Established in 2020, CoDYouthLeads is a group of young democracy advocates and leaders across the globe from countries within and outside the CoD Governing Council. The Youth Leads actively engage in the CoD activities from thematic discussions and development of youth statements to major gatherings including the CoD Ministerial Conference and the CoD Youth Forum. Read more on CoD Youth Engagement
#CoDYouthLeads Stories: Campaign for the 20th Anniversary of the CoD and the Warsaw Declaration
At its 20th anniversary in June 2020, the Community of Democracies (CoD) engaged young democracy leaders from across the world to share their stories on democracy and highlight the relevance of the Warsaw Declaration to the next generation.
“ They were children when the Warsaw Declaration was adopted. Some grew up in established democracies, others experienced democratic transitions or living under non-democratic rule. But they each believe that democratic values and the desire for freedom are universal and apply to all, across the world, across the generations, across social or economic backgrounds. We created this campaign to show that twenty years on, the values of the Warsaw Declaration are very much relevant to a younger generation and expect the Youth Leads will translate its 19 principles anew, and will highlight the important role of young people in building and preserving democracy”– the CoD Secretary General Garrett.
President of the UN Youth Association of Romania, Ioana was born and raised in a democratic Romania, but her family members experienced repression under the communist regime. In her story, she highlights how the values of democracy are guiding her in her work and life.
Service as a staff member in the Ghanaian Parliament taught Sam to seize opportunities to be heard and to draw attention to some of the most pressing needs of the youth. In his story, he encourages young people to keep using the democratic platforms available to make the needed change for a better world.
Tinatin’s story showcases the impact of a youth-led effort in bringing about constitutional change in Georgia. In her story, she also highlights how digital space provides innovative participation opportunities for dialogue, and encourages young people to step up, take responsibility, and act now.
Growing up in a post-apartheid South Africa was one of the drivers of Rey’s decision to pursue his interest in the field of human rights and democracy, with a view of becoming a diplomat one day. In his story, he explains why young people need to be given a meaningful seat at the table and highlights how the principles of the Warsaw Declaration provides a roadmap to young leaders of democracy.
As a young Canadian of Haitian origin, Rebecca knows both the ‘in-between cultures’ feeling as well as the value of diversity. In her story, she shares her thoughts on why democracy needs multiple diverse voices and highlights how the Warsaw Declaration protects pluralism and diversity, regardless of people’s age, race, or gender.
For Bryan, promoting the values of democracy and human rights is part of daily work. As a senior fellow at the New York City-based London Center for Policy Research, Bryan writes, speaks, and produces radio segments about the unique benefits of democracy, keeping perspective to the critique. In his story, he shares his thoughts on why democracy is the fairest and best form of governance.
The youngest member of the Tartu City Council, Laura grew up in democratic Estonia, hearing many stories of life when her country was occupied by the former Soviet Union. She understands that democracy can never be taken for granted; that one must learn from the past yet not live in the past. The example of Laura Danilas shows youth inclusion in policy-making is essential to solve the challenges of today and the future.
Jagdish is president of the most prominent youth organization in Nepal. Growing up during a violent armed conflict, kidnapped by armed rebels, he knows very personally that the path of war is wrong. In his story, he tells us about his work to build good governance and how crucial it is to ensure that all human rights are promoted and protected.
Growing up in post-conflict El Salvador, Lu witnessed the challenges of building peace and democracy in her country. As one of the founders of El Salvador’s newest political party, as a teacher of politics at a local university and as an international electoral mission observer, she shares her experience of working to promote democracy and highlights that all citizens, including young people, should be involved in shaping the present and the future of their countries.
Growing up in a country marked by violence was one reason Walter decided to serve as an advocate for citizen safety and democratic values. In his story, he tells us how challenging experiences in his youth shaped his drive to promote inclusion in public life for young people.
As the youngest person and a woman in a male-dominated local elected council, Lynrose knows both the opportunities and challenges related to young people’s inclusion in public life. Her story shares experiences of inclusion but at the same time marginalization, and highlights you are never too young to express your opinion and to participate in public life.
In his childhood, Rafiu witnessed human rights abuse to his family. When Nigeria turned to the democratic path, he founded a civil society organization to empower young people to take part in building the country’s democracy. In his story, Rafiu shares his achievements, challenges and highlights why the Warsaw Declaration provides an essential framework to strengthen democracy.
Helping youth understand and exercise their civic rights is a long-term goal for Monika. Working at SEGA, a coalition of North Macedonia’s youth organizations, she advocates for greater inclusion of young people in public life and seeks to raise their awareness of democratic values. Monika encourages youth not to be afraid to express their opinions but to fight for their rights and freedoms.
Working for SDG16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions), Pippa recognizes the value of strong, inclusive democratic institutions. In her story, she highlights how upholding the Warsaw Declaration affects people in so many ways, including young people’s participation in public life.
As Chair of the Portuguese National Youth Council, Rita is committed to representing and giving a voice to young people, believing that democracy is about sharing power between citizens. In her story, she talks about bridging the gap between policy-makers and young people. She highlights why we need to move from giving youth a merely advisory role to their meaningful inclusion in the decision-making processes.
A youth activist from Haiti who is now General Coordinator of FINESTE, a civil society organization, Wilbert advocates for democratic reforms, including countering corruption and enabling young people’s participation in public life. His life’s painful experiences, including being arrested and subjected to violence, hasn’t stopped Wilbert from fighting for a more just and inclusive world.
Salimatou is an award-winning human rights activist from The Gambia. In her personal life, she experienced challenges that inspired her to advocacy work to help the disadvantaged. Now, as a young female leader and dedicated advocate for human rights and gender equality, she is an inspiration to others.