UN focuses on youth participation
The United Nations has this week given a strong signal that it places a significant priority on the active participation of young people in public decision making, the theme of its inaugural Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, which is taking place this week (21st-22nd November) in Geneva.
The Forum, which brings together United Nations Member States, as well as youth organisations and experts, comprised a series of panel debates focusing on topics around youth rights and youth political participation. The Youth Forum’s board member and Vice President-elect, Dejan Bojanic, spoke on a panel on “creating an enabling environment for youth participation in public decision making”. Dejan highlighted that youth participation is a right and that recognition of this must be the starting point for discussion over the two days, underlining that enjoyment of any one right is dependent upon enjoyment of all others. He also focused on the importance of quality education, especially citizenship education, in ensuring that young people have access to that right.
With decreasing participation rates in elections at all levels, falling membership of political parties in most established democracies, and less than 2% of parliamentarians globally under the age of 30, young people are increasingly marginalised in traditional political processes, and do not feel represented in political institutions.
On the first day of the Forum the Youth Forum hosted a side event: “YouthUP democracy through participatory policy making”, which brought together young people and decision-makers in order to discuss ideas on improving young people’s participation in decision-making through participatory policy-making mechanisms.
During the Forum the Youth Forum also supported the Office of the UN Envoy on Youth in its new campaign #NotTooYoungtoRun, which aims to promote young candidates for public office. The Youth Forum’s President, Johanna Nyman, spoke at the launch event of the campaign.
Johanna Nyman, President of the European Youth Forum, said:
“We are delighted to bring our members to the Forum and to see such a focus on youth rights and youth political participation by the United Nations. If young people are not involved and at the heart of the decision making that affects our futures then we risk a generation of alienated young people, distrustful of politics and of political institutions. This Forum is just the start of discussions and we call on the United Nations and its Member States to take action to prioritise youth rights, including youth political participation: we must #YouthUP politics!”
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Notes for editors
The European Youth Forum side event was co-sponsored by the Romanian and Irish Permanent Missions in Geneva and supported by the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.
About the European Youth Forum
The European Youth Forum is the platform of youth organisations in Europe. Independent, democratic, youth-led, it represents over 100 National Youth Councils and international youth organisations from across the continent. The Forum works to empower young people to participate actively in society to improve their own lives, by representing and advocating their needs and interests and those of their organisations towards the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations. For more information, visit www.youthforum.org