We, participants of the 2nd European Youth Summit, gathered here to represent Youth Organisations and Networks from States parties to the European Cultural Convention, welcome the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe and take this opportunity to make the following Declaration.
We recognise the crucial role of the Council of Europe in the European architecture, in creating and sustaining a Europe without dividing lines, based on the shared values of Human Rights, Democracy and the rule of law.
We recall the Final Declaration of the 1st Summit of the Heads of States and Governments of the Council of Europe, held in 1993, expressing the conviction that participation of young people is essential for creating a cohesive yet diverse Europe.
We underline the outstanding contribution of the European Youth Campaign “All Different, All Equal” to the work of the Council of Europe in the fields of human rights and the fight against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance.
We underline the achievements of the youth sector of the Council of Europe through the implementation of its priorities in the fields of Participation and Democratic Citizenship, Human Rights Education, Social Cohesion, Intercultural Dialogue and Peace, Youth Policy Development and Research, and we recognise the successful work of the European Youth Centres and the European Youth Foundation in the implementation of these priorities.
We support the outcomes of the “Europe, Youth and Globalisation” Event, calling upon youth to promote global solidarity, and we call upon the Council of Europe to consider youth not just as a complement of its actions in this field but as a crucial actor in its global strategies.
We welcome the approach of the Council of Europe, promoting diversity as a crucial element in building European unity.
Today, despite all efforts made to enhance human rights and democracy in Europe, ensuring peace and building social cohesion on the basis of diversity remain a major challenge, giving more than ever a “raison d’être” to the Council of Europe and justifying the need to involve young people to a large extent.
We therefore call upon the Heads of State and Government to recognize the crucial role of the Council of Europe in the European architecture, both in supporting and sustaining democracy, and in implementing the principle “All Different All Equal”, as the basis of our shared values, and to recognize and support the role of young people, and youth organisations as key actors in the European construction.
In particular, we call for the recognition that youth participation is a crucial element to support and make Democracy work. This means it is necessary to:
- recognize that “participation and active citizenship is about having the right, the means, the space and the opportunity and where necessary the support to participate in and influence decisions and engage in actions and activities so as to contribute to building a better society (1)” ;
- implement the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life;
- investigate the possibility to develop a Convention on youth policies, including the necessity to implement youth participation;
- promote the development of national youth policies, on the basis of the knowledge developed by the Council of Europe, and in cooperation with young people according to the principle of co-management established by the Directorate of Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe;
- promote a role model of institutional co-operation that would ensure a cross-sectoral approach to youth policies, as a contribution to strengthening the relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union;
- recognise the potential represented by the work of youth NGOs and the European Youth Forum and to ensure their sustainability, to enable them to further contribute to the development of civil society;
- increase the financial and human resources of the European Youth Foundation;
- introduce a youth perspective to Council of Europe policy domains when laying down the principal tasks of the Council of Europe in the coming years.
To implement the principle “All Different All Equal”, we recall in particular the increasing need to promote both the basic values of human rights among Europe’s younger citizens and an open dialogue between young people throughout Europe and beyond. This means it is necessary to:
- recognize the added value of non-formal education and the role of Youth Organisations in overcoming racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, islamophobia, and all manifestations of disrespect;
- reinforce and promote human rights education and the youth dimension of human rights protection within the Council of Europe;
- create a Europe without dividing lines, by fostering social inclusion and by entering into a political process to overcome obstacles to mobility;
- strengthen inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue and support youth promoting this dialogue and the respect for cultural difference;
- support Youth promoting global solidarity;
- promote diversity, as an added value to build peaceful societies based on respect and inclusion;
- support youth organisations and networks in their work for equality and social cohesion tackling discrimination on the grounds of disability, health status, sexual orientation, gender role, ethnic, linguistic, cultural or religious background, socio-economic background, minority status, citizenship, or living in rural and remote areas.
On that basis, we therefore call upon European Heads of States and Government to reaffirm their political commitment to encouraging and enabling young people to participate in building European societies based on shared values.
With this aim, we first and foremost call upon European Heads of States and Government to launch a large scale action of the Council of Europe, in cooperation with the European Union, according to the principle of participation, with the aim of strengthening participatory democracy by constructing improved relations between young citizens and public authorities.
This action should be a European Youth Campaign aimed at encouraging and enabling young people to participate in building peaceful societies based on diversity and inclusion, in a spirit of respect and mutual understanding.
Encouraging and supporting youth involvement in those fields will contribute to reinforcing the transversal co-operation between the youth sector and other sectors of the Council of Europe. It will also emphasise the unique contribution of young people to Council of Europe action taking up key challenges of our societies: to make democracy work and to build unity under a common flag reading “All Different – All Equal”.
Note (1) Preamble of the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life, adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe in May 2003.