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Directorate General of Democracy
Issue 20 – 15 March 2021
Inequality, democracy and climate change

The vicious cycle of climate change, political inaction, inequality, poverty and environmental degradation is one that needs to be broken if significant steps to preserve the Earth and the dignity of its human inhabitants are to ever succeed.The month of March has been launched with a special focus on women's environmental leadership in honour of International Women's Day.  The first two interviews have been published on 8 March and can be found on the Campaign's March page on the website of the World Forum for Democracy alongside the month's cartoon from Cartooning For Peace, WFD online events, satellite events and other resources.  Information will be published there soon on the March Forum Talk and Forum Lab.

The EDQM continues to join forces with the world pharmacopoeias

Scientists and health professionals worldwide have rarely been under as much pressure as they have been these past few months. This has led to unprecedented collaborative efforts using exceptional means on a global scale, including amongst world pharmacopoeias. The 12th International Meeting of World Pharmacopoeias (IMWP), initially foreseen to take place in Mexico, was hosted by the World Health Organization and met virtually on 22-24 February 2021. Sixty-one participants attended from 18 pharmacopoeias, representing 51 pharmacopoeias and pharmacopoeial authorities globally, out of which 40 were represented by the EDQM.  World pharmacopoeias continue to work together to support the global public health response to the pandemic providing support to manufacturers, regulators and stakeholders on medicines critical to the COVID-19 response. The availability and use of well-conceived international norms and standards – for performing clinical trials, producing a vaccine, a therapeutic, a medical device or diagnostics test or testing of their quality – are essential to ensure a successful outcome for a patient.   A major outcome of the collaboration is the global pharmacopoeial alert system, the establishment of which goes back to a proposal from the EDQM, that resulted in a dashboard listing of COVID-19 investigated medicines mapped to available monographs published in the various world pharmacopoeias. This listing is available to allow easy identification for quality control specifications for therapeutics under consideration for COVID-19 treatment.  The collaborative efforts of this group of world pharmacopoeias have also brought forth the development of a new type of test specifications under the umbrella of this IMWP. The pilot (the first specifications of this type) will be the two IMWP monographs for Favipiravir (one on Favipiravir active substance and one on Favipiravir tablets). This initiative is based on another proposal initially made by the EDQM, who acts as coordinator and chair of this subgroup. The aim is to ensure that test specifications are available, free of charge and easily accessible for those who need them during an emergency situation, such as the current pandemic. It will also allow for quality checks and will be a tool to help prevent substandard and falsified products circulating. The number of pharmacopoeias participating in this reflection continues to grow as the Indian and Vietnamese Pharmacopoeias recently joined the European, International, Japanese, Mexican and United States Pharmacopoeias (with the editorial support of the British pharmacopoeia), thus demonstrating the interest of pharmacopoeias from the world in actively supporting this initiative.
International Women’s Day: making gender equality a reality in Europe

A series of initiatives celebrating the International Women’s Day were launched in the DG Democracy social media (see on Twitter @CoEDemocracy - #CoEWomen). This includes a statement from the Director General, Snežana Samardžić-Marković, the reading of significant quotations on women’s rights by DGII senior managers, and a series of statements by women chairing DG Democracy intergovernmental committees and monitoring bodies, including : Akila Chandrasekar, co-President of the European Committee on Organ Transplantation, Vesna Crnić-Grotić, President of the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for regional or minority languages, Maria-Andriani Kostopoulou, President of the Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child, Andreia Lourenço Marques, President of the Gender Equality Commission, Marceline Naudi, President of GREVIO, and Miriam Teuma, President of the Steering Committee for Youth
Observatory on History Teaching in Europe

The Observatory on History Teaching in Europe, a new Enlarged Partial Agreement established in November 2020, launched a call for expression of interest for 11 positions on its Scientific Advisory Council (SAC). The call is addressed to experts on history teaching, practitioners as well as academic historians, who will ensure the academic, scientific, and methodological quality of the Observatory's work.
WE CAN for human rights speech webinars

On 22-23 February the “WE CAN for human rights speech” project partners held webinars with activists from across Europe to present and discuss the results of their 2020 research. The activists and networks also had the opportunity to share their experience in countering online hate speech and hate storms.

Download the research reports: 

Timing & Formats and their effect on the performance of counter & alternative narrative campaigns
 Download the research report

Can we predict if hate speech will become a hate storm?
  Download the research report
Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) : Work on sport governance goes on with broad support 

The International Partnership against Corruption in Sport (IPACS) is a coalition gathering the international Olympic movement, governments and international organisations. At its meeting on 5 March, IPACS Task Force 3 (co-ordinated by EPAS) looked at the draft implementation guidelines on the transparency dimension of the 50 recommendations of the Sport Governance benchmark. The Task Force also looked at the main general introduction to the guidelines and offered advice and direction to the Drafting Group so that it can continue its work. The positions from European governments were coordinated at a meeting of the European Contact Group on IPACS, which took place on 3 March. More information https://www.ipacs.sport/good-governance-task As part of its work on child safeguarding in sport, the Council of Europe secretariat continues to support the “FIFA Guardians” programme aiming at improving child safeguarding in football. FIFA is now presenting this programme to its 211 member associations through a series of webinars. The Council of Europe has contributed to the webinar organised for the Latin-American region (in Spanish) and the African region (in French).  

Sport Conventions  

Facilitating access to information on anti-doping work The Secretariat of the Monitoring Group to the Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention (T-DO) has created a dedicated web page unifying all practical information on T-DO and its expert Groups. It contains a calendar of meetings, Circular letters completed and awaiting a reply and other practical information, such as an overview of the T-DO structures and a detailed membership list. While the page is primarily aimed at the Heads of delegation and Observers, and designed to be a point of reference that will ease and facilitate their tasks as members of the T-DO family, the website also offers a “Learn more about us”, overview of the activities, working methods and guiding regulations for the benefit of the general public. This fits into the Council of Europe-wide effort to make activities better known outside our immediate field and to attract the public’s interest to our work. More information
On 22 February the Intercultural Cities programme, in collaboration with the Laboratory for Research on Intercultural Relations (LABRRI) at the University of Montreal, organised the international webinar “Interculturalism and Anti-Racism in Cities”. In cities across the world, proponents of interculturalism (an approach focused on communication and positive interactions) and anti-racism (an approach more concerned with social and racial discrimination) have been active in the fight for justice and equality. While actors in these two fields clearly have shared goals, the two approaches are sometimes at odds with each other in terms of the strategies that should be used to effect change. The webinar targeted people whose work involves trying to make cities more inclusive places, and addressed the obstacles towards making interculturalism and anti-racism complementary, suggesting ways in which the two can better support each other’s efforts in the global fight for economic equality and social justice.

The CDADI Working Group on the active political participation of national minority youth (GT-ADI-MIN) held several focus groups with organisations involved in the youth and minority sector on 22-23 February. Facilitated by the Working Group’s consultant expert, these meetings gave a sense of the issues faced by youth belonging to national minorities on the ground, across many Council of Europe member states. They also brought to the fore a number of good practices currently in place across these states.  The findings of the focus groups will feed into a study currently being prepared by the Working Group, on the active political participation of national minority youth, as a means to further protect persons belonging to national minorities and cultural diversity and promote interaction between all members of society. The draft study is currently being prepared, and is scheduled for endorsement by the CDADI in June.

On 23 February, ECRI published its sixth monitoring report on Norway and its conclusions on the implementation of the recommendations in respect of San Marino and Spain subject to interim follow-up.  

On 24 February, ECRI’s Member in respect of North Macedonia, Ms Elena Mihaljova Stratilati, participated in the launching of the HELP online course on anti-discrimination in North Macedonia. 

On 24 February, ECRI’s Secretariat member, Ms Paula Eck-Walters, participated in the online consultative meeting on intersectionality organised by the Council of Europe’s Youth Department. 

On 26 February, ECRI’s Member in respect of Switzerland, Mr Bertil Cottier, participated in the CAHAI 4th plenary meeting. 

On 1 March, ECRI launched the publication of a Factsheet on LGBTI issues

On 3 March 2021, the Committee of Ministers adopted Resolution CM/ResCMN(2021)9 on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Latvia based on the Third Opinion on Latvia adopted by the Advisory Committee on 23 February 2018.

On 9 March 2021, the EndOCSEA@Europe and the iPROCEEDS-2 projects held a joint webinar titled “Cyber-bullying: trends, prevention strategies and the role of law enforcement”. The webinar brought together key Council of Europe experts and relevant stakeholders to discuss how to address cyberbullying comprehensively through prevention initiatives, legal measures and law enforcement investigations, and how to protect victims and provide psychological support.
Barnahus in Slovenia (EU-COE Joint Project)

On 9 March 2021, EU-CoE Joint project Barnahus in Slovenia organised a virtual study tour for the representative of the Slovenian Parliament to raise their awareness on the legal basis and functioning arrangements of Barnahus models in Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The exchanges between the Slovenian counterparts and the representatives of the host institutions contributed towards a better understanding of different Barnahus models by the lawmakers, and to the further positive assessment of the Barnahus law currently tabled in the Slovenian Parliament for adoption
Combating violence against children in the Republic of Moldova

Throughout the month of March, the Council of Europe project Combating violence against children in the Republic of Moldova organises a series of three training sessions for social workers and other frontline professionals on theory and practice in intervening in cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The training sessions aim at underlining the key role of social workers and other frontline professionals in identifying child abuse and developing a sustainable child protection framework, so that the well-being of children is upheld
Roma Women’s Access to Justice

Facilitators working within the EU/Council of Europe Joint Programme “Roma Women’s Access to Justice (JUSTROM)” have trained and mentored 37 Roma women to become community leaders and representatives of their communities. The Roma women were trained on basic human rights principles, the provision of legal aid, family law issues, children’s rights and statelessness, and social and health rights. They also benefited from mentoring sessions on education, vocational guidance, and employment opportunities, on how to set up an NGO and on how to participate in decision-making processes. Following the JUSTROM training and mentoring programme, the Roma women leaders will organise a total of 240 outreach activities in various settings, including schools and their communities, to put into practice the skills learnt during the sessions
“Moot Court Competition in Italy on Roma women’s access to justice”

In the period February – May 2021, the European Law Students Association (ELSA) Italy, in partnership with the EU/Council of Europe Joint Programme “Roma Women’s Access to Justice (JUSTROM)”, organises a Moot Court Competition. Based on a fictional case, the teams enrolled in the competition will represent one of the parties and will play their role within oral debates. A total of 33 teams have registered for the competition which will take place online. This year, the topic of the case is focused on Roma women. In preparation of the competition, ELSA Italy and the JP JUSTROM organising three webinars on the following topics: violence against women and girls and access to justice (5 March 2021), trafficking of human beings, especially women and girls, and access to justice (12 March 2021) and non-discrimination and Roma, with focus on legal status and statelessness (19 March 2021). The 88 participants who registered for the Moot Court Competition will attend the webinars, together with other members of ELSA Italy and ELSA Greece.
Combating hate crimes
No Hate speech and Co-operation

On 1 March, the anti-discrimination regional Eastern Partnership project launched a unique training of trainers in the Republic of Moldova on combating hate crimes, an inter-professional training for 28 police involved in criminal investigations, prosecutors and judges.
This training will make use of the Council of Europe new HELP course on hate crime and on additional interactive case study solving, with realistic cases of hate crimes and finding appropriate solutions to them. The course is run online from March to June 2021 and it will result in a pool of Moldovan trainers that can further reinforce the work of law enforcement agencies on hate crime. Find our more
65th session of the Commission for the Status of Women (CSW)

The Council of Europe is involved, as co-organiser or as speaker, in a number of side events at this year’s Commission for the Status of Women (CSW65), which takes place from 15 to 26 March. This includes:
  • On Tuesday, 16 March, 3:30 pm (CET), the Council of Europe Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) organises an event on “Enhancing sport with gender balance”. More information and link to registration available here.
  • On Wednesday 17 March, 1:00 pm (CET), the President of the Committee of the Parties to the Istanbul Convention will speak at an event organised by UN Women (Europe and Central Asia Regional Office) and the OSCE/ODIHR on “Violence Against Women in Politics: Experiences and Ways Forward for Women Leaders”. More information and link to registration available here.
  • On Wednesday 17 March, 2:00 pm (CET), in partnership with the German authorities and the National Council of German Women’s organisations, the Council of Europe co-organises an event on “Digital Gender Gaps and Opportunities: Fostering equal participation and ending violence against women in a connected age”. More information and link to registration available here.
  • On Wednesday 17 March, 3:00 pm (CET), the Director of Human Dignity, Gender Equality and Governance will speak at an event organised by the Turkish authorities on on “Always Forward: Women’s Empowerment in the Context of the COVID-19 pandemic” More information and link to registration available here.
  • On Wednesday, 17 March, 9:00 pm (CET), the President of GREVIO will speak at an event of the EDVAW Platform on “Human rights-based implementation strategies and the CSW”. Link to registration available here.
  • On Thursday, 18 March, 3:00 pm (CET), in partnership with the Swedish authorities, the Council of Europe co-organises an event on “Changing norms, promoting rights: the power and impact of conventions”. More information and link to registration available here.
  • On Tuesday 23 March, 3:00 pm (CET), the President of GREVIO will speak at an event organised by the Spanish authorities on “From ‘no means no’ to ‘yes means yes’: norms and public policies for the eradication of sexual violence against women”. Link to registration available here.
  • On Wednesday, 24 March, 3:00 pm (CET), a member of GREVIO will speak at an event organised by Equality Now and the Australian authorities on “Addressing online sexual abuse and exploitation: a call for international standards”. More information and link to registration available here.
Conference of INGOs

The Conference of INGOs held an online event to mark World NGO Day and the full video of this event is available on the website of the Conference.The Expert Council on NGO Law has published two new reports:  A review of NGO participation in policy development and An opinion on the Compatibility with European Standards of recent and planned amendments to the Russian Legislation affecting NGOs.
CEB proposes an innovative framework for investments in education

The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) published Constructing Education: An Opportunity Not to Be Missed, a report which proposes an innovative framework to guide investments in education infrastructure so that they can better promote student learning outcomes.The framework has been developed in cooperation with European scholars and education experts of International Financial Institutions. It builds on the Bank’s long-term experience in financing the education sector as well as on in-depth thematic reviews conducted in Espoo (Finland), Seine-St-Denis (France) and Malmö (Sweden).

Third meeting of the Drafting Committee on migrant women
The Council of Europe Drafting committee on migrant women (GEC-MIG) held its third meeting via videoconference on 2 and 3 March 2021. Topics such as non-discrimination, intersectionality, access to justice, migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking girls, detention and protection were discussed during the meeting. The GEC-MIG will hold two further meetings in 2021, before forwarding the draft Recommendation on migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls to the Gender Equality Commission for adoption at its November 2021 plenary meeting.

First draft of the new CM Recommendation “on the democratic accountability of local and regional elected officials and bodies” discussed 
On 8-9 March, the CDDG’s working group entrusted with the task of elaborating a draft Recommendation for the Committee of Ministers on the democratic accountability of local and regional elected officials and bodies discussed a first draft. This new legal instrument seeks to achieve a balance between the need for greater accountability as an important element of good democratic governance and the rights and guarantees of those concerned. The draft is to be finalised by the end of the year.

Combatting violence against women and domestic violence

The Council of Europe’s co-operation projects on violence against women and domestic violence in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kosovo*, Turkey, Ukraine and the PGG II regional project on Women’s Access to Justice in the Eastern Partnership are launching several actions to promote Council of Europe instruments and standards among the general public. From explaining the benefits of implementing the Istanbul Convention and calling to end sexism, to sharing inspiring quotes in support of gender equality, launching a multi-channel communication campaign to stop #ViolenceInSilence jointly with national authorities or launching the HELP course on violence against women among future generation of lawyers. We are committed to making gender equality a reality in Europe!  

Armenia: campaign and social experiment #ViolenceInSilence
Turkey: International Women’s Day: a call to prevent and combat sexism
Ukraine: How does the Istanbul Convention guide actions against violence against women during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Women’s Access to Justice in the Eastern Partnership: Giving women the chance to lead and excel is linked to access to justice for all!
Azerbaijan: webinars discussing different articles of the Istanbul Convention
Online training Courses on Women’s Access to Justice in the Eastern Partnership countries

  The series of online training courses on women’s access to justice for 30 legal aid lawyers in the Eastern Partnership countries continued in February 2021. Gender stereotypes can heavily contribute to violations of human rights and legal aid lawyers can play a crucial role in ensuring access to justice without discrimination for women and men. As one of the participants shared: “I never thought that stereotypes are so damaging for the case of violence against women. I grew accustomed to some sayings and expressions and even use some of them but never thought that someone in particular may feel discouraged to report a crime because of that”.
Online conference "Comparative Legal Review and the Judicial Protection of Gender Equality”

The Council of Europe's legal instruments and other tools to promote gender equality, including the 2019 Recommendation on preventing and combating sexism and tools on women's equal access to justice, were presented at an online conference on "Comparative Legal Review and the Judicial Protection of Gender Equality", organised by the International Association of Constitutional Law, Slovenia's Gender Equality Research Institute, ELSA and a local law student association. More than 40 academics and legal practitioners from different European countries took part in this event.
Second regional seminar on the fight against Trafficking in Human Beings
Within the CoE/EU South Programme IV, and upon invitation of the authorities of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Council of Europe has organised on 24-25 February a second regional seminar on the fight against trafficking in human beings in the Southern Mediterranean. This event was dedicated to the challenges of judicial cooperation in the field and gathered representatives of governmental authorities and national institutions active in combating trafficking in human beings, as well as international experts and civil society from Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan. Principles and norms of international anti-trafficking cooperation in the judicial field, as well as cooperation actions for the protection and assistance of victims and prosecution of perpetrators of trafficking in human beings were discussed during the event.
Morocco - International Women's Day
In Morocco, the HELP programme celebrated the International Women’s Day by organising the ceremony of certification of 28 attachés de justice of the Higher Magistrates' Institute who have followed and successfully completed the online HELP course on combating violence against women and domestic violence. The event, which attracted 120 participants, was also an opportunity to present the country's current efforts to promote gender equality in the justice sector as well as the Council of Europe’s work in this area, including the Gender Equality Strategy 2018- 2023.
Georgia discusses disinformation and electoral campaigns

On 5 March, the Council of Europe Office in Georgia and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) hosted an online conference on Disinformation and Electoral Campaigns. Electoral stakeholders, experts, representatives from civil society organisations and international community exchanged views on technical and political perspectives of disinformation, good international practices and preventive measures to tackle disinformation during electoral processes, both self-regulatory and statutory options.  A live streaming of the conference, at the Facebook page of the Council of Europe’s Office in Georgia, provided access to the event for general public.
Moldova draws conclusions from the November elections

Members of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Moldova (CEC), policy and law makers, representatives of the courts, political parties, international community, media and civil society, local and international observation missions gathered to analyse and discuss the institutional, legal and gender perspectives of improvements following the November 2020 Presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova. The conference was organised by the Council of Europe in co-operation with the CEC on 18-19 February 2021 in online format due to the COVID-19 related sanitary measures.
Ukrainian authorities engage citizens in decision making
In 2021, the Council of Europe launched the project “Strengthening civil participation in democratic decision making in Ukraine” that is being implemented in the framework of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2018-2022. Building on the results already achieved, the project aims to to ensure that non-governmental organizations and citizens have a real impact on the decision-making processes through various participation tools. The project will support Ukrainian communities ranging from the big cities to small municipalities in the enhancement and implementing of the local legal and practical frameworks and procedures for citizen participation and engagement mechanisms. The project will partner with regional and central public authorities providing support as to the development of sustainable and regular practices for public consultation, n accordance with the Council of Europe standards and best practices.
Ukraine: New Legal Framework on Metropolitan Governance
On 26 February 2021, in response to the initiative of the Specialised Parliamentary Committee on Local Government, the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance co-organised a high-level round table discussion on metropolitan governance, in the context of its Programme “Enhancing decentralisation and public administration reform in Ukraine”. It was the first meeting of its kind with the active participation of diverse groups of national stakeholders, such as MPs, the deputy Minister for Regional Development, regional elected and appointed authorities, experts and the leadership of local authorities from the so-called “Kyiv Agglomeration” area. The Centre of Expertise for Good Governance will remain an active contributor to the process providing its international and local expertise.
Cross-border Cooperation Virtual Study Series: Tourists are Blind to Borders
The North-West region of Ireland / Northern Ireland continues to serve as an inspiration for senior officials from municipal authorities and tourism agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighbouring states.  Tim O'Connor, former Joint Secretary of the North-South Ministerial Council in Ireland, told participants that "Cross-border work is complex, challenging, and tremendously rewarding."  The workshop also included presentations from the neighbouring municipalities in the North-West City Region of Ireland/ Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland, CESCI Balkans.  The Institute of International Sociology Gorizia presented the GO25 cross-border cooperation that led to the award of European Capital of Culture to Nova Gorica /Gorizia for 2025.
Inter-Municipal Cooperation in Greece: New Handbook
In the framework of the Joint Council of Europe – European Union “Technical Assistance Project on Delivering Good Governance in Greece”, the Centre of Expertise for Good Governance has developed a Handbook on Inter-Municipal Cooperation in Greece. The Handbook combines theoretical aspects of IMC with a more practical focus on the Greek context. In particular, it provides a detailed description of the current legal framework for IMC in the country, as well as indications on how to develop an Action Plan to create an IMC agreement. A webinar to present the Handbook and discuss the main issues related to IMC in the country was held on 26 February 2021, with the participation of about 100 municipalities from all over Greece. A printed copy of the Handbook will be soon distributed to all Greek municipalities. The digital version of the Handbook and its Annexes (in Greek language) can be downloaded from the website of the Greek Ministry of the Interior; the same page also contains the recording of the webinar in Greek.
Democracy – meaningful youth participation – digitalisation. Focus for a future youth sector campaign!

The steering group of a future Council of Europe youth campaign for revitalising democracy met for the first time on 2 and 3 March 2021 online. Subject to sufficient resources, such a campaign could be launched in 2022 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the youth sector. In true co-managed fashion, three members of the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) and three members of the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) met, along with representatives of the European Youth Forum and of the Council of Europe secretariat (Youth Department, Directorate of Communications, Directorate of Internal Oversight), to discuss the concept and key parameters of the proposed campaign. Following in-depth discussions, the steering group agreed the focus of the campaign would be democracy, meaningful youth participation and digitalisation. The first two are fundamental principles of the Council of Europe youth sector which are being impacted by the third, i.e. digitalisation. The members of the steering group called on member states and partners to commit to supporting the future campaign at European and/or national levels at this crucial juncture, so that a final decision on whether to launch the campaign can be taken by the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ) next October.
ECML Building, Graz, Austria
The European Centre for Modern Languages - ECML

On 5 March, the ECML renewed its Memorandum of Cooperation with Moscow State Linguistic University. The cooperation, which covers the duration of the Centre’s current programme - Inspiring innovation in language education: changing contexts, evolving competences (2020-2023) - will focus on the project Digital citizenship through language education

The ECML received 41 requests from 27 ECML and EU member states in response to the Call for the eighth round of Supporting Multilingual Classrooms and RELANG (relating language curricula, tests and examinations to the CEFR) workshops under the joint action between the ECML and the European Commission.  This is the highest response ever with demand far outstripping the 18 workshops available.  

A Europe-wide ECML survey focusing on the impact of COVID on language education has received over 1,700 responses. The  survey, which was developed by the Professional Network Forum,  will provide the basis for a series of forthcoming activities, including a webinar, two think tanks and a colloquium in 2021.
Youth work: the role of local and regional authorities

The Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has just adopted two texts on youth work at local and regional levels. Resolution 463(2021) recognises the important role of these authorities in supporting young people to achieve their full potential as autonomous members of our society and exercise their democratic citizenship. It also states that these authorities are primarily responsible for successfully implemented youth work. In its Recommendation 450(2021) it calls on member states to support local authorities to apply for the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres as a means of providing youth work at that level. These texts are the result of fruitful co-operation with the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) and Congress Spokesperson on Youth.
More opportunities for EYF funds for pilot projects! 
The European Youth Foundation

The Programming Committee on Youth has recently approved further modifications to
the European Youth Foundation (EYF) pilot activity grant. Youth NGOs preparing local projects for 2021 will have more opportunities to apply for support. The next cut-off date is 30 May 2021, and two other cut-off dates will be published until the end of 2021. It is important to remember that only youth NGOs that are registered with the EYF are able to apply, and that only registration requests received up to 2 weeks before the deadline will be processed in time. Pilot activities should be educational projects addressing specific issues affecting young people and all eligible costs can be covered by the grant up to a maximum of 15,000 EUR per project. In addition to the recent increase from 10,000 to 15,000 EUR per activity and considering the challenges faced by youth organisations during the Covid19 pandemic, the Programming Committee decided in January to update the list of eligible costs, which now include certain specified structural costs linked to the activity. More detailed information will be available shortly on the EYF website.
Strengthening Democratic Citizenship Education in Albania

To mark National Teachers’ Day, a network of 125 teachers established within the SIDA-funded project Strengthening Democratic Citizenship Education in Albania, was officially launched on 3 March through a hybrid meeting. 130 participants were addressed by the Minister of Education, Sports and Youth, Evis Kushi, the Ambassador of Sweden in Albania Elsa Håstad as well as the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination, the Ombudsperson and Head of the Council of Europe Office in Tirana. Participants discussed on the role of teachers in providing education which prepares learners for life as active citizens in democratic and diverse societies. Pilot schools were also offered a platform to present their good practices in promoting democracy.
Holders of the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees receive scolarships in Italy

The Italian Ministry of Interior, ANDISU (the National Association of Bodies for the Right to Education at University) and the Conference of Italian University Rectors have announced that 96 scholarships have been granted to refugee students in Italy and they are now enrolled into higher education institutions throughout the country. Among the students receiving it, eleven are holders of the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees (EQPR).
Fifteen projects selected for the Compass National Training Courses programme in 2021

Preparing young people to exercise and defend their democratic rights and responsibilities and advocate for better education about human rights and fundamental freedoms is a task of youth and human rights organisations. Human rights activists, educators and youth leaders got together on 22 and 23 February to prepare the 2021 programme of Compass national training courses. The online preparatory seminar associated partners from the fourteen member states which have expressed interest in organising a national training course in human rights education based on Compass, the manual for human rights education with young people. In 2021 the programme may involve up to 300 multipliers and advocates for human rights education

Free to Create, Create to be Free” digital #exhibition
Call for Tender
To mark the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights in 2020, the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP) decided to set up a new digital #exhibition, entitled “Free to Create, Create to be Free”.  A Call for Tender was launched on 23 February to find a provider to create and maintain a website that will serve as an online hosting space for the exhibition, promoting the importance of freedom of artistic expression and the role of art and culture. Ambitious suggestions are being sought that will envisage an artistically attractive and partially interactive website, taking due account of sustainability issues

European Heritage Days
The annual Assembly of the European Heritage Days National Coordinators, postponed from November 2020 due to Covid-19, will now be held online on 15 and 29 March.  In 2020, the pandemic created an unexpected and valuable window for heritage venues to break new ground by finding innovative ways of engaging public participation in heritage and by creating alternative strategies for showcasing their sites. The European Heritage Days event organisers have seized this opportunity to make their events truly European – many locally-led events were finally available to view across the entire continent!  The Assembly in March is an opportunity for the representatives of 50 countries to share their experiences of the 2020 theme – Celebrating Heritage and Education: Learning for Life! – and also to discuss ideas for the new season, August to September 2021, under the shared theme Heritage: All-Inclusive.  

The Group of Specialists on the European Diploma for Protected Areas (EDPA) held its annual meeting on 24 February by video-conference. The EDPA is one of the most prestigious awards for parks and reserves in Europe. The Group discussed consequences of the lack of appraisal visits last year due to the pandemic, and possible solutions. The Group considered several sites requiring particular attention, and exchanged views on the future business of the European Diploma.
Culture in times of Covid-19 or how we discovered we cannot live without culture and creativity: Impressions and lessons learnt from Covid-19 

A collection of diverse texts provided by members of the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP) provides an interesting account of how countries have been coping with the pandemic in 2020-21. Culture has been hit very hard and the texts testify to the many innovative solutions that the cultural sector has had to put in place rapidly. The contributions – from ministers, institutes, writers, artists – describe the actions, experiences, reflections, inventions, good practices, facts and figures around addressing the impact  of Covid-19, affirming the vital importance of cultural life and our basic need to engage with it.
Higher education's response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Council of Europe has just published Higher education's response to the COVID-19 pandemic - Building a more sustainable and democratic future. This publication is Volume 25 in the Council of Europe Higher Education Series.Edited by Sjur Bergan, Tony Gallagher, Ira Harkavy, Ronaldo Munck, and Hilligje van’t Land, the book describes the various ways in which higher education is facing the COVID-19 pandemic. It is designed to help universities as well as their staff and students contribute to a more sustainable and democratic future.The book explores the various responses of higher education to the pandemic across Europe and North America, with contributions also from Africa, Asia and South America. The contributors write from the perspective of higher education leaders with institutional responsibility, as well as from that of public authorities or specialists in specific aspects of higher education policy and practice. Some contributions analyze how specific higher education institutions reacted, while others reflect on the impact of Covid-19 on key issues such as internationalization, finance, academic freedom and institutional autonomy, inclusion and equality and public responsibility.
Counter-Radicalisation in the Classroom

This report offers an assessment of the effects of counter-radicalisation policies in the education sector, through the empirical analysis of eight grass-roots projects located in schools across the Council of Europe’s member states (Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Norway and the United Kingdom).It provides a detailed insight into how such policies are experienced in practice.The report covers three main areas:  the legislative and political context, the very heterogeneous types of practice encapsulated by the term “counter-radicalisation”, the risks undermining fundamental rights and the autonomy of education.
The report concludes with some key recommendations on how to overcome these challenges.
Reports from study sessions held under COVID-19 measures

Last September and October, the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg hosted two residential study sessions in partnership with DYPALL Network - Developing youth participation at the local level and YPAN - Youth Peace Ambassadors Network. The activities ran under specific health and sanitary measures with reduced number of participants. However, everyone present felt very privileged to be able to take part in these activities despite the difficulties that we are faced with due to the pandemic.  The participants were extremely respectful of the procedures in place and everyone stayed safe during both sessions. The study session with DYPALL explored digital youth participation at local level. During the pandemic this topic became even more important, so the participants looked into principles for digital youth participation and explored some tools that can be used online. The study session with YPAN focused on peace advocacy, exploring aspects how young peacebuilders can work on conflict transformation and peace on grassroots level. The reports from both activities are now available online.
Revitalising youth centres and youth work in Ukraine
The project "Youth for democracy in Ukraine" launched its second component

"Revitalising youth centres and youth work" will support youth centres in Ukraine to review their approaches and ensure that their strategies meet the needs of young people, in line with Council of Europe standards on youth participation and youth work. Twenty-four youth centres from national, regional, and local levels expressed their interest to take part in the project; as a support to this initiative, a series of publications of the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres was translated into Ukrainian, in co-ordination with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine:   
  • Good practices in youth centres;
  • Quality management in youth centres;
  • Role, value, and impact of youth centres.
 The project "Youth for democracy in Ukraine" is implemented by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe and the Organisation's Office in Ukraine in the framework of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2018-2022.  Consult the brochures in Ukrainian ›
Drawn by Alberto Floridi
Landscape education activities for primary schools - Pedagogical booklet
The Council of Europe Landscape Convention provides that its parties undertake to promote school courses addressing, in the relevant subject areas, the values attached to landscape and the issues raised by its protection, management and planning.
This new pedagogical booklet aims to arouse the curiosity and interest of primary school pupils in landscape by inviting them to think about what they mean by “landscape” and to consider it with its environmental, social, cultural and economic dimensions, both in space and time. The activities can lead pupils to imagine what their role might be, as individuals and members of society, in order to become actively involved with landscape. These activities can be carried out within the framework of formal and non-formal education. 
Council of Europe Publishing, European Spatial Planning and Landscape Series, 2021, No. 121 (ISBN 978-92-871-8666-9).
The Secretariat completed the preparation of the 162nd plenary meeting of the Board of Management and the different thematic Working Groups which will be held once online from 11 to 19 March. A budget envelope of nearly €6M will be allocated during this first call for projects of the year. 

On 3 March, the Eurimages Co-production Development Award amounting to €20,000 presented in the framework of the Berlinale Co-Production Market went to the project THE OBLIVION THEORY to be directed by Annemarie Jacir and co-produced by Incognito Films (FR) and One Two Films (DE). 

Also at the Berlinale, the Executive Director of Eurimages took part in a panel on the Evolution of the Arthouse Exhibition. The speakers addressed the key challenges facing arthouse cinemas such as the need to attract younger audiences and the need to reassert and redefine their place in the remodeled, post-pandemic audiovisual landscape.  Mainstream and arthouse films can coexist, as can streaming platforms and more traditional methods of film distribution, but the relative places of each in the audiovisual landscape is currently in flux.
The North-South Centre is preparing a series of activities to take place in March:
In the Women Empowerment programme, eight grantees were chosen following a
call for Grants for Southern Mediterranean civil society to reinforce support and protection mechanisms for victims/survivors of gender-based violence. These grants, ongoing until November 2021, aim at strengthening capacities of these civil society organisations in the Southern Mediterranean to ensure a greater access to protection structures and services for victims/survivors of violence against women and girls. The chosen organisations are: i) Association Djazairouna des familles victimes du terrorisme islamiste, Algeria; ii) Edraak Foundation for Development and Equality (EFDE), Egypt; iii) The Egyptian Center for Women's Rights; iv) Journalists for Human Rights, Jordan; v) Collective for Research and Training on Development Action, Lebanon; vi) Association Marocaine de Planification Familiale de l'Oriental, Morocco; viii) Sawa Organization - All Together Today and Tomorrow, Palestine**; ix) Kadirat for parity and solidarity, Tunisia.  

In the Global Education programme, preparations for the Visegrad online experts meeting were underway. Approximately 20 to 24 practitioners and decision-makers from Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia will jointly discuss on 16 March existing perspectives and further developments on the support and practice of GDE - focusing on advocacy, competences development and pedagogical support of practitioners and decision-makers, awareness-raising and networking - taking into consideration the challenges arisen in the context of the current pandemic situation and the contribution of GDE in this context. 

In the field of youth cooperation, the annual Network on Youth and Global Citizenship meeting will take place mid-March. The Network is a partnership facilitated and coordinated by the North-South Centre that gathers youth-led organisations, youth platforms, governmental and intergovernmental institutions from Europe, the Southern Mediterranean and beyond. 

The North-South Centre (NSC) is engaged in the 9th World Forum for Democacy (WFD) and will contribute to specific angles that are addressed each month until the Forum itself. For this purpose the NSC is engaged in the WFD task force meetings to follow about events to come in April (Environmental action at local level) and May (Defending the defenders of the environment).
Virtual audit to maintain the EDQM’s ISO 17025:2017 accreditation

The EDQM laboratory has been ISO/IEC 17025 “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories” accredited by BELAC, the official Belgian accreditation body, since 2013. This accreditation certificate demonstrates that the EDQM laboratory operates a quality system, is technically competent and is able to generate technically valid results.It covers all aspects of laboratory management, including the sample preparation, the analytical testing competence, the documentation control, the accommodation and environmental conditions, equipment, traceability and reporting.In February 2020, the EDQM laboratory received the official ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for version 2017 of the standard from BELAC. In order to maintain the accreditation, the EDQM has to undergo a maintenance audit every 15 months, the first part of which took place on 25/26 February, for the first time as a remote audit, also for the auditors. This part of the audit covered technical aspects of the accreditation and was conducted by auditors who had already been involved in audits of the EDQM in the past. While the two auditors had initially been a bit apprehensive about the remote organisation of the audit, they very much appreciated the EDQM’s reactivity and the speed with which staff members concerned and documents were made available remotely. The second part of the audit will be performed by auditors who are new to the EDQM and hence preferred to be on site. It will cover quality management aspects and additional analytical techniques such as liquid and gas chromatography and will be conducted in the weeks to come, as soon as the sanitary situation will allow the auditors to come to Strasbourg.
** This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of Council of Europe member states on this issue.
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