5.3 Youth representation bodies
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The youth representation bodies in Cyprus are:
Cyprus Children’s Parliament (Κυπριακή Παιδοβουλή)
The Cyprus Children’s Parliament was set up in 2001. It was a development of the traditional event of children’s week, during which a group of children occupied symbolically the seats of the members of the Parliament. With the support of the President of our Parliament it was decided that the symbolic event should develop into a formal session in imitation of the normal sessions of Parliament and under his own Chairmanship. The next step was to set up the Children’s Parliament as a standing body, in operation throughout the year and not only as an event of children’s week. The Children’s Parliament was an initiative introduced by the Pancyprian Coordinating Committee for the Protection and Welfare of Children (PCCPWC). The first “statute” which was passed unanimously by children “parliamentarians” in the plenary working session of September 2004, it was called “The Regulation of the Cyprus Children’s Parliament” (Ο Κανονισμός της Κυπριακής Παιδοβουλής) and consists of 17 articles. The statute has been modified several times through the years (In 2014 was the last time). In addition, the article 16 of “The Regulation” details the role of PCCPWC as the support body with rights and obligations concerning the proper operation and development of the new institution. Last, this institution gained substantial recognition from both the State and the Cypriot society, but it is not one of the country's fundamental institutions mentioned in the constitution.
Child “parliamentarian” may be any person under the age of 18 who legally has his/her permanent residence in Cyprus. The Children’s Parliament consists of 80 voting members: 56 Greek-Cypriots and 24 Turkish-Cypriots and 3 Observers: 1 Maronite-Cypriot, 1 Latin-Cypriot and 1 Armenian-Cypriot representing the three constitutionally recognized Cypriot minorities. Members are distributed to the six districts of the Republic in the same analogy as the Republic’s House of Representatives. Their term of office is two years and they are elected by district electoral assemblies which consist of delegates nominated by the Pupil’s Councils of secondary schools and of non-school delegates (up to 10%) who apply for membership. The Parliament elects its President, Rectors and Secretaries and appoints Special Commissions. The Parliament is convened in plenary working sessions every two months and in an annual celebration session, under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic’s House of Representatives, during the children’s week in November. The Regulation provides for the operation of six District Parliamentary Groups which elect their own officers and convene monthly in preparation for the plenary sessions.
“Guided by the certainty that in a democratic country all citizens must participate in all procedures and implementing the principle of non-discrimination [on the basis of age or any other]” and “because the movement for the defence of children’s rights, PCCPWC, considers of capital importance the participation of children themselves in the process of identification of problems and the introduction of measures for implementing the Convention for the Rights of the Child”, the Children’s Parliament was set up. For a better discussion of issues and problems, Special Committees are recommended by the plenary of the Children’s Parliament, which may include the following:
- Legislative Control Committee
- Education Committee
- Health and Environment Committee
- Cultural Committee
- Press and Communication Committee
The PCCPWC is responsible for safeguarding the adoption and implementation of the views and suggestions of the Children’s Parliament.
In the statute, it is stated that the PCCPWC is responsible for finding funding for the efficient operation of the institution. However, it does not state the sources and means.
The Youth Parliament-Steps of Democracy: Putting participation into practise (H Βουλή των Εφήβων - Βήματα Δημοκρατίας /Κάνοντας πράξη τη συμμετοχή)
According to the official brochure of the programme, the " Youth Parliament-Steps of Democracy: Putting participation into practise’’ is an educational programme organized for the first time by the Greek Parliament in the 1995-1996 school year and since then, it has been running on an annual basis in the Hellenic Parliament in Athens. It has been achieved due to the collaboration between the Greek Parliament and the Ministries of Education in Cyprus and Greece.
The programme is addressed to students of grades A and B of Lyceum (Upper Secondary Education) of the schools of Greece, Cyprus and Greek diaspora. In order to take part in this programme, students must answer two questions (50-150 words each) and their answers will be sent electronically to the evaluation committee in Greece. If their answers are assessed as excellent, then they have the right to take part in the draw, where 300 youth parliament members will be finally elected randomly for participating to the programme (260 students from Greece, 20 from Cyprus and 20 from emigrant Hellenic). Only students who have not reached the 21st year can take part.
The programme aims to pursue the involvement of youth in “citizenship”. By actively participating in discussions that concern important issues of their country, youth become more active, responsible and politicized citizens. On the official website of the ’’ The Youth Parliament-Steps of Democracy: Putting participation into practise’’(H Βουλή των Εφήβων - Βήματα Δημοκρατίας /Κάνοντας πράξη τη συμμετοχή), it is stated that different topics are being discussed each year. For example, during the 2021-2022 “Youth Parliament”, one of the main topics under discussion was the use of digital technologies to protect democracy and security. Although it is an educational programme, it is worth noting that Members of the Greek and Cypriot Parliament ask for information on what has been discussed during the work of the "Youth Parliament".
There is no information available regarding the sources of funding for the operation of this programme.
The “House of Youth Representatives” (H Βουλή των Νέων Αντιπροσώπων)
The House of Youth Representatives is an annual initiative organized for the first time in 2016 by the Cyprus Youth Council (CYC) and the youth NGO Cyprus Youth DiplomaCY. It is a three-day event where young people from all over Cyprus conduct a simulation of the House of Representatives of the Republic and the House of Youth Representatives will convene to "legislate" in a special way through the adoption of parliamentary committee reports that will be simulated.
All young people in Cyprus, aged 16-30, are invited to participate in the event. No other specific criteria are set regarding participation. There is an online participation form and the two responsible organizations undertake the selection of the 56 participants.
Role and responsibilities: The overall aim is for the "House of Youth Representatives", as it is stated in the initiative’s website, to become an institution in Cyprus so as to give permanent space to young people to express their views on everything that concerns them, both at the political level and at the decision-making level. The participants are divided into 5 Parliamentary Groups (Foreign and European Affairs Committee, Committee on Human Rights and Equal Opportunities between Men and Women, Committee on Health, Committee on Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, Environment Committee). Each Parliamentary Committee discusses a subject and draft a report on the subject to be discussed and voted in plenary. If the report is approved, it will be handed over to the respective Ministers (of the real Government) and other technocrats, with the mandate to take the report into account and include it in the responsibilities of each Ministry.
The Cyprus Youth Council (CYC) was founded in 1996 as a voluntary, non – governmental, non – profit organization. It aims at promoting dialogue and cooperation between youth in Cyprus and connecting them with youth in Europe and globally. The CYC seeks to act as a platform of exchange and communication between all youth NGOs in Cyprus and is in continuous cooperation with the European Youth Forum. It has over 60 member-organizations (both Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot organizations, political youth parties and non-political youth organizations). CYC is not part of the country's constitutional structure, but it acts on national level.
The General Assembly is the supreme body of the CYC. The General Assembly meets with decision of the Secretariat once a year with the participation of representatives of all Member Organizations of CYC. The General Assembly deals with the subjects set in the agenda, such as activity reports, financial reports, discussion of issues that affect young people, setting the general framework for the CYC, presence and participation of the Council in a local and an international level and decision making and drafting of resolutions.
The Secretariat is comprised of 9 members. The members of the Secretariat are elected within candidacies which are submitted by the Full Member-organizations of the CYC for a two-year term. As regards the positions at the Secretariat, except the position of the President, 4 Political Parties’ and 4 Non-Political Parties’ Youth Organizations shall be elected. The Secretariat executes the provisions of the Cyprus Youth Council’s articles of associations and the decisions taken at the General Assembly and has the obligation to keep the members-organizations informed in relation to issues of common interest. The meetings of the Secretariat are regular. Last, the Financial Control Committee is comprised of three members from Full Member-organizations are elected at the General Assembly for a period of two years starting from the date of election and have the right to vote. The age range of the CYC’s members and its various bodies varies between 18 to 40 years old.
The CYC organises events, seminars, workshops and activities that provide the necessary space for its members to exchange good practices, interests and experience on any youth related topic. The CYC also acts as a platform for its members for participating in European projects. The CYC is also the main stakeholder in the EU Youth Dialogue that seeks to promote the political participation of all Cyprus youth. Areas of interest, always in relation to youth, include human rights and equality, employment and social issues, active citizenship and life-long learning, non-formal education and youth policies. Moreover, the CYC voices the concerns of youth NGOs including lobbying to policy makers for a number of youth related issues (e.g. youth unemployment, validation of non-formal education, etc.).
The CYC receives funding from various sources (national funding coming from the Youth Board of Cyprus and European programmes).
The Municipal/Community Youth Councils began in Cyprus in late 2001- early 2002, with the support of the Local Authorities and the Youth Board of Cyprus (YBC). There are 28 Municipal and 10 Community Youth Councils established[k1] [AL2] . The role of the YBC is to support and help the Municipal/Community Youth Councils in regard to any action or issue that benefit young people. This help and support to the Local Authority and the Municipal/Community Youth Councils can be financial, technical and advisory for activities, programs or even infrastructure projects that could be developed.
Each Municipal/Community Youth Council follows the statutes and operating regulations set by the Youth Board of Cyprus in collaboration with the local authority. The chairman of the Council is always a member of the Municipal/Community Council. Two-three more members of the Municipal/Community Council can participate and the rest (depending on the number of members decided by the local authority) are young people coming from local youth NGO’s. if the candidates are more than the set number of members then elections are taking place.
The role of the Municipal/Community Youth Councils is to advice the Municipality and Community Authorities. The Municipality and Community Youth Councils prepare an annual action plan, addressed to youth people, including a financial budget. Similarly, they recommend solution-policies in regard to problems that young people face in relation to the Local Authority. Further, they can recommend the implementation of infrastructure projects, programs and actions for the benefit of young people of each Municipality and Community.
The Local Authorities support financially the Municipal/Community Youth Councils. Specific programs and activities can also be sponsored by the YBC through the national “Youth Initiatives” funding scheme and can get funding as well through the European Solidarity Corps (Ευρωπαϊκό Σώμα Αλληλεγγύης) to plan their own solidarity projects in their community. Furthermore, it is also possible for the Municipal/Community Youth Councils to receive financial help from the private sector in the form of grants for a specific program or activity.
The first Municipal Youth Councils were formed in Aradippou and Paphos Municipalities.
Pancyprian Federation of Student Unions (POFEN)(Παγκύπρια Ομοσπονδία Φοιτητικών Ενώσεων – ΠΟΦΕΝ)
The Pancyprian Federation of Student Unions is a recognized social partner in Cyprus which was established in 1973. The supreme body of the Federation is the Congress. For the period between two congresses, the highest governing body is the Administrative Committee. The executive board of the Administrative Committee is the Secretariat. There are regular and exceptional congresses. The Regular Congress meets once a year. The Congress is made up of all student unions-members of the Federation represented by regular and alternate representatives.
POFEN has 18 member-organizations. The Secretariat has eleven members (President, Vice President, General Secretary, General Treasurer, and seven other members) and it is also made up of the representatives of student unions-members. All student associations are represented by at least one member of the Secretariat. The Secretariat is elected for one-year term until the next regular Congress. The voting system follows a certain regulation depending on the number of members each student union has. The frequency of the meetings of the Secretariat is regular.
The objectives of the Federation include supporting, promoting and enforcing the rights and interests of Cypriot students in any legitimate means available to the Federation through the participation and representation in committees and bodies dealing with student and other academic issues, and in the bodies of all Higher and Tertiary Education institutions. The role of the Federation is very important in Cyprus as it influences the decision-making on student issues.
The regular resources of the Federation are the registration fees of each student member-organization, the annual membership fees which vary for each member-organization and funding from the Youth Board of Cyprus (YBC). In addition, there are exceptional resources which may be donations, bequests, fundraisers, contributions and any other income that Federation received.
Pancyprian Student Coordination Committee (PSEM) (Παγκύπρια Συντονιστική Επιτροπή Μαθητών – ΠΣΕΜ)
PSEM’s regulations are included in the general regulations of the secondary public schools’ operation of the Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth (Οι περί λειτουργίας των Δημόσιων Σχολείων Μέσης Εκπαίδευσης Κανονισμοί του 2017 (Κ.Δ.Π. 60/2017). Its Secretariat has 10 members-representatives (President, Vice President, General Secretary, Treasurer, and six more members).
The composition of PSEM follows the following order. In each public secondary school, each class votes (secret ballot) for its 5-member student council. All the student councils of each school vote (secret ballot) for a seven-member Central Student Council which is consisted of the President, Vice President, General Secretary, Treasurer, and three more members. The seven members of the Central Student Council of each school vote (secret ballot again) for two members which are going to represent their school in the Regional Student Coordination Committee. Then, two members from the Secretariat of each Regional Student Coordination Committee constitute the Pancyprian Student Coordination Committee. The Secretariat of PSEM changes every year based on the representatives elected from the above-mentioned processes and its regular meetings take place every two months.
The objectives of PSEM are to safeguard the rights of school students in education as well as their representation in the decision-making processes related to school reforms and other educational policies and matters.
PSEM receives funding from the Youth Board of Cyprus (YBC) as well.
There are no other bodies in Cyprus that are important forums or assemblies of youth representation.