of committed people into a successful social experiment of anti-violence and trust building, learning and citizenship.
This contribution came back in many of the deliberations of the ministers, youth representatives and European and international experts. Ministers reported:
- examples of children becoming social actors;
- social support to young people in depreciated areas;
- the importance of school and student committees;
- the introduction of intercultural learning and conflict education in school curricula.
Common to the ministers’ contributions were the links made between the situation in the family and the need for a proactive family in this field, the importance of youth organisations and the civil society, and the necessity to involve all youth actors in preventive policies against violence. Examples were presented of how this happened at local level, involving the police and local authorities.
The working group evoked some of the challenges politicians were faced with such as:
- violence consumerism through media products available on the market which inspired constantly lower thresholds in the use of violence in schools and at home;
- the effects of globalisation on labour markets by creating threats to the aspirations of young people for meaningful jobs;
- the factors commonly associated with “youth at risk”, an expression not liked by many, such as unhealthy lifestyles, risk behaviour and idleness.
Were there ways out?
The working group supported some of the youth representatives when they looked for support to fight homophobia and – generally – any form of racism and discrimination. They agreed to see the situation of young people as a matter of living today, not in some future and, even if nobody argued a direct relation between poverty and deprivation, they acknowledged the violence friendly climate which stemmed from marginalisation and exclusion.
The youth representatives turned to the ministers and asked them not just to act punctually and in a situation-centred fashion, but to see them as strategic partners and provide them with adequate resources. Young people needed to be consulted regularly and adults would have to learn to listen; this was crucial for the success of youth parliaments and other examples of youth participation.
The working group agreed to see young people as a resource rather than a problem and to better use their potential. Some governments were already trying this through research, training, children councils and co-operation with the media, but such examples needed to be expanded.
Thinking of examples of good practice did not exclude thinking big and envisaging goals such as child friendly cities and societies. For this it had to be understood that children in danger were not dangerous children. It was important to involve parents and teachers and to empower children and young people. It was said that all humans enjoy dignity, including refugees and refugees’ children; it was violence in itself to deprive some of education, access to leisure and social relations; the fight against violence could not be reduced to some groups only, this concerned the whole of society and all of its members.
Whilst agreeing on the need for a strategic prevention policy, it was stated that, if it was to be effective, this policy must not be repressive. Better research, integrated policies at local, national and European levels, coalitions between public authorities, youth organisations and the civil society and law enforcement services were the answer.
The forthcoming Campaign for Diversity, Human Rights and Participation was a good way of putting all these considerations to the test. This Campaign could only succeed if it became a local reality, was supported by national committees, brought all youth actors together and was implemented with a European message and within a European policy frame.
Yes, young people may be and were violent, but then so was the society in which they grew up, so potentially was everybody. What was important was to understand why and then to do something about it. The 7th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth urged all youth actors, ministers, experts, young people and their NGOs and youth services to start creating a participative prevention policy against violence at all levels – local, national, European.
Working session 2
Dr Laurentino DIAS, Secretary of State for Youth and Sport of Portugal
Ms Vilija BLINKEVICIUTE, Minister of Social Security and Labour of Lithuania
Ms Vesna LESKOSEK (Slovenia)
The Working Group focused on a number of issues, including violence prevention, hate speech, co-operation between governmental and non-governmental sectors on violence prevention, and on the future Campaign for Diversity, Human Rights and Participation.
The participants were clear that the starting point for dealing with issues of violence should be that prevention was in all circumstances preferable to cure. In this respect, the participation of young people should be the basis for all work on developing policies and practices for overcoming violence. It was recalled that young people were both the victims and perpetrators of violence. However, youth representatives pointed out more particularly that young people were also actors in violence prevention. It was young people who were lobbyists for and practitioners of, for example, non-violent communication; it was young people who could undertake peer to peer projects to promote violence prevention and non-violent behaviour. Youth work was, in itself, a tool for violence prevention.
It was very important that such work be undertaken both through formal and non-formal learning methods and structures. Schools were of considerable relevance in promoting practices of non-violent behaviour, especially when taking into consideration the fact that violence could in certain cases begin within the family. In this respect, schools could be places for promoting practices of a different, non-violent kind.
Sport was also a field in which violence occurred, and thus one in which policies and practices of non-violent behaviour should be promoted and encouraged. Projects needed to be supported, particularly at the local level that promoted non-violent behaviour on and around the sports field. It was noted, in this regard, that children and young people could be an example to their parents, as well as the other way round.
Hate speech, however, was still a prevalent and unfortunate manifestation of violence in society, and not just amongst young people. Participants noted that hate speech often came up against freedom of speech; but, as participants were reminded “our freedom ends where someone else’s freedom begins”. Political responsibility was mentioned as being crucial in overcoming hate speech and all the violence that could follow in its wake. Populism may be useful as a political expedient, for example during election campaigns, but what was more important was to develop political discourse based on truth, reason and analysis. A holistic approach was needed to overcome hate speech tendencies, involving the media, the political class, and society as a whole.
The participants noted that developing policy responses to violence was not just a question that concerned youth governmental structures. Violence was a cross-cutting issue which could concern a variety of government departments. As such, it was important, as far as possible, to ensure there was close co-operation between all relevant structures (social affairs, justice, and other ministries or departments) in developing policies to overcome violence.
Reference was made to using the recently opened European Knowledge Centre, developed by the Council of Europe and the European Commission, as a tool for spreading and promoting examples of good practice on youth responses to violence. Such examples of good practice should also concern the revised European Charter on the participation of young people in local and regional life, which could be used at local and regional levels to assist in developing policy responses to violence. It would be important to make maximum use of these tools, and of others developed within the youth sector, such as the COMPASS training manual, in order to provide training and knowledge on how to overcome violence.
All participants referred to the need to strongly support the forthcoming Campaign for Diversity, Human Rights and Participation. The Campaign represented an opportunity to make all citizens, not just young people, aware of the importance of good governance as the root of practices of tolerance and respect in public and political life. It would also show how co-operation between governmental and non-governmental structures and sectors could help to overcome the ills that beset European societies today. The provision of funds, space and opportunities to young people would be crucial in making the Campaign a success and showing the usefulness of such a partnership between governments and non-governmental organisations, particularly those of the youth sector.
Thanks were given to the Hungarian government, Minister Kinga Göncz, the Council of Europe Directorate of Youth and Sport, the European Youth Forum and everyone else involved in organising the Conference which had been a wonderful opportunity to meet and discuss an important topic, and a good chance to see the city of Budapest.
The Rapporteur, Mme Vilija BLINKEVICIUTE, Minister of Social Security and Labour of Lithuania, declared in conclusion that the Conference would have an impact at national level in mainstreaming violence prevention and taking concrete measures.
Working session 3
Mr Yuri PAVLENKO, Minister of Family, Youth and Sport of Ukraine
PaedDr Jaroslav MÜLLNER, Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sport of the Czech Republic
Mr Gavan TITLEY (Ireland)
Participants in the group exchanged examples of projects and initiatives in several countries. The groups were inspired by the Ukrainian example of young people bringing about change in a non-violent manner. The participants stressed the importance of prevention within an holistic approach to violence and how it affects young people, including the need to contextualise it. We must insist on the need to recognise all forms of violence, not only physical violence. Young people needed to have opportunities and a supportive environment in order to develop a sense of positive, including national, identity.
In order to implement policies against violence it was necessary to set up a legal framework that foresaw an institutional structure with defined responsibilities. Guidelines and principles for action should be defined for both the institutional services and practitioners.
Legal provisions, even if complete and comprehensive, were however not enough. Other measures were also required. The debate in the group highlighted the following areas:
A human rights education framework
Knowledge of and commitment to human rights was an important factor in violence prevention, starting from young people’s awareness of what their human rights were. Violence needed to be perceived as a violation of human rights and these violations needed to be acknowledged as a form of violence.
The usage of non-formal education methods, like those in COMPASS, needed to be further mainstreamed in educational practice.
Prevention programmes needed to be based on the respect of the individual.
Examples abounded of positive results in providing emotional education and peer-group education as forms of prevention and support.
Education through sport had an important potential for citizenship education and the exercise of physicality.
Parents must be supported and given a prominent role in the prevention of violence and in the support to their children.
The role of youth participation
Involving young people and youth organisations was crucial for the success of policies. Projects and programmes developed for violence prevention needed to take into account the opinion of the young people themselves and youth organisations. This should include listening to young people, so that the services provided actually responded to their needs.
Youth organisations played an important role in the democratic socialisation of young people. Political socialisation, based on democratic pluralism, based on the recognition of the value of young people’s opinions, played an important role for violence prevention, especially at local level.
Providing opportunities for young people to meet and socialise was equally important.
We should be aware of the threats and limitations to the right of participation and demonstration of young people de facto in practice in many countries and cities.
The role of information and counselling
Young people, whether offenders or victims of violence, must have access to information and counselling and be given support and protection. This information and this service were crucial for them to start a new life.
The link between alcohol and violence needed to be recognised and addressed.
The media, including the Internet, were not only a source of exposure to violence, they could also play a role in supporting and advocating non-violent behaviour. Media education and media literacy were very important in this context. Recommendations and practices of media education should be mainstreamed into youth policy and youth work.
Computer games were often based on violence, and violent behaviour was the norm. We should provide more positive attractive alternatives.
Support to victims
The focus on prevention should not make us neglect the support needed for victims, including witnesses of violence, who were also victims of violence.
Young victims of violence should always have someone to turn to (in addition to help lines).
Programmes of psychological rehabilitation were very important and crucial in these contexts, in particular for the victims of war and terrorism.
We should develop ways to deal with the psychological impact of terrorism on young people.
Intercultural learning must be included in school curricula because schools were places where children first came into contact with cultural diversity.
Intercultural youth exchanges were very important however, unfortunately, many young people were exposed to harassment, humiliation and violence when participating in youth exchanges (eg visa restrictions and barriers to mobility).
We must acknowledge that military service, especially when mandatory, was an exposure to a legitimised form of violence, which often had negative effects on young people and on society in general. Of particular concern was the exposure to bullying in the armed forces.
Role of the Council of Europe
There was no co-ordination of projects on violence prevention at European level. Each country tended to develop its own approach (eg on bullying), there was no learning from each other and experience was lost. The Council of Europe could play a role in this by creating a database of good practice (eg through the European Knowledge Centre on Youth) and promote standards of good practice.
Violations to the Convention on the Rights of the Child should also be the object of concern and reported on by the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner.
Having in mind that violence generated more violence and that victims of violence were more likely perpetrators, we should commit ourselves to the creation of a more positive atmosphere in our lives. Let us work together towards a society of love rather than a society based on fear and violence.
We, the Ministers responsible for Youth, from the 48 States party to the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe, meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on 23 and 24 September 2005, on the occasion of the 7th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth;
Having regard to:
- the European Convention on Human Rights adopted on 4 November 1950;
- the International Convention of the United-Nations on the rights of the Child, as well as its two optional protocols;
- the European Social Charter, in particular Article 7 concerning the rights of children and adolescents to protection;
- the Plan of Action adopted by the Heads of State and Government on the occasion of the third Summit of the Council of Europe (Warsaw, 16-17 May 2005);
- the Final Declaration of the second Summit of the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, 10-11 October 1997), in which the Heads of State and Government affirmed their “determination to combat violence against women and all forms of sexual exploitation of women”;
- Recommendation (98) 14 of the Committee of Ministers to the member states on gender mainstreaming;
- the Human Rights Education Youth Programme implemented by the Council of Europe youth sector since 2000;
- the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence for Children of the world, proclaimed for the period 2001-2010 by the United-Nations;
- Recommendation (2002) 5 of the Committee of Ministers to the member States on the protection of women against violence, adopted on 30 April 2002, and its explanatory memorandum;
- the final Declaration of the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth held in Thessaloniki in 2002 ;
- Resolution (2003) 7 on the youth policy of the Council of Europe;
- the Resolution from the ad hoc Conference of European Ministers responsible for violence prevention in everyday life “Preventing everyday violence in Europe: responses in a democratic society” (Oslo, 2004);
- the Declaration on intercultural dialogue and conflict prevention adopted at the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs “The new role and new responsibilities of Ministers of Culture in initiating intercultural dialogue, with due regard for cultural diversity” (Opatija, Croatia, 20-22 October 2003);
- the outcomes of and the follow-up to the Council of Europe 2005 European Year of Citizenship through Education;
- the youth policy recommendations on young people and violence prevention resulting from the Council of Europe youth sector’s involvement in the Integrated Project “Responses to violence in everyday life in a democratic society”;
a. Increasingly concerned by the manifestations of violence, and by its consequences on human dignity and social cohesion in our democratic societies, including in conflict areas;
b. Stressing that violence is a phenomenon that concerns society as a whole, and that particular attention must be paid to young people, both as victims and as perpetrators of violence;
c. Bearing in mind the social and economic factors, such as unemployment, poverty, failure at school and the lack of perspective, problems within the family, a loss of bearings or stress, which may create favourable breeding grounds for the expression of violence, particularly amongst the most vulnerable groups;
d. Bearing in mind that violence is a phenomenon that cannot be stopped immediately and permanently, but which can be reduced and prevented;
e. Deeply concerned by forms of violence such as gender-related violence, violence against children and young people, homophobic violence, violence against young disabled, violence against young immigrants and minority groups, as well as violence motivated by racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia or by any other form of intolerance;
f. Preoccupied also by the situation of young refugees and internally displaced persons from conflict regions, who are often victims of violence;
g. Stressing also the importance of protecting children and young people from the risk of being exposed to trafficking, and therefore, encouraging all the member States to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Actions against Trafficking in Human Beings;
h. Bearing in mind that violence is not only expressed through a physical act but also through words, attitudes and ways of thinking;
i. Acknowledging the key role young people, youth leaders and youth workers and their associations play as protagonists of violence prevention;
1. Re-affirm that living in security is a fundamental human right;
2. Convinced therefore that human rights education with young people must be an essential approach to violence prevention;
3. Call upon the States Parties to the European Cultural Convention to put in place, in the framework of their youth policies and youth work policies, measures as well as educational and training programmes apt to support young people’s commitment to reducing and preventing violence in everyday life;
4. And furthermore, agree that youth policies’ responses to violence must be implemented taking into account the following principles:
4.1. The importance of taking stock of all including hidden forms of violence, and of analysing their causes, and of increasing awareness of their impact on people who are both directly and indirectly affected;
4.2. The need to develop violence prevention strategies, based on the specific approaches of youth policy and youth work, in particular non-formal education / learning; and in this context, the importance of actively promoting education for citizenship and participation;
4.3. The need to recognize young people as potential actors in violence prevention, whilst raising their sense of responsibility and actively promoting their participation and co-operation in this domain;
4.4. The need to implement policies in this area with the active participation of non-governmental youth organisations and networks, whilst encouraging them to develop partnerships with other civil society actors;
4.5. The need to widely publicize and disseminate violence prevention programmes, notably those implemented by, with and for young people;
4.6. The importance of establishing good practice in each country on reducing violence in mass media products aimed at children and young people;
5. In order to prevent gender-related violence, notably against children and young people, homophobic violence and the sexual exploitation of children and young people, governments should include a priority focus on gender equality, sexuality and power in their youth policy agendas;
6. In order to prevent violence motivated by racism and intolerance, governments should promote education for intercultural dialogue as a key dimension of youth policy and youth work policy, and support the development of international youth exchange programmes;
7. Furthermore, youth policies should pay special attention to promoting violence prevention in schools, training establishments and leisure facilities, as well as in the family, as these are places where children and young people spend the greatest part of their daily life;
8. As regards schools, governments should stimulate the development of democratic schools in which students can actively participate, together with the school community, in decisions which concern them, and this as a prerequisite for the development, in the school, of a safe and non-violent environment, without harassment, as well as a learning process for promoting such an environment in other living places;
In this context, youth policies should encourage and support initiatives aimed at strengthening violence prevention in schools and training establishments whilst ensuring that the experience from non-formal education/learning and peer education is taken into consideration in personnel training;
9. As regards the family, governments should encourage cross-sectoral co-operation, in particular between Child, Youth and Family policies with a view to developing strategies, particularly educational ones, aimed at preventing domestic violence as well as promoting the family as a place where children and young people can learn and adopt a non-violent lifestyle;
In this context, youth policies should encourage actors in the social and youth work fields to set up joint initiatives such as training programmes on dialogue and participation, conflict management and solving problems between parents and children, as well as support programmes for children at risk;
10. Youth policy responses to violence should be anchored in the reality of young people’s lives. The revised Charter of the Council of Europe on the participation of young people in local and regional life provides a whole range of measures to facilitate this process. Therefore, governments should actively encourage local authorities to implement the Charter;
In view of the above, we encourage the Council of Europe:
11. To make human rights education an essential and permanent component of the programme of the Directorate of Youth and Sport, including the dimension of violence prevention, and to enable it to act as a knowledge and resource centre on human rights education for young people, based on its experience and practice of non-formal education/learning;
12. To pay special attention to the development of networks and partnerships between young people and non-governmental as well as governmental organisations and institutions at local, national and European levels, as well as to the training of youth leaders and youth workers, taking into account the need for a cross-sectoral approach to violence prevention;
13. To reinforce existing support measures for training of young people, youth leaders and youth workers as well as civil servants in charge of youth matters, aimed at the development of sustainable projects implemented at local, regional, national and European levels;
14. To increase the capacities of youth leaders and youth workers, through training programmes, to act as educators of young people in violence prevention, by promoting notably the learning of negotiation
15. To further support the development of European youth research in the field of violence, and make practical use of the extensive knowledge gained from research in this field;
16. To further develop the instruments of the Council of Europe youth sector, in particular the European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest and the European Youth Foundation, as support structures for the above proposed measures;
17. To create a sustainable space for dialogue between the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) and the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ), and the European Committee on Social Cohesion (CDCS), with a view to developing co-operation on issues of common interest, including violence prevention;
18. To encourage actors in the youth and the sport fields to work together on promoting the ideals of sport such as mutual respect, fair-play, tolerance and team spirit, among young people, as means of preventing violence in everyday life;
19. To prepare a draft recommendation from the Committee of Ministers to the member States on Human Rights Education with young people, including notably provisions for strengthening European co-operation in the field of violence prevention;
20. To actively support the organisation, in 2006-2007, of a European Youth Campaign on Diversity, Human rights and Participation in the spirit of the 1995 youth Campaign “All different-all equal”, whilst making use of the experience and achievements of the Directorate of Youth and Sport in the fields of intercultural dialogue, conflict prevention and the promotion of peace, the fight against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and intolerance, and human rights education.
Resolution on the priorities of the Council of Europe’s youth sector for 2006-2008
Having regard to Resolution (2003) 7 of the Committee of Ministers on the Youth Policy of the Council of Europe, and the conclusions of the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth, held in Thessaloniki on 7-9 November 2002;
Taking into account the developments since the Thessaloniki Conference, and the new challenges that Europe and young people in particular have to meet;
Taking into consideration the achievements of the Council of Europe’s youth sector between 2003 and 2005 as regards human rights education, youth participation and democratic citizenship, peace and intercultural learning and youth policy development;
Bearing in mind the Action Plan adopted by the Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Warsaw (Poland) on 16-17 May 2005, as well as the outcomes of the Youth Summit organised in parallel;
Bearing in mind the importance the Council of Europe attaches to partnership between governments and youth organisations and networks in drawing up and implementing its youth policy;
Bearing in mind the objectives of the Council of Europe’s youth sector, namely:
- To help young people to find ways of meeting both the challenges facing them and their own aspirations;
- To encourage young people to be actors in the process of bringing about a closer European unity based on the principles and values of pluralist democracy, human rights and the rule of law;
- To empower young people, through non-formal education/learning and participation methods, to play an active role in the strengthening of civil society in Europe;
- To promote and support the development of youth policies in Europe;
We, European Ministers responsible for youth, meeting in Budapest on 23-24 September 2005, declare that the following should be regarded as priority fields of the youth sector for the next three years:
1. Human Rights Education and Intercultural Dialogue, with special emphasis on:
· youth promoting global solidarity and the peaceful transformation of conflict;
· youth promoting intercultural dialogue, inter-religious co-operation and respect for cultural difference;
· developing networks of trainers and multipliers in Human Rights Education with young people ;
· supporting and promoting good practice in Human rights education and intercultural dialogue at the local level ;
· supporting the recognition of human rights education and intercultural dialogue in formal and non-formal education.
2. Youth Participation and Democratic Citizenship, with special emphasis on:
· promoting and sustaining the role of youth organisations in the development of democratic participation;
· promoting citizenship education and participation of and by young people;
· promoting access of young people to decision-making.
3. Social Cohesion and Inclusion of Young People, with special emphasis on:
· facilitating the access of young people to working life and to social rights;
· youth work and policy responses to violence;
4. Youth Policy Development, with special emphasis on:
· developing and promoting standards for youth policies, in connection with Child policies in the Council of Europe and its member states;
· fostering the recognition of youth work and non-formal education competences in the member states;
· developing and sharing knowledge on the situation of young people;
· supporting the quality and sustainability of European youth work training and policy.
In this context, we attach great importance to the implementation of the 2006-2007 European Youth Campaign on Diversity, Human Rights and Participation, conceived in the spirit of the 1995 Campaign “All different-all equal”, as decided as part of the Action Plan adopted by the Heads of State and Government during their third Summit in Warsaw, on 16-17 May 2005. We shall undertake all necessary efforts to support the implementation of the Campaign at European, national and local levels.
The overall programme of the youth sector should be implemented bearing in mind the importance that the youth dimension is better taken into consideration in other activity sectors of the Council of Europe. This implies in particular:
- the participation of representatives of the statutory bodies of the youth sector in a number of steering committees and other working structures of the Council of Europe;
- the consultation of the Advisory Council on Youth by the Committee of Ministers or by subordinated intergovernmental committees, regarding legal texts which have a specific impact on young people;
- the active co-operation of the youth sector with other sectors of the Council of Europe and its participation in the multidisciplinary programmes of the Organisation.
In implementing its priorities, the youth sector, with the involvement of its relevant statutory bodies, should also strengthen its co-operation with other international organisations (e.g. UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank) and, in particular, with the European Union, through agreements. Such co-operation should focus on training of youth leaders and youth workers, research in the youth field and information and documentation, and Euro-Mediterranean Co-operation.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules set up in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.
Note 2 At 14.45, a press conference was given by the Hungarian Minister of Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.