Youth - Young people building Europe

6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth

Thessaloniki, Greece, 7-9 November 2002

Resolution on the situation of young people in conflict areas

“Youth constructing Europe”

At the beginning of the 21st century, it must be acknowledged that Europe is confronted with multiple situations of instability associated with open or latent conflicts. Today in Europe, there are ex-servicemen who are not yet thirty years old, young people who cannot leave their enclaves and children who were expelled from their homelands.

Young people in Europe who are confronted with such situations naturally desire ‘a normal life’ and try to fulfill their dreams and this, often in a hostile environment, in destroyed towns and within societies that must learn reconciliation. Many of them, as for a large number of citizens, are confronted on an almost daily basis, with precarious situations, xenophobia, racism, discrimination, authoritarianism and corruption. As a result of this situation, many young people try to leave their country. This threatens the economic, social and cultural development of these areas.

In this unstable context, where the future is often a question of whether one should stay or leave, there are, all the same, many young people who believe that through their action and their voluntary commitment, they can change things.

The willingness of many young people in these areas to improve their future is a message of hope, the underlying meaning of which is fully recognised within the theme of the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth: ‘Youth constructing Europe’. These young people should be encouraged other than by mere talk.

Thus, we, European Ministers meeting in Thessaloniki for the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth of the Council of Europe,

  • Ÿ Bearing in mind the conflict, war or post-war situation which certain European societies have suffered recently and still suffer, and the economic, social and cultural consequences for all those who live there, in particular young people;
  • Ÿ Taking the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocol as a basis for ensuring that children do not take part in armed conflicts;
  • Ÿ Underlining in this respect the hopes of young people to live in peace in a society founded on the values of respect, tolerance and social cohesion;
  • Ÿ Welcoming the action undertaken by the youth sector of the Council of Europe over the last years in South-East Europe and the Caucasus, aiming to support pluralist democracy, the development of intercultural dialogue and social cohesion, the promotion of human dignity and of human rights;

Agree that the Council of Europe should, in the future:

  • Ÿ Encourage the establishment of specific measures aiming to break down isolation of young people living in conflict areas, to enable them to participate in European programmes and to carry out projects in these areas;
  • Ÿ Continue its support to initiatives of young people and youth organisations in the areas concerned, aiming to promote intercultural dialogue, notably through the training programmes of the European Youth Centres, pilot projects of the European Youth Foundation and assistance programmes of the Council of Europe’s youth sector;
  • Ÿ Reinforce the Council of Europe’s training programme for young democratic leaders (the ‘democratic leadership programme’) in order to enable them to work towards an open and transparent management of political commitment;
  • Ÿ Continue the specific assistance programmes in the field allowing, in particular, the exchange of experiences and of good practices in the administrative and legal domains as well as in the areas of youth information and cooperation between the governmental and non-governmental sectors;
  • Ÿ Continue the implementation of the existing instruments of the Council of Europe, in particular the Charter on the participation of young people in municipal and regional life, Recommendation N R (94) 4 of the Committee of Ministers on the promotion of a voluntary service in Europe and Recommendation N R (95) 18 on youth mobility;
  • Ÿ Encourage governments to continue the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe and support the action of the youth sector within this structure, in order to co-ordinate initiatives led by the different actors present in this area in favour of young people;
  • Ÿ Encourage initiatives and programmes aiming to facilitate the return and the resettlement of internally displaced persons and refugees, in particular young people, in their country or place of residence.

MJN-6 (2002) 6 rev. 1