Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport,
Youth and Environment
GR-C(2005)21 19 August 20051
of the Committee of Ministers to member states
on the promotion of the participation of minority young people
and its Explanatory Memorandum
Item to be considered by the GR-C at one of its forthcoming meetings
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage, and to foster their economic and social progress;
Acknowledging the importance of safeguarding cultural diversity and of promoting the values of intercultural respect;
Considering that the idea of participation of young people is at the very heart of the idea of democracy and that fostering the participation of young people from minority groups is a decisive factor in ensuring social cohesion and upholding democratic values;
Noting that the participation of minority youth in the political, social and economic spheres strengthens tolerance, co-operation and peaceful resolution of conflict between minority groups and the public at large, and fosters the respect for human rights and democratic processes in multicultural societies;
Emphasising that the principal of non-discrimination and equality with regards to minority youth continually needs to be upheld in different policy areas such as in education, culture, employment, the media, sport, public administration, welfare, public health and housing;
Recognising that there are different types of minorities such as national, linguistic, religious, ethnic and social minorities, but also others which distinguish themselves from the rest of the public by some other characteristics and which identify themselves as minorities and that these categories often overlap;
Taking into consideration Protocol No. 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 177) on the general prohibition of discrimination;
Alarmed by the obstacles to participation faced by minority youth and the lack of policy or the unequal impact of existing policies, the unequal distribution of powers and of access to rights as well as by the broadly varying perceptions of and access to services associated with social, political and economic exclusion;
Reacting to the absence of a recommendation addressing the situation of minority youth, and the issues and challenges they are facing;
Recalling and reaffirming its previous directives on minorities and youth participation such as Recommendation No. R (97) 3 on youth participation and the future of civil society and Resolution Res(2003)7 on the youth policy of the Council of Europe or Recommendation Rec(2001)19 on the participation of citizens in local public life;
Bearing in mind the Declaration on equality of women and men adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 16 November 1988 as well as Recommendation No. R (98) 14 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on gender mainstreaming;
Bearing in mind the Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations 1134 (1990) on the rights of minorities and 1492 (2001) on the rights of national minorities;
Having regard to Recommendation 59 (1999) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe on Europe 2000 – youth participation: the Role of Young People as Citizens;
Bearing in mind the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ETS No. 157) and its Explanatory Report and especially Article 15 on the creation of the necessary conditions for the effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities;
Bearing in mind the European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life and the need to increase participation of young people in decisions and actions at local and regional level,
1. Recommends that the governments of the member states:
a. undertake all necessary actions to ensure and stimulate minority youth participation and to enable minority youth to participate fully in decision-making processes on matters pertaining to them;
b. establish or support consultative structures or bodies which ensure that minority youth are consulted on a regular and timely basis on matters that are of concern to them or directly affect them;
c. promote sustainability and consolidation of minority youth organisations and networks, notably through financial, educational and organisational support;
d. mainstream minority youth issues at all levels of youth policy affecting young people and at all levels of various public institutions so that these policies and institutions are inclusive of and responsive to the needs of young minorities;
e. always pay attention to the particular needs of young women from minorities and undertake actions to avoid their multiple discrimination;
f. consider, when adopting anti-discrimination measures, the special needs of young people from minorities and the importance of their active participation;
g. ensure that minority youth is informed about their rights and responsibilities and provided with the means to exercise such rights and responsibilities and further assure that actions helping to achieve these goals are supported;
h. recognise the role of human rights education and intercultural learning in promoting democratic citizenship and support their inclusion in the curricula of formal and non-formal education programmes;
2. asks the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to address this recommendation to the governments of those States Parties to the European Cultural Convention that are not members of the Council of Europe.
Minority youth participation has been a subject of concern for the Council of Europe since the “all different – all equal” European youth campaign against racism, antisemitism, xenophobia and intolerance organized in 1996. The campaign identified the need for greater involvement of young people from minority backgrounds, regardless of the minority group that they belong to or feel associated with.
In a declaration on the follow-up of the campaign, the Committee of Ministers invited the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to follow-up the campaign by, amongst other things, pursuing the training of minority youth leaders and opening up its structures to all sectors of civil society.
In recent years, the Directorate of Youth and Sport has developed a long-term programme of training minority youth leaders (training courses on “Participation and Citizenship” and “Diversity and Cohesion”). These courses have led to significant changes in many countries and youth structures; their experience is the basis for the present recommendation.
In parallel to the courses, the reform of the youth structures of the Council of Europe has been accompanied by an increased participation of organisation and networks of young people belonging to different minorities. Organisations and networks that were initiated during or resulted from the “all different – all equal” campaign have been associated with the Advisory Council on Youth, involved in the programme of the European Youth Centre and received regular support from the European Youth Foundation. This has been the case, inter alia with the Forum of European Roma Young People, Minorities of Europe, Young Women from Minorities, in addition to others such as the European Union of Jewish Students, the International Lesbian Gay and Trans-gender Youth and Student Organisation and the International Federation of Hard of Hearing Young People.
The inclusion of youth organisations representing the experiences of young people from a minority background has been generally very positively multiplied in the Council of Europe’s youth sector. These experiences had, however, limited sustainable impact at national level, due to three main reasons: lack of openness of existing youth and policy structures to minority youth organisations, limited sustainability of minority youth organisations and reduced possibilities for education and training of the youth leaders in those organisations. The activities and surveys undertaken with minority youth representatives indicate that often subtle and deep-rooted forms of prejudice and discrimination, sometimes combined with challenges to youth participation within minority communities and organisations, are often at the origin of the problems related to under-representation or limited access to participation possibilities.
One of the conclusions of the impact evaluation of the training course was, therefore, the need to consolidate their achievements at national level, to acknowledge the specificity of the work with minority youth and integrate a minority youth dimension in youth policy (mainstreaming).
The recommendation was prepared through:
- An initial survey of the CDEJ members, national youth councils, international youth organisations and minority organisations regarding the relevance and scope of the recommendation;
- A consultative meeting with representatives of the Advisory Council on Youth, the European Steering Committee on Youth, the European minority youth organisation and the European Youth Forum. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the Directorate of Legal Affairs also contributed to the meeting. The consultative meeting and other consultations were carried out in the framework (and with the support) of the Secretary General’s Integrated Project “Making Democratic Institutions Work”.
The definition of “minority” used in this work has traditionally been as inclusive as possible – considering different types of minorities (e.g. on the basis of nationality, ethnicity, religion, language, disability, sexual orientation...) – and based on self-identification of young people with one or several minority groups.
The measures proposed below are meant to facilitate the implementation and adaptation of the above recommendations by the governments of the member states. They focus on three aspects: structures for minority youth participation, supporting measures and gender equality issues.
The measures proposed are the following:
I. Structures for minority youth participation
1. Establish consultative bodies for minority youth and their organisations, for example in the form of Consultative Councils at national, regional and local levels. Where appropriate, this may be done in
co-operation with existing youth representative structures such as local, regional or national youth councils.
2. Foresee specific measures and programmes to support the development of associations or networks representing young people from minorities, paying special attention to those organisations or platforms representing the various minorities. Emphasis should be placed on the medium-term sustainability and development of these associations.
3. Create minority youth focal points within institutions at national and local level dealing with youth matters in order to ensure the recognition of minority issues and to serve as a contact point for minority youth [“minority youth mainstreaming”]. These focal points could also be established as part of larger-scale general minority focal points or youth focal points.
4. Facilitate the development of local and national fora which bring together people from different minorities and the majority. These fora should stimulate different minorities to co-operate among themselves and encourage co-operation between minorities and majority youth groups.
5. Stimulate interaction and co-operation of minority and majority youth and encourage the establishment of minority youth councils or minority youth sections within existing youth councils and youth parliaments.
6. Appoint an ombudsperson for youth participation with a special focus on minority youth participation.
7. Support or provide locations or places for minority and majority youth to meet, socialize and interact with each other (e.g. youth centres) or distribute adequate information about existing facilities These facilities should be designed to offer minority youth the possibility to actively participate in political, social and cultural projects.
II. Supporting measures
8. Ensure that minority youth is informed about their rights and responsibilities and supported with the means to exercise these rights and responsibilities. Additionally, to ensure that actions helping to achieve these goals are supported, such as
i. by providing and supporting education and training to foster minority youth participation;
ii. by providing and supporting intercultural youth exchanges;
iii. by providing scholarships for minority youth in situations when they do not have access to primary or secondary education;
9. Provide adequate financial and organisational support for projects and training initiatives geared towards minority youth participation, particularly those projects and initiatives directly run by minority young people;
10. Initiate or support training and education on issues relevant to minority youth and their participation (e.g. civic duties, minority rights, organisational development, project management, capacity building, lobbying, funding & fundraising etc.);
11. Support the incorporation of non-formal methods aimed at increasing minority youth participation into formal educational settings and structures. Non-formal education approaches within formal educational settings are often necessary when attempting to reach and involve minority youth, especially in cases where they feel alienated or excluded.
12. Support and recognise the role of social and cultural mediators in preventing exclusion and discrimination, especially youth workers from minority background and minority youth leaders;
13. Engage in dialogue with and involve minority youth groups, especially in regions or situations of conflict and social tension. Where appropriate, to involve the families and youth mediators.
14. Systematically include youth as an indicator in assessments of anti-discrimination measures and policies implemented at the national level with regards to racism, antisemitism, xenophobia and intolerance;
15. Ensure that the right to education is upheld and applied equally and that institutions of public education, including sports facilities, are accessible for young people from minorities regardless of ethnic, religious or social background and disability;
16. Involve the media in raising awareness about the issues faced by young people from minorities and the importance of their active participation and inclusion.
17. Provide or support training and education measures for young people from minorities.
18. Take into account the special risk of double discrimination of young women from minority background.
III. Gender equality issues
19. Mainstream gender equality in youth policy-making and integrate it into minority youth mainstreaming initiatives. Special concern should be paid to the possible effect of youth policies on gender equality when these policies are devised;
20. Ensure equal participation of young women and men in all support measures;
21. Support and train young people as mediators and youth leaders and avoid stigmatisation.
22. Where appropriate, ensure single sex facilities in education and sports activities to guarantee equality of access to those services.
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.