9.00 - 11.00 am EDT, June 18th
The virtual 2-hour event will bring together high-level government representatives, representatives of the United Nations, international and regional organizations, civil society and youth. The event will be broadcasted online for a wide audience.
Due to the safety and security concerns that might arise as a result of young people’s involvement in discussing sensitive topics, such as experiencing threats and barriers in the civic space, as well as due to potential risk for re-traumatization, in specific segments the event organizers will use a visual character, an avatar called Nova, who will relay the sensitive messages that might put young people at risk if they presented these messages themselves (please see the example image).
Nova is an abstract and ethereal character design based on the “Nova Explosion” – an astronomical phenomenon that occurs when a white-dwarf star absorbs gas from the nearby companion star until it becomes unstable and generates a burst of energy.
Nova reflects the instability of civic space and the explosion of energies that young people generate, seeking to generate a great impact.
1. High-level introduction and launch of the first-ever report on Protection of Youth in Civic Space. The purpose of this segment is to set the stage for discussion on the importance of creating enabling and safe civic spaces for youth; acknowledge the importance of collecting data on threats and barriers that youth face when 5 exercising their civic and political rights in civic space, on a global scale; and to provide hopeful reflections on next steps, as well as words of encouragement for young people and other practitioners invested in making civic spaces safer for all.
2. Interactive panel discussion The purpose of this panel discussion is to present and build on the key outcomes and findings of the report on Protection of Youth in Civic Space, based on field experiences and operational expertise of practitioners working in the human rights field. The panel discussion will contribute to an increased understanding of specific and unique threats that young people face in the civic space (compared to older counterparts); current gaps and challenges limiting the safety of young people in civic space; as well as strategies to strengthen capacities of organizations, institutions and individuals, building on recommendations from the report and lessons learned by youth, practitioners in the UN system, EU and civil society.
3. Closing virtual round-table discussion Commitments and Next Steps. The purpose of this final section will be for member state representatives and young people to reflect on the discussions, and create commitments building on the discussion outcomes and recommendations from the report on Protection of Youth in Civic Space.
Launch of the Global Report on Protecting Young People in Civic Space
High-Level Panel Discussion “The Price of Peace – Risks for Youth Activism in Civic Space & How to Prevent It“
Moderator: Ms. Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, Expert Member and Rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in- Office on Children and Security
Reflection “Regional Organization’s Role to Protect Young People” –Time: 10.15-10.17
Round Table Discussion on the Way Forward
Moderator: Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
ENGAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA USING THE HASTAGS: #IfIDisappear, #WithoutFear, #Youth4Peace
The Communications Task Force of the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security, will launch a global campaign on protection of youth in civic space, starting on 1st of June 2021. The main objective of the campaign will be to amplify the evidence base of threats and challenges youth face in civic space based on the first-ever global report on this topic; deconstruct the usual policy myths that intersect with protection issues youth face; as well as develop young people’s understanding and awareness of protection mechanisms. Target audience of the campaign will be young people, international and regional organization representatives, government and political leaders, as well as human rights practitioners. The campaign will run for 6 weeks, building the momentum for the high-level launch of the first-ever global report on protecting youth in civic space, and the Trello board can be found here.
Trello board can be found here.
The Protection Working Group (PWG) was established in December 2019 as a response to reports of threats, harassment, reprisals and other forms of violence that young people are exposed to when promoting human rights, peace, democracy and other values in their communities. The PWG is part of the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security, which is the leading platform for shaping global policy and practice, as well as coordinating collective efforts on youth, peace and security. Co-chaired by Search for Common Ground and the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the PWG facilitates collaboration between more than 60 representatives from youth-led and youth-focused civil society organizations, UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, academia and intergovernmental bodies.
The objective of the PWG is to strengthen, adjust and build on the existing tools and mechanisms for protection of human rights defenders. Its specific focus is to address the needs of young people in the context of civic space, as part of the global efforts to promote a safe, enabling and gender-responsive and age-responsive civic space environment.
Membership is open to any youth-led and youth-focused civil society organization, UN entity or intergovernmental body interested in contributing to the protection and promotion of young people’s human rights. The full list of member organizations cannot be shared publicly due to security issues of some organizations.
In the context of civic space, protection means ensuring that young people can safely exercise their human rights without risk of threats and reprisals, especially their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, which are enshrined in various human rights instruments. Protection is also one of the five key pillars of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security , which was adopted in 2015, officially recognizing the significant role of young people in building and maintaining peace. At the same time, it is important to stress that all of the pillars of the Resolution are also closely interlinked; therefore, when discussing protection, it is critical for example to also examine impacts related to prevention and participation.
Results of the first ever global report “If I Disappear” — Protecting Youth in Civic Space, demonstrated that young people experience a wide range of threats that present a significant obstacle to their safe exercise of political and civic rights. Young women, youth minorities, youth migrants, refugees, internally displaced youth, non-citizens and stateless youth, as well as youth with disabilities, LGBTIQ+ youth and youth in rural communities are often the most marginalized and vulnerable groups, for whom access to justice and accountability in civic space is, at times, close to impossible. If young people are encouraged to be active, global citizens and advocates for human rights and peace in their communities, it is then an imperative to ensure their safety while doing so. Young people’s safety is an urgent concern for everyone, and an essential component of enforcing meaningful youth participation, realizing international commitments for youth, and ensuring sustainable peace and respect for rule of law.