On October 28-29th, young women and men from across the OSCE region and beyond gathered in Bratislava to discuss how to best engage youth for a safer future by 2030. The two-day OSCE-wide Youth Forum brought together young people, ambassadors, diplomats and experts for an inter-generational dialogue under the OSCE’s flagship Perspectives 20-30 initiative, a key priority of Slovakia’s OSCE Chair. Among the youth participants was the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens’ Communications Officer Minji Kwag who attended the Forum as a delegate from South Korea.
Opening the event, OSCE Chairperson and Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák noted that young people are still not always invited into the rooms of decision-making or given a seat at the table:
“This, simply, does not make sense. It is young people who are driving the changes we all need. They are acting as watchdogs for human rights and fighting corruption. They are finding niche ways to boost and expand our economies. They are speaking truth to power when it comes to climate change. And, they are out there, in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, engaging in their communities to build peace — even when this puts them at risk.”
OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger spoke about the significance of the Forum as part of a wider effort to integrate youth voices into the work of the OSCE.
“This event is part of a process, and not a one-off event. Its outcomes will be presented in a side event at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Bratislava in December, and will hopefully provide fresh food-for-thought for our debates. So, I encourage you to take the outcomes of this process seriously and to take these perhaps unconventional ideas back into our discussions in the Hofburg. We are also exploring ways to give continuity to the Perspectives 20-30 initiative in 2020 and beyond,” he said.
The main focus of today’s discussion was a ‘food-for-thought’ paper, Perspectives 20-30: Providing for a Safer Future, which was drafted by a Core Group of Experts made up of young people from across the OSCE area. Ideas in the paper were drawn upon by various speakers today, including issues such as gender equality, technology, education, conflict prevention and non-discrimination.
Speaking about the paper, OSCE Chairperson Lajčák said:
“It tells us — and this really caught my eye — that multilateralism is at risk. And that the only way to rebuild trust in institutions is to open them up; to better communicate what we are doing; to include more voices than ever before.”
Providing concrete input on how to further develop the paper, keynote speaker Monika Froehler of the Ban Ki-moon Centre urged participants to take the discussion paper as a first step in the right direction which now has to be followed by action. She called on all participants to capitalize on their own, individual capacities to drive change.
“Don’t ask what the OSCE can do for you, but what you can do for the OSCE and for the region,” she stressed.
Speaking on behalf of the Perspectives 20-30 Core Group of Experts, Katarina Kertysova underlined that youth currently constitutes one of the most under-represented groups in the political sphere.
“This week’s Forum is a powerful engagement tool and an opportunity for us – the youth – to take ownership of the solution,” she said. “We hope this will serve as an example for other organizations to follow.”
Participants of the OSCE Youth Forum continue to exchange their perspectives, facilitated by the two Special Representative of the Chair on Youth and Security Alba Brojka and Samuel Goda, and youth, peace and security experts from the OSCE, on the steps needed to secure a safer future through in-depth discussions on the rule of law, building peace, new technologies, environmental change, human rights, and education as a catalyst for change.
More information about the 20-30 Perspectives project can be found here: www.osce.org/youth
Source: OSCE Secretariat