Youth empowerment is one of the cross-cutting themes that are mainstreamed across all activities undertaken by the Community of Democracies as part of its mission to strengthen democracies worldwide.

Ahead of the International Youth Day on August 12, here are some examples of the Community’s recent and upcoming activities focused on youth empowerment.

Youth empowerment central for preventing violent extremism

‘’Empowering youth in politics, creating avenues for engagement and reducing barriers for young people’s political and economic participation are central to addressing the factors associated with violent extremism’’ – the Community’s Democracy and Security Dialogue report highlighted the importance of youth empowerment as one of the factors of countering violent extremism.  The report found that countries with less youth participation in governance and a lack of youth empowerment programs have a high rate of their young population indoctrinated with extremist ideologies. ‘’We must embrace the youth as responsible citizens and prepare them to lead their societies in accordance with universal human rights values’’– emphasized the authors of the report.

The role of youth in the peace and security dialogue

Facilitating a continued discussion on the findings of the Democracy & Security Dialogue final report, the Community of Democracies held a panel discussion on the role of youth in the peace and security dialogue, organized as a side event on the margins of the 37thHuman Rights Council in Geneva in March 2018.

The event gathered experts and young leaders from across the world to discuss challenges and best practices for youth engagement in the peace and security dialogue in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Panelists also debated methods to implement UN Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (2015) which urges states to consider ways to increase young people’s representation in democratic decision-making process at all levels, and mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflict.  Participants of the session also had the opportunity to take part in a capacity building workshop and diplomatic skills training.

The role of youth in democratic resilience

Increasing young people’s civic engagement and political participation is crucial to build inclusive societies and strong democratic institutions. To discuss the role of youth in democratic resilience, the CoD will hold a panel discussion on the margins on the 73rdUnited Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in September 2018. The side-event will be an opportunity for the Community’s Governing Council Member States to discuss the important role that youth play in democracy strengthening, common challenges to youth’s civic engagement and political participation in democracies, and possible concerted action in response to these challenges.

Internship Program- an opportunity for young people to develop their skills 

Interns play an important role in the Community’s work. The Community’s Permanent Secretariat offers university students and recent graduates the opportunity to spend three to six months working on projects at the cutting edge of democracy, human rights and diplomacy. The Program enables young people from across the world to gain professional experience and insight into how intergovernmental organisations operate.

“My six months at the PSCD allowed me to learn a great deal that you can’t learn in the classroom or from a textbook.  It was an enlightening and enriching experience, and provided me with an understanding of the operational features, the diplomatic nuances, and the aspects of cooperation involved in the functioning of an intergovernmental organization.”- said Brian Felix from the U.S.

The intern mixer event, organized by the CoD in July for Warsaw-based interns of the Governing Council Members States’ Embassies, was also a great opportunity for the interns to network and share experiences.

On the occasion of the International Youth Day, the Community of Democracies thanks its former and current interns for their commitment, positive energy, and contributions to the CoD’s work promoting and defending democratic value of the Warsaw Declaration.