George-Konstantinos Charonis*


First of all, what do we mean by youth? Unlike other groups (women, children, persons with disabilities) there is no universal definition. 15-24 most popular but originated for statistical purposes and first appeared in late 1960s, reiterated in 80s & 90s. Before the age of the internet, social media, globalization. Is it still adequate today?

Because, the African Youth Council has included people from 15 to 35 years of age in the youth category. In accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Children, it is legally established that the age limit for children is up to 18 years.

But does not reflect reality of transitioning to adulthood. Transition depends on economic, social, cultural and political aspects and takes place at different times for different rights (education, work, social protection, accessing healthcare, etc.).

With regard to age, limits are often used for the purpose of employment, legal viability, discrimination in the election and election. For example, the minimum age for the election of a Member of Parliament is in most cases higher than the age for the right to vote legally. In particular, the election to the upper chambers of Parliament is faced with such a situation.

The average age of the leaders of the most rivaled 20 states (G20) in the world is 56 years old. What if young people have to wait so long to be elected to such a post? Therefore, the International Parliamentary Union has developed recommendations lowering the age of the youth candidates for leadership, increasing the level of youth participation in the authorities.

Youth must be involved at all stages and at all levels in matters and decisions that affect them. They have a right to shape their own future.

It is necessary to enable environment of respecting right to freedom of opinion and expression as well as right to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly. Such an environment ensures young people’s safety. It is also necessary to ensure openness and transparency at all levels of decision-making on youth issues.

In order to ensure that young people can take advantage of their rights to participate in such decisions, formal, independent, democratic systems must be engaged in the protection of the interests of young people, and they must be supported by the organization of young people.

The inadequacy of young people in influence the decisions that affect their lives leads young people disenfranchised and distrustful of formal institutional structures.

The unemployment rate of young people is three times higher than that of older people. 145 million young workers live in working poverty.

In most cases, this agreement is limited to the provision of unstructured social protection, even when young people find work. At the same time, they often have to deal with harmful and dangerous labor activities.

According to the general review of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), young workers are also subjected to discrimination in terms of remuneration for work. As a result, they are attracted to low-wage jobs that do not correspond to their qualifications. Unstable income and precarious working conditions, unemployment and poverty, and an overall lack of opportunities hinder young people’s ability to transition to independence; to find housing, to access financial services.

Despite growing body of jurisprudence and recommendations from international and regional human rights bodies, some States do not recognize or fully implement this right, or where they do, they introduce alternatives that are punitive.

However, the rights of young people are fully supported at the international level. The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution on youth, peace and security recognizing the key role of youth in building and sustaining peace.

UN Youth Strategy explicitly recognizes young people as rights holders and sets youth and human rights as one of its five priority areas. UN system but fast-tracking in nine countries including Uzbekistan and several other OIC states.

And the International Labor Organization has a global initiative to provide youth with decent jobs.

UNHCR global refugee youth consultations and global refugee youth advisory council are engaged in advising young people in global refugee status.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has an operational programme on youth, which has been engaged in the implementation of this project for three years.

The challenges youth face and attitudes towards young people are not necessarily new.

“We all living in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns. And they have no self-control.” Inscription by an adult on the wall of an Egyptian tomb over 6000 years ago.

Discussions on youth at UN level almost identical to those 20, 30, 40 years ago. Youth unemployment, political rights, participation in decision-making, conscientious objection, access to health, use of technology. We are talking about the same rights.

Many of the rights enshrined in AYC which applies to more than 1 in 3 OIC States, but an evaluation in 2016 concluded that there is still much progress to be made. What has changed: largest youth population the world has ever seen, with youth constituting a large and growing portion of the population in many countries.

In UN and beyond often talk about “youth engagement”, but need to go several steps further.

 Achieving the SDGs depends on the youth of today and tomorrow. It is therefore no longer a question of whether we promote and protect the rights of youth, but how. The solution of our discussions should focus on these same problems

* George-Konstantinos Charonis – OHCHR Associate Human Rights Officer