In 1993 the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna called on states to include human rights, democracy and the rule of law as subjects in the curricula of all learning institutions in formal and non-formal education.
In 1997, at the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, state leaders decided the Council of Europe should launch an initiative for education for democratic citizenship with a view to promoting citizens’ awareness of their rights and responsibilities in a democratic society.
In 2005 the General Assembly of the United Nations announced the World Programme for Human Rights Education to promote the implementation of human rights education programs in all sectors of society.
In 2010 the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education was adopted. According to it, Human Rights Education means education, training, awareness raising, information, practices and activities which aim, by equipping learners with knowledge, skills and understanding, and developing their attitudes and behaviour, to empower them to contribute to the building and defence of a universal culture of human rights in society, with a view to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
According to the Charter:
- The aim is to provide every person within their territory an opportunity for education for democratic citizenship and human rights education
- Member states should include education for democratic citizenship and human rights education in the curricula of formal education at pre-primary, primary and secondary school levels, as well as in general and vocational education and training.
- Member states should foster the role of non-governmental organisations and youth organisations in education for democratic citizenship and human rights education, especially in non-formal education.