U.1.1 Youth Rights: general framework
Human rights are rights and freedoms that belong to all human beings, regardless of any condition. Human rights are expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and offer a normative framework for the formulation of regional and national youth policies, as well as strengthening the policies through legal obligations. Human rights are legal rights that States around the world have agreed to through international documents such as treaties, conventions and covenants. Governments therefore have a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. (Council of Europe, n.d.)
By introducing a concept of rights into youth policies, policy-makers recognize not only the needs and special situation of young people, but also reaffirm their rights (Council of Europe, n.d.).
Effective youth policy is not possible without empowerment of young people.
Youth is also a prominent part of the Council of Europe’s decision-making and working structure through the Joint Council on Youth and the Youth Department. The youth representatives form the Advisory Council on Youth, which has prioritised youth rights and access to rights over the past few years, co-drafting and strongly advocating in favour of the Committee of Ministers Recommendation on Young People’s Access to Rights (Council of Europe, 2020b).
The Council of Europe’s Youth Department is responsible for developing guidelines, programmes and legal instruments for better youth policies, while it also supports among youngs in the following priorities for the 2020-2021 (Council of Europe, 2020a):
- promoting young people’s access to rights and supporting them in advocating education for human rights and democracy;
- facilitating young people’s autonomy and participation through the promotion of youth policies and youth work, as well as support for youth civil society;
- engaging young people in peace-building and social cohesion, to combat discrimination and exclusion.