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12-08-2020 09:58

Message of the Office of the Commissioner for Volunteerism and NGOs for the International Youth Day

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared August 12th as the International Youth Day. This International Day gives the opportunity to hear the voices, actions and initiatives of young people. The aim is to highlight the substantial commitment of young people on a global basis and the importance of their participation in political, economic and social processes.

The theme of the International Youth Day 2020 is "Youth Participation in Global Actions". It seeks to highlight ways in which the involvement of young people at local, national and international levels can strengthen national as well as supranational institutions and processes. In addition, it examines how their representation and involvement in politics can be strengthened.

This year, as the United Nations celebrates its 75th anniversary with ten years left to implement the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, trust in institutions goes through a critical point. The crisis stems from the need to strengthen the international system so that it can act collectively and implement solutions to tackle pressing challenges and threats such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and some of the worst humanitarian crises due to conflict, such as in Syria and Myanmar.

When young people participate in formal mechanisms, better and more sustainable policies emerge. Their participation also helps to restore the youth’s trust in the institutions. The vast majority of humanity's challenges, such as pandemics and climate change, require collective global action to actively engage young people.

The main policy of the Office of the Commissioner for Volunteerism and Non-Governmental Organizations is to encourage active citizenship, especially among young people, as this is a very important tool against crime and addiction, such as drugs and alcoholism. This contributes significantly to the personal development and autonomy of the individual. When young people engage in volunteerism, they acquire basic skills through the Non-Formal and Informal learning it offers, increasing their employment prospects. Hence our actions for the promotion of active citizenship start from primary and extend to tertiary education

Cyprus is a pioneer in promoting the practical involvement of youth in the institutions, and since 2015 the Council of Ministers has adopted a proposal of our Office and designated September 15th as “Citizen's Day". In this context, every year, an Informal Meeting of the Council of Ministers is held at the Presidential Palace, in which around 700 people participate. In the presence of the President of the Republic of Cyprus and the members of the Council of Ministers, young men and women from all over Cyprus, and all walks of life have the opportunity to watch the operation and decision-making process of the Council of Ministers and then submit their questions and suggestions.

The aim of the Informal Session is to encourage young people to be active in civic affairs and to strengthen their participation in the democratic process. This joint action of The State and Civil Society is an innovative way of direct communication of the State with the youth and the society in general, for the pursuit of commonly accepted goals, as befits democratic societies.

The Office of the Commissioner for Volunteerism and NGOs celebrates International Youth Day and continues to support the safeguarding of young people's rights to transparency, freedom of expression, and access to information, in order to broaden their choices, to support their active participation in decision-making and generally in society, at local, national and European level.

(SS)