Integrating the voices of young people is critical to sustaining strong democracies. Including youth perspectives into our decision-making helps foster resilient, prosperous, and secure democratic systems. With more than half the world’s population under the age of 30, empowering and inspiring youth to serve as public servants and democratic leaders is an important vehicle for positive change.
To develop young leaders who advocate for democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, announced today in Costa Rica the creation of a global Youth Democracy Network, in collaboration with the Community of Democracies. The Network will strengthen intergenerational ties and increase peer-to-peer connections so that the next generation of leaders can work together to foster strong democracies and respect for human rights.
Young people all over the world will be invited to join the Network, interact via an online platform, learn from digital programming, and exchange perspectives. Through an associated Youth Democracy Fellowship, we intend to provide additional opportunities for a select subset of participants, helping to develop the next generation of diverse civic leaders. The Network’s content will be youth-driven, with the Community of Democracies’ YouthLeads group serving as an advisory board.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield announced the creation of the Youth Democracy Network during her keynote address as head of the U.S. delegation to the Summit for Democracy events co-hosted by Costa Rica, which are focused on increasing youth participation in political and democratic spaces. The United States intends to invest seed funding to support the organization, launching, and management of this new initiative via the Community of Democracies. Collaboration with other governments, foundations, companies, and civil society organizations will be sought in the future.
Co-founded in 2000 by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Community of Democracies is a global intergovernmental coalition of democratic states working together with civil society partners to promote democracy and human rights. The United States values its participation as a member of the Community’s Governing Council and Executive Council.