TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2016
In June 2016, the Human Rights Council adopted the resolution 28/14 to establish a Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. The purpose of the Forum is “to provide a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to the relationship between these areas” and to “identify and analyze best practices, challenges and opportunities for States in their efforts to secure respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law”.
WFUNA believes that youth, as civil society activists, have the power to be significant agents of positive change. As such, WFUNA is dedicated to making significant efforts to encourage the cooperation between the UN Youth Associations and allow them to get involved in decision-making processes at a global level. Members of the Youth Network and young leaders around the world have taken part in this event and represented their respective countries at the Forum. The République et Canton de Genève sponsored 16 young representatives from 10 developing countries around the world.
The Forum took place on 21 and 22 November 2016 and covered the following program:
Creating an enabling environment for the effective participation of youth in public decision-making
On Monday morning, one of the main topic discussed was the realization of all human rights without discrimination as a prerequisite to an enabling environment for the participation of youth in decision-making. Ms. Chaely Mycroft, ability activist, founding member of The KidsRights Youngsters and founder of the Chaely Campaign, contributed actively to the discussion, emphasizing the right and necessity of youth with disabilities participating in public decision-making. Our participant from UNA-Zimbabwe, Mcleo Mapfumo, mentioned that, in the current era, promoting human rights of youth is fundamental in having a unique, just, equitable and sustainable society.
From formal to transformative participation of youth
The afternoon session aimed at identifying mechanisms to secure young people’s access to parliaments, and regional and local assemblies, as well as their participation in electoral system reforms, constitution-making processes and political parties. Ms. Anne Lambelin, Senator of the Parliament of Belgium and delegate at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Forum of Young Parliamentarians, talked about the role of young women in politics and also highlighted the role of social media in youth engagement. One of our participants, Naushalya Rajapaksha from Sri Lanka, took the floor and said that “even though democracy is created, it can never be completed without the equal participation of the youth.”
Participation of youth in sustainable development and human rights protection in specific contexts
On the second day of the Forum, the morning session focused on the role of youth in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Linda Asaba Awebwa from UNA-Uganda said that “it is young people’s rights to be involved in decisions that affect their lives, and they have unique perspectives and experiences that are crucial to understanding the impact of SDG implementation, and providing solutions to improve outcomes.” Another main topic of the discussion was the role of the youth in peacebuilding, and how young people could be brought into the peace process to bring about change. Ms. Martine Kessy Ekomo-Soignet, founder of URU (“Take off”) and member of the advisory group of experts for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, underlined the importance of a bottom-up approach.
Moving the global youth agenda forward: the role of youth in shaping the agenda of the United Nations and regional organizations
The last session of the Forum focused on mechanisms and initiatives at the international and regional levels that contribute to moving the global youth human rights agenda forward. Mr. Alexander Kauschanski, Youth Delegate Programme Multiplier of WFUNA, gave great insight on the work of youth delegates and called for stronger youth participation. Our participant from UNA-Georgia, Irakli Malania, took the floor and highlighted that “encouraging youth to participate in the processes and decisions that affect their lives is one of the core values of democratic societies and as international society members we need to promote human rights, endorse the principles of just and accountable governance and advance tolerance.”
The Forum was a success; youth leaders representing governments and organizations from all over the world were very active and delivered original and interesting comments about the challenges and opportunities that face youth today.