Commonwealth youths last week renewed calls for the implementation of a national youth policy here and for the formation of a National Youth Council.
These calls were made during the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Caribbean Centre National Consultation last Thursday at the Regency Suites Hotel, Brickdam, Georgetown. The consultation focused on the establishment of a regional youth council. The forum sought to establish the background between the first and second Commonwealth Youth Summits, while engaging in constitutional discussion on an update on the agreement to launch a Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC).
During the meeting, youths associated along with various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) spoke about promises that were made to young people to integrate youths in policymaking and decisions at the highest levels of governance. Others noted that this was promised through the National Youth Policy, which was supposed to be completed years ago.
Meanwhile, it was noted that, young people for years have continuously called for the document to be finalised; however, the only explanation forthcoming is that it is in its draft stages and will be completed shortly. Government had hired consultants with support from the United Nations Development Programme to compile the document.
Thus far, Belize is the only country that has successfully launched and commissioned a National Youth Council in the region. Guyana is still waiting for the national youth policy to take effect before being constitutionally able to launch its National Youth Council and become part of the Commonwealth Youth Council and Regional Youth Council. The Commonwealth Youth Council is envisioned as an independent youth-led body that will strengthen youth participation in the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Youth Council was recommended as an independent body that would strengthen and widen the current Pan-Commonwealth Youth Caucus in order to represent a wide cross-section of youths in the Commonwealth. With the creation of a National Youth Council, Guyanese youths will be represented by the majority and be able to voice their concerns and participate in the discussion and policymaking process.
The National Youth Council will allow for all youth organisations to be represented by one major body which will, in turn, represent Guyanese youths at the regional and international councils. The body will be governed by the Commonwealth Youth Project Constitution.
The Commonwealth Youth Project Constitution is the culmination of several years of work by young people across the Commonwealth with support from the Commonwealth Secretariat through the CYP and its partners. The constitution was drafted by a committee of young people and was reviewed by national and regional youth conferences in all the four regions of the Commonwealth.
It was expanded to worldwide online consultations followed by a transparent youth-led peer review of expert reports and opinions from youth workers, youth ministries/departments of member governments, civil society, private sector and NGOs. They all represented the voices and aspirations of half of the Commonwealth’s population; with a view to establish an international youth-led Commonwealth organisation to replace the Commonwealth Youth Caucus and further advance the youth development agenda.
It also seeks to help achieve the objectives and principles of the Commonwealth in ensuring a relevant, vibrant, effective, and prosperous Commonwealth in the 21st century and beyond.