Inclusion of youth voices in policy-making and strategic processes
Moderator: Milena Stosic, Youth Focal Point of the OSCE Mission to Serbia
1. What difference do young people make by participating in shaping policies and legislation as well as international commitments?
2. Young people participating in youth initiatives are treated as the representatives of all youth. Should young people be decision-makers and/or formally mandated themselves to efficiently represent other youth?
3. What is the primary incentive to involve young people in non-youth policies?
Research has shown that meaningful youth engagement is a participatory process in which young people’s ideas, expertise, experiences, and perspectives are integrated throughout programmatic, policy, and institutional decision-making structures. Inclusion of youth voices in policy making is not limited only to public policy documents which target young women and men directly, such as national youth strategies and similar. Additionally, youth interest can be observed throughout all public policies and in relation to international commitments. This roundtable will focus on examples of such practices and overall know-how on mainstreaming approaches to enhance greater youth equality and civic activism.
1. Agenda 2030 & youth, peace and security: Can we walk the talk?
Young people have been acknowledged as positive agents of change in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to fulfill that role and expectation, there is still a way to go in enabling and strengthening youth participation in decision-making around sustainable development. How some countries enable it through Voluntary National Reviews, as critical part of the accountability architecture for the SDGs, and is there a suitable recepie to follow?
Youth, peace and security agenda, that directly contributes to SDG 16 primarily, represents a concrete step toward recognizing youth as part of solution, instead of part of problem. It seems to be a framework wholeheartedly embraced by youth peacebuilders, national governments, and regional organizations. What are their different roles in advancing its operationalisation on a country level worldwide, that is yet to happen?
2. Advancing human rights through international mechanisms: What about youth?
While the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) covers children aged 0-17, there is no legally binding instrument at European or global level specifically addressing the rights of young people aged 18 and above. While it seems there is a consensus about young people experiencing difficulties in the exercise of their rights by virtue of being young, is there on the need for an international instrument on the human rights of youth?
Youth civil society has been inviting also for establishment of a special procedure on the human rights of young people, such as an Independent Expert or Special Rapporteur and called upon states to mainstream youth rights in existing human rights mechanisms including the Universal Periodic Review and the work of the Treaty Bodies. At the same time, on a national level, very few young people report discrimination or harassment to national equality bodies. How to better use these existing mechanisms and which are preconditions for it, with additional urge coming from the fact that youth have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 crisis in a context of persisting inequalities?
3. Inclusive policy making options: Is co-creation possible?
Although youth participation is a valuable and desirable process, legal and political frameworks may impede young people from engaging in all steps at all levels, assuming there is an attempt to enable it. While there is already vast evidence and advice on standards for youth participation in policy-making, in practice there seem to be obstacles to adhering to those standards. How to responsibly and democratically, but without slipping into identity politics, enable youth-considerations horizontally in policymaking?
Moreover, though making of youth policies becomes more inclusive and trend of consulting youth is growing, same target group remains mostly sidelined in making of other policies. Should different stakeholders aim to include youth when discussing and making decisions and shaping measures about for example pensions, environment, or counter-terrorism?
Youth perspectives in the programming of organizations working with and for youth in the OSCE region
Moderator: Augusta Featherston, Youth Focal Point of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
1. What support and training for staff of organizations is needed for developing effective youth-inclusive programmes? How to address potential barriers?
2. What are the benefits for involved young people? How to ensure that their rights are upheld throughout the process?
3. How can youth ownership of the successes and impact of the organization’s programs be ensured?
A number of international, regional and civil society organizations have dedicated programs to the work with and for youth, and several of them went a step further toward deepening efforts to enable youth participation throughout their overall programming. This roundtable will look into existing practices that build capacity for meaningful youth participation and youth considerations on an operational level, as well as the impact they have and how they are perceived by youth.
1. When and how WITH youth: on the intesection of expectations and realities
This parallel session will explore both the capacities of young people to participate meaningfully and the capacities of organizations and institutions to enable meaningful participation of young people. Some guiding questions are: What does it mean to work WITH youth? Can we unpack difference between working with youth and “youth (serving) work”? What competencies are needed when working WITH youth? How do international organizations and institutions ensure their own capacities to practice what they preach in terms of working both with- and for- young people?
2. Youth considerations and programming: between unified and customised approach
Youth voices are most commonly included on the programming level, especially when it comes to youth-related initiatives. Various organizations employ different methods and approaches to inclusion, yet there is little UNDERSTANDING of whether these methods actually work, that is, do young people have impact on the organization’s programs, policies, and procedures, or do they simply have access? Would a common approach across the practitioner community make sense with respect to developing internal youth mainstreaming strategies?
3. Tokenism in youth involvement: the devil we know
Tokenism of youth is a major concern for their involvement in genuine inclusive policy and programming This conversation will explore how practitioners can CREATE mechanisms which are actually participatory and inclusive of diverse groups of young people, and avoids creating yet another process the simply ticks the box. How do we move away from symbolic mechanisms towards those that actually deliver for young people?
Enabling a youth-inclusive environment
Moderator: Anastasia Fusco, Adviser on Youth and Security, OSCE Secretariat
View the full agenda and speaker list here.
1. Youth organizations are important structures to represent young people’s interests. How to promote spaces for such organizations to safely and openly interact with international and national decision-makers?
2. How to support community governing bodies and/or institutions to systematically engage youth, including those belonging to marginalized groups?
3. Co-management systems are increasingly seen as the most advanced youth engagement practices. What are the benefits and pitfalls of this model for ensuring greater youth participation? How do we measure the impact on society of measures promoting youth participation?
An enabling environment for youth engagement in the life of the society includes support and commitment to youth engagement, policies in place, and related outcomes. However, often the impact of different initiatives is not measured appropriately and good practices are not identified and/or shared more broadly.
Connecting and moving forward
Moderator: Carole Frampton-de Tscharner, Organisational Development Lead at PeaceNexus
1. What have we learned in the previous three roundtables? What shared challenges and effective strategies have we identified?
2. What findings can be further unpacked, nuanced and supported by practical examples?
3. How can we continue to learn from and support each other as practitioners?
With a deeper understanding of the existing youth engagement practices, their benefits and challenges they face, the final roundtable will present the main findings from the previous three meetings and offer an opportunity to jointly validate the identified good practices, lessons learned, and existing challenges that have been identified. The conclusions will feed the praxis paper and set some common grounds for possible future collaboration among participants. The full agenda is available on this link.