‘‘Debating Threats to Democracy" is based on the central premise of democratic practice: that the citizenry must be both vigilant and vocal about issues that affect them. Partners in ‘‘Debating Threats to Democracy" use awareness-raising, intercultural exchanges, and debate education to support critical thinking and intercultural communication, as well as a deeper understanding of the root causes of the problems that are threatening global human rights and democracy. We want to invest in youth as future leaders, who have the right to live on a healthy earth where values such as peace, democracy, human rights, and respect for the earth are held in high esteem.
The program ‘Debating Threats to Democracy is current and necessary. The media reports it every day: Around the world, too many young people are being left behind in a slowly strengthening economy and struggle with unemployment and poverty. The politicization of the migration issue, for example, has created niches in the electoral arena. Increases in extremism, populism, and demagoguery strongly affect worldwide human rights, democracy, and peace, and have resulted in the electoral success of the new far right in Europe. The influx of refugees into Europe is used by extreme right-wing populist parties as evidence that multicultural minorities are threatening the future of the state, and to win elections. Hate speeches and bias in the media, and in societal debates, are hurting and excluding minorities. This causes polarization in the European society. Especially young people from minority groups feel more and more disconnected in society.
Therefore, our consortium of debate education organizations in old and new democracies in Europe raises secondary school students’ voices on these topics, because they affect their future, and peace and stability in the world. Our network of youth and debate organizations spans at this moment in time 15 countries; this enables us to link national perspectives with transnational analyses of global patterns that impact local realities, and vice versa. Our multicultural network operates in an important niche. We organize youth to become active and informed stakeholders in debates.
This project aims for 1500 youth from 15 countries to learn through debate education methods about the deeper causes of current threats to democracy, and teaches common values, the need for diversity and inclusion, and the role played by democratic institutions and active citizens in protecting these values. Secondly, the participants in this program broaden their horizons by debating with youth from different countries, both in old and new democracies in Europe. Third, they learn to understand problems, formulate opinions, and find solutions. Finally, their views will be aggregated and we will share them with (inter)national and local opinion makers.
Our activity plan focuses on national debate events, but will also include two international events for 150 youth from 15 countries. . Fifteen partners organize national training events, debates, and competitions about similar motions. Participants are prepared by educating them about the subject and training them to debate. They learn how to analyze problems such as the EU position on Greece, fear of Muslims, Jihadism, exclusion, and populism, and discuss solutions that link local realities with global impacts. All of the events gather youths’ opinions about these topics during debates, and by a joint survey. This supports promotion of youth views for the future of Europe.
See for motions, articles, agenda and information: www.idebate.org and partners websites.
Slovenská debatná asociácia
Sofia Debate Association
Za in proti, zavod za kulturo dialoga
Croatian Debate Society
Federation of Finnish-British Societies
Debating Society of Greece
Demokratikus Ifjúságért Alapítvány
Asociace debatnich klubu, z.s.
Estonian Debating Society
Welsh Centre for International Affairs