WESTERN BALKANS – Today marks Human Rights Day – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The adoption of such a document represents a milestone in human history that brought the understanding of inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
In 2019, the United Nations are putting youth in focus on defending human rights globally. Under the slogan “Never too young to change the world”, the celebration is underlining that youth participation is essential to achieve sustainable development for all, that youth can play a crucial role in positive change, and that empowering youth to better know and claim their rights will generate benefits globally.
RYCO joins this year’s celebration, putting the youth of the Western Balkans at the core of its celebration. We will always keep pushing for meaningful involvement of youth in decision-making processes as we know that substantial changes have always been driven by young people. They are the ones to shape the present moment since they know the best how they want the future to look like. Youth deserve to exercise this potential fully. We call our governments and other decision-makers across the region to consider this role of youth seriously and attentively. Youth can change the region for a better.
We strongly believe that young people should be creating a culture of mobility, intercultural exchange, and reconciliation in the region. Moreover, they should be active contributors to democratic development, social and economic prosperity, and European integration in an increasingly open Western Balkans region. Finally, we hold that our governments in the Western Balkans should be providing proactive support to youth exchange and youth engagement within the Contracting Parties, and across the region.
We recall that we are implementing the project “Supporting the Western Balkan’s Collective Leadership on Reconciliation: Building Capacity and Momentum for the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO)” together with UNDP Albania, UNICEF Albania and UNFPA Albania. The project financed by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund aims to enhance social cohesion and reconciliation among youth across the Western Balkans.
Human Rights Day is one of the international days marked by the UN. They are occasions to educate the general public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.