International cooperation through voluntary commitment and participation in the political process on the part of French youth has a long history, beginning after the Second World War and still very much alive today in a context of globalisation and far-reaching economic, social and environmental change where there are no few challenges to be met at world level, including climate change, inequalities in development between States and respect for international humanitarian rights.
Young people’s interest in such global challenges is most often expressed by international mobility and their participation intransnational citizenship and solidarity movements, two forms of action encouraged by the public authorities, which intervene by developing international volunteering schemes and educational programmes in international solidarity, lending financial support to youth movements and, in certain contexts, fostering youth participation and involvement in the drafting of international policies.
Because it develops a sense of belonging to a global community, the public authorities also see international engagement as an instrument for social cohesion with ramifications at local and global levels alike.
However, there are still inequalities among France’s youth as regards international engagement, which mostly concerns young people from more affluent backgrounds or who have received higher education. This being so, facilitating access to international engagement and volunteering for young people with fewer opportunities is an important issue in the eyes of public authorities (Ministries, local authorities, etc.) and associations (non-governmental organisations, youth movements, etc.) active in fostering international youth engagement.