Statement regarding Council of Europe’s Reykjavik Summit


UN Youth of Finland attended a Ministry for Foreign Affairs civil society hearing in preparation for the Council of Europe’s Reykjavik Summit held 16.-17.5. You can read our full statement below:

Center Youth Participation

The UN Youth of Finland gives thanks for the opportunity to comment on Finland’s goals and priorities for the Reykjavik Summit of the Council of Europe on May 16-17, 2023. We especially want to raise the issue of youth participation and youth rights. The Council of Europe has one of the most effective forms of youth participation at the international level (Advisory Council on Youth), and Finland must definitely ensure that this good practice is continued and further developed.

However, the participation of young people is the lifeblood of a sustainable future and therefore it should be a requirement in all decision-making also outside the Council of Europe. Young people are suffering disproportionately from the current and recent crises, and the threat is that young people’s faith in the future will dwindle. Young people do not see their human rights fully realized, which erodes trust in society and a stable future.

The realization of young people’s rights is currently hindered by, among other things, record inflation, insufficient treatment of the learning deficit and mental health crisis caused by the corona pandemic, and insufficient measures to stop the climate crisis. Especially in climate issues, young people are the biggest victims of the crisis, so the Council of Europe should treat climate change as a human rights issue and guarantee the participation of young people in decision-making on the subject. In addition, Finland should pay particular attention to the special issues of the Arctic region and the rights of the Sami people.

The participation of young people in society is also the lifeblood of peace. We have seen how, even in Europe, efforts are being made to narrow down the civic space to an alarming extent, and in this way the already limited opportunity for young people to participate in sociatal decision-making is being further decreased. However, a strong civil society and young people’s experience of their ability to influence decision-making concerning themselves are the cornerstones of a healthy democracy. Therefore, Finland must ensure that safeguarding civil society’s opportunities for action is placed at the center of the Council of Europe’s work. Special attention and support should be given to countries, where the civil society is in a particularly vulnerable position.

We, the UN Youth of Finland, invite Finland to highlight and put youth participation and youth rights at the center of the Council of Europe’s Reykjavik summit.

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