RECOMMENDATION 1346 (1997)1 on
human rights education
1. The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms, adopted by the member states of the Council of Europe almost fifty years ago,
has contributed significantly to protecting citizens of Europe against acts and decisions
of governments which prevented them from fully exercising their rights. It is hoped that
the entry into force of Protocol No. 11 to the Convention will enhance the effectiveness
of this protection.
2. Other Council of Europe conventions have also contributed to the
protection of human rights in specific situations. The European Social Charter of 1961,
the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment of 1987, and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities of 1995, can be mentioned in this context.
3. The Council of Europe Youth Campaign against Racism, Xenophobia,
Anti-Semitism and Intolerance showed that disrespect for, and violations of, human rights
are not only a matter of government policies but also depend on the attitudes of ordinary
citizens in everyday life.
4. In addition, in several member states of the Council of Europe, there
is still a certain lack of human rights culture and a failure to understand the true
meaning of human rights and their implications in everyday life.
5. In this context the Assembly welcomes the 1994 decision of the
General Assembly of the United Nations to start a decade of human rights education all
over the world, in order to achieve a culture of peace.
6. The Assembly has repeatedly and consistently pointed out that
ignorance of human rights but also of other groups or cultures - is at the root of
most of the negative attitudes towards people belonging to such groups, for example Jews,
Muslims, Roma / Gypsies, immigrants, or members of national minorities. It has therefore
advocated education as one of the most effective ways of preventing such attitudes.
7. In its Recommendation 1222 (1993) on the fight against racism,
xenophobia and intolerance, for instance, the Assembly recommended to "introduce or
reinforce, as a matter of the utmost urgency, an active education and youth policy
stressing the combat of intolerant, racist or xenophobic attitudes; special attention
should be given to human rights education and language teaching".
8. As it stated in Recommendation 1283 (1996) on history and the
learning of history in Europe, the Assembly believes that the teaching of history should
enable pupils "to appreciate cultural diversity. Stereotypes should be identified and
any other distortions based on national, racial, religious or other prejudice."
9. The Assembly is aware of the considerable work done by the Council of
Europe in the fields of human rights education and awareness raising, education for
genuine democracy, history teaching, gender equality and related areas. Mention should be
made of the work of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and of
the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC) projects on "Democracy, human rights,
minorities: educational and cultural aspects" and on "Education for democratic
10. The Assembly feels, however, that the situation of human rights
throughout Europe is still far from satisfactory and that there is a real need for further
action by the Council of Europe in this field.
11. The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers
call on member states:
i. to review curricula from primary school to university, with a view
a. eliminating elements that might contribute to the creation of
b. pointing out the positive aspects of different cultures and
ways of life;
c. introducing elements to promote tolerance and respect for
people from different cultures;
ii. to include education in human rights in all school curricula,
starting with teacher training programmes, including in-service training, institutes for
the study of law and training courses for journalists;
iii. to include education in human rights and tolerance in the training
of all officials dealing with the public, such as the police, prison staff and people
dealing with refugees and asylum seekers;
iv. to encourage politicians and the media to commit themselves publicly
to the protection of human rights, inter alia, by checking and vigorously
dismissing racist, xenophobic or intolerant declarations.
12. The Assembly further recommends that the Committee of Ministers
consider human rights education as a priority for the intergovernmental work of the
Council of Europe in the years to come, and consequently:
i. undertake or develop research into the nature, causes and
manifestations of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance;
ii. establish and make accessible, for example on the Internet, a
European database of educational material for the promoting of tolerance and inter-ethnic
understanding as well as informing about human rights issues and procedures;
iii. promote the further contribution of the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities in Europe and of non-governmental organisations to this process;
iv. instruct the Council for Cultural Co-operation, the European
Commission against Racism and Intolerance and other competent Council of Europe bodies to
monitor and evaluate national policies on human rights education, with a view to
identifying examples of good practice;
v. co-ordinate its work in the field of human rights education with that
of the European Union and Unesco;
vi. inform the Parliamentary Assembly on a regular basis of progress
made in the implementation of these recommendations.
1. Assembly debate on 26 September 1997 (32nd
Sitting) (see Doc. 7887, report of the Committee on Culture and Education, rapporteur: Mrs
Text adopted by the Assembly on 26 September 1997 (32nd Sitting).