UN report calls on Member States to involve young people in democracy
On Wednesday 15 March the United Nations Human Rights Council discussed a report on young people’s role in democracy. The report summarises the discussions of the first UN Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, held in November 2016 with the theme of “widening the democratic space: the role of youth in public decision-making.”
Bringing together young people, youth organisations, UN Member States, civil society and other stakeholders, the UN Forum provided an invaluable opportunity to identify barriers to young people’s participation in democracy.
The Youth Forum welcomes the UN report and is pleased to see that a number of our recommendations are included. Among others, the report calls for:
- Aligning the minimum age of eligibility to run for office with the minimum voting age;
- Youth quotas for parliaments and elected bodies;
- The establishment and strengthening of accessible and inclusive structures such as youth councils, that are grounded in law and adequately resourced;
- The inclusion of human rights and citizenship education in curricula at all levels of general and vocational education and training;
- The creation of mechanisms to ensure effective and meaningful participation of youth in the work of the Human Rights Council.
While the recommendations are a step in the right direction, governments must go even further in order to achieve truly meaningful youth participation. This can be done by, for example, lowering the voting age to 16 and taking bolder steps to improve young people’s access to rights. Furthermore, Member States must involve youth organisations in decision-making, policy-making, budgeting, implementation, follow-up and review for sustainable development at all levels, and mechanisms for permanent, structured participation of representative youth organisations at the UN must be developed.
The European Youth Forum urges Member States to implement the report recommendations and to involve relevant stakeholders, in particular youth organisations.
The European Youth Forum’s Written Submission to the UN Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law is available here.