The rights-based approach stands at the core of the European Youth Forum’s identity. Many great social and democratic advances are related to rights and if Human rights are more and more widespread, youth rights are far from it.
We don’t need to consider the whole world to see how different the situation is from one young person to another. Within Europe, within each state, we witness so many inequalities regarding access to autonomy, employment and social protection, to quality education, to participation, to volunteering, to freedom of speech and information, to non-discrimination and equal opportunities, to mobility, to sexual and reproductive health… and many others.
If we want an efficient approach to lobby for these rights we need a global framework. Tackling each right individually is far more difficult and I consider it missing the bigger picture. Advocating for youth rights means advocating for a certain vision of youth. It is considering young people as people in transition, who need to be accompanied towards autonomy considering their capabilities. The rights based approach to youth means defining an empowerment framework for young people to develop their potentialities.
We have to create a new set of rights that would ensure young people’s access to their fundamental rights and freedoms. Human rights included in international tools such as the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights relate to all people including young people. Interdependent and indivisible, these rights cannot be tackled separately and the violation of one entails the violation of all the others. This violation is part of the situation we witness everyday in Europe, and I would like for all young people to be able to claim, exercise and defend their rights, to be treated with dignity in their country as autonomous and responsible human beings. In this perspective new tools have to be created (to monitor the status of youth rights, to raise awareness…).
We, as the European Youth Forum, have to stay true to the rights-based approach to youth because besides advocating for young people, it is advocating for equity, inclusion of all, empowerment and respect.