Call for Applications: World Forum for Democracy 2023 – Youth Delegation

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The Council of Europe is pleased to announce a call for applications for the World Forum for Democracy 2023 – Youth Delegation, a unique platform for political decision-makers and activists to debate solutions to key challenges for democracies worldwide.

By identifying and analysing experimental initiatives and practices, the Forum highlights and encourages democracy innovations at the grassroots and their transfer on a systemic level in order to strengthen the foundations of democratic societies. The Forum thus contributes to the evolution of democracy towards more participatory and inclusive structures and institutions.

During the 2023 edition of the World Forum on Democracy, the question in focus is “Can democracy guarantee and deliver peace?”

Key Issues

  • Some of the key issues that will be faced at this edition of the World Forum for Democracy are:
    • Democracy untended
      • The idea that democracy is a guarantee of peace is widely shared, but is today under threat. Have democracies adapted themselves to face the risks which are themselves evolving? While some of the most terrible aspects of war remain, the nature of conflict has also changed with the use of drones, cyber-warfare and the deployment of nearly imperceptible propaganda across social media. For peace to be a real force to be reckoned with, it must itself be waged with conviction. But how? Should they not cultivate democracy in their daily practices, in education, the workplace, their civic, sporting life, etc? Shouldn’t the values of democracy, and the institutions which support them, be closely reflective of the real experiences and aspirations of the citizens who cherish them? Women and children are too often the tragic face of war’s devastation, but their voices are rarely heard in the political debates, peace negotiations and peace-building processes. If democracy and peace are processes or a way of life, then there is surely a need to cultivate the knowledge, skills and competencies necessary for people to actively engage, participate and contribute to its survival. But how? Can they teach peace?
    • Peaceful Societies?
      • Injustice and inequality are themselves a perpetual source of conflict. Democracies have delivered the highest standards for human and civil rights in their history. The impressive rise in living standards in the last decades has meanwhile been accompanied by rapidly growing income and wealth disparities. Social and economic rights are therefore now at the centre of debates. In some democracies, poverty is increasing, and many citizens feel that their societies are sliding backwards. Is this in and of itself, a threat to peace? Is a peaceful society not only a society without war but also one where citizens live with the peace of mind that comes with security and opportunity? How do they get there? How to avoid the wounds of the past becoming the source of injustice in the present; that remembrance serves not only to reduce conflict but also to build durable peace? Can democracy’s particular assets such as equality, citizen participation, the rule of law, and freedom of expression, be put to better advantage in the waging of peace?
    • International Communities for a Democratic Security?
      • Economic, political and rights-based partnerships such as the European Union and the Council of Europe have been instrumental in ensuring peace for their democratic member states. So too have defence alliances. But when conflict rages in so many parts of the world, why hasn’t the multilateral model succeeded more broadly? Should international organisations be redesigned? Is there a model for a multilateral association which is both deep in its mutual obligations and broad in its inclusiveness and scope of action? Might the rise of cross-border communities of other kinds, often citizen-led and facilitated by technology, be another route to preventing conflict? The fact remains that democratic security is today the most decisive factor of peace; how to define it, build it and defend it?

Preparing for the World Forum on Democracy

  • To best prepare for the Forum, the selected participants selected will gather in Strasbourg two days before the start of the World Forum for Democracy to learn about the Council of Europe and its work with youth, to get to know each other, to develop their ideas, work together and prepare for the Forum with the guidance of an international team of trainers.
  • During this time, participants will be well informed about the setting of the Forum, and about the programme with its different formats, such as Forum Talks, Labs and side events that will take place. Participants will be invited to choose their preference for attending. Together with the organising team of the Forum, the trainers’ team will provide participants with all the practical information related to their participation in different parts of the programme.
  • All selected participants should arrive on Frida, the 3rd of November and depart on Thursday, the 9th of November. The preparation programme for the Youth Delegation is obligatory for all selected participants and will take place on Saturday and Sunday (4th and 5th of November) at the European Youth Centre prior to the beginning of the Forum on the 6th of November 2023.
  • Following the COVID-19 pandemic there may be restrictions on travel for some applicants and specific sanitary protocols might apply in the Council of Europe premises. It is the participant’s responsibility to verify before travelling that they respect the precautionary measures for the attention of all persons attending meetings of the Council of Europe available on this website (Precautionary measures to control COVID-19 and other respiratory infections) and that they meet all obligations in respect of travel from their place of departure to the location of the activity (including transit countries).

During the World Forum for Democracy

  • During the World Forum, the youth participants will join the different Forum Talks, Labs and side events. Participants may be given particular roles in the Forum Talks, Labs and side events according to their interests and competencies (rapporteurs, discussants, moderators, etc.).
  • Altogether, the youth delegates should be active partners and contributors to the Forum, bringing in their own ideas and experiences. Beyond the labs and side events, the participants may organise parallel activities to make their voices heard and present their visions on democracy.

Financial and practical conditions of Participation

  • Working language
    • The common working language of the event will be English. Candidates must be able to use English independently in order to be able to work and communicate efficiently.
  • Travel expenses
    • Travel expenses and visa costs will be reimbursed upon presentation of the relevant receipts, according to the rules of the Council of Europe. Only the participants who attend the entire event (pre-Forum preparation and World Forum for Democracy) can be reimbursed. The payment will be made by bank transfer after the Forum. Prepaid tickets for travel can only be arranged in exceptional and justified cases.
  • Accommodation
    • Board and lodging are provided and paid for by the Council of Europe during the dates of the activity (arrival on Friday, the 3rd of November and departure on Thursday, the 9th of November). Participants will be accommodated at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg (EYCS). You will be requested to share a room.
  • The EYCS is accessible to young people with disabilities and ready to adapt to young people’s special needs in order to ensure full inclusion and quality working conditions.
  • Wi-Fi is available in the rooms.

Eligibility Criteria

  • In order to be selected and participate in the World Forum 2023, youth applicants should:
    • Be aged 18-30 (exceptions can be made in special cases);
    • Be able to communicate and work in English;
    • Be actively involved in civil society democracy initiatives;
    • Be motivated to contribute to developing new ideas on democracy & peace;
    • Be ready to share your own challenges faced in relation to democracy & peace;
    • Be ready to adopt a solution-oriented approach by bringing in new ideas and visions on the question of democracy & peace;
    • Be available to participate fully in the World Forum for Democracy and the preparation process beforehand (i.e. online preparation and onsite presence in Strasbourg arriving on the 3rd of November and departing on the 9th of November).
  • The youth delegates will be chosen on the basis of these criteria, which will be assessed based on an analysis of the online form and the video submitted by applicants. The Council of Europe welcomes applications from all candidates who fulfil the mentioned profile, irrespective of gender, disability, marital or parental status, racial, ethnic or social origin, colour, religion, belief or sexual orientation.

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