On the 21st and 22nd of April, OBESSU attended the Council of Members (COMEM) of the European Youth Forum (YFJ) held in Brussels, Belgium. It is one of the two YFJ annual Statutory Meetings and it gathers International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations and National Youth Councils coming from all over Europe.

Wondering what happened during these two intense days? This is how the OBESSU delegates experienced the COMEM and represented the interests of European school students within the Forum!

Elections for the Advisory Council on Youth
The COMEM was filled with excitement about the elections of the Advisory Council (AC) on Youth of the Council of Europe (CoE).What is that, you may ask? As part of the co-management in the Department of Youth, 30 young people with different organisational backgrounds come together in the AC to work on progressive youth policy and youth work as part of the Council of Europe. Find out the details of this structure here

20 representatives were elected for the Advisory Council (mandate 2018-2019) at the YFJ COMEM by the member organisations, including OBESSU Board member, Larissa Nenning. Amazing, OBESSU has yet another platform with a strong presence! Our key focus areas for the mandate 2018-2019 are (1) youth participation in education and beyond, (2) young people’s social and economic rights and (3) refugee and migrants’ rights. We are happy to share our and Larissa's expertise in these areas and learn more from the other highly competent candidates and their organisations. 

We take this opportunity to congratulate all elected candidates, especially our current Board member LaufeyMaríaJóhannsdóttir, who was nominated by the Icelandic Youth Council.

Although still some months ahead before it starts, Larissa is very much looking forward to taking up this work in 2018, and we are ready to support her in every possible way we can. 

Presentations of projects and best practices
The YFJ COMEM was also a moment to present to other organisations our work and achievements in the youth sector. Both on Friday and Saturday we took the floor to showcase the projects we are proud of.

On Friday, we did a presentation in cooperation with our partners EEE-YFU and EFIL in the #recognizestudyabroad campaign. We tried to convince other youth activists to join our struggle and spread the campaign among their memberships. Instead of preparing a dull - and yes, they are dull – PowerPoint presentations, we designed creative key flipcharts, using graphic facilitation techniques. The innovative presentation style was appreciated and our message came across. If you want to support #recognizestudyabroad, you can find more info on the website.

On Saturday, we showcased “Seeds For Integration” project in plenary in the so called 'From Local To Global' session where members of the Youth Forum have the chance to tell about what is happening on the grassroots level. All the Seeds For Integration initiatives so far have been heart warming, empowering and clear best practices of young people making a real change in their everyday lives!

Political discussions on LGBTQI
The Council of Members was not just about elections and show-casing great projects. As it is when the members of the Youth Forum come together, a lot of politics were discussed!

The most important topic discussed this year was the rights of the LGBTQI community. One of our close partners, IGLYO, The International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth & Student Organisation, proposed a resolution criticising the treatment of the LGBTQI community in Turkey, whose basic human rights are violated. The Board of the European Youth Forum as well proposed a resolution condemning the round up of more than 100 gay men and the killing of at least three people in Chechnya.

We believe that fighting for the rights of some of the most vulnerable groups in our society is one of our main objectives as youth organisations, and we were happy to see that both resolutions passed without any objections.

We are very glad to be part of such a large network of young people who want to change the world. Thanks to the European Youth Forum and to all its member organisations. We are looking forward to the upcoming work!

For more information about event, please feel free to contact the OBESSU Board at board@obessu.org.

Written by OBESSU Board members Larissa, Lasse and Ferre