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YOUTH ENGAGING THE PARLIAMENTARY PROCESS

The youth leadership in the Caribbean is moving into the main-stream of the regional decision-making process, making full use of the parliamentary process to give sound effect to the issues they considered urgent and critical to regional development and youth empowerment.

Emerging from the just concluded one-week Regional Youth Explosion 2000 at the St. George’s University campus in St. George’s, Grenada, issues pertaining to youth health, representation, rights and empowerment have been identified as key areas which the youth leaders representing a cross section of youth in the Caribbean want their governments to treat with urgency.

On Friday, 21 July, 2000, a representative body of 34 youth sat in parliamentary session to represent the voices of over 90 delegates attending the Youth Explosion who had earlier addressed a range of issues impacting on youth development, culminating in the crafting of four resolutions to be put through the Parliamentary process. In two groups, Youth Parliamentarians respectively sat in chamber during the morning and afternoon sessions to deliberate on the resolutions, “empowerment” and “representation” in the morning, and “health” and “rights of the child” in the afternoon.

On “Empowerment”, the resolution presented by Don Butler, the Bahamas delegate, and seconded by Faith Gealey of the Cayman Islands, urge regional governments to “proceed without delay in promoting and establishing simplified and transparent structures, and implementing the dissemination of information for the achievement of youth empowerment.”

Theyouth argued that young people in the Caribbean are not receiving information on policies and decisions agreed to at international fora in a timely manner. They contended too that governments are not accelerating and disseminating information and training to empower young people on structures and systems present nationally and regionally.

In the case of “representation”, which was presented by Amelia Narinesingh of Trinidad and Tobago, and seconded by Rhys Campbell of the Jamaican delegation, the youth called on governments of the Region to “facilitate the inclusion of youth representatives from the transparent and democratic national youth bodies at all levels of the decision-making process.”

The youth want to be considered as an equal social partner with government in the same manner as the private sector, workers unions and non-governmental organisations, and they expressed their support for the establishment of transparent, democratic national youth bodies in the Region which advocate for the concerns of youth.

Delegates to the Caribbean Youth Explosion 2000 are also advocating comprehensive programmes on reproductive health care to address the issues of sexual attitudes and behaviour among children and young people and, in a resolution tabled in Parliament, regional governments are being urged to take this course of action.

The Youth leaders through the resolution appealed to regional governments, youth service organisations and civic groups to “establish youth centres with the provision of comprehensive programmes on reproductive health care and services.” The resolution was presented by Chad Archbold, delegate from Turks and Caicos Islands, and was seconded by Tristan Chapman-Smith representing Trinidad and Tobago.

Jameel Lee, the delegate from Antigua and Barbuda, presented the resolution on the “rights of the child” which calls on governments in the Region to secure the rights of youth by developing, ratifying and implementing a Charter for Youth Rights”. Nelcia Charles of Saint Lucia was the seconder.

The youth observed that regional governments have not yet effectively reviewed and nationalised the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and by way of the resolution are urging that the governments accelerate the process of full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Following the passage of the resolutions successfully through the House, the resolutions will later this year go to the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) which caters for matters pertaining to human and social development before being put before the Heads of Government of the Region, at their Inter-Sessional Meeting early next year.

The Youth Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians is patterned off of the Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians (ACCP), a forum which is essentially geared to allow for the people of the Region to contribute to the regional decision-making process through their parliamentary representatives which takes on board both government and opposition parliamentarians.

The Youth Assembly opened with the pomp and ceremony of the moment in conventional parliamentary tradition in the 200year-old chambers of the Grenadian Parliament in down-town St. George’s presided over by the host country representative, Akima Paul, as Speaker of the House.

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