Committee of Ministers

Comité des Ministres

 

 

 

Strasbourg, 23 December 1997 Restricted

CM(97)220

 

For consideration at the 614th

meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies

(14-16 January 1998, A level, item 1.5)

 

RIGHTS AND RESPONSABILITIES OF CITIZENS

IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY

 

Document prepared by the Bulgarian Government

 

Contents:

 

Excerpt from a statement by the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria at the 609bis meeting of the Ministers' Deputies on 26 and 27 November 1997

 

Preliminary draft declaration (Appendix 1)

 

- Explanatory note (Appendix 2)

 

Permanent Representation of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Council of Europe

 

Excerpt from a statement by Ambassador Raev at the meeting of the Ministers' Deputies on

26 and 27 November 1997

 

 

Mr Chairman,

 

... At the Second Summit we were given precise terms of reference concerning education for democratic citizenship, based on citizens' rights and responsibilities.* To fulfil those terms of reference, we clearly need a basic instrument that will define the field of activity, setting tangible goals and suggesting suitable methods for achieving them.

Such an instrument can but take the form of a "Declaration of the Responsibilities of Citizens".

This is why, when we made our very first approach five years ago, we proposed the preparation of such a declaration. We shortly intend to submit the draft text, which was initially rejected and subsequently amended on a number of occasions, to the Committee of Ministers for consideration of the follow-up action to be taken.

Mr Chairman, in connection with this longstanding debate within the organs of the Council of Europe work has already begun on the preparation of instruments of relevance to the above aims:

- a "Charter of Responsibilities" within the Youth Directorate, and

- a "Declaration of Citizens' Duties" within the CLRAE and the Directorate of

Environment and Local Authorities.

The Bulgarian delegation welcomes these activities. Without education, in particular of young people but also of people of all ages, citizenship will not be taught.

It is clear that co-operation between the different organs of the Council of Europe, beginning with the Committee of Ministers, is absolutely essential. We must at last reach an agreement on the drafting of a Declaration of the Responsibilities of Citizens in a Democratic Society. This would be a comprehensive instrument containing the substantive guidelines needed for any additional declarations.

 

APPENDIX 1

 

Permanent Representation of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Council of Europe

 

11 September 1997

 

 

Preliminary draft declaration at Committee of Ministers' level

 

Declaration of the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens in a Democratic Society

 

1. The Committee of Ministers …

 

2. Reaffirming its attachment to the values which are the foundation of a democratic society, as acknowledged in Europe and expressed in the Statute of the Council of Europe and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

 

3. Recalling the aim of the Council of Europe, which is to achieve ever greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage,

 

4. Convinced that defence of the principles of pluralist democracy and human rights, co-operation in the spheres of education and culture, protection of the natural and built heritage and harmonisation of legislation constitute a basis for reinforcement of the shared identity of the countries of Europe,

 

5. Expressing its concern about growth in intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia and the emergence of new forms of social exclusion,

 

6. Affirming its determination to combat these tendencies, which pose serious threats to the development of a democratic Europe,

 

7. Considering that such phenomena have their origin, inter alia, in self-centred assertion of the rights of the individual, combined with total disregard for the responsibilities towards society incumbent on all citizens,

 

8. Declares that it is resolved to take action to encourage member states' societies to show a vigorous reaction in countering these tendencies and in particular:

 

- raise the general cultural level, in particular the level of political culture, and establish a culture of behaviour based on the ethic of solidarity and responsibility;

- inculcate a sense of responsibility towards oneself and others and with regard to democratic institutions at all levels of society;

- combat indifference within democratic societies to phenomena that undermine their principles and values,

 

9. Affirms the following principles, which will guide its action in this sphere:

1. Enjoyment of any right or freedom, at both the individual and group levels, entails corresponding (duties and) responsibilities.

2. Citizens' rights and the freedoms granted and safeguarded within democratic European societies must be exercised in a manner compatible with responsibility for the rights of others.

3. Education for citizenship from the youngest age, through in-school and ongoing training, is fundamental to fostering a sense of responsibility towards others and towards society.

4. It is for democratic states to endow their education systems with appropriate instruments for the purpose of asserting and promoting the responsibility ethic as a deciding factor in their citizens' democratic behaviour.

 

10. …

References:

- Ambassador Svetlozar Raev, "Citizens' responsibilities", discussion paper presented at a Council of Europe seminar on 7 November 1994

- Report on the seminar of 7 November 1994 (revised version, 16 December 1994)

- President Peter Stoyanov, speech before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 23 April 1997

- Minister Stoyan Stalev, statement before the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, 6 May 1997

 

APPENDIX 2

 

 

Document of 4 May 1994, revised

 

PERMANENT REPRESENTATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA TO THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE

 

Svetlozar Raev,

Ambassador

 

PRELIMINARY DRAFT

 

"DECLARATION OF HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES"

 

 

(Aide-mémoire, 16 December 1992

Non-paper, 25 January 1993)

 

POINTERS

 

1. The subject of "Human Responsibilities (Duties)" long encountered difficulties in winning the understanding of the general public. It was for this reason that our proposal of December 1992 and January 1993 was withdrawn in early 1993.

Yet, attitudes towards this issue have already changed. Growing awareness of the problems engendered by the religious crisis in the countries of Europe, expedited by the dynamics of the process of building a democratic, united Europe, has led to a new perception of ideas about the correlation between human rights and human responsibilities. Over the past year a number of publications by democratic thinkers of all political tendencies have pointed out the need for awareness of the fact that "rights and responsibilities" objectively form an indivisible whole and of their functional interdependence in regulating society.

 

2. The Council of Europe is ideally placed to provide a suitable response to this need. Protection of already existing "intangible" wealth, which is a prerequisite for the preservation and distribution of the tangible assets already acquired and the creation of new tangible and intangible wealth, is part of the raison d'être for the activities of the Council of Europe. The organisation helps to draw up new legal instruments. It also co-operates in developing and applying non-legal rules in the context of a united Europe, including through educational programmes. Together, these European legal instruments and non-legal rules should help to establish a vast united area of democratic security in Europe. In this respect, it is necessary that one of the main pillars of the activities of the Council of Europe, the European Convention of Human Rights, be strengthened by a "Declaration of Responsibilities".

 

3. For many reasons it will not be possible to finalise a "Declaration of Human Responsibilities" while Bulgaria chairs the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. However, it is possible and desirable to submit a draft text and to take the first steps towards its implementation.

 

3.1 With regard to the future work, we think it possible to seek the assistance of:

 

3.1.1 the Secretariat of the Council of Europe, bearing in mind the organisation's activities and experience in implementing projects on:

 

- intolerance,

- true democracy,

- minorities,

- social exclusion,

- intercultural matters,

- vocational training;

 

3.1.2 and of European experts.

 

Furthermore, the debate might address the following subjects:

 

- responsibility towards one's country,

- responsibility in respect of the natural and the built environment,

- responsibilities with regard to other individuals, social groups and various national or international institutions.

 

The following general guidelines might serve as pointers for the preparation of a draft Declaration of Human Responsibilities:

 

I. THE REASONS WHY A DECLARATION OF HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES IS NEEDED

 

1. Trends posing a threat to democratic security in Europe

 

1.1 Tendencies towards intolerance, racism and xenophobia

 

1.1.1 The rebirth of anti-Semitism and resurgence of fanatical patriotism and religious or ideological fundamentalism

 

1.1.2 The recrudescence and worsening of ethnic problems

 

1.1.3 The "permissive society's" disproportionate tolerance of intolerant, violent behaviour by extremist groups

 

1.2 Signs of a religious and moral crisis within the societies of the countries of Europe

 

1.2.1 The feeling in certain social strata that there is a lack of clear future prospects; social pessimism

 

1.2.2 An inordinate desire for liberty to the detriment of the assumption of responsibilities

 

1.2.3 A lack of the curbs of conscience; egoism and self-centred behaviour - of different origins - above all among young people in both western Europe and central and eastern Europe, frequently resulting in unethical, unlawful conduct

 

1.2.4 A rise in crime in eastern and western Europe, as a result of the above factors

 

1.2.5 Serious problems due to the lack of a sense of responsibility towards oneself and others (drug addiction, AIDS, etc.)

 

1.3 Other threats to the development of a democratic Europe: inadequate social and economic security due, in part, to the predominance of financial and economic criteria in social and political circles

 

II. THE OBJECTIVES OF THE DECLARATION OF HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES

 

1. To prompt society to show a vigorous reaction in countering acts of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, intolerance and hatred, including through educational programmes and long-term training. To this end, suitable steps should be taken to:

 

1.1 Raise the general cultural level, in particular the level of political culture, and establish a culture of behaviour by means of unwritten rules;

 

1.2 Inculcate a sense of responsibility towards oneself and others and with regard to democratic institutions, social groups and social organisations, including society as a whole, the state and international organisations;

 

1.3 Define the limits of tolerance in a democratic society.

 

III. MEANS OF ACHIEVING THE ABOVE OBJECTIVES

 

I. Prepare a Declaration of Human Responsibilities, destined to become a fundamental, key element of the cultural and educational policy of the Council of Europe.

 

Observation

The proposed declaration could be an effective means of achieving the above objectives. Its role in the sphere of ethics could be analogous to that of the European Convention on Human Rights and other similar instruments in the legal sphere. It might facilitate a better grasp of the interrelationship between individual and community interests and the interdependence of individual and group responsibilities and rights. Such a system, encompassing both human rights and responsibilities and the rights and responsibilities of society, would lay a strong foundation for democratic security in Europe.

 

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