Seminar "Youth and Citizenship"

19-21 November 2013, Amman (Jordan)

The seminar organised by the Council of Europe and the European Commission in the framework of the EU-CoE youth-partnership and the Arab States Regional office of UNFPA discussed the role and the status of youth organisations, youth movements and young people engaged in formal and non-formal participation structures, being crucial actors in the development and consolidation of inclusive, participatory and pluralistic democracies.

Having in mind the disparities between and within the European as well as the Arab / South-Mediterranean contexts and taking into account the potentially strong impact of local, regional and national politics on young people (and vice versa) and the development of their democratic citizenship, this seminar looked at the specificities and conditions of active democratic citizenship and youth participation in various environments in which young people live and act: communities, schools, universities, work places, civil society and the virtual space etc. The event contributed to a better understanding of concrete models of participation and enhance young people's agency as actors of civil society.

The seminar was based on a meaningful dialogue between policy, practice and research. It made reference to the discussions and results of the Malta and Tunis events and the preceding workshop on youth and social media in Hammamet, July 2013. It also took into account the work of UNFPA in the area of civic participation in the region of Arab States, as well as the results of recent studies on youth participation by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and their youth partnership as well as other research findings.

The participants were given opportunity to share their hands-on experiences, discuss about the needs related to the issue of youth participation on local and regional level and in various contexts, and elaborate on potential answers. Proposals for concrete projects (e.g. in the field of capacity building, networking or policy making) were developed by participants.

In addition, the meeting discussed youth participation and engagement in the context of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) beyond 2014 and the post-2015 development agenda. Governments, UN entities, civil society organisations and youth-led organisations have called for a strategic and bottom up process in ensuring that young people's voices and actions are included in the elaboration of a post-2015 development agenda.

Objectives:

  • To look at the conditions and specificities of active democratic citizenship and youth participation in various environments in which young people live and act;
  • To discuss the role and the status of youth organisations, youth movements and young people engaged in participation structures in both regions and effects of this participation in various contexts;
  • To learn from innovative practices on all levels and discuss ways of enhancing young people's democratic citizenship involvement and fostering youth participation in community, local and regional life, including through the use of social media;
  • To explore ways for strengthening young people's participation in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) beyond 2014 and post 2015 development agenda;
  • To exchange on potential joint projects aimed at empowering young people to participate and cooperate between the two regions.
Knowledge sharing - relevant resources

The Revolutionary Promise: Youth Perceptions in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia - Research report by the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement and British Council

The research was conducted over an eight-month period in 2012 in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. It explores the gap between the expectations and aspirations of young people in light of revolutionary promises made in 2011-2012 on one hand, and their actual experiences on the other. It analyses their perceptions towards sociopolitical changes happening in the environment by following activists and conducting in-depth interviews and group discussions at a critical point in all three transitions.


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