Concept note of Samarkand Forum on Human Rights
The Asian Forum on Human Rights ‘Outcomes of the Seventieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Challenges and Reality’ was held in Samarkand City on November 22 and 23, 2018. The Forum’18 was held as part of the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sh. M. Mirziyoyev. The forum’s participants familiarized themselves with international practices in measuring progress within the field of human rights, while determining national comparative indicators to formulate the main tasks, directions and forms of the further development and improvement of the activities of legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, within the field of protecting the fundamental rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens, and enhancing their legal culture and awareness.
The Asian Human Rights Forum was attended by representatives of international organizations including the UN, OHCHR, IOM, ILO, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE/ODIHR, the OIC, the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, the OIC IPHRC and the CIS, as well as foreign experts from 20 countries.
The Samarkand Human Rights Declaration was adopted by the participants of the Asian Human Rights Forum, and approved by the UN General Assembly on February 6, 2019, as a document of the 73rd session.
According to the results of the Asian Forum, it was noted that it is important and necessary for this forum to be conducted on a regular basis once every two years, in order to strengthen international and regional cooperation within the field of human rights.
In the year of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, a “global conversation on the role of global cooperation in building the future we want” began.
As part of the UN75 initiative, Uzbekistan plans to hold a large-scale event to discuss the important and positive role of youth in sustainable development, preventing crises and ensuring gender equality, realizing human rights and building a culture of peace, which constitutes the core of the United Nations Youth Strategy ‘Youth 2030: Working With and For Young People’.
The Samarkand Human Rights Forum is a logical continuation of the Asian Forum. At the 72nd UN General Assembly, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed the development of the UN International Convention on Youth Rights. Uzbekistan has initiated work to create this document. A Draft UN International Convention on Youth Rights has been prepared, and it is planned that this document will be discussed within the framework of the Samarkand Forum.
The integrated approach of the Forum is to bring together representatives of state bodies, as well as those of civil society, youth organizations and national human rights institutions, in order to discuss topical issues of ensuring, observing and protecting the rights and freedoms of young people.
At all times youth have been the main resource for ensuring the progress of society. This has not been in vain, because youth is the same period in which a person has already attained an amount of life experience, as well as enough energy to translate plans into reality. That is why the state should implement a competent policy within the field of youth. Educated and comprehensively-developed youth are the key to the prosperity of any state.
Currently, with a global youth population of 1.8 billion, there are more young people in the world than ever before. That demographic reality creates unprecedented opportunities for social and economic progress. At the same time many young people see their potential as being hindered by violations of their fundamental rights.
Despite the fact that youth is the period of greatest productivity in one’s life, it is also a time when a person is vulnerable and needs support. This is also the reason why it is necessary to pay attention to the problems of youth at the state level.
The period of youth is defined differently within different classifications. The UN World Program of Action for Youth sets an age range of 15 to 24 years for youth, which for statistical consistency across regions is applied without prejudice to other definitions by Member States. The UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security defines the youth age cohort as being aged 18 to 29. In the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the term “youth” refers to people aged 15 to 32 years, while others refer to the age group as being 15 to 29 years. The diversity of this approach can create problems, especially since the challenges faced by 15-year-olds are different from those faced by 29-year-olds.
The complexity of the definition is also shown at a national level, as it varies across countries and regions. According to the OHCHR report, for example, Bosnia and Herzegovina defines ‘youth’ as persons from 15 to 30 years of age, and in Canada as being persons aged 15 to 34 years of age. Honduras defines it as those from 12 to 30 years of age, Mexico from 12 to 29, and Cuba from 15 to 29. In South Sudan and Zimbabwe, youth are those aged 15 to 35 years in accordance with the definition provided by the African Youth Charter. The European Commission defines ‘youth’ as being 15 to 29 years of age.
This diversity of approaches reflects the reality that young people are a mobile and heterogeneous group of individuals, rather than one representing a specific age group.
In reality, “youth”, instead of being a fixed age group, functions as a cultural concept based on the sociocultural context and perceptions of different communities, defined differently in different areas - in the justice system, in the labor market, in the education system, and in the family. It is because of the variability of this concept that even the UN, when it comes to implementing youth policies and strategies at the national level, uses a more flexible approach to the age range and the definition of ‘youth’ than is accepted by the Member State.
The rights of youth imply the use of the fundamental rights and freedoms of young people. These rights are rights that everyone should enjoy, but some of which have been denied because of young age. This phenomenon is also often called ‘ageism’. Ageism affects young people directly through legalized age restrictions, but, more importantly it has an imperceptible effect through negative attitudes, beliefs, prejudices and stereotypes about young people, thereby depriving them of the opportunity to exercise their due rights.
Globally youth participation and representation in institutional political processes and policymaking is low compared to that of other age groups. Young people are not proportionately represented in political institutions, such as in parliaments, political parties and public administrations, thereby fueling disenfranchisement and distrust in formal structures, electoral processes, leaders and policymakers. Legal barriers and others faced by young people in running for public office represent a major obstacle to the promotion of youth participation, particularly in political processes.
Less than 2 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide are under the age of 30. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), young people are underrepresented in parliament for several reasons. Firstly the minimum age required to run for office is often higher than the minimum voting age, requiring a wait in some cases until 25, 35 or even 45 years of age. This is especially true in the case of upper houses, which tend to establish a higher eligibility age.
The results show that where “young” is defined as being under age 30, very few young parliamentarians are elected. The proportion of under-30 parliamentarians exceeds 10 per cent in only five countries, being Norway, Sweden, San Marino, the Gambia and Finland.
There are initiatives around the world that support young people. Adoption of the Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) on youth, peace and security was an important milestone in recognizing the need for youth to take an active role in making and building peace. General Assembly Res. 70/127 of 17 December 2015 and the Human Rights Council resolution 32/1 of 30 June 2016 on youth and human rights has also called for mainstreaming youth rights. The importance of youth rights as a cross-cutting issue was further highlighted in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and youth-related commitments made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. In November 2016 the UN Human Rights Council organized a Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law on the theme ‘Widening the democratic space: the role of youth in public decision-making’.
The progress study on youth, peace and security reflects the positive role that young people can play in maintaining peace. This role was again highlighted during the open debate in the Security Council on Youth, Peace and Security, and at the high-level meeting held on peacebuilding and peacekeeping in April 2018.
The participation of young people in the peacebuilding process is very significant, ranging from the local to the global level and from the early stages of conflict to post-conflict reconstruction, as well as in various forms of violence (for example, conflict, crime, gender-based violence and terrorism).
Governments, UN agencies, National Human Rights Institutions and non-governmental organizations are actively implementing a wide range of initiatives and best practices to empower young people and support their rights at the international and national levels.
The IPU calls on parliaments to encourage the greater participation of young people in political life, including through the creation of a Forum for young parliamentarians. The ‘Not too young to run’ Campaign, led by the UN Youth Envoy in partnership with UNDP, OHCHR, IPU, the youth initiative to expand and strengthen advocacy, and the European Youth Forum, is based on the premise that if a person is old enough to vote, that person can stand for election.
The global initiative for decent jobs for young people, launched in 2016 under the leadership of the ILO, brings together UN agencies to expand country activities to promote decent jobs for young people through evidence-based activities, knowledge and multi-stakeholder partnerships which contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals and targets related to youth employment.
The global partnership for education is a multi–stakeholder partnership and funding platform that aims to strengthen education systems in developing countries, and works with youth activists at levels ranging from local to global.
Every year International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12, and each year it is dedicated to a specific topic. As part of the celebration of this day, young men and women around the world are invited to hold events to attract public attention to the problems and situations faced by young people in their country.
The ‘Young Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals’ initiative brings together 17 youth representatives with recognized authority in leading efforts to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, there is a growing number of initiatives to increase the participation of young people in the high-level political forum on sustainable development, and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
At the regional level the Organization of Islamic Cooperation held the Sixth international seminar of the OIC-IPHRC on the theme ‘Importance of Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Youth for Building Peaceful Democratic Societies and Sustainable Development’ on October 7-8, 2019.
The event was organized by the OIC-IPHRC, the Government of Uzbekistan, and OHCHR. It was attended by members of the IPHRC, international experts from OHCHR, the African Union, the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), the Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum (ICFY), the Council of Europe Advisory Council on Youth, representatives of the OIC Member States and Observer States, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) of foreign countries, and representatives of embassies of the OIC Member States, international organizations in Uzbekistan, representatives of the houses of Parliament, ministries and agencies, national human rights institutions, civil society institutions, and youth organizations from 23 countries.
The final session of the seminar saw the adoption of the final document - the Tashkent Declaration on the Rights of Youth in OIC Member States.
SUMMARY OF THE SAMARKAND FORUM ON HUMAN RIGHTS -
CONTEXT AND AIMS OF THE FORUM
The main goal of the Samarkand Forum is to discuss improvements on existing international and regional instruments and mechanisms for the protection and promotion of youth rights, as well as the role of youth in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN World Program on Human Rights Education.
During the Samarkand Forum plans were also made to discuss the draft Convention on the Rights of Youth, which is a new document reflecting the specific rights of youth that are necessary for recognition in the modern world. The existence of an international document of this kind will attract the interest of states in youth issues around the world. The allocation of individual rights for young people will help provide targeted assistance.
- Objectively analyze the scope of existing international and regional instruments and mechanisms for the protection and promotion of youth rights;
- Identify key issues that young people face in order to fully realize their rights, and examine the impact of current policies and programs related to youth;
- Develop ways and means to improve legal, administrative and policy frameworks with specific recommendations for integrating the rights of young people in all public policies that enable them to make a significant contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals;
Recommend specific programmes and measures for the implementation of human rights education for youth.
 A /73/730
 Youth and human rights Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. A /HRC/39/33
 Youth and human rights Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. A /HRC/39/33
 IPU, Youth participation in national parliaments: 2018.
 See. A/72/761-S/2018/86