MINELRES: Seminar Diversity - Human Rights, Strasbourg, 11-13 May 2006

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UNITED E-NEWS 05-02-2006: Seminar Diversity - Human Rights 

A seminar organised in the framework on the Partnership on Research in
the Youth Field between the Council of Europe and the European
date: 11/05/06 - 13/05/06
venue: European Youth Centre Strasbourg

participants profile:
- 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
topics but they must also have a research profile.

deadline: 10/03/06

information (also below) and registration: 

- UNITED information service-


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

Therefore, seminar should aim to be:
1. Analytical of the conceptual baggage behind terms such as 'diversity'
and 'human rights';
2. 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.);
3. 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

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

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. 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
'mixit?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

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

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

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.

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 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. 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
topics 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 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 visiting the website:
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

Application Period:


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