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Young leaders discuss challenges to youth political participation in OSCE region

A youth forum organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw on 16 and 17 June 2014 focused on promoting political participation of young leaders in the OSCE region.


At the Youth Leadership Forum – the first of its kind organized by ODIHR – young civil society representatives and parliamentarians from South-East Europe, as well as Central and Western Europe, Canada and the United States discussed how the OSCE and its institutions can better assist participating States in meeting their commitments on  promoting the inclusion of youth in democratic processes. The 35 participants shared experiences and good practices on enhancing youth political participation and highlighted their involvement in new forms of social activism.


“The facts speak for themselves: Around 79 per cent of youth tend not to trust political parties. Yet, among those who do, voter turnout is still below 50 per cent,” said Thomas Vennen, Head of the ODIHR Democratization department. “Politicians need to acknowledge this situation and support youth political participation by taking into account the use of new technologies and social media. Otherwise, they risk losing touch with a large part of society.”


Participants agreed on a set of recommendations and action points for OSCE governments for the development of more inclusive youth policies. They acknowledged that youth tend to favour less institutionalized forms of participation, including community-driven initiatives and online activism.


“Governments should consider steps to effectively integrate youth in political processes by taking advantage of new technologies,” said Amelia Andersdotter, who, at age 26, is the youngest Member of the European Parliament. “We should seek to fully utilize young people’s potential, talents and expertise in politics.”


The event was organized within ODIHR’s democratic governance programme aimed at promoting youth political participation across the OSCE region. The Youth Leadership Forum compliments the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship’s 2015 priorities on youth, and in particular its OSCE Youth Model project and ongoing efforts in developing an OSCE Youth Action Plan.



Source: http://www.osce.org/odihr/119900

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