On 24-26 October the Youth Department organises the seminar Youth participation in Internet Governance at the European Youth Centre Strasbourg.
The seminar explores how youth participation in Internet Governance can be ensured in a meaningful and inclusive manner and will formulate recommendations for future action to be taken by the Youth Department and the Council of Europe to support youth participation. The seminar invites 35 representatives of national youth councils, local national and international youth organisations, public authorities and various sectors of the Council of Europe secretariat involved in Internet governance,
Daily reports of the seminar will be published on the NHSM Facebook page.
Participation of young people in decision making is a structured process which, if done meaningfully and ethically, can bring social inclusion of young people and further support society develop. Youth participation in society at all levels and in all its areas has been always at the core of the mission of the youth sector of the Council of Europe as also reflected in the recent Recommendation CM/Rec (2016)7 on access to rights of young people and in the revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life.
The Council of Europe youth sector has a unique model of youth participation in decision making at political and programme level, the co-management, where representatives of youth organisation (gathered in a body called Advisory Council on Youth) and representatives of the states-party to the European Cultural Convention (European Steering Committee on Youth) take decisions together by consensus.
Young people are the main users of Internet among population groups in Europe. They experience online and offline life as a continuum and reportedly make use in high numbers of the Internet on a daily basis. They are also more skilled than older generations and this gap is likely to increase in the following years with more digital natives entering youth. However, there are significant numbers of young people that currently cannot enjoy access to the Internet and that are more likely to experience an ever increasing gap with more public services becoming available mostly online.
The Council of Europe has recognized early on the importance of the Internet as both a tool and a public space for democracy, highlighting the fact that human rights should equally apply online and offline. The Convention of Cybercrime and the increasing inclusion of Internet dimensions in other standard setting documents of the organisation (i.e. Convention on Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence), together with the Guide to human rights for Internet users show a constant concern. The Committee of Ministers has also adopted an Internet Governance Strategy (2016-2019) further articulates the aims of the organization in this respect focusing on further developing Internet’s function for democracy and participation, ensuring the respect of human rights online, and on ensuring security and online safety for all.
The Youth Department of the Council of Europe has developed a significant level of expertise and experience through the No Hate Speech Movement Campaign (2013 onwards) in engaging young people online and developing their capacity and competences in combatting discrimination and racism online. Through the campaign, young people and their organisations have also become involved in matters of Internet Governance through participation in the Internet Governance Forum and EuroDiG in the past 5 years.
The priorities of the youth sector for 2018-2019 place a strong emphasis on the development of competences of young people and youth organisations in influencing decision making processes, especially in respect to e-forms of youth participation and promotion of human rights online. This is seen as part of the follow-up to the No Hate Speech Movement campaign.
The seminar “Youth participation in Internet Governance” will explore how participation of young people in shaping the Internet can be ensured without reproducing and creating new patterns of exclusion. It will critically review how youth participation shapes currently Internet Governance processes, as well as how it is currently reflected in and through youth policy. The seminar will formulate recommendations for future action to be taken by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe, but as well as at national level through youth policy and youth work in order to support young people and their organisations meaningful participation in Internet Governance processes.
The objectives of the seminar are:
- to develop a shared understanding of youth participation in Internet governance and analyse the achievements and pitfall of current youth participation in these processes;
- to critically review the ways youth participation in Internet Governance is reflected in youth policy and envisage ways it should be;
- to further explore what are the rights, the means, the spaces, the opportunities and the support required by young people in order to meaningfully participate in the shaping of the Internet;
- to share experiences of youth participation in Internet governance fora and online youth participation at local/national/ international level, and reflect on the successes and pitfalls;
- to elaborate policy and programme recommendations for the Youth Department and the Council of Europe that aim to support and enhance youth participation in Internet Governance.