Human rights are a fundamental building block of democratic countries. They are universally agreed upon standards that should be used to educate, adjudicate and govern our lives.
Human rights are applicable to everyone. Their meaning goes far beyond the rigidity of legal interpretation and extends to the interpersonal relationships of every one of us in our everyday lives.
Human rights lay a foundation of rules for living together in groups. Together with moral, ethical conduct and respect they form the fabric of human relations against which personal and group conduct can be measured.
Terrorism, particularly in the light of the recent atrocities in France, is a threat to democratic values. The greatest threat comes from citizens who, for whatever reason, have become so alienated with their own country that they choose to act violently against it. Whilst there may be many reasons for this, a basic failure can be seen in the educational system. If that educational system were to fully educate a child in democratic (and hence human rights) values as it is growing up, it is far more likely that it would empower and encourage our children to question and seek to improve the human rights environment in their countries.
Is it not surprising that hardly any Council of Europe member States have mandatory human rights education starting from an early age? There are human rights materials available for youth of many ages so would it not be wiser to educate all youngsters growing up in human rights principles and the application of these?
Consequently, the Assembly should examine the current provision of human rights education in the curriculums in member States and consider ways and means of encouraging or even making mandatory the implementation of a human rights component in the curriculums, based on relevant international instruments, such as the United Nations Universal Declaration and the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5).