The Council of Europe celebrates its 70th anniversary – and quietly prepares to sacrifice its youth sector
The Council of Europe is the smaller, older, and poorer of the two European supranational institutions, and is often confused with the Council of its much larger sister organisation, the European Union. In the youth sector, however, nobody makes that mistake: The two European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest and the European Youth Foundation have profoundly shaped international and intercultural youth work. But while the organisation celebrated its 70th anniversary in public this weekend, it has been secretly playing with scenarios to sacrifice its youth sector amidst a financial crisis.
“Young people are the future” – how often have we all heard this sentence being muttered and have rolled our eyes? And how often have we pointed out in meetings, at conferences and on the streets that too many policies are not futureproof and violate the rights of children and young people? To change that, the World Future Council (WFC) awards policies for the benefit of present and future generations. This year, the WFC has joined forces with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to award the 2019 Future Policy Award to youth policies, acts, laws or decrees – and you can nominate them.
Out from the wilderness and quietly released with little fanfare, the Youth Wellbeing Index (YWI), by the International Youth Foundation and Hilton, is back for its second edition. Once again measuring the multidimensional aspects of youth wellbeing in 30 countries across the globe, the 2017 version of the YWI adds a crucial domain – gender equality! –, kicks out some old indicators and switches data sources for others, and utilises new opinion data from the 2016 Global Millennial Viewpoints Survey. In this article, we look at the big methodological changes, their implications for measuring youth wellbeing and youth data globally – and what all this means for youth policy.
In September 2017, Jayathma Wickramanayake became the second person to be the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth. Originally from Sri Lanka, she was the country’s first UN Youth Delegate, is an experienced organiser of international youth events, and wrote her master thesis on youth policy. Yet, she says that she’s often considered ‘too young to be true’ – especially by her older, male colleagues. But taking the reins as the highest official on youth at the UN, has got off to a challenging start: her office is in debt to the UN system. We caught up with Jayathma on the sidelines of International Civil Society Week to talk about her, her role, and her ambitions for the years ahead.
At the First Global Forum on Youth Policies, held in 2014, the UN co-conveners – the Youth Envoy, UNDP, UNESCO – committed to ten global actions to strengthen youth policies. Taking stock of the achievements, more than three years later, is not a pretty sight. Despite the impressive backlog of unfulfilled commitments from the Global Forum, the 2018 Ecosoc Youth Forum concluded with a slapstick commitment session. And we here at youthpolicy.org haven’t exactly covered ourselves with glory trying to live up to our own commitments made in 2014. What is the story behind this almost comical relationship of the youth sector to its own commitments?
At the Palais de Nations in Geneva, the Committee on the Rights of the Child launched the most important articulation of adolescent rights since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Significantly, the General Comment takes the strongest positions adopted so far by the UN in outlining how age-related legislation should be used, reformed and abolished in terms of governing the ability of adolescents to access services, make independent choices, and realise their rights. This article captures discussions from the launch, provides context and makes our own recommendations.
The third working paper looks at recent trends in child and youth participation. It explores academic literature, recent publications and considers the relevance of traditional participation models – particularly seen in the rise of international youth structures, summits and events – against a wave social uprisings and civil unrest that has demonstrated young people’s willingness confront powerful regimes and institutions. Crucially, youth participation often lacks real power; but when it does, young people can drive real policy, institutional and social change.