The study session “Shrinking youth civil spaces” successfully took place last week at the European Youth Centre Strasbourg. The activity was implemented in cooperation with the European Confederation of Youth Clubs (ECYC) and Rural Youth Europe (RYEurope).
The 27 participants and team members mapped examples of shrinking civil space for youth organisations. These examples were based on narratives which represent obstacles for youth civil society to organise itself. In addition, they reflected how to empower young people and youth organisations to engage in expanding the space for civil society through youth work and youth-led actions.
The participants had an opportunity to exchange with Anna RURKA, the president of the INGO Conference and Leonie MARTIN, Advisory Council on Youth. During the exchange they shared examples proving that shrinking civil spaces are not limited to specific member states, but that there are many examples across all Europe. Some of the challenges which shrink civil space for youth organisations include the legal obstacles, access to funding, space to organise activities, bureaucratic issues and protection of activists. Furthermore, the participants proposed that we should reflect on the balance between the need for transparency and the right to privacy, the definition of political activities, addressing corruption of the public authorities, as well as some new challenges such as the process of “de-banking” and the algorithm based discrimination.
The examples identified during this study session will be shared within the final report. The Youth sector of the Council of Europe has a dedicated page on Shrinking civil space where you can find more information about the past activities and existing standards.