Sunday, 11 May 2014

#WCY2014 - Youth Rights

I attended the initial roundtable discussion on Youth Rights and how we are able to streamline them into the Post-15 development agenda.We started the same way as we did in the Realising Peace, Reconciliation and Ending Violence sessions with a presentation from keynote speakers. In this instance we heard from Wasantha Senanayake (Sri Lankan MP), a Serbian Minister and Andy Roland Nziengul VP, PYU. In this session I learned that many states who had been colonised by Britain still had many outdated laws such as the criminalisation of homosexuality. 

We started the discussion by focusing on issues that can restrict young people receiving not only basic human rights but access to UNCRC rights from a young age. The delegate from Cameroon stated that many young people who are discriminated against by society and the government don't feel that they challenge this and that we should create a mechanism for doing so. Further to this the delegate from South Africa suggested that this would be difficult to implement universally as some countries who suffer corrupt governments can easily exterminate those who protest or lobby for their rights. 

We then decided to focus more on how young people receive information on their rights as the delegate from Denmark suggested that this would be easier to compare universally. Further to this the delegate from the Bahama's suggested that the main areas we should focus on is how National Youth Councils help young people learn about their rights and targeting discrimination and violence. Further issues that were bought up as restrictive to young people having access to their rights include corruption, immigration, violence and poverty. 

As I was involved in negotiations in the days following this discussion I am unable to comment on how it continued, however here are the recommendations for this theme as set out in the Colombo Declaration. 

Youth Rights
79. Draw the attention of the United Nations system, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Member States to the call by young people and youth organizations to launch a participatory, inclusive and transparent process among member states, youth and youth organizations, building on, inter alia, the experience of countries that already have developed legislation, which may lead to a Convention on Youth Rights.
80. Recognize the urgent need for the fulfillment of young people’s human rights and responsibilities and their right to redress in a manner appropriate to their age.
81. Encourage the establishment of a permanent youth department within the United Nations with representations in member countries to support and follow up local youth programs.

The full text of the Colombo 2014 Declaration can be found here:

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