On November 21 and 22, 2016, the first session of the Forum of the United Nations on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law was held in Geneva, under the theme of “Widening the Democratic Space: the Role of Youth in Public Decision-making”. The Forum was established according to Resolution 28/14, which was adopted by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on March, 26, 2015 and aims to provide a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to the relationship between human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The Resolution also seeks to identify and analyze best practices, challenges and opportunities for States all over the world in their efforts to secure respect for these areas.
The Forum was divided into four sub-themes, each led by presentations from four to five panelists who have knowledge and experience relating to the sub-theme, including, among others, the founder of India’s largest platform for youth’s sharing of stories on social issues, a senator of the Parliament of Belgium, an advocate for children and youth with disabilities, and leaders of women and children’s protection organizations. It is notable that more than a half of the participants present at the Forum are within the youth group, under the age of 30, which allowed the discussion to reflect the youth’s concerns, ideas, experiences and suggestions to the greatest extent. The panelists are enthusiastic about the Forum and what they are doing.
While social media is one of the topics that prompted hot discussion within the Forum, the organizer also utilized the Internet and social media to enable broader participation outside the conference room. The forum was communicated to viewers all over the world via the United Nations’ official website, and online viewers had the opportunity raise their questions to the panelists as well. Some of the questions raised discussion beyond the set agenda, relating to the minimum voting age, the minimum age to be selected as president, etc.
Changsheng Cai (Member, Foundation for Law and International Affairs), Congcong Liu (Member, Foundation for Law and International Affairs), Jiawei Bi (Administrator, Chinese Initiative on International Law, The Hague Office), Ruoyu Li (Research Fellow, Chinese Initiative on International Law), Zhiying Pan (Research Fellow, Chinese Initiative on International Law), Siya Chen (Research Fellow, Chinese Initiative on International Law), Zhiyuan Dong (Research Fellow, Chinese Initiative on International Law), and Hui Jiang (Research Fellow, Chinese Initiative on International Law) attended the Forum as FLIA’s delegation.