A major international conference of the world’s young MPs in Tokyo has called for radical policies to end the alienation and radicalization of young people, including new education policies and employment quotas.
About 190 young MPs, 76 of them women attending the IPU Global Conference of Young MPs jointly organized by IPU and the Japanese Parliament, the National Diet, made a series of recommendations on addressing some of the biggest challenges facing the world’s 3.5 billion youth populations. These include unemployment, discrimination and conflict.
During the two-day conference on 27-28 may, the young MPs affirmed their belief that despite disillusionment, apathy, political disengagement and unrest, the world’s youth aspired to democratic, peaceful and prosperous societies and their inclusion into decision-making was critical.
The Conference underlined the need for a comprehensive rights-based framework of action against radicalization, such as guaranteed free education, including anti-violence and conflict-management programmes, laws to criminalize hate speech, and involving young people in all decisions relating to counter-terrorism.
It also called for policies to curb the alienation of young people, including the creation of targeted opportunities to contribute to campaigns, programmes and projects at the community level.
On another key area of concern – youth unemployment - the Conference recommended wide-ranging new action, including quotas to advance equality of opportunities in the job market. It called for education to be better adapted to the needs of the job market, youth empowerment initiatives in business, better access to loans for young entrepreneurs and action to ensure the rights of young migrant workers and first-time workers are respected.
The Conference called for parliaments to shape pro-employment policies which help create good jobs for young people, and to hold governments to account for their action on youth employment. It urged young MPs to act as advocates for youth-friendly policies, and recommended they work together across party lines to achieve the best outcomes for young people.
The young MPs stressed the need for adolescent-friendly health policies, supporting youth access to sports and arts, combating hate messages in the media and on social media. The Conference emphasized the need to include young people in UN peacebuilding missions, cut military budgets and invest in young people's participation in peacebuilding to ensure that they are a key part of the solution to the conflict and are not seen as perpetrators.
On climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals, the Conference called on IPU and the UN to work resolutely to bring a parliamentary dimension to global efforts to build risk-resilient societies. It recommended this should be done through means such as the Sendai Framework on disaster risk reduction, agreed in Japan earlier this year, and the global pact on climate change, due to be signed in Paris this year.
The Conference also reiterated previous calls for measures to increase youth participation in formal politics, including the use of quotas, aligning the voting age with the age of eligibility to stand for parliament, and including young people in decision-making at national and local levels.
The Conference, a unique annual event, provides a global youth-led political platform to define policies and action to tackle the challenges faced by young people.
It is part of IPU’s work to increase youth political participation and input into decision-making. It is backed by the Organization’s Forum of Young Parliamentarians – a permanent mechanism, which brings together young MPs from around the world.
IPU believes it is crucial for young people to be fully engaged in the democratic process and to be better represented in the world’s parliaments. IPU statistics show that in 2014 only 1.7 per cent of the world’s MPs were aged under 30.
The Conference also marked the fifth anniversary of an IPU resolution on youth participation in the democratic process, which recommends many practical steps which States, parliaments, political parties and other relevant groups can take to get young people more formally involved in politics.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.