Our Secretary General, Richard Apeh participated at the first session, Forum on Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law - "widening the democratic space: the role of youth in public decision -making" and here is the transcript of his oral intervention at the forum held at the Palais des Nations (United Nations) Geneva
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak
I represent International Young Catholic Students, a movement that is promoting the participation of youth in the development of their community using the methodology of see, judge, act. We are also involved through our global campaign in the promotion of holistic quality education which is key to solving all the issues enumerated throughout this conference.
The question of youth participation didn't just begin today, several fora have been held to talk about the role of youth and their participation in questions concerning the youth and we applaud and acknowledge contributions of such fora. I use the word youth question rather than youth issues because what concerns us should not be seen as issues but as questions that demand genuine answer.
I have attended many forums and for each forum or event I attend even if they are sponsored programs, I still need to spend some portion of my resources to get in there. And this is because I happen to be one of the privileged few who could afford to contribute not only my time and availability but also my personal financial resources.
If I were to be living in my home country today, I probably won't be here to attend this forum because I most likely wouldn't get visa to come, the visa requirements are far beyond what an average young person can meet, this automatically exclude a great session of the society who are doing greatly at the grassroots but cannot afford to get up here to let their voice be heard.
We appreciate the many initiative being promoted by the UN and it's subsidiary bodies, however we would prefer to see a well structured and permanent youth participation mechanism within the UN. We demand more commitment on the part of the UN and the states beyond just eventful participation to a more concise and active engagement of the youth at the level of decision making. (Don't take about us or talk to us, rather talk with us)
Finally, whenever youth questions are raised, the language of description "youth issue" is very derogatory, I emphasize that youth are not issues, we must move beyond an issue based approach to a right base approach. The yearning of the youth to participate must not be treated as an issue but as a fundamental human rights which should be granted. Most times we say, youths are energetic and should fight for their right, why should we always be asked to fight for our right when the adult don't need to fight for theirs. Kindly give us a space on the table and lets work together