For the Council of Europe (CoE), democratic citizenship is not confined to the legal status of “citizen” or the rights derived from it, e.g. right to vote on national or European Union level, and freedom of movement. Instead, it embraces every aspect of life in a democratic society, emphasizing the importance of active participation for the proper functioning of societies founded on respect for human rights and the rule of law. Democratic citizenship is a skill acquired through education, for young and adults, at school or through vocational training, or in connection with activities of civil society groups and churches. The CoE deploys strategies to promote democratic citizenship in the context of lifelong learning. By helping everyone to exercise their rights but also their responsibilities, education for democratic citizenship is a mechanism guarding against the rise of violence, racism and extremism, as well as furthering social cohesion and social justice (based on the 2013 CoE diary – statement by Thorbjorn Jagland, General Secretary).
By Richard Fischer