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First Human Rights Forum Focuses on Role of Youth in Public Decision-Making

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Hundreds of youth activists, representatives from youth organizations, UN and government officials gathered at the United Nations Office in Geneva on November 21-22 to attend the first-ever Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.

The Forum, established by Human Rights Council resolution 28/14 adopted on March 26, 2015, provided an important platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on the relationship between the areas of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In particular, this year’s inaugural session focused on “Widening the Democratic Space: The Role of Youth in Public Decision-Making.”  

The Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, together with H.E. Ambassador Daniiar Mukashev, Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations in Geneva, co-chaired the Forum. The formal discussions of the two-day event focused on creating an enabling environment for the effective participation of youth in public decision-making and on ways to increase the participation of young people in public and political processes. Through a set of four diverse plenary sessions that included panel presentations followed by interactive discussions, participants identified and analyzed best practices, challenges and opportunities for Member States in their efforts to widen the democratic space for youth in public decision-making.

In his opening remarks, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, underscored the importance of safeguarding the political participation of young people, highlighting their crucial contributions to peace, international justice and human rights. He further reminded participants that no democratic change has ever occurred without the engagement of young people and their work.

Mr. Alhendawi emphasized the need to make politics and political participation both appealing and accessible to young people. “Young people appreciate making politics more accessible, and the question of youth rights is at the heart of this,” Mr. Alhendawi said during the Forum’s opening session. “This should the overarching theme for all our efforts.”     

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