Youth and human rights - Joint Statement at the Human Rights Council

33nd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS has the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of CIVICUS Youth Action Team and three members organisations of the alliance: Amnesty International, Zimbabwe National Association of Youth Organisations and Young Diplomats of Canada. We thank the Council for organising this important discussion and the panellists for their insightful interventions. 

Mr President, in 2016 CIVICUS reported that the enjoyment of at least one of the three core civic freedoms ― freedom of association, assembly and expression ― was threatened in one hundred and nine countries. Youth-led civil society groups and human rights defenders, routinely at the forefront of rights-based movements, remain particularly susceptible to these unlawful restrictions and draconian persecutions.

While acknowledging this global trend of shrinking civil society space, pushing young people onto the streets, we also recognize the important measures being taken by a number of countries to ensure mechanisms to facilitate youth participation in public affairs. We celebrate that one hundred and thirty one countries across the world have established national youth councils or representative structures, however, we note that these are too often poorly funded and politically weak. 

The 2030 Agenda has the possibility of transforming the lives of billions of people; particularly groups that have been historically and systematically marginalized. Young people are not a homogenous group. They have multiple identities shaped by factors such as gender, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, disability, nationality, immigration status and being members of Indigenous Peoples or of ethnic minorities. Implementation to be successful, young people – in all their diversity - must play an integral part in the execution, follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda.

To that end, we urge states to: 

  • strengthen the independence of formal youth participation in policy formation, monitoring and review of the 2030 Agenda, 
  • facilitate the work of youth-led organisations, including by providing adequate funding and targeted capacity strengthening, 
  • ensure equal opportunities to all groups to be represented without discrimination.

We call on all Member States to take all effective measures to realize Goal 16, focusing on good governance and the rule of law, including by ensuring a safe and enabling environment for youth-led civil society to participate in public affairs at the local, national, regional and international level.