Youth and governance : A bird's eye view around the globe
- Part 2 -

Prof. CJ O'Brien *

United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY Peacebuilders)

'Age considers. Youth Ventures".

The next on this score, another topic to take into account is 'Democracy and Good Governance' with specific context to South Sudan. Democracy must be based on particular conditions of each society, but also on the shared values of equal dignity and rights of human beings. The notion of good governance and democracy is centre-stage for development. Good governance has broad principles-Transparency/ Accountability/ Fiscal Responsibility/ good leadership and Respect for Human Rights and Rule of Law. When one talks about youth governance, it is proper to mention here about U.N Youth Agenda which literally plays a major role in the entire global trend.

In fact, a close look at the historical development of the U.N Youth Agenda indicates the relevance of three fundamental base themes to Youth Policies. Starting in 1965, PEACE became the theme most closely connected with Youth Policy. In subsequent decades, participation and develop were recognized as key themes of global youth policy. The General Assembly designated 1985, International Youth Year and identified the goals of participation, development, governance peace as priorities.

As a matter of fact, youth being violent, as on today, there is extensive evidence of youth not only being peaceful but of being agents to positive change. However, this phenomenon has not been analysed by academic research. How many young people are violent and how many young people are peace builders. Youth are primary actors in grass roots community development relation. They are the front-liners of peace building and Good Governance.

In this context again, the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY Peacebuilders) is a global network of young people and youth organisation active in the field of peace buildings and conflict transformation. It was founded in 1989 in the Netherlands after a meeting of approximately 40 idealistic youth people from various parts of the world.

It works to enhance the capacities of young people as peace building before institutions such as the United Nations and its agencies and the European Union. It is also engages in a range of additional activities such as networking, sharing of information via e-groups and publication, peer-to-peer support through a pool of resource persons, fund raising and administrative support for small youth peace organisation. This network shows capacity of the youth to organise in a trans-national network, both to help each other to improve their peacebuilding skills through peer-to-peer learning and exchange as well as to advocate for the inclusion of youth in peace processes.

These three interrelated themes continue to reflect the overall objectives of World Programme of Action. The International Youth Year established a base line for social and political thinking on Youth matters and, most importantly, pointed states and communities in a specific direction that allowed them to demonstrate their concern for young people in concrete terms and to establish youth themselves to influence the course of their own lives. The declarations and programmes of United Nations global conferences constitute another normative basis for global youth policy.

The participation of young people in decision making process in the continent is at the heart of social and political discourse. The motion of good governance is located within the broad principles that all stakeholders' participation is required in decision-making and Governance. As a matter of fact, young people continue to be subdued and relegated to Youth Wing of political parties and been used as agents to amass political power.

In this context, the United Nation aims to enhance awareness of the global situation of the Youth and of the rights and aspiration of young people. It works towards greater participation of youth in the social and economic life of their societies.

After a bird's eye view on Youth and Governance and Youth in Governance, in different countries and the UN now, I will fail in my duty, if do not speak or write on the role of Indian of youth in governance. To start with, at the stroke of the midnight hour on 15th August 1947, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru promised his fellow Indian and the people of the world a tryst with destiny.

Today that prophecy seems to be on the verge of being fulfilled as India is on the verge of the emerging as new economic super power. What has driven this success story is the contribution of India's youth whole talents, brain and energy have led to innovation. As years rolled by, it was our former Prime Minister Mr Rajiv Gandhi, who first initiated the role in governance. He introduced a provision whereby people could vote when they were 18, earlier it was 21. But out here we are trying to discuss the actual role that youth can play in governance.

Usually governance is carried out by two organisations; first the civil services and second the political parties. It is in civil services that people are recruited on the basis of merit, and in politics on the basis of election. Since political leaders and their parties are not more aware of the public needs and demands because of regular speech and meetings, they (political parties and leaders) usually frame policies, and the civil servants do the implementation job.

Looking at it the other way round, how about civil servants who frame the policies and political parties and the leaders do the job of communicating the policy to the general public. And the political parties give feedback on how the policy is being implemented and the general response.

But if civil servants make policies and political parties implement them, this goes against the whole concept of democracy. Because when the people elect their representatives they want them to frame the policies and decide what is good and what is not. But on the other hand, the political leaders are not experts in the field of economics, finance, public administration, but civil servants are, so they play very influential role, when it is agreed that good governance, democracy and constitutionalism and national building are heavy shaped by the quality of a country's politics.

But lest we forget, it is important to remember that India's youth had played an important role in bringing about the Independence of our beloved nation. Gandhiji's strenuous call "Quit India" touched the heart and minds of countless India's young people, both boys and girls, and the resultant energy contributed to the winning of India's independence. Suddenly the youth of India found themselves in a position to change the political reality around them, and ever since the relationship between youth and governance has never been the save in our country. Therefore, good governance requires the understanding and participation of every members of the society.

Media and important form through whose role, channels and context are considered powerful enough to make this achievement a reality. Media is a carrier of information to the people. The role of media is very important for the proper functioning of democracy. It is often referred to, as the 'fourth pillar of democracy'. Considering the role of media, in developing country such as India, it has a great responsibility to fight backward ideas such as superstitions, casteism and communalism. It also needs to help people in their struggle against poverty and other social evils. Since a large section of people is backward and ignorant, it is the responsibility of the media to bring modern ideas and remove their ignorance for Good Governance.

Media play an important role in promoting government's policies, important national issues such as problems of youth, unemployment, victims of corruption, terrorism so on and so forth. In this connection, if one remembers, the case of media activism, in some high profile cases such as Jessica Lal and Aarushi Talwar of Delhi are notable. Similarly, youth and governance is focused through plays serials, and commentaries. With all the aspects discussed in general Good Governance has been the key concept for democracy development in many countries around the world during the past few decades. Further, the key functions in response to the needs of its citizens, is to be accountable for what it does.

To sum up, Youth Governance refers to the practice of having young people to work in partnership with adults to establish the policies, goals, and activities for a program. This practice can take the shape of youth serving on boards or of youth taking on other decision making roles.

It is critical that all adults understand and agree on the purpose and goals for involving youth in their programs. There is a common misconception that adults may hold that youth will want to run key aspects of program or project. However, experience suggests that young people want to share responsibilities with adults as opposed to doing everything themselves.

In fact, young people welcome and need adult participation in the forms of coaching modelling of behaviour and sharing tasks because they have limited experience in designing, planning and executing programs, which make youth to play as a tool of Positive Change in the promotion of Good Governance , moral and social perspectives around the globe. Therefore, the motto today 'NOT ME BUT YOU'-The Youth.


* Prof. CJ O'Brien wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer is at Department of English, Manipur University
This article was posted on August 06, 2013.

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