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Last weekend, the European Youth Forum’s Expert Group on Youth Rights 2020-21 held its first (but last overall!) in-person meeting in Brussels.

Members travelled to Belgium from all over Europe to spend two days discussing next steps to drive our platform’s work #ForYouthRights forward. During the meeting, Expert Group members:

  • Finalised the first draft of a youth-friendly toolkit with practical information as well as tips and tricks to increase and improve youth organisations’ engagement with UN human rights reviews.
  • Brainstormed on the content of a potential legally binding international instrument on youth rights, that would push national governments to do better for youth.
  • Identified lessons learnt from the experience of the Expert Group, to support the Youth Forum in engaging with our Member Organisations in more effective and meaningful ways.

However, this was also an important opportunity to reflect on the work carried out by the Expert Group over its mandate, and celebrate its many achievements. Over the past couple of years there were many successes, and the Expert Group members played a crucial role in supporting Member Organisations as much as the Youth Forum Secretariat to advance our work on youth rights.

A look back over the successes of 2020-21

Between 2020-21, the Expert Group contributed to five submissions to different UN human rights reviews. Members worked with the National Youth Councils (NYCs) of Belgium (French and Flemish speaking), Greece, Moldova, Sweden and Azerbaijan to highlight youth rights issues at the national level, and push the UN to issue recommendations towards governments to address these. In a couple of instances, representatives from the NYCs were also selected to speak in front of Permanent Missions in Geneva and present their reports and main recommendations. The road towards the full recognition and respect of youth rights is still long, but these are important steps that can drive our advocacy forward!

Through the Expert Group, moreover, the Youth Forum contributed to the review of the implementation of the Council of Europe’s 2016 Recommendation on Young People Access to Rights. During the first half of 2021, the Expert Group carried out qualitative interviews with more than 20 Youth Forum Member Organisations, to get the youth perspective on the state of youth rights in Europe. The feedback was compiled in a report that includes not only an overview of the key issues, but also proposed recommendations to address them. Many of our calls towards national authorities to better uphold youth rights through policy and legislation, and towards the Council of Europe to regularly monitor the implementation of the Recommendation, were taken on board in the conclusions of the review process, soon to be published. Moreover, the report put together by the Expert Group represents a new tool that the Youth Forum can use to advocate for youth rights, also beyond this specific institutional process.

These are just some of the main achievements of the Expert Group on Youth Rights - a lot has happened behind the scenes, and we can’t thank the Expert Group members enough for their dedication and commitment!

The mandate of the Expert Group may be over, but we have no doubt that its members will continue to be strong advocates #ForYouthRights!

Thank you!

A massive thank you to everyone who contribute to the work of the Expert Group over the past two years: Roman Banari (CNTM); Sandrine Borg (KNZ); Baran Caglar Cetinkaya (GoFor); Adrian Barbaros (OBESSU); Roman Gojayev (NAYORA); Alvaro Gonzalez Perez (AEGEE); Yulian Kritsak (NYCU); Louise Lebichot (FJ); Lavon Marozau (RADA); Giada Martin (ALLIANCE); Camilla Ojala (Allianssi); Natascha Skjaldgaard (WOSM); Anne Peeters and Marinela Sumanjski (Facilitators); Maria Rodriguez Alcazar, Silja Markkula, Pete Chatzmichail and Paulina Jalaksova (YFJ Board).

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