Youth councils are a form of youth voice engaged in community decision-making. Youth councils are appointed bodies that exist on local, state, provincial, regional, national, and international levels among governments, non governmental organisations (NGOs), schools, and other entities.
The history of youth councils extends back to the early 20th century, when communists and Nazis formed youth-led decision-making bodies for the purpose of propagandisation and recruitment. Youth councils have seen a resurgence in Western Europe under the advisement of the European Youth Forum, and in the United States and Canada organisations such as The Freechild Project and Points of Light Foundation have been instrumental in setting up youth councils. Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is also widely credited with promoting youth councils.
Youth councils have many purposes. Many are consultative bodies for more representative political bodies at all levels of government. The extent to which they have been established at all levels varies, but the United States, Canada, Western, [Africa/ Nigeria][circular reference] and Northern Europe have all seen a proliferation of these bodies. How they are composed varies, with some youth councils being elected by young people in the community, while others are handpicked by political officials or elected by youth NGOs.
In India, the Youth Parliament Program is an integral part of the Swatantrata Center and Foundation for Democratic Reforms under the leadership of Raghavendar Askani, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, where youth can come together, think, discuss and debate on various issues such as Education and Health, Electoral and Political Reforms, Judicial & Police Reforms, Local Governments & Citizen-centered governance, Governance Reforms, Instruments of Accountability, and Public Policy Reforms of India.
In Israel there is a National Youth Council whose members are elected from 7 Regional Youth Councils, which are elected from Municipal councils, formed from representatives of School Student Councils and Youth Movements.
In Malaysia, the Youth Parliament of Malaysia is the main national youth parliament under supervisions by Parliament of Malaysia. The Youth Parliament has members of the Youth Parliament elected by registered voters between 15-40 ages. Any citizen not less than 18 years of age and not older than 30 years of age can become a candidate and be elected to the Youth Parliament.
In the Philippines, the Sangguniang Kabataan, formerly known as Kabataang Barangay (KB), is the main national youth council. It has a chairman and members of the council who are elected by registered voters in each barangay. Each chairman are entitled to become part as members of the Federation which will serve as member (ex-officio) in the local legislative bodies except for the National Federation. It has indirect supervision by NYC Philippines. Under the 2016 reform, a new Local Youth Development Council was formed to support the SK programs and to be composed of representatives from different youth organisations in the community including student councils, church and youth faith groups, youth-serving organisations, and community-based youth groups. "The LYDC aims to harmonize, broaden and strengthen all programs and initiatives of the local government and non-governmental organisations for the youth sector," said Senator Bam Aquino, then chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth and co-author of the reform act.
In South Korea, the National Youth Assembly is the main national youth parliament under supervisions by National Assembly of South Korea and with limited powers to make bills to the National Assembly. This National Youth Assembly has a chairperson and members of the Assembly to be elected by registered voters between 13-25 ages.
In Europe there is a consolidated tradition of representative youth platforms at pan-regional, national, and local levels. At European level, the European Youth Forum constitutes the platforms which gathers more than 93 National Youth Council and International Non-Governmental youth organisations. It is a non-governmental structure which serves its members and applies the principles of democratic representation and transparency through its internal democratic system (election of the board and the president). At the institutional level, the Council of Europe has a specific co-managed system to run its youth sector. Governmental and non-Governmental representative co-decide upon the priorities of the youth program of the institution and they also co-manage activities which are run in two youth centres in Strasbourg and Budapest. The Youth Constituency is called "Advisory Council on Youth" (AC) beside the co-decision mechanism internal to the Directorate for Youth and Sport has the possibility to advise the Institution on any matter which affect young people and which is tackled by Council of Europe.
At national level there are National Youth Councils many of which have similar structures to the European Youth Forum. For over a decade, the UK's British Youth Council has operated the UK Youth Parliament. Notable for being the only other organisation able to meet in the House of Commons, all young people between the ages of 11-18 can vote for their local Member of Youth Parliament. Additionally, the Council also operate the UK Young Mayor's Network, NHS Youth Forum and the House of Commons' Youth Select Committee.
Often there are regional and local council which adopts various kind of constituencies and organisations case by case. An example of this is the Scottish Youth Parliament. Some youth councils are for each constituency such as the Dartford Youth Council in the United Kingdom. Another example is the PAL-TIN, which is a national alliance of local youth councils in Romania. Additionally, some youth councils, for example the Greek Youth Parliament allows for the participation not only of youth from within the country, but also from countries with large Greek communities such as Germany and Australia. Among 1800 local youth and children's councils exist in France. 500 of these are members of an umbrella organisation created in 1991 called Anacej (National Association of Youth and Children Councils).
In the United States and Canada, youth councils have been formed by non-profit organisations and at all levels of government. Many cities, including Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Seattle, and San Jose, California, have active youth councils that inform city government decision-making. For instance, the Los Angeles Youth Council is sponsored by the Commission for Children Youth and their Families. Prior to being established as a program of this commission, it was operated as Mayor Tom Bradley's Youth Advisory Board. This Youth Council is currently working on creating a citywide Youth Policy. Several state-level government agencies and legislatures have created youth councils, including Washington, Minnesota, Maine, Arizona, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Maine's council was the first statewide youth council created in the US, and the others were created soon after that.
In the United States there are several forms of youth councils. They include youth advisory councils, which provide input and feedback regarding adult-driven decision-making; youth research councils that are responsible for assessment and evaluation of youth and community programs, and; youth action councils which are designed to either be youth/adult partnerships or youth-led activities that are youth-driven and generally, youth-focused. A new breed of Youth Council also exists that include a perspective on "leadership", which is not always interpreted in the same way from one generation to the next. This form of Youth Council embraces all of the above-mentioned qualities; advisory, assessment & evaluation skills & the importance of partnering etc., as well as the traditional consideration of gaining access to what timeless knowledge that may still be of value and, in theory, the effect of "the path of leadership on our current leaders" and what kind of examples there are to study (if any) and capitalize/maximize of what is worthy and ongoing. As in all generations, Youth have the same responsibilities/concerns in: learning to work together, creating stability/sustainability, a future for their children etc. This generation's challenges will need all the skills of leadership on top of returning to what it is to be a true Human Being.
In Córdoba, Argentina, since the year 2013 exists the Alumni Youth Council. It was created by a group of Alumni of the English Access Micro-scholarship Program, and it is a non-profit and pluralistic organization of young volunteers that promotes education and youth participation in society, and that works for human development.
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