December 8th, 2016
The European Youth Advocacy Team in Strasbourg!
By Ludmila Andrade
The Council of Europe (CoE) has played a pioneering role in promoting and supporting youth participation, capacity building and active citizenship. Within the topics of democracy, rule of law and human rights, the Council has well-structured and accessible institutions and funding mechanisms for young people of the forty-seven member states. For instance, the European Youth Foundation supports several youth-led projects focused on intercultural dialogue among its members. Moreover, the No Hate Speech campaign has mobilised thousands of young people online and offline in the promotion of human rights and dignity online. Therefore, the Council’s commitment to facilitating youth participation in society indicates that it can also be a key partner in the implementation of UNSCR 2250 in Europe.
Nevertheless, young peacebuilders in the region also face pressing challenges that are not being properly addressed by the CoE. For this reason, the team focused on creating synergies for collaboration between young people and stakeholders within the Council in order to address those challenges. The Action plan for Prevention of Violent Extremism is a good example of how, even with good intentions, institutions often overlook youth’s leadership and positive role in the fight against violence. In the Action Plan, youth are depicted only as recipients of policies, not as partners. This must change: Youth must not only be regarded as a group-at-risk or beneficiary in P/CVE policy and programmes, but also as a key stakeholders. One of the most effective ways to do so is by meaningfully including young people in policy-making, in all stages and at all levels.
A youth perspective has to be mainstreamed into the Council of Europe’s work, instead of youth policies being seen as a separate field. That is especially true for issues related to peace and security, where young people have few venues for participation. That includes formally recognising young people as stakeholders in building sustainable peace by bringing youth voices to the CoE, increasing support for young peacebuilders, and meaningfully involving us in decision-making processes.
The UNOY Peacebuilders’ first European Youth Advocacy Team (E-YAT) mission to Strasbourg coincided with the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in November 2016. Team members from Kosovo, Armenia, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and France met with national parliamentarians and permanent representatives of countries including Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and Ukraine. The team also met with representatives of Council of Europe institutions and initiatives including the No Hate Speech Campaign.
The E-YAT will follow-up on the commitments made during the mission and will stay engaged with the Council’s work. We are pleased to have successfully raised awareness on UNSCR2250, connected the resolution to the work which the Council is already doing and created synergies for future collaborations. We came back home energized to keep working on our goal to see young people not as future leaders, but as present key partners in building a peaceful Europe.
Ludmila Andrade is a young peacebuilder from Brazil based in the Netherlands. She is part of UNOY’s Youth Advocacy Teams working towards the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 2250.
We are a global network strengthening sustainable youth-driven peacebuilding. We connect 70 youth peace organizations across 45 countries.
Our goal is to create a world where young people have the opportunity and skills to contribute to peace. We work to strengthen youth-led peacebuilding initiatives, facilitate a safe space for dialogue and conflict transformation, develop the organizational capacities of our members and to bring the voices of young people to policy makers on a regional and global level.