The Study session Unrepresented Diplomats: European Minority Youth on Shrinking Civic Space, Political Participation and Freedom of Association was held between 20-25 September at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg. The activity supported youth leaders from among minority and indigenous communities in Europe to advocate for human rights and minority rights in their local and national contexts.
It was organised in cooperation with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), European Free Alliance Youth (EFAy), and The Youth of European Nationalities (YEN). The activity supported the participants to devise advocacy actions which promote participation and access to rights for minority and indigenous youth and communities.
Apart from the 40 participants and team members, the programme also included inputs from experts working on minority rights and exchange with the Division on National Minorities and Minority languages, the INGO Conference and the instruments of the Youth sector. The participants practiced communication and advocacy skills as well as run a simulation activity based on Model UN, called a Model UNPO. As a result of the week long-programme, they developed 12 proposals for follow-up action such as supporting young UNPO members to organise themselves into a youth group, creating intercultural language programmes to preserve endangered languages and promote dialogue, raise awareness on human rights violations through advocacy and campaigns and organise various educational activities to promote human rights and empower young people to become active in requesting that their rights are protected.
The course director of the activity, Merce Monje Cano, Head of Programmes at UNPO closed the activity with the following words: “Being a human rights activist is not a regular job. It is a way of life and a way of interacting with the people and with the environment. We should not forget that in 10-20 years’ time, some people from this room will be making the decisions. Therefore, if all of you, all of us, continue to work together in solidarity, to treat each other with dignity and respect, and if we continue showing that our similarities are many more than our differences, I truly believe that change can happen.”