Empowering Youth for a Better World: Insights from UNPO's 2023 Youth Study Session
This year, the Unrepresented Nations and People Organization (UNPO), in collaboration with the European Free Alliance Youth (EFAy) and with the great support of the Council of Europe, facilitated a study session for youth activists representing various minority and indigenous communities. This session aimed to deepen their understanding of political participation, international advocacy, and pertinent issues like climate change and colonialism.
The session took place in Strasbourg from October 1st to October 8th, 2023, and it brought together 35 youth leaders from 21 different communities. This unique event aimed to equip them with the essential skills and knowledge to engage effectively in national and regional political processes.
This year's topics have covered a wide range of tools and issues that will be valuable for these youth leaders. The participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the European Union mechanisms and learn more about the European Youth Foundation. The participants had the privilege of visiting the European Court of Human Rights, where a lawyer explained the functioning of the court and its significance in safeguarding human rights. This visit provided valuable insights into the practical aspects of legal frameworks and their relevance in advocating for the rights of minority and indigenous communities.
The participants had the opportunity to attend a lecture with Dr. Jennifer Cassidy, an esteemed expert in digital diplomacy. Dr. Cassidy’s expertise empowered the youth activists to harness the potential of digital diplomacy for their advocacy, emphasizing the importance of strategic and ethical digital engagement in today’s interconnected world. Through several activities led by UNPO project manager Shima Silavi, the participants were also exposed to how to build a coalition and how to draft and submit their petitions.
Moreover, the youth activists had the opportunity to delve into critical issues such as climate change and colonialism with lectures from Alexandra Gavilano and Dr. Liam Saddington. They explored how these issues intersect with the rights and well-being of minority communities. This amplified their understanding to effectively advocate for policies that promote sustainability and inclusivity while considering the historical context of colonialism.
The week ended, with the participants engaging once again in the “Model UNPO” simulation, which replicates a general assembly and they get to discuss international affairs and bridge geopolitical differences. This year's theme was around climate change and the environment. The young activists showed deep involvement in the activities strengthened their sense of identity and diversity, and celebrated cultural, linguistic, and ethnic richness.
Noteworthy development, after last year's establishment of the UNPO Youth Network, new youth activists have expressed interest and enthusiasm in joining the movement to continue the original aim of raising awareness about unrepresented people and nations, emphasizing self-determination, culture promotion, and youth empowerment.
UNPO expresses gratitude for the collaboration with youth activists from minority communities worldwide. The organization cherishes its partnership with the European Free Alliance and the Council of Europe for enabling such transformative and empowering initiatives. The contributions of experts and educators enriched the participants’ knowledge and inspired collaboration for a more inclusive and just world.