Human rights education

Report

Doc. 7887

15 September 1997

Rapporteur: Mrs Josephine Verspaget, Netherlands, Socialist Group

 


 

Summary

 

The European Convention on Human Rights was adopted by the member states of the Council of Europe almost 50 years ago. However, problems concerning human rights still exist in Europe.

 

The Assembly points out that ignorance is at the base of most of such problems and therefore recommends that a higher priority is given to human rights education.

 

I. Draft recommendation

 

1. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by the member states of the Council of Europe almost 50 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 such 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, antisemitism and intolerance showed that disrespect for, and violations of, human rights are not only a matter of government policies but also depends 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 Cooperation (CDCC) project on "Democracy, human rights, minorities: educational and cultural aspects" and on "Education for democratic citizenship."

 

10. It 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 to:

  1. eliminating elements that might contribute to the creation of negative stereotypes;
  2. pointing out the positive aspects of different cultures and ways of life;
  3. 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 police agents, 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:

  1. undertake or develop research into the nature, causes and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance;
  2. establish and make accessible, for example on the Internet, a European database of educational material for the promotion of tolerance and inter-ethnic understanding as well as information about human rights issues and procedures;
  3. promote the further contribution of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in Europe and of non-governmental organisations to this process;
  4. instruct the Council for Cultural Cooperation, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and other competent Council of Europe bodies to monitor and evaluate national policies of human rights education, with a view to identifying examples of good practice.
  5. coordinate its work in the field of human rights education with that of the European Union and Unesco;
  6. inform the Parliamentary Assembly on a regular basis of progress made in the implementation of these recommendations.

 

 


 

II. Explanatory memorandum by Mrs Josephine VERSPAGET

 

50 years of human rights in Europe

Council of Europe activities

 

When the Council of Europe was set up after the Second World War, each member state agreed to "accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms".

 

The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was completed in 1950. Since then eleven protocols, or additional sets of provisions, have been added. This convention is chiefly concerned with the civil and political rights of individuals.

 

Other European conventions concerned with human rights are: the European Social Charter (adopted in 1961), which deals with social and economic rights, mainly in relation with employment; the European Convention for the prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1987); the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1995); the European Convention on the Rights of Children (1996) and the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (1997).

 

Since 1978, the Committee of Ministers has adopted recommendations on human rights education to the Member States on a regular basis. This practice started with Resolution (78) 91 on the teaching of human rights in the curricula of schools and training institutions.

 

In its Declaration regarding Intolerance - a threat to democracy, adopted in 1981, the Committee of Ministers decided "to promote an awareness of the requirements of human rights and ensuing responsibilities in a democratic society, and to this end, in addition to human rights education, to encourage the creation in schools, from the primary level upwards, of a climate of active understanding of and respect for the qualities and cultures of others".

 

In its Recommendation on Teaching and Learning about Human Rights, adopted in May 1985, the Committee of Ministers stressed the importance of human rights teaching in schools and pointed out the main principles of human rights education. It expressed the conviction that human rights education should start at primary level. Special importance was given to the teaching of history.

 

The issue of the promotion of human rights through education has been touched on in several reports by the Committee on Culture and Education. Recommendations 963 (1983) on cultural and educational means of reducing violence, 1069 (1988) on development education, 1162 (1991) on the contribution of the Islamic civilisation to European culture, 1202 (1993) on religious tolerance, 1203(1993) on Gypsies in Europe, 1281 (1995) on gender equality in education, 1283 (1996) on history and learning of history in Europe, 1291(1996) on Yiddish culture, and Resolution 885 (1987) on the Jewish contribution to European culture.

 

For example in Recommendation 1283 (1996) on history and the learning of history in Europe, the Assembly expressed the view that the teaching of history should enable pupils "to appreciate cultural diversity. Stereotypes should be identified and other distortions based on national, racial, religious or other prejudice".

 

Other Assembly Committees have also dealt with human rights related issues. In its Recommendation 1222 (1993) on the fight against racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, 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". Recommendations 1229 (1994) on equality of rights between men and women, 1275 (1995) on the fight against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance, 1286 (1996) on a European strategy for children and Resolution 1099(1996) on the sexual exploitation of children also deal with the subject.

 

The Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC) has developed programmes on the themes: "education in democratic values and human rights", "improvements in the teaching of history and the production of history text books", "A secondary education for Europe; an intercultural approach to education" and many others. Other programmes in related fields have dealt with the particular educational problems of Roma/Gypsies and travellers, higher education, adult education, education of the media, cultural rights and genuine democracy.

 

In March 1994 the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education reviewed the role of education in building the New Europe. It adopted the Resolution "Education for Democracy, Human Rights and Tolerance" in which it affirmed the strategic role which education can play in helping people to equip themselves with the ability to make independent and balanced judgements and not be swayed or manipulated by extremist views or biased information.

 

The project "Democracy, Human Rights, Minorities: Educational and Cultural Aspects" was launched in 1993 by the CDCC to develop civics, intercultural education and cultural democracy through practical field activities, to examine the educational and cultural aspects of the management of diversity in a democratic society and to produce, at the end of the project, guidelines for governments on educational and cultural rights. The results of this project were presented at a Final Conference in Strasbourg in May 1997.

 

The CDCC has launched in 1997 a new Project on "Education for Democratic Citizenship" which will have as a central concern the need to secure the conditions for the practice of human rights and rule of law. It will take account of the work carried out in the Project "Democracy, Human Rights and Minorities: educational and cultural aspects".

 

The Steering Committee on the Mass Media (CDMM) has set up a Group of Specialists on Media and Intolerance (MM-S-IN) to complete work on three recommendations: on "the portrayal of violence in the electronic media", on "hate speech" and on "the media and the promotion of a culture of tolerance".

 

The European Committee on Migration (CDMG) was itself created in order to improve European cooperation in the field of migration and community relations. It has developed several projects related to the promotion of human rights:

 

The Heads of State and Government of the (then) 32 member states of the Council of Europe met for the first time in the organisation's history in Vienna on 9 October 1993. The Vienna Declaration enshrines the development of a pan-European political consensus. For the first time, all the countries of Europe had opted for democracy. But the implementation of democratic principles was not free from threat. According to the Vienna Declaration, the new Europe must become a "vast area of democratic security". The historic opportunity to strengthen peace and stability in Europe depended to a great extend on how member states and local and regional authorities could "cooperate through education, the media, cultural action, protection and promotion of the cultural heritage and youth participation."

 

Following the Vienna Summit, the Council of Europe launched a European Youth Campaign against Racism, Xenophobia, Antisemitism and Intolerance as a reaction to the rise of racism and intolerance in many European countries. The Campaign began on 10 December 1994 under the logo "All Different - All Equal" and officially ended in May 1996. It had unprecedented support in Member States and many people throughout Europe became aware of the advantages of a multicultural environment.

 

Over 2000 national and local activities in 40 European countries were carried out during the Campaign, in a variety of forms: information programmes in schools, projects for peer group education, production of educational materials, youth camps, pilot projects, social work in difficult urban and suburban areas, festivals, exhibitions, a media campaign, newspaper articles, games and information centres. Most activities were implemented at grass roots level with intensive assistance by local associations.

 

The Campaign was coordinated with other international initiatives such as the United Nations' Year of Tolerance (1995). It drew on the experience gained from previous campaigns (e.g. North-South Campaign of the Council of Europe, national youth campaigns) and attracted media in close cooperation with such organisations as the One World Network and the European Broadcasting Union.

 

The main objectives of the Campaign were: to present the public with examples of positive lifestyles in a multicultural society, to encourage young people to take active part in the fight against racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at European, national and local level; to produce teaching materials, curricula and methods of immediate practical use in school and out of school education; to influence formal education through the experience gained from educational schemes of a more informal kind, to promote the development and expansion of education for tolerance; to promote intercultural learning in schools, higher education, and out-of-school education; to generate concepts and practical proposals against the increasing marginalisation of young people in society.

 

The decision to set up the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) was also taken at the Vienna Summit of Heads of State and Government. It stemmed from the undertaking given by the Heads of State and Government to counter the rise of racism and intolerance in Europe with firm, resolute action, which was first and foremost intended to be highly practical. The task assigned to ECRI was to work to strengthen safeguards against all forms of racism and intolerance. The Vienna Summit established ECRI's terms of reference and instructed the Committee of Ministers to decide on further arrangements for the functioning of the new body.

 

The general philosophy underlying ECRI's work is based on the understanding that ECRI's long-term goal is to contribute to the concept of integration within a multi-cultural Europe as well as to enhance democratic security. In October 1996 ECRI adopted a draft recommendation elaborating a series of general policy recommendations to the governments of member States.

 

ECRI is currently examining the possibility of strengthening the non-discrimination provision (Article 14 of the European Convention on human Rights). It has further identified a range of measures and guiding principles to deal with problems of racism or xenophobia. A country by country study on the situation in Member States is under way. A permanent body for monitoring, evaluating and proposing measures to combat racism and xenophobia has also been proposed.

 

The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was prepared as a direct result of the Vienna Summit. The Framework Convention has been signed by 26 and ratified by 8 of the Council of Europe's member States, and is expected to enter into force in the near future. A programme of awareness-raising activities concerning this Framework Convention is now under way. Also of relevance in this area is the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Even if the charter addresses languages and not linguistic minorities it certainly contributes to an increased awareness of European cultural diversity.

 

The Council of Europe has launched several programmes in the field of national minorities. The most significant one concerns the situation of Roma/Gypsies in Europe. The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe have adopted resolutions and recommendations regarding Roma/Gypsies. The Council for Cultural Cooperation published a report on "Gypsies and Travellers" in 1994 and has a comprehensive programme relating to Gypsy education. A coordinator has recently been appointed within the Council of Europe to coordinate various activities and to liaise with other international organisations, NGOs and Roma/Gypsy representatives.

 

Pending an appropriate reply by the Committee of Ministers to Assembly Recommendation n° 1203 (1993) on Gypsies, a Group of specialists on Roma/Gypsies was set up in October 1995. This Group has convened three meetings and several missions to analyse the situation of Roma people in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Madrid. It has produced recommendations on the improvement of the situation of Roma minorities in different countries. During the next meeting of the Group the problems of human rights education of Roma/Gypsies shall be discussed.

 

The programme of confidence building measures embraces several projects for the creation of better relations between various communities in majority-minority situations. This programme consists of activities which are of a preventive nature, i.e. they are designed to defuse tension which could otherwise lead to serious conflicts, and to promote mutual knowledge and understanding and a rejection of violence as a means of solving problems.

 

Such projects may be undertaken in a wide variety of fields: media, education, housing and welfare services, in the field of youth, local democracy or religion cooperation. Several projects have been already approved, among them: the Third European Youth Academy in Austria, the creation of pluralistic schools in Albania, the production of television programmes in the languages of national minorities in Lithuania, an intercultural approach to training in Ukraine and a school of civic society within the activities of the Subotica Local Democracy Embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

 

The intergovernmental programme of cooperation with countries of Central and Eastern Europe covers a large spectrum of bilateral and multilateral activities for the newly democratic countries which include workshops, seminars and experience exchanges in the field of human rights protection. A seminar on the death penalty was organised for journalists in Kyiv on 10-11 April 1997 and a multilateral seminar on combatting torture took place in Budapest on 6-7 March 1997.

 

The Pan-European Programme for Interparliamentary Cooperation, was launched in 1991 by the Parliamentary Assembly. Aiming at improving cooperation with central and east European countries, this programme includes information and training for parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, cooperation in the legislative field, assistance with documentation and the organisation of meetings. By means of information and education this programme helps the countries of central and eastern Europe in their transition from communism to a fully democratic society.

 

Action by the Assembly Committee on Culture and Education for young political leaders has helped in the creation of the Democratic Leadership Programme. This has been designed to strengthen the political skills of young leaders, committed to democracy, the rule of law and human rights. This programme envisages the organisation of different training seminars for selected young leaders and the creation and maintenance of an alumni-network with a further training component.

 

A pilot seminar for the programme was held at the European Youth Centre in Budapest in December 1996 for young political leaders from Bosnia and Herzegovina. After this seminar proved successful, a Steering Group was constituted with representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament and the Commission, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, European political youth organisations, the Moscow School for Political Studies, and the International Institute for Democracy. The Group meets twice a year and takes decisions about the main directions, target countries, partners and financing of the programme.

 

In 1997 this Programme will organise five seminars for young political leaders from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eastern Slavonia and the Baltic region. Further activities of the programme will cover the Balkans, the Baltic states and Northwest Russia.

 

As a part of the Human Rights Information Centre, which functions in the Human Rights Directorate in the Council of Europe, the Human Rights Awareness Unit assures a proactive role in terms of raising human rights awareness. It works with active human rights non-governmental organisations, other intergovernmental organisations, professional groups, academics, teachers and students. Other important partners of the Unit are the Information and Documentation Centres established in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

 

In addition to the production of information materials, such as human rights educational video films (for example: "Stand up NOW for Human Rights"), human rights posters for the police and different publicity brochures, the Unit has organised several training actions for professional groups: a three-day workshop in Albania to revise a human rights manual for the Police and to examine the best methods for including human rights in the curricula of the Albanian Police Academy (1996); training in human rights for Turkish police officials in Germany (1995) and two seminars on the European Convention on Human Rights as relevant to refugee lawyers (Greece, May 1997).

 

Several meetings have been organised in Strasbourg, such as consultations with NGO's, interested in human rights (1995-1997), a study session for representatives of the Roma/Gypsy community (November 1996), the 4th Biennial Meeting of Human Rights Institutes in member States of the Council of Europe, on human rights training programmes and materials (March 1997).

 

The Human Rights Awareness Unit has supported two Regional workshops on human rights education organised by Amnesty International (in Kharkiv and Zagreb, in 1995), and the North, East, South Seminar - the future of human rights education, organised by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (in Soesterberg, the Netherlands, 1995).

 

The Unit has been active in the region of the former Yugoslavia: it participated in an expert workshop on teaching human rights in the region, organised by the British Institute of Human Rights (February 1996) and in the training of the OSCE Human Rights Monitors for Bosnia and Herzegovina (Vienna, 1996).

 

Cooperation with the European Union

 

The Consultative Commission on "Racism and Xenophobia" of the European Union, in which the Council of Europe takes part as an observer, completed its feasibility study on a European Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia and its final report was submitted to the European Council of Florence in June 1996.

 

The Consultative Commission recommended that the setting up of an Observatory in the framework of the European Union be followed immediately by negotiations on a agreement on cooperation with the Council of Europe to be represented within the Observatory.

 

In his report, on "European cultural cooperation: activities of the European Union and relations with the Council of Europe", Sir Russell Johnston pointed out that in "a number of areas cooperation could be strengthened and improved. In the field of the fight against racism and xenophobia, a consensus on a joint observatory on racism and xenophobia would be an important and welcome development". It is therefore regrettable that the proposal to set up the Observatory as a joint body of the Council of Europe and the European Union had not met with the Consultative Commission's approval.

 

At the 8th quadripartite meeting of the Council of Europe and European Union, held on 23 of October 1996 in Strasbourg, the two organisations agreed that particular attention would be given to the fields of education and culture and to any other field that may from time to time be identified by common agreement, such as matters relating to racism and xenophobia. They also welcomed the efforts being made by the Council of Europe and the European Commission in strengthening cooperation in the field of culture and education. They decided that the Council of Europe would be able to contribute its experience to the European Year against Racism, organised by the European Union in 1997 and in the creation of the Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia.

 

At the 9th quadripartite meeting (Luxembourg, 28 April 1997) the participants "recalled the need to join forces against racism and xenophobia". Arrangements were foreseen in order to ensure cooperation within the monitoring centre by means of a special agreement. It was agreed that the Council of Europe would be represented in the Managing Board of the Centre.

 

On 2 June 1997 the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 15 members of the European Union announced the setting up in Vienna of the European Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia. Its Governing Board will be composed of an independent personality designated by each member State, the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council of Europe.

 

Cooperation with NGOs

 

In addition to the activities described above, the Council of Europe also supports other initiatives of non-governmental organisations working in different areas of the protection and promotion of human rights.

 

A practical example of such cooperation is the series of ten-day training seminars on civic education, human rights education and intercultural education for Bosnian teachers, carried out in July 1996 by the Council of Europe, the United States Information Agency (USIA) and the American Centre for Civic Education, under the auspices of CIVITAS, the international network on civic education set up in Prague in 1995.

 

It is worth mentioning initiatives such as the MUS-E project for schools (tolerance through music) of the International Menuhin Association, welcomed by the Committee on Culture and Education. This project is aimed at stimulating education based upon music, singing, dance and body movement and to channel the energy of children from difficult backgrounds.

 

 

How to develop human rights education

 

50 years ago the Council of Europe started its work with the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights in order to minimise the danger of another war in Europe. Much progress has been made since by member states in the implementation of the principles of this convention. Now the countries of the Central and Eastern Europe are also members of the Council of Europe. However, problems concerning human rights exist on both sides: racism and intolerance in Western Europe and a lack of a human rights culture in Eastern Europe. Despite all initiatives at European level and the work being done at national level, respect for human rights is not yet universal in Europe. Disrespect for, and violations of, human rights is not so much a matter of government policies but a matter of the attitudes of our common citizens in their everyday life.

 

Our Committee on Culture and Education has repeatedly and consistently pointed out that ignorance - of human rights but also of other people and cultures - is at the base of most of the negative attitudes towards "different" people (reports on Gypsies, Jewish culture, Yiddish, Islamic civilisation, religious tolerance, history learning, etc). We have therefore been advocating education as one of the most effective ways of preventing such attitudes.

 

Education covers a wide range of activities and is carried out by a wide range of actors. It starts at home with the family, then it goes to school with teachers and continues with vocational training or higher education, with trainers and professors but also with the media, politicians, peer groups, associations and in fact the whole of society.

 

The family should be mentioned as the place where children first learn about tolerance. Its role should not be minimised as very often it determines the attitudes of people throughout their lives.

 

School programmes on human rights are successfully implemented in many European countries. In the Netherlands, the primary school subject "Wereldorientatie" (the interdisciplinary teaching of geography, history, biology and current events) provides a forum for discussion of political and social events in the world. In other countries, such as Finland and Switzerland, human rights education is also considered very successful.

 

In the elaboration of programmes for human rights education several principles should be considered. Education in human rights should include legal education. Programmes should be based on real life examples and should be linked with citizenship education. They can be enriched by intercultural education.

 

The intercultural aspect in the programmes will serve as a basis for a new approach to the contemporary society, emphasizing human values and guaranteeing human rights. Intercultural education is needed to raise awareness of different forms of languages and cultures and their interpenetration. This would enable all to develop their identity while respecting the identity of others.

 

Fundamental rights of refugees constitute another subject that should be included in such programmes.

 

Human rights education can be built into almost all disciplines in the curriculum. It is easy to include human rights within the teaching of history, and indeed it would be a mistake to omit them in that discipline. In geography, it can be included in the relations between the rich and the poor nations, in the examination of other ways of life, and in the protection of the environment. In literature, many great novels and poetry are concerned with issues of human rights.

 

Human rights teaching can also moreover be included within the teaching of sciences. This relates both to the consequences of scientific and technological discovery, and to the choice of problems for research. Greater resources are devoted to putting people into space and developing weapons than into ensuring that everybody has enough to eat, housing, clean water and other essentials.

 

The teaching of art is a very promising area for the expression of human aspirations. The subject of human rights can be included into history of art courses through the learning of art periods in different cultures. Art courses are very useful for learning the values and aesthetic senses of different cultures.

 

The experience of human rights education in Europe determine three methodological approaches:

 

 

The choice of model depends on the conception of the curriculum and on the place assigned to human rights in formal programmes. Each country has its own way of integrating human rights into official curricula.

 

As a social institution, the school must apply the rules of participatory democracy. Direct participation based on discussion in pupils' councils, general assemblies or pupils' parliaments, and indirect participation, with pupil representation by a delegation or election by their peers, will permit pupils to prepare for democratic citizenship.

 

Extra-curricular associations of young people could constitute an excellent basis for participation in the preparation of the domestic rules of the schools. Norway's programme "The Resonant Community" brings children of different ethnic groups together in musical performances to overcome prejudice and racism. In Germany the programme "Foreigners in Our Town" has involved people of all ages in the effort to combat prejudice. The Council of Europe should encourage such activities.

 

Human rights education should not be restricted to school. To promote a better understanding of human rights it is important to include human rights education in programmes of professional training for adults.

 

Maximum priority should be given to teacher training, including in-service training. Teachers should be encouraged to include human rights in their respective subjects in school.

 

Another aim of training is to introduce teachers to the field of international law on human rights. Training projects could be organised in the European Youth Centres in cooperation with the International Institute of Human rights and their international character should be emphasised (bringing together participants from different countries).

 

Special training should be organised for representatives of national, regional and local administration, in particular police officers, prison staff and personnel dealing with refugees and asylum seekers.

 

In order to identify further methods and ways of training teachers and trainers involved in human rights education, it is important to develop research in the field of human rights education. This research should include studies on the nature, causes and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance at local, regional and national levels.

 

The new information and communication technologies, including video-games for children, special data-bases in human rights education, and CD-rom encyclopedias, can be applied to the teaching and promotion of human rights. These and other educational materials should be adapted to different categories of users.

 

Expert studies should examine the programmes and educational materials for all levels of education in order to develop a solid methodological base for education and encourage the exchange of information about teaching tools and practices supporting education about human rights.

 

The Council of Europe could usefully centralise all information on human rights and prepare a European database on the subject. This would provide an opportunity to centralise information concerning human rights from different organisations and to make an inventory of all documents, activities and projects which could then be used in education. Such a database should include the case law of the European Commission and Court of Human Rights. As one of our colleagues pointed out, "the best text-book on human rights education would be a history of the Council of Europe".

 

The mass-media have a considerable influence on the attitudes of young people towards human rights and can play an important role in human rights education. Media can help to educate citizens and can also constitute a source of human rights violations. Awareness about human rights should be included in training courses for journalists, who should be encouraged, together with politicians, to commit themselves more openly to the protection of human rights.

 

As the Assembly pointed out in its Recommendation 1276 (1975) on the power of the visual image, children should be taught to read, listen, view and interpret the messages coming through the media.

 

Politicians should also be encouraged to commit themselves publicly to the protection of human rights, inter alia by checking and vigorously dismissing racist, xenophobic or intolerant declarations.

 

Taking into consideration the problems of minority education, the Council of Europe should encourage the development of multi-media technologies in the field of minority education in human rights in order to allow very small groups to benefit from education in their own language and isolated groups to have ready access to information.

 

With the aim of stimulating discussion between scholars and teachers, the exchange of experience and the coordination of programmes, a series of regional conferences could be organised by the Council of Europe. Such "human rights education" conferences could be followed by a Conference on Human Rights Education in Europe.

 

The Council of Europe could make available information and material on human rights education in its information centres in the member countries of central and eastern Europe. These centres should have access to the electronic data bases of educational establishments in human rights and to the relevant documents and publications.

 

At the international level closer coordination should be established between the Council of Europe, the European Union and Unesco in the field of human rights education.

 


Reporting committee: Committee on Culture and Education

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: None.

Reference to the Committee: Doc. 7523 and Reference No 2069 of 22 April 1996.

Draft recommendation: Unanimously adopted by the committee on 9 September 1997.

Members of the committee: Lord Russell-Johnston, (Chairperson), MM. Berg, Probst, Mrs Verspaget (Vice-Chairpersons), MM. Arnason, Bartumeu Cassany, Bauer, Baumel, Berti, Bratina, Mrs Camilleri, MM. Corrao, De Decker (Alternate: Staes), Diaz de Mera, Domljan, Dumitrescu, Mrs Fehr, Mrs Fleeetwood, Mrs Fyfe (Alternate: Sir Keith Speed), Mrs Garajova, MM. Gellért Kis, Glotov, Mrs Groenver, Mr Hadjidemetriou, Baroness Hooper, Mrs Isohookana-Asunmaa, MM. Ivanov, Jakic, Mr Jarab (Alternate: Mrs Stepova) Mrs Katseli, MM. Kouck_, Kriedner (Alternate: Zierer), Mrs Kusnere, MM. Lazarescu, Legendre, Liiv, Ma_achowski, Mrs Maximus, MM Melo, Pereira Marques, Polydoras, Mrs Poptodorova, MM. de Puig, Ragno (Alternate: Gnaga), Regenwetter, Roseta, Mrs Schicker, MM. Siwiec, Sudarenkov (Alternate: Oorzhak), Symonenko, Szakàl, Tanik, Mrs Terborg, MM Vangelov, Verbeek, Mrs Vermot-Mangold (Alternate: Rhinow), Mr Walsh, Ms Wärnersson, MM Yavorivsky, Zingeris (Alternate: Raskinis).

 

NB: The names of those who took part in the vote are in italics.

Secretaries to the committee: Mr Ary, Ms Theophilova and Ms Kostenko