4 November 2014 (14.00-16.00) - Sponsored by the City of Strasbourg


Neighborhood level democracy has great potenrial for the political socialisation and influence of young people. However, youth are not really attracted to neighborhood committees and meetings, and when there, often not trusted with decision-making roles. Can a participatory process be designed as a model for making real space for youth in neighborhood democracy? 

Young Democracy Creators, France, Apollonia and other associations

An artist will work with young people in one of Strasbourg’s poorer suburbs on the preparation of an outdoor art installation illustrating young people’s aspirations about their neighborhood, their future and society in general. The installation will be developed in dialogue between young people and the elected representatives in the neighborhood. The dialogue will help bring youth and the politicians closer, build trust and lay the foundation of a lasting involvement of young people in the life of the neighborhood. This « life lab » will help emerge a new model of youth-inclusive neighborhood democracy. The results will be presented and discussed during the Forum with the participation of the protagonists.


Mr Rainer ADAM, Germany, Regional Director for Central, East and Southeast Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

A man who remembers his childhood fun and effective learning experiences through interactive-participation, he knew what was missing in the civic education classrooms in Thailand and why most youngsters had no interest in politics. This was how SIM Democracy came into existence.  He strongly believes that an interactive-learning tool can encourage young people to view the world through a democratic-political involvements spectrum.  Since 2008, he was a Regional Director for Southeast and East Asia of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) Bangkok, Thailand. He holds a PhD degree from Bonn University, Germany.

Mr Samiuddin AHMED, Bangladesh, Head of Research and Development at ActionAid Bangladesh

Sami is a young professional at ActionAid Bangladesh and leads the organisation’s research and development efforts concerning youth. He is also heavily involved with Activista Bangladesh – ActionAid Bangladesh’s national youth network. Sami has experience in coordinating young people’s activities on the ground and linking them up with national level efforts. He is currently engaged in mainstreaming youth across various issues, undertaking policy research and looking into the Post-2015 process from a Bangladeshi youth’s perspective.


Ms Daniele AMARAL, Brazil, Journalist and Coordinator of Vote on the Web

Daniele Amaral is a Brazilian journalist working at Webcitizen, a company that develops internet projects in the area of social mobilization and e-government data. She is the  coordinator of the citizen engagement site, Vote on the Web, and her job is to encourage young people to participate actively in politics on the internet and at the same time show lawmakers how they can do their job following the demands of the population.


Ms Suruchi AULAKH, India, Senior Advisor of Blue Ribbon Movement

Suruchi Aulakh is a Senior Advisor of Blue Ribbon Movement. She facilitates workshops for the organisation using theatre-based techniques and is an accomplished artist and trainer with an experience of 2 decades in the area.

Mr Diego ÁVILA DA SILVA, Brazil, Lawyer of Vote on the Web

Diego Silva is Bachelor in law whit specialization in civil law and civil procedural law. He is a volunteer in Vote on the Web website, and his job is to resume and simplify the texts of the bills to help Brazilian citizens understand the true goals of the bills and thus contributing to reduce the distance between citizens and politicians.

Mr Julian BARLEN, Germany, Project Manager and Co-founder of "Stork Heinar", Member of the Parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Julian Barlen is a Hotel Manager and graduate economist from Germany. He is spokesperson for the Social Democrats on public health policies, aging society and anti-extremist initiatives in the Land parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. As a co-founder and today’s voluntary project manager of the satirical anti-Nazi project „Stork Heinar“ he aims to contribute to attracting, inspiring and developing democratic participation – especially among younger people – by giving up-to-date information about current neo-Nazi strategies and offering low-threshold possibilities for taking a democratic attitude.

Ms Halleluyah BENJAMIN, Tanzania, Regional Accountant of the Junior Council

Halleluyah Benjamin, 15 years old, is in form one at Kilimani Secondary School in Mwanza City, Tanzania. She joined the Junior Council in 2012 and this term was elected to be the accountant for the council at regional level. The Junior Council provides Halleluyah and her peers with a platform for children to defend their rights and ensure their active participation in the matters that affect their lives. Halleluyah has been effectively advocating for child rights and participation through radio and television programs as a program presenter as well as through convening meetings with government leaders.

Mr Róbert Viðar BJARNASON, Iceland, President of the Citizens Foundation

Robert is a successful entrepreneur that introduced the web to Iceland in 1993 and in 1995 to Denmark. Before co-founding the Citizens Foundation with Gunnar Grimsson, he worked in the online gaming industry where his team received many industry awards including two BAFTA awards for games. Robert has extensive experience with AI algorithms and 3D software spanning over 20 years.


Ms Olga BODROVA, Russian Federation, Director of the Peace Foundation in the South and North Caucasus

Olga has been working in the field of management of social and educational projects for over 14 years. Her main interests are civics and cultural enlightenment; psychology, pedagogy and educational management; coordinating, monitoring and evaluating social projects and programs, including charity initiatives. Olga has worked in the sphere of Human Rights protection as an Official Assistant to the regional Ombudsman in Stavropol since 2009, and has been an independent Expert on Human Rights of the Russian Ministry of Justice since 2011. She has been working with a number of international projects in the field.


Mr Diego A. CIMINO, Italy, Founder of “Youth for Catania 2.0”

Diego A. Cimino, 23 years old, is master senior student specialized in International Law at the University of Catania School of Law. In 2012, he has been elected as first ever students’ representative into the Evaluation Unit of the University of Catania. In 2013, he was Youth Representative and Rapporteur at the World Forum for Democracy and joined the Youth Peace Ambassadors Network of the Council of Europe in 2014. At local level he is Chief-Officer of the Catania Chapter of the International Law Students Association and President of the youth organization called “Hub-Officine Giovanili” which aim is to foster youth participation into the decision-making processes at local, national and international level.  He is the founder of the “Youth for Catania 2.0 Initiative” and, on behalf of it, he ran for the Catania’s City Council Elections in 2013 as youngest candidate in city.


Mr Ernad Deni ČOMAGA, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Founder and President of the Democratic Youth Movement

Ernad Deni Čomaga, born in 1986, is the founder and president of the NGO Democratic Youth Movement based in Sarajevo. Since 2005, he has been active in youth politics and NGOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also led the main students organization of the University of Sarajevo where he is about to finish his studies. He is alumni of the University of Heidelberg where he studied Law with the focus on International and European law. Ernad Deni Čomaga plays an active role in creating youth politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ms Noelle CORMIER, USA, Chapter Director at Generation Citizen

Noelle Cormier is a senior at Boston University, where she is studying to receive a dual license in Elementary and Special Education. In the fall, Noelle will complete her student teaching in London, England. She has been involved with Generation Citizen for four years. Inspired by the intersection of civic education and hands-on-learning, Noelle joined the organization as a mentor, worked her way up to Chapter Director, and currently interns at the Boston office, where she is working to develop supporting materials for Chapter Directors.

Ms Michaela CVACHOVÁ, Czech Republic, Participant of The Structured Dialogue of Youth

Michaela Cvachová started as a participant of this project and began active member of project team. She is a positive example of the goals of this project. She is finalising her studies in Political Philosophy and her interest is civil society, human rights and youth participation. Apart from the main activities towards the implementation of the structured dialog process, she is volunteering in the Czech Council of Children and Youth in foreign affairs. 

Ms Pimrapaat DUSADEEISARIYAKUL, Thailand, Project manager for Thailand, Regional Office for Southeast and East Asia, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

Her youth public forums across Thailand never fail to inspire her subjects, she is known for the nationwide future search campaign “Dream Thailand”. Later when SIM Democracy was implemented across Thailand under her leadership, she successfully continues to inspire the youth, but for them to “Dream Democracy” instead. She is currently a Programme Manager in Thailand team for The Friedrich Naumann Foundation. She obtained her doctorate degree in International Relations in 1999 from the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom and her master degree in International Politics in 1993 from the University of Aberystwyth, United Kingdom.

Mr Niwa DWITAMA, Indonesia, Associate Director of Youth Parliament of Indonesia

Niwa is Associate Director of Youth Parliament of Indonesia, aiming to re-introduce the concept of parliament to young people. In this capacity, he took the lead in designing the General Assembly of 34 youth parliament members representing their respective provinces, as well as the advocacy pillar of the movement. Graduated as valedictorian from University of Indonesia, majoring in international relations, Niwa directly joined a public policy research institute named Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International. He is involved in socio-economic policy researches on agonizing social policy topics including gender-based violence and child abuse as well as health worker’s absenteeism. Niwa`s research interest lies upon the issue spanning from human rights, democratic governance and public policy that relates to improving human`s condition.


Ms Hafsa EL BEKRI, Morocco, The Circle of Young Democrats of Morocco

Hafsa El Bekri is 22 Years old and the National Coordinator of the Circle of Young Democrats of Morocco. She graduated from the National School of Business and Management, concentrating on issues of democracy and social justice. She is member of the Preparatory Commission of the World Youth Peace Movement and Chair of the Economic Commission of the Maghreb 5 Youth Summit. She participated in the North-Africa Sub Regional Seminar on Youth Policies, organised by the North-South Centre in Tunis and in the Youth in Action: Democracy and Transformation organized in Germany by the “Evangelischen Jugend - und Fürsorge Werk”.

Mr David EVANGELISTA, United States, Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations for Special Olympics International

David Evangelista is Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations for Special Olympics International. David directs global development and international cooperation for Special Olympics, including the creation of national and multinational partnerships, UN collaboration strategic development, and corporate and civil society activation in support of individuals with intellectual disabilities. David has a B.A. in International Relations from the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC and an M.A. in International Business from the Caixanova Escuela de Negocios. He resides in Vigo, Spain, and is fluent in Spanish, English and Italian.

Mr Andras FARKAS, Romania, Executive Director of the Network of European Youth Capitals

Andras Farkas has a background in central and local public administration, for-profit and non-governmental sector. He is since July 2014 the executive director of the Network of European Youth Capitals.  Mr Farkas was the Executive Director of Cluj-Napoca 2015 European Youth Capital until June 2014. Mr Farkas is the founder and expert of the PONT Group, a Cluj-Napoca based young expert group. He and his organization coordinated the creation of the concept and candidacy for Cluj-Napoca 2015 European Youth Capital, title earned during 2012.

Mr César Alan Ruiz GALICIA, Mexico, Activist, Journalist, Initiative for Democratization of Media and Transmedia Education

César Alan Ruiz Galicia is a young activist and journalist. He was a spokesperson for the #YoSoy132 movement, the most important youth mobilization in the last four decades. He has participated in the debate for the Telecommunication Reform Act, advocating for communication rights and proposing strategies for the democratization of the media system. He fostered the incorporation of community radio stations, which were finally included in the Mexican Constitution. He is currently involved in the Organizing Committee of the Popular Congress, a movement promoting democracy beyond political parties. This group already has nearly 10,000 affiliates.

Mr John HALE, Associate Director, Center for Civic Education, USA

In his capacity as Associate Director, John Hale works with all of the Center’s domestic and international programs. Mr. Hale has directed numerous institutes and scholarly conferences, both in the United States and overseas, and he has recently presented at international conferences in China, Taiwan, and Morocco. He has written student texts, policy papers, and articles in professional publications. He co-directs the Campaign to Promote Civic Education and is also a member of the Steering Committee of the California Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools. In 2012 he received the Roy Erickson Award for Civic Education Leadership.


Discussants are invited to make critical comments during the lab on the impact, transferrability, sustainability and risk of the initiative.

Mr Mohammed ALSAUD, Syria, Civil Society Activist

Mohammed studied management, sociology and global politics. Has been working for the last 6 years for more freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, mainly in terms of strategic planning and consultancy in media, campaigning, community organizing and launching community initiatives in Syria, Jordan and Tunisia. Lately was working as head of campaigning at the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces in Turkey. Mohammed is now establishing the Syrian Democracy Hub aiming to support development of a democratic culture and practices among young leaders and to prepare them for a less violent transitional period.

Ms Karin ASTEGGER, Austria, Board member of the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities

Ms Kiran BEDI, India, Founder of India Vision Foundation and former advisor to the UN Secretary General on Peace Keeping Operations

Kiran Bedi was the first woman to join the officer ranks of the Indian Police Service. She holds a degree in Law and worked with the UN Secretary General on Peace Keeping Operations. She is a Nehru Fellow, author of several books, and she anchors TV and radio shows. Kiran Bedi runs two non-profit organisations which reach out to thousands of marginalised people in rural and urban areas for education and self-reliance. She was voted as most admired (The Week)and most trusted woman (Readers Digest)in India.


Ms Ons BEN ALBEDLKARIM, Tunisia, Secretary General of Al Bawsala

Ons is a 25 years-old engineer. She graduated from the French Engineering School Télécom Sud Paris (formerly Télécom INT) and has worked as a consultant for a security and risk management consulting firm in France before returning to Tunisia in 2013 where she joined Al Bawsala. Ons is currently the Secretary General of Al Bawsala, a Public Policy and Accountability NGO working on promoting human rights in Tunisia. Through its project marsad.tn (monitor in arabic), Al Bawsala monitors the work of the parliament, the state budget and municipalities, using new technologies to make the information collected accessible to citizens.Al Bawsala is considered in Tunisia as one of the most powerful NGOs. The organisation has won in 2012 the OpenGov award for transparency and in 2013 the World Summit Award for its parliament watchdog marsad.tn.

Ms Simone BERNSTEIN, USA, Co-Founder and President of volunTEENnation.org

Simone Bernstein is the Co-Founder and President of VolunTEEN Nation. Simone and her brother launched VolunTEEN Nation, a youth-led non-profit organization in the United States. With more than 8,500 volunteer postings on VolunTEEN Nation, more than 73,500 youth have found opportunities through the site and service projects. Simone is a 2010 L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth, is on the 2013 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur list, and is one of Glamour’s 2013 Top 10 College Women. She is also on the Board of Directors for Youth Service America and a State Farm Youth Advisory Board member.


Ms Andrea CHALUPA, United States, Journalist

Andrea Chalupa is a journalist and the author of Orwell and The Refugees: The Untold Story of Animal Farm. She has written for TIME, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and Forbes. Some of the institutions where she has spoken include Columbia University, McGill University, and the National Press Club in Washington, DC. She is a founder of DigitalMaidan, an online movement that made the Ukrainian protests the #1 trending topic on Twitter worldwide. Her first screenplay, about George Orwell struggling to publish Animal Farm, the book that made him famous, is in development in Europe.

Ms Tiffiniy CHENG, USA, Co-founder and Co-director of Fight for the Future

Tiffiniy is the co-founder and co-director of Fight for the Future, dedicated to protecting and expanding the Internet's transformative power in people’s lives by creating civic campaigns that are engaging for millions of people. She started Open Congress, the most popular government transparency site, and Miro, an open source music and video player. Her work is on art, culture and structural power issues.

Mr Bernard DE VOS, Belgium, General Delegate of the French Community for the Rights of the Child

A specialised educator with a degree in Islamic Studies, Bernard de Vos is the author of several books dealing with issues of childhood and youth (including “Les Apaches des parkings, adolescents des villes et des ghettos”  published by Labor in 1999). For fifteen years, he was director of the SOS Youth-FreeTime association in Brussels, where he was responsible for the creation of innovative strategies for aid and protection of youth (e.g. Samarkand association, Solidarcité, Synergy 14). He served several terms in decision-making or consultation bodies on the same subjects. Since March 2008 he holds the position of Executive Vice President of the French branch of ‘Rights of the Child’. Since the end of September 2013, is he working for the Presidency of ENOC, the European Network of Ombudsmen for children.

Mr Robert DOSSOU, Benin, Former Foreign Minister and former President of the Constitutional Court

Ms Adele GAMBANO, Italy, Member of Parliament and Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Adele Gambaro has a degree in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, and is studying European Union law in Paris (Sorbonne). Her focus is on EU funding mechanisms for businesses and government agencies. She was elected to the Senate of the Italian Republic in February 2013 and is member of the Commission for Industry, Trade and Tourism of the Italian Senate. She is following with interest the themes of webdemocracy, the impact of electronic ballots and their role in politics in general.

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