“The active participation of young people in decisions and actions at local and regional level is essential if we are to build more democratic, inclusive and prosperous societies.
Participation in the democratic life of any community is about more than voting or standing for election, although these are important elements. Participation and active citizenship is about having the right, the means, the space and the opportunity and where necessary the support to participate in and influence decisions and engaging in actions and activities so as to contribute to building a better society”
From the Preamble of the Revised Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life, Council of Europe, May 2003
Key Documents on Youth Participation at Local Level
To learn more about youth participation models, we advise this study elaborated by Creative Commons.
Revised Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life, Council of Europe, May 2003
In continuation with the Preamble quoted above, “youth participation is not solely about developing active citizens or building democracy for the future. It is vital, if participation is to be meaningful for young people, that they can influence and shape decisions and actions when they are young and not only at some later stage in life. When local and regional authorities support and promote youth participation they also contribute to the social integration of young people, helping them to deal not only with the challenges and pressures of youth, but also with the challenges of a modern society where anonymity and individualism are often predominant.[…] Any policy or action designed to promote youth participation must ensure that the cultural environment is one of respect for young people and must also take into account the diverse needs, circumstances and aspirations of young people. ”
Integration of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Resolution 319 of the Congress Of Local And Regional Authorities, Strasbourg, 28 October 2010
● “3. Young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods face a variety and often a combination of difficulties: exclusion from the labour market, drop-out, lack of self-belief and alienation, as well as substance misuse, criminality, lack of decent housing or homelessness, poor mental health, financial exclusion and reduced participation in community life.”
● “4. Local and regional authorities have a duty to guarantee citizens’ human rights, including social rights, and ensure these rights are accessible to all through the formulation of relevant, evidence-based policies. […] They must also be devised with the full participation of young people in the spirit of the Congress Revised European Charter on Participation. A framework should be developed to strengthen local capacity for devising and delivering programmes and practice, to produce positive outcomes for and generate self-belief in young people.”
● “7. Policies and programmes should be designed with the full participation of young people and adapted so as to enable young people from disadvantaged areas, who find it more difficult to engage, to identify with and believe in policy goals, and to be motivated to take responsibility for those goals so as to actively engage in their own transition, gaining new skills, motivation and confidence along the way.”
● “40. The Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life sets out a solid foundation for applying participative principles in sectoral policy development and institutional decision-making. It indicates the instruments that can be used to promote youth participation taking account of the ‘diverse needs, circumstances and aspirations of young people’. […] participation is a critical component of social integration but it demands careful reflection if it is to be developed and supported appropriately”
Read the Resolution here
Youth and democracy: the changing face of youth political engagement. Resolution 346 of the Congress Of Local And Regional Authorities, Strasbourg, 16-18 October 2012.
“9d. offer opportunities to young people to enter into a structured dialogue with local and regional authorities and to participate in politics and policy making by setting up joint decision-making mechanisms, mirroring the Council of Europe’s co-management system, in the form of joint councils composed of elected local/regional councillors and youth representatives”
Read the Resolution here
“5. [..] Local and regional authorities should promote strategies that help to tie these new acts of participation to the conventional participatory paths.”
“8. Municipal and regional youth councils are valuable instruments of youth consultation however some do not offer young people the opportunity to participate meaningfully in decision and policy-making procedures. It would be useful to analyse municipal and regional youth councils’ characteristics, powers and activities to see how these can be fully utilised to promote real youth participation in decision and policy-making.”
Read the Resolution here
Other resolutions on youth and participation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
Joint Conclusions on “Youth Empowerment for political participation”, EU Youth Conference Riga Riga, 23-26 March 2015
“Developing local and direct democracy
1) Member States and youth organisations should acknowledge and make better use of alternative forms of young people’s political engagement (e.g. arts, sports) aiming to enrich the debate and decision-making processes.
2) Member States, local or regional authorities should encourage the establishment and the strengthening of local and regional youth councils or other equivalent youth platforms that should be open, inclusive and sustainable in order to enable young people from all backgrounds to participate and be involved in decision-making processes in accordance with the Revised European Charter on the Participation of young people in local and regional life (Congress of Local & Regional Authorities, Council of Europe).”
These Joint Conclusions are the result of the IV Cycle of Structured Dialogue of the European Union with Young People, building upon the results of consultations with young people all over Europe, and they were agreed upon during the EU Youth Conference organized by the Latvian Presidency (2° phase of the IV Cycle).
Read the document here
Declaration of the 2nd European Youth Work Convention: Making a world of difference. Brussels 27-30 April 2015
• “To gain more recognition youth work needs active promotion and advocacy by all actors in politics, public sector and civil society on the different levels, European, national, regional, local.”
• Recommendation 7 “Participation is one of the main principles of youth work. The Convention is convinced that the development of youth work can only be taken further when young people get actively involved from the beginning at all levels – European, national, regional and local.”
• “As much as young people themselves, organisations in youth work working with and for young people need to be recognised and involved at all levels as partners in civic dialogue concerned with the development of youth work.”
Read the Declaration here
Youth Participation Library
Convention on the Rights of the Child. United Nations General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989
“The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice” Article 13.1
Read the Convention here
Other Relevant Documents
United Nations DESA World Youth Report “Youth Civic Engagement” (2016)