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Member states should give the right, space, means, opportunity and support and protection to ensure the political participation of national minority youth at all levels

Strasbourg 20 September 2021
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Member states should give the right, space, means, opportunity and support and protection to ensure the political participation of national minority youth at all levels

On 15 June 2021, the Committee on Anti-Discrimination, Diversity, and Inclusion (CDADI), during its third plenary meeting, adopted a Study on the active political participation of national minority youth in Council of Europe member states.

This study aimed to identify good practices in member states on the active political participation of national minority youth and explore gaps in this field and make recommendations on this basis to better support effective political participation of national minority youth, protect persons belonging to national minorities and cultural diversity, and promote interaction between all members of the society.

The methodology and framework of the study were based on two questionnaires - one addressed to the member states and the other to civil society organisations promoting the participation of national minority youth - and focus groups. The questionnaires sought to take stock of the current situation, determine trends, and identify good practices, obstacles, and challenges. Over 33 member states and around 80 civil society organisations submitted their contributions to the study, as well as other bodies of the Council of Europe.

Meaningful participation of youth belonging to national minorities can occur when they have the right, space, opportunity, means, and support to participate, when the right to participation is protected, and when states take measures to create these conditions. Based on the good practices provided by the member states and civil society organisations, the study makes several conclusions and recommendations, among them:

  • Member states should ensure the right to active political participation of national minority youth and consider enshrining this in law, for example, in legislation on the rights of children and young people or on legislation on the rights of persons belonging to national minorities where such legislation exists. National minority youth should effectively participate in the drafting and amendment of such legislation.
  • Member states should further support the effective and meaningful participation of national minority youth in the mainstream, youth, and minority political and public life at all levels.
  • National parliaments, local governments, and political parties should provide space for the participation of minority youth, including encouraging a wide diversity of membership and mainstreaming national minority youth perspectives in their work.
  • Member states should pursue capacity-building activities targeting teachers, youth workers, youth policy experts, decision-makers and public authorities, and other professionals working with or encouraging political participation in national minority youth.
  • Member states should provide national minority youth and their organisations with adequate and sustainable human and financial resources. Positive measures should be considered in funding and could include prioritizing national minority youth projects in the youth field and youth projects in the national minority field.
  • National minority youth perspectives should be included in both youth policies and integration and inclusion policies for national minorities. National minority youth should participate in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of such policies.

The study has been presented to the public at the conference “The role of NGOs and research institutions in promoting Council of Europe norms and standards on national minority rights” that the Council of Europe and the Hungarian authorities organised on 7 September 2021 at the European Youth Centre in Budapest.