A leading expert from Edge Hill University joined a forum of top human rights experts to review a European charter and has called for changes to ensure young people are formally educated about their rights from an early age.
Professor Carol Robinson was invited to the forum in Turin to contribute to the development of strategic goals and support mechanisms for advancing the Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education Charter at international level.
Discussions focused on the role of formal and informal education in developing and delivering democratic citizenship and human rights educational programmes, including identifying challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Professor Robinson said: “It was a great privilege to be invited to help review this important charter and assist in creating clear guidelines for the future development of this for children and young people.
“During discussions, I emphasised that human rights education should start at the earliest opportunity so that even the youngest members of society know about their rights, and, importantly, understand the values that underpin these rights. Early education bolsters children’s ability to promote rights, and to defend their rights and those of others, especially when there is a danger of these not being respected. It also instils in children a sense of democratic citizenship and the importance of participating responsibly within society.”
The Council of Europe has acknowledged that, although national governments are committed to developing and strengthening human rights education for children and young people, they fall short of fulfilling all their commitments.
Additionally, they have said that the restrictions put in place due to the pandemic have led to challenges and delays in realising children and young peoples’ human rights education.
“Given my expertise in children and young people’s human rights education, I was able to make a significant contribution to discussions about the current gaps in children’s rights education and about areas to prioritise to strengthen the quality and delivery of human rights education programmes in formal education settings.”
The forum also discussed the current war in Ukraine and how the basic human rights and freedoms of the Ukrainian people are being routinely violated by Russian forces.
“The gross violations of human rights and freedoms, and the blatant disregard for human dignity in Ukraine is a stark reminder that human rights cannot be taken for granted.
“These harsh realities have strengthened our determination to advance rights education for children and show that the benefits of transformative citizenship and human rights education can help prepare tomorrow’s citizens for living together peacefully in a multicultural society where diversity, equality and respect for each other’s rights are valued.”
The forum was co-organised by the Council of Europe, and the Department for Youth Policy and the Universal Civic Service of the Italian Government, with Amnesty International, the National Youth Council of Italy and the European Youth Forum. It brought together experts and partners involved in the education of children and young people for democratic citizenship and human rights education from Europe and beyond.
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