From November 6 to 10, European Youth Center Strasbourg hosted the "Right for Democracy with the Community!" study session organised with the World Armenian Youth Network (WostAYN).
The study session gathered together 30 youth leaders, and youth workers from 14 European countries to share perspectives and engage in conversations about democracy, human rights, their impact on local communities, and the reinforcement of ties among Armenians living in Europe. It aimed to raise the level of participation of young people and member organisations, including those with fewer opportunities in the democratic processes at local and national levels, via traditional & alternative means of participation.
At the opening ceremony, the Deputy Director of the European Youth Center, Sarah Walter welcomed the participants and presented the activity of the European Council, the goals, and the upcoming activities.
Furthermore, the head of the Education and Training division of the Youth Department, Mr. Rui Gomes, welcomed everyone and gave input about the principles of democracy, and priorities of the Youth Department of the CoE.
During the Study Session, lecturers Atom Mkhitaryan and Ruzanna Ivanyan shared invaluable insights into models of democracy and youth participation, democratic citizenship, the RMSOS approach, the "Ladder of Participation," and various formats for active community involvement of young people in decision-making processes using the Have Your Say! Manual.
The session provided a platform for participants to exchange experiences on community participation, shedding light on opportunities and potential challenges. This diverse sharing of perspectives enriched the understanding of effective democratic practices.
During the study session, participants seized a unique opportunity to engage in a forum talk on "International Community and Democratic Insecurity" within the broader context of the "World Forum for Democracy." It provided a platform for an in-depth understanding of the challenges and vulnerabilities that democracies face on a global scale.
A noteworthy highlight was the interaction with Ambassador Arman Khachatryan, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the Council of Europe. His discourse on international relations, democracy, and the inner workings of the Council of Europe provided valuable insights. Participants engaged in a thoughtful discussion, addressing questions and gaining a deeper understanding of ongoing initiatives.
The exploration of local democracy mechanisms reached a practical dimension with discussions involving the Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg, Véronique Bertholle. The exchange of ideas and experiences on the application of these mechanisms brought a real-world perspective to the theoretical discussions, enhancing the participants' grasp of the subject matter.
An additional layer to the session was brought by Anca-Ruxandra Pandea whose presentation of the "Democracy Here, Democracy Now" project showcased concrete initiatives aimed at promoting democratic values and opportunities to get involved in the project or the campaign.
Margit Barna representative of the European Youth Foundation presented grant opportunities of the Foundation and how the participants can register their organisations and apply for different funding schemes. This added a dynamic and actionable dimension to the theoretical discussions, emphasizing the importance of turning ideas into tangible initiatives.
At the end of the study session, participants collectively formulated and elaborated on six tools and action plans aimed at addressing and mitigating the challenges of democracy and youth participation in local communities. These tools and action plans were designed to be practical, actionable, and implementable, fostering a proactive approach to spreading democratic values in the communities.
The Study Session provided a comprehensive exploration of democratic models and community participation, combining theoretical insights with practical experiences. The interaction with key actors such as the Permanent Representative of Armenia to the Council of Europe and the Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg, coupled with the presentation of youth-focused projects and opportunities, contributed to a holistic understanding of democracy and active participation. The session's results are reflected in the enriched perspectives, shared experiences, and actionable insights gained by the participants.