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Sunday, 15 September 2013





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CHOGM 2013 in Sri Lanka:

The Youth Parliamentary concept of Sri Lanka

Ms. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights of United Nations has expressed that ‘the members of youth parliament of Sri Lanka will guide a new era of tolerant coexistence when they graduate to the main political stage. Ms. Pillay addressed the third session of the second Sri Lanka Youth Parliament as chief guest at the National Youth Services Council at Maharagama on 30th August 2013.

Jaffna library, a hallmark of youth development rebuilt after the period of terror

Her participation at Sri Lankan Youth Parliament demonstrates the high recognition of the concept of youth Parliament of Sri Lanka The Sri Lanka Youth Parliament is a youth led, youth run initiative, which aims to mobilize and create a network of young people to bring about positive and sustainable change to issues that affect youth and their communities in the country. It provides skills and opportunities for young men and women to play a leadership role in identifying and addressing the needs of their own communities as well as regions.

The younger generation of Sri Lanka is blessed with various youth development programmes and the appreciation of the UN Human Rights Commissioner thereof is evidence of its importance.

During her speech she appreciated the youth Parliamentary system with the elected young parliamentarians and how they conducted their own parliamentary affairs.

Therefore the Youth Parliamentary system of our country should be an ideal concept to educate the visiting foreign delegates of the CHOGM as to how in our country democracy is instilled into the minds of the younger generation from the very grassroot levels. The youth Parliamentary concept was adopted by the National Youth Services Council in 1995.

However, the first session of the official Youth Parliament of Sri Lanka was held in 2011/2012 by our young leaders, especially of the rural areas. It was a very attractive and eye-catching program and the credit for its success goes to the youth leaders concerned.

Before the birth of the concept of the Youth Parliament, the model United Nations Assembly was popular amongst the younger generation around the world. The Model UN assembly programmes organised by various educational institutions including High Schools, Universities and other educational societies were popular amongst the youth.

It was around the latter part of 1990 that the Youth Parliament concept surfaced, which aroused interest amongst the younger generation.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings, with Youth forum and Economic forum, are due to be held in Sri Lanka during the second and third weeks of next November. Undoubtedly it will be an important land mark in the economic and international relations development of our country.

Therefore, it is my considered view that this is an opportune moment to showcase the steps taken by the government in the direction of development of the youth in a democratic process.

The United Kingdom Youth Parliament

The UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) established in the year 2000 includes members of youth organisations in the UK, aged between 11 and 18. The parliament now consists of around 600 members, who are elected to represent the views of young people in their areas to government and service providers.

Over 500,000 young people vote in the elections each year, which are held in at least 90 percent of electorates. It is currently managed by the British Youth Council Members meet regularly to hold debates and plan campaigns, at venues including the British Museum, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Young people hold important positions throughout the organisation’s management, and it has been endorsed by the leaders of all three main political parties. The following main objectives are actively drawn in UKYP.

* The UKYP ensures that the young people of the UK are given a voice on any issue that affects them and as laid out in Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

* The UKYP gives the young people of the UK an opportunity to be involved in a democratic process at a national level

* The UKYP empowers young people to take positive action within their local communities based upon their issues of concern. The UKYP encourages community action for social change

The UKYP is a non-party political organisation, and as such, seeks to represent no party political view. The UKYP is solely issue based

The European Youth Parliament

The European Youth Parliament organisation structure is not similar to Sri Lankan Youth Parliament. EYP is a non-profit making organisation, which encourages European youth to actively engage in citizenship and cultural understanding. It involves around 40,000 youngsters from all around Europe EYP was established in 1987 in Fontainebleau, France.

The first International session of Youth Parliament was also held in 1988 in France. EYP annual session will also be held in France in 2013. The members of the following countries will participate at the European Youth Parliament sessions: Azerbaijan, Albania, Luxembourg, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria Croatia, Cyprus Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania Republic of Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland Portugal, Romania ,Russia, Serbia ,Slovakia Spain Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

The YMCA New South Wales Youth Parliament

The YMCA New South Wales Youth Parliament is an apolitical YMCA Youth Parliament program coordinated by the YMCA of NSW, and acts as a platform for youth advocacy for 15-18 Year olds.

Participants spend time in committees developing bills and then attend a week-long camp during which the legislation and other motions are debated in the NSW Parliament. Successfully passed bills are handed to the state Government and Opposition for consideration. The program was launched in 2002, attracting 32 participants representing regional teams. 2013 saw the introduction of the Legislative Council and the move back to YMCA.

Indian Youth Parliament

The law-making bodies are required to discuss various local, national and international issues and then make suitable laws on them. The members of these bodies present all points of views and try to represent all kinds of interests related to a problem.

Eventually there is accommodation of various interests and a compromise decision taken. An effort is always made to take such a decision as would please most and antagonise least. Such decisions are frequently taken by Parliament.

The decisions of Parliament are important since they affect the whole country.

Each one of us is affected by the decisions of Parliament. The decisions are the result of long drawn debates. For conducting debates in Parliament a detailed procedure of rules is followed. The rules are based on democratic principles.

By these rules it is ensured that everybody gets a chance to be heard and a proper decorum is maintained in the course of discussion that goes on in Parliament. India's Long Democratic Tradition Democracy is not a new concept to India. India has a long tradition of tolerance of different views and creeds, which is the hall-mark of any true democracy.

There is also considerable evidence of widespread existence of democratic institutions in ancient India. In the Vedic period the republics were called Gama Rajyas The composition, powers and functions of the Indian parliament are generally included in the course of study at the middle, secondary and higher secondary stages of schooling Knowledge of its procedure helps in developing an insight into the working of parliament and therefore the session of Youth parliament have a special importance in developing such an insight in the young students.

The first Youth Parliament Competition was held in 1966-67. Since then every year competitions are held and various prizes are awarded to the schools of Delhi. In 1978, the ‘Youth Parliament’ scheme was extended to Selected Kendriya Vidyalayas situated in and around Delhi. However, in 1982-83 a separate scheme of Youth Parliament Competition was introduced for the Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central Schools) and competitions under the scheme have regularly been held every year among the Kendriya Vidyalayas situated in Delhi and its adjoining states. To commemorate 40 years of India's Independence and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru's birth centenary the scheme was launched at the national level in which Kendriya Vidyalayas from all parts of the country participated.

The Youth Parliament of Canada was a youth model parliament that met bi-annually, and later annually, in the 1980s. The delegates to Youth Parliament of Canada were drawn mostly from the eight provincial youth parliaments then operating in Canada In 1977, representatives from seven of the eight youth parliaments met to discuss the organisation of a national youth parliament. This meeting resulted in the creation of the National Youth Parliament Association (NYPA). The NYPA was a federally incorporated non-profit making organisation. Two representatives from each provincial youth parliament were appointed as directors of the NYPA, who in turn appointed a six-member executive. While YPC had a Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, cabinet, shadow cabinet, and committee system similar to a real parliament, the members of YPC did not represent any political parties. At all times, each member, including cabinet ministers, was entitled to vote according to conscience. The Youth Parliament of Canada usually had eight cabinet ministers, one from each of the provincial youth parliaments. Each minister would introduce “legislation” for debate. Unlike some of the provincial youth parliaments, YPC legislation was never for the establishment of any form of ongoing project. The bills would be limited to the consideration of local, national and international issues of the day. Debates occurred in both English and French, with simultaneous translation available for all delegates.

Youth Parliament had been held every three to four years since 1994. Youth Parliament was first held to mark the 20th anniversary of the lowering of the voting age to 18 years. The inaugural Youth Parliament was a short event that involved young people coming to Parliament for an education day. Due to the success of the event, Cabinet invited the Minister of Youth Affairs to hold a Youth Parliament every three years from 1997. This was particularly relevant as it was the first year of a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) government.

The 335 youth parliament members will be randomly divided as Government members, 168 and Opposition members, 167. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the house will be elected by the two sides unanimously. The Prime Minister and 12 Ministers will be selected. (Altogether 13 Ministers) Of the rest, a Deputy Prime Minister will be selected representing an ethnicity from that of the Prime Minister. The house will select the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition. The organisers of the government and opposition sides will be selected by both parties separately... A total of 547 youth contested for the last Youth Parliament while 138 were elected uncontested. The Youth Parliament also elected 44 female members. An umbrella organisation within the Commonwealth Youth Parliaments can be formed during the proceedings of the forthcoming CHOGM, where Sri Lankan youth can take the initiative with the experience they have gained in practices and procedures of a democratic government.


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