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The Summit for Democracy Can Only Be a Success If It Focuses on Youth

Blair Glencorse, Meryl Miner and Julie Murray argue for the importance of effective inclusion of youth in the Summit for Democracy process in Modern Diplomacy. The Summit provides a unique opportunity to engage and mobilise young people in democratic renewal. The youth are key voices for change, but often lack adequate space and accessible platforms to participate. If the Summit wants to be successful in creating innovative solutions for democratic declines, the ideas and energy of young people must be included.

While people under 35 represent 65 per cent of the global population, only 6 per cent of elected representatives come from this group. The authors highlight that where youth have been provided accessible platforms with sufficient capacity, they have been able to transform their societies, noting that young people can identify needs in their communities and push for more inclusive, participatory approaches. The Summit process must ask itself how to best channel the energy of young people and reform existing, sometimes exclusionary systems to be more democratic.

Despite the opportunities presented by the Summit, research conducted by Accountability Lab indicates that the youth is not very engaged in the Summit process. The authors recommend that the US government works with youth-led and supporting organisations, and that Summit participants create an advisory committee for and by young people with a direct link to Summit organisers. Moreover, the Youth Cohort launched last week at the International Day of Democracy can be a useful platform in holding governments accountable to their commitments and push countries that have not yet made youth-based commitments to do so. It is also important that the voices of early adolescents (those aged 10 to 14) are not ignored.

Read the full article here in Modern Diplomacy.