Youth in good governance
Meaningful youth participation” entails youth participating in decision-making and activities at all sectors and at all levels, including politics, economics, society, and the environment, freely and equally under a clear legal framework,” said Mr. Long Khet, Executive Director of Youth for Peace.
These statements were made in a forum on “meaningful participation of youth in good governance” organized by his organization during December 2013 and held at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Phnom Penh.
Mr. Long Khet said the forum aimed to share experiences in social accountability in Uganda and for sub-national democratic development in Cambodia. It sought to identify challenges and opportunities for the implementation of national policy on youth development and participation in good governance in Cambodia.
Regarding social accountability for sub-national democratic development, His Excellency Cheam Pe A, Director of the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Information Division of the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) Secretariat, said at sub-national level, councils are accountable to address disputes when citizens complain about performance at the capital, provincial, district, and commune levels.
Additionally, he pointed out that to promote citizen’s participation at local levels in sub-national democratic development of the decentralization and de-concentration (D&D) reform, the Royal Government of Cambodia decided to promulgate a number of key legal instruments, including the Law On Administrative Management Of Commune/Sangkat, The Law On Administrative Management Of The Capital, Province, And District/Municipality/Khan, the 10-Year National Program For Sub-National Democratic Development (2010-2019), its 3-Year Implementation Plan (IP3: 2011-2013), and the Strategic Plan On Social Accountability For Sub-National Democratic Development.
To implement the Strategic Plan For Social Accountability, there are 5 strategies to enable youth to have a better knowledge of local development issues and to increasingly participate in decision-making, including the promotion of transparency and access to information (both performance and budget); the development of citizen monitoring procedures; the building of capacity to undertake social accountability initiatives; and creating an environment of learning, he added.
A key issue raised in this forum concerned the National Policy on Cambodian Youth Development promulgated by the Ministry of Education in 2011. An important element (number 5.6) encourages increased youth participation by promoting mechanisms for their participation in civil society organizations and in commissions and national and sub-national councils.
This will ensure youth’s integration into D&D reforms, attracting support and attention from policy-makers and program designers, service providers, and leaders in order to recognize youth’s capacities and rights. It will encourage the formulation of programs for youth to collect, discuss, analyze, distribute information, and to be capable of producing information consistent with the needs of youth. It aims to promote their expression of ideas, and their participation in decision-making concerning education. It will attract support to make the youth’s voice heard in policy-making processes and the development of legal instruments that affect youth.
Several other topics were raised at the forum and many youth asked questions of the speakers. Four key topics were identified, including youth’s representation; youth’s participation in the development of the legal framework and policy making process and implementation; youth’s participation in the decision-making process in education; and the promotion of youth’s capacity and rights.