AccueilDiversité, droits de l'Homme, participation

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Publié le vendredi 24 février 2006 par Natalie Petiteau


Un seminaire de recherche organise par le partenariat dans la jeunesse entre le Conseil de l'Europe et la Commission europenne. Le seminaire a pour but d'analyser d'un point de vue critique les termes diversite, droits de l'homme et participation comme ils sont utilises concernant les jeunes.


Diversity – Human Rights – Participation

A seminar organised in the framework on the Partnership on Research in the Youth Field between the Council of Europe and the European Commission.

European Youth Centre, Strasbourg

11 – 13 May, 2006

Call for applicants from the field of inter-disciplinary research

Deadline - March 10, 2006


The Council of Europe will, with the support of the European Union, organise a campaign on the themes of Diversity, Human Rights and Participation in 2006. The campaign will be based upon the slogan “All Different – All Equal”, successfully used by the European Youth Campaign against racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance run by the Council of Europe in 1995.

The members of the network of researchers – the expert group for the research dimension of the Partnership – at its 11th meeting, held in September 2005, called for a seminar to be organised around the themes of the Campaign.

This document outlines the proposal for a seminar to be organised around the three main pillars of the Campaign. Its aim is to critically assess the meaning of each of these terms in view of the contemporary social, economic and political climate and analyse how they impact directly on the lives of young people in Europe.

The seminar may be seen as emerging from the research work already started during the highly successful seminar on “Resituating Culture”. This seminar and the report on the future of Intercultural Learning, written by Dr Gavan Titley, have engendered a timely questioning of the core principle of intercultural learning (ICL) and its meaning today, more than thirty years since the birth of the European Youth Centres of the Council of Europe.[1] The outcome of the work around the meaning of culture led to an understanding that ICL may run the risk of reifying and essentialising cultures. This process arises out of the tendency to see ‘minority’ groups as internally homogeneous, and therefore relative or comparable to other groups, rather than recognising the internal diversity within them. In Europe, this has meant that while minority groups may be recognised, and their traditions, religions, languages etc. tolerated, they are nevertheless still generally denied full access to participation in political, social and economic life. The strong conclusions of the seminar on “Resituating Culture” and the subsequent publication and reports was that the mere recognition of cultural diversity must be replaced by a commitment to the opportunity for equal and full participation of all people living in Europe.

Background to the seminar theme

The seminar should base itself upon the three thematic pillars proposed for the Campaign: Diversity – Human Rights - Participation. In order to be relevant to the Campaign and to make a serious scientific contribution, the seminar should critically assess the meaning of each of these three concepts. This assessment is conceived chronologically; going from diversity, through human rights towards participation.

The theme of diversity is essentially linked to the theme of culture (or, more precisely, interculturalism) already dealt with extensively by the research agenda. The Youth Programme of the European Commission made “Promoting diversity and in particular reducing all forms of racism and xenophobia” one of its key priorities for 2005. The SALTO Youth Resource Centres have established a Cultural Diversity Resource Centre.

The theme of human rights has, since the 1995 Campaign, become central to the work of the Youth Directorate. There has not yet been a scientific evaluation of the concept as there has been for Intercultural Learning through the work on resituating culture. It would be opportune, within the framework of the Campaign, to address this theme from a critical viewpoint.

The theme of participation signifies the end point, or the aim of the Campaign. As has been realised through the experience of minority youth work and human rights education, working in this domain is of little use if it does not lead to full and equal access to participation in social, economic and political life for all. The White Paper on Youth has emphasised the promotion of participation among all young people in Europe.

Therefore, seminar should aim to be:

Analytical of the conceptual baggage behind terms such as ‘diversity’ and ‘human rights’;

Constructively critical of how these concepts are applied in practice (in formal and non-formal education, training, youth work, diversity training, human rights education, anti-racism work, social work, outreach work, urban development etc.);

Yet, facilitate a discussion of how more egalitarian participation can be increased through evidence-based examples of good practice (e.g. research carried out on projects or initiatives – planned or spontaneous – that led to increased rights, freedoms and opportunities for participation).

The Issues

What are the main challenges posed by each of the three pillars: Diversity – Human Rights – Participation?


Diversity is a fact. We in Europe have all always lived in societies made up of various individuals and groups who differ according to gender, physical ability, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, skin colour, nationality etc. That idea that we once lived in monocultural societies is largely an invention of the twentieth century: the so-called age of immigration. In an era before passports and border controls, there was much more freedom of movement than there is today. The coming and going of peoples from various regions of the world since travel became possible means that our European societies have known diversity for several centuries.

Today, the word diversity – like its predecessors multiculturalism and interculturalism – has come to stand for an objective. Diversity, for many people, does not just describe a social fact. We constantly hear that it is necessary to ‘increase diversity’, provide ‘diversity management’ or, in contrast, that ‘too much diversity’ is bad for social cohesion.[2]

As an idea about a vision of society, diversity has suffered the same fate as multiculturalism: it is either taken to be a factor that can be increased and enhanced, through programmes and policies; or it is considered a dangerous notion, too much of which will permanently change what is presumed to be the unique character of Europe or the nation-state.[3] This pro and contra approach to diversity may have the effect of obscuring the simple fact that our societies are diverse. If we fear diversity as a result, we run the risk of those who are considered different (e.g. minority groups) being scapegoated and targeted. This is already the case today, as the stringent control of immigration and the rise of phenomena such as Islamophobia demonstrate.

The end of 2005 was marked by concern over diversity following the riots that spread throughout the urban suburbs of France in November. Young people from non-white immigrant origin lashed out against the police and their neighbourhoods in anger at the their situation: poor, socially excluded, and often the victims of institutional racism. Liberal responses to the riots in France and elsewhere called for increased ‘mixité’ or diversity; particularly in social housing, schools, employment and state institutions, such as the police. However, it may be argued that advocating increased diversity as a solution to the ingrained social and political malaises - racism, poverty and exclusion - that arise out of the history of colonialism and immigration may be insufficient.

In contrast, we should commit ourselves to conceiving of diversity as a fact of our societies, both historically and contemporarily. This approach would allow us to see increased diversity as a rich resource, rather than as a special measure taken in the hope of avoiding social unrest.

A panel on diversity should examine these (and other) critical analyses further and discuss concrete examples such as diversity training, diversity management, diversity and social exclusion, diversity and institutions etc.

Human Rights

Universal Human Rights are considered to be the basic principles governing the protection of the individual in society. Whereas other rights are concerned with groups (the nation, the family, identity-based groups, etc.) the individual character of human rights sets them within a history that goes back to the 18th century ideals of Enlightenment.

Human Rights are considered tantamount to all other rights in democratic Western thinking. Human Rights gained this position of hegemony through the growth of international institutions in the post-war world such as the United Nations and the Council of Europe and the signature of the Geneva Convention and other core charters.

It has been increasingly noted by researchers, mainly legal scholars and political and social theorists, that Human Rights may not be as universal as they are presumed to be. Human Rights are considered to pertain to all human beings in every corner of the globe. However, the notion is a culturally specific Western one that is grounded in the particular history of emergent democracy in continental Europe. It is bound to a political philosophy that is critical of communalism and insists on a secular individualism that is seen as the prerequisite for Reason.

Human rights have taken the lead as the number one framework for demonstrating grievances and demanding justice. This process has evolved since the 1980s and the rise in importance of professionalized, transnational NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. It has also been abetted by the incorporation of the language of human rights into official discourse. This can be seen in the way in which democratisation and human rights have become central to the discourse of the US administration and its allies in the context of the War on Terror.[4]

Both the lack of knowledge about the foundations of human rights and their hegemonic status in both state and non-governmental spheres, means that human rights are often the only way that discriminated groups or individuals can frame their protest. This means a legalisation, and consequent professionalisation, of activism and a dependency on human rights texts for legitimating action. The way in which the language and tools of human rights have entered into the domain of social justice activism may have led to the marginalisation of other forms of action. We can witness a diminishing in more spontaneous or direct action in a variety of fields. Demands for justice, retribution, equality, recognition and respect through grassroots mobilisation and confrontation have often been replaced by a recourse to legal processes, lobbying and politicking that may result in a lack of grassroots identification and support.

Nonetheless, the diffusion of human rights activism has led actors to interpret human rights from their own perspective. Therefore, group or community rights have come under the heading of human rights in general. One of the core priorities of the Council of Europe’s Youth Sector, for example, is Human Rights and social cohesion. This includes the promotion of human dignity and stands against social exclusion, violence, racism, intolerance and discrimination. It also seeks the empowerment of young people to develop strategies and activities to address racism, xenophobia, discrimination and gender-based forms of violence affecting them.

We can see, therefore, how human rights have been applied and extended to a wide range of themes generally related to the principle of ensuring human dignity that veer away from the original conception of human rights as a more individualistic idea. It is important to note how the origins of human rights are being challenged and filled with other meanings by actors in the field of social justice.

Papers under this heading should attempt to address both the foundational and the practical implications of human rights for youth work around themes of racism and other forms of discrimination, social exclusion, poverty etc. They should discuss the way in which the understanding of human rights has been transformed within activism and youth work etc.


The first Council of Europe “All Different – All Equal” Campaign paved the way for the greater participation of young people from minority backgrounds of all kinds in the local, national and international youth fields. The possibility for multiplying this effect among young people in Europe more generally is hindered by the current atmosphere of mistrust of different others and the growing social exclusion experienced in many sectors of society.

The discussion on participation should focus on the possibilities for young people who face racism, homophobia and discrimination of all kinds to participate fully in social, economic and political life. Initiatives, whether they are instigated by governments or by groups and individuals in civil society, should be evaluated in light of the current political situation and, therefore, in terms of the possibility for the transformation of the conditions of inequality faced by many young people. How have young people themselves taken initiatives to develop strategies for participation? In particular, in what ways are the Internet and mobile phones increasingly used by young people taking an active interest in political life. Examples from the protest against the War in Iraq reveal how young people, some as young as ten years old, used these methods to communicate and mobilise protest.

Participation can be conceived of at all levels, and should not be narrowly restricted to associative life. Sports and the arts as well as education, employment and the voluntary sector are all important areas for participation. The social dimension of participation should also be explored. How are groups and individuals in diverse societies restricted from regular social activities that are part of the daily life of young people? The growing segregation within disadvantaged neighbourhoods may severely affect the possibilities for young people from different ethnic, religious or class backgrounds to interact socially and commonly participate in everyday social activities. In what ways are such barriers on social participation challenged by young people?

In general, what are the various, less narrowly defined, ways in which participation can be interpreted? In what ways have young people initiated mechanisms for their own and others’ participation? What challenges have young people been faced with when trying to participate in existing structures? Under what circumstances is participation truly egalitarian and non-tokenistic?

All of these questions and more should be addressed in this panel. Special emphasis will be placed on research carried out on examples of participation in a variety of spheres (politics, sports, the arts, associations etc.).

Link with the “All Different-All Equal” Campaign

The aim is to enable the establishment of an information-bank of quality research on the issues that may be used in the running of the “All Different – All Equal” Campaign. An on-line forum will be started in which both participants and others can discuss the seminar themes in advance and which will continue after the end of the seminar.


- Council of Europe Youth Sector Priorities:

- The White Paper on Youth:

- SALTO Cultural Diversity Resource Centre:

- Priorities of the Youth Programme of the European Commission:


The three-day seminar will take place on 11-13 May 2006 in the European Youth Centre, Strasbourg.[5] 20 applicants will be selected to give papers. Other participants shall include non-researchers (policy makers, youth trainers, secretariat of the Council of Europe and European Commission) who will join the debate but will not present a paper.

Working language

The working language of the seminar will be English.

Profile of participants

Participants shall be:

Researchers with or about to complete Masters or PhD studies on relevant topics;

Researchers interested to contribute to the development of thinking in the specific field of youth with regards the seminar themes;

Applicants may apply who have practical experience of working on the topic but they must also have a research profile.


A wide range of participants is encouraged to apply to give a paper at the seminar. Applicants should send in a CV and an abstract explaining their potential contribution to the seminar and its outcomes. Selection of presenters will be made on the basis of quality and relevance to the seminar themes. All participants must be able to work in English. The final selection will also take into account gender and regional balance amongst participants.

Participation in the seminar

The number of papers shall be restricted to not overburden the discussion and ensure an in-depth analysis of each theme. Papers shall, therefore be organised according to thematic panels, coordinated by a chair. Paper-givers will be contacted by their session chair in advance of the seminar to coordinate the running of each session.

Papers must be presented within the time limit of 25 minutes. Those participants whose abstracts have been accepted for the seminar must deliver their completed papers by 14 April, 2006. We reserve the right to make papers available on the internet prior and/or after the research seminar on the European Knowledge Centre for Youth Policy (

Those interested in participating in this seminar should send the following documentation to the address below by 10 March, 2006:

a completed application form (attached below);

a succinct CV (maximum one page);

500 word abstract of the proposed presentation.

The organisers of the research seminar reserve the right to select papers for presentation.

Presentation of papers for publication

The outcomes of this seminar will be published as an edited collection. Papers presented at the seminar may be selected for inclusion (as one of approximately 15 chapters) in this collection; the organisers will make the selection. Selected contributors will receive a fee of 500€ once the collection’s editor accepts the final manuscript. Paper presenters invited to publish their contribution in the collection should expect to revise and edit their manuscript to publication standard and in accordance with the editor’s recommendations. All papers will be available after the seminar on the European Knowledge Centre for youth policy website.

Financial and Practical Conditions of Participation

The research seminar will take place at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg, France. Arrival is foreseen on Wednesday 10 May, 2006, preferably before dinner, which will take place at 19h00. Arrival time should be determined by the cost of the flights. Should more reasonable travel expenses (APEX flights) require early arrival, the organisers will cover additional board and lodging. Departure is foreseen for May 14, 2006, after breakfast. Board and lodging in rooms with en-suite bathroom is provided at the European Youth Centre, Strasbourg. Further information concerning how to get to the EYC from the different points of arrival in France shall be forwarded at a later date to confirmed participants.

Participants are expected to make use of the most economical means of travel available and to take advantage of reduced tariff, APEX or weekend fares. Travel arrangements should be made according to the travel rules of the Council of Europe, which will be communicated to confirmed participants at a later date. Only those who travel according to the rules and who participate for the entire duration of the seminar can be reimbursed their travel expenses.

Please submit your proposal/abstract, CV and application form in electronic copy by clicking on this link:

NO LATER THAN March 10, 2006

If you have technical difficulties please contact the webmaster

Applications sent by post, fax or e-mail shall not be accepted

[1] The European Youth Centres (EYCs) in Strasbourg and Budapest are permanent structures for the implementation of the Council of Europe’s youth policy. They are international training and meeting centres with residential facilities, hosting most of the youth sector’s activities.

[2] C.f. Goodhart, D. ‘Too Diverse?’, Prospect Magazine, February 2004.

[3] See Lentin, A. ‘Replacing ‘race’, historicizing ‘culture’ in multiculturalism’, Patterns of Prejudice 39 (4), December 2004.

[4] This discourse also has antecedents in the US and European interventions in Central and South America and the Balkans in the 1980s and 1990s.

[5] Arrival date: May 10.



  • Strasbourg, France


  • jeudi 11 mai 2006


  • Dr Alana Lentin
    courriel : alana [dot] lentin [at] coe [dot] int

Source de l'information

  • Dr Alana Lentin
    courriel : alana [dot] lentin [at] coe [dot] int

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