5.3 Youth representation bodies
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There is not a national youth parliament in Turkey. However, in accordance with the City Council Regulations which were drawn up according to the Article 76 of the Municipality Law No: 5393 (5393 sayılı Belediye Kanunu), city council youth assemblies are established in municipalities. City council youth assemblies are established in almost each province and most of the large districts in Turkey. Youth Assemblies are very widespread both in provinces and districts across Turkey, however their functioning and effectiveness depend upon the relevant municipality. Each municipality can regulate the functioning of its Youth Assembly by issuing a directive provided that it is in accordance with the Municipality Law No: 593 and other related laws. Although there are no common criteria in relation to being a member of those assemblies, mostly the young people who are 15-30 years old become members. As an example in this matter, İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Youth Assembly will be discussed.
Organisation of the Youth Assembly and Number of Members
Youth Assembly was established on 19.05.2005 with the proposal of the İstanbul Metropolitan Mayor and the decision of the Metropolitan Municipality Council. Youth Assembly consists of elected representatives who are 16-25 years old;
1) Representatives of the district municipalities provided that they do not exceed 40% of the total number of the assembly members,
2) Representatives of the universities in İstanbul provided that they do not exceed 40% of the total number of the assembly members,
3) Representatives of the youth Nongovernmental organisations provided that they do not exceed 20% of the total number of the assembly members,
4) Representatives of political parties provided that they do not exceed 10% of the total number of the assembly members.
Total number of the assembly members is equal to the total number of members of the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Council and it numbers 310. Each organisation notifies its representatives to the Youth Assembly. In places where there is Neighbourhood Assembly, names of the representatives might be notified with the decision of the assembly. In places where there is no Neighbourhood Assembly, representatives who are determined with the decision of the Neighbourhood Muhtar can take place in the Youth Assemblies. In order that elected and approved members can take place in the General Assembly as representatives, these members must have a written decision indicating that they are elected by their organisations or institutions. In addition to corporate representation, the Youth Assembly is also open to individual participation.
Members of the Youth Assembly are selected by the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality from the young people between the age of 16 and 25 living in İstanbul who filled in and submitted the application form.
Term of the Youth Assembly
Youth Assembly is reformed every other year. Maximum six (6) meetings are held within a year. Apart from these, the Bureau of the Assembly has the authority to call for a meeting in extraordinary circumstances. The venue for the meeting is İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Council.
Decisions of the Youth Assembly
The Youth Assembly makes decisions in order that various activities are carried out and for the continuation of the internal operation in accordance with its targets. These decisions are submitted to the related departments of the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality as proposals by the Bureau of the Assembly.
Youth Assembly Budget
In the meetings and studies of the Youth Assembly, secretarial and administrative works are carried out by the Directorate of Youth and Sports. Financial support required for the social, cultural, sports, trainings, etc. activities that the Youth Assembly will organise in line with its target shall be provided from the allowance allocated from the budget of the Directorate of Youth and Sports.
Duties of the Youth Assembly
a) To work in order to establish a democratic legal order based on National Sovereignty principles and human rights and freedoms and values the beliefs, dignity and honour of men.
b) To struggle for improving social and economic rights and freedoms and work to help young population concentrate on this matter.
c) To struggle for the youth to take part and have a say in social life.
d) To protect the history, culture, science, arts, human rights and environment.
e) To organise meetings, conferences, panels, seminars and symposiums in line with its targets and structure.
f) To strengthen cooperation, solidarity, mutual love and respect by investigating the problems of the youth and to seek for solution for the young people, especially the ones who are studying and to help them for this purpose.
g) To hear the problems of the young, old and lonely people and people who need care by organizing trips and events within İstanbul and to evaluate and seek solutions for these problems.
h) To conduct surveys, publish brochures, bulletins, journals and newspapers and inform the public about the matter with the approval of the Commissions.
i) To establish relationships with the Youth Organisations, make mutual visits and organise meetings and trips during the European Union process especially in the sister cities of the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality in foreign countries.
j) To raise environmental awareness and carry out studies to ensure that the young people benefit from the works of the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality towards youth in the best possible manner.
k) To carry out activities within the framework of Local Agenda 21.
l) To be in close touch with the university students and carry out joint studies with the school clubs established by students.
m) To carry out joint studies with the youth assemblies and other youth organisations abroad to ensure development and training within the assembly.
There is not a youth council in Turkey on legal terms. In 2013, legal basis was created for the youth council in the Additional Article 1 of the Decree Law on Establishment of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The related article is as follows:
“(1) Within the Ministry, Turkey National Youth Council, which is composed of young people or in which associations, foundations, federations, confederations, youth clubs, student councils, city council youth assemblies and similar organisations operating in the field of youth can be members, shall be established with the purpose of ensuring active participation in the society and personal development of the young people in the social, economic and political fields, contributing in policies to be made in the field of youth, carrying out national and international studies and projects, assisting in the coordination between the young people and organisations operating in the field of youth and increasing their participation in implementation processes. In order that the council can carry out its activities, sufficient allowance is allocated in the Ministry budget.
Provisions regarding the establishment, operation, administration, duties and audit of the Council as well as operation procedures and principles of the Council and other provisions shall be regulated by the Cabinet of Ministers.”
After the adoption of new governmental system, within the first presidential decree regulating the tasks of Ministry of Youth and Sports, the foundation of Turkish Youth Council is prescribed. Within that presidential decree first clause of the above-quoted Additional Article 1 of the Decree Law on Establishment of the Ministry of Youth and Sports issued in 2013 remained unchanged and its second clause has been altered as follows:
“(2) Provisions regarding the establishment, operation, administration, duties and audit of the Council as well as operation procedures and principles of the Council and other provisions shall be regulated by the President.”
In this vein, bylaws and structural scheme of Turkish Youth Council have been drafted in consultation with relevant stakeholders.
Within the framework of the above provisions, works continue in relation to establishment of the council.
National Student Council of Turkey (National Student Council of Higher Education Institutions) is an umbrella organisation of the Student Councils of all universities (higher education institutions) of Turkey. The General Assembly of the National Student Council which represents more than 4 million university students is elected biannually. The General Assembly of National Student Council consists of the presidents of the Student Councils of universities. In the same vein, president of a Student Council of an university is elected biannually by the General Assembly of the Student Council of University.
Bylaw concerning Student Councils of Higher Education Institutions and National Student Council of Higher Education Institutions which is the main legal document prescribing the rules and procedures of student councils has been drawn up on the grounds of the articles 7 and 65 of the Higher Education Law No 2547.
At university or higher education level, the Student Councils of University are the constructive elements of the whole structure. General Assembly of the Student Council of the University is composed of the representatives of the faculties and departments of the Univeristy. Each faculty or departement have a democratically elected representative and a committe. The Student Council of a certain University is made up of certain permanent bodies: a General Assembly, an Executive Board, a Supervisiory Board and a president. Besides, congress and council board affiliated with the congress are temporary organs created for regular meetings.
The election to the Student Council's various bodies and establishment of the organs of the Student Council are supervised by the Rector’s Office according to the schedule, period and programme determined by the Council of Higher Education (Yüksek Öğretim Kurulu). The students who intent to be candidate for membership for various committees of Student Council shall pronounce their candidacy no later than one week before the date of election and conduct their election campaigns until the end of business hours in the day before the elections.
Required Qualifications in Student Council Candidates
a) Being an enrolled student of the related faculty, college, conservatory, vocational school or institute,
b) Not being a member or staff of political party bodies,
c) Not having committed a disgraceful offense which resulted in being expelled from the higher education institution,
d) Not having suspended the study in the semester when the elections are held.
General Assembly of National Student Council is the highest decision making body in the National Student Council. Quorum for the meetings of General Assembly of National Student Council is simple majority.
General Assembly of National Student Council assembles at least once a year. In the General Assembly, the decisions to establish bodies are made by the simple majority of the attendants on the basis of secret ballot and open counting of votes. Decisions other than those consisting in the establishment of bodies are made by the simple majority of the attendants by using the open ballot system.
General Assembly of National Student Council may be called for a meeting by the Executive Board on the basis of the decision of the Executive Board decision or written application of the 1/4 of the general assembly members to the Executive Board. In such case, General Assembly meeting is held within thirty days. Executive Board determines and carries out the Extraordinary General Assembly meetings and agenda of the National Student Council.
Duties of the National Student Council Executive Board are:
a) To ensure that the decisions made by the National Student Council General Assembly are implemented,
b) To improve communication among Student Councils,
c) To monitor the decisions of the Council of Higher Education and Interuniversity Board in relation to the students and announce such decisions to student councils,
d) To inform the Council of Higher Education and Interuniversity Board about its works,
e) To form study groups to create national and international projects,
f) To represent the students of the higher education institutions in Turkey or ensure that they are represented at the national and international level,
g) To cooperate with international Student Councils and carry out joint activities,
h) To develop national and international social awareness projects in cooperation with the Nongovernmental organisations and extend these projects among higher education institutions,
i) To draw up and archive reports of the realised works.
A room is allocated to the Student Council within the institution and necessary instruments and equipment are provided by the relevant higher education institution to carry out its duties.
In accordance with the Democracy and School Assemblies Directive (Demokrasi ve Okul Meclisleri Yönergesi) issued by the Ministry of National Education in 2004, school assemblies had been allowed to be formed at all public and private primary and secondary education institutions affiliated to the Ministry of National Education. In the same vein, abovementioned directive had envisioned the foundation of the Students Assembly of Turkey, which includes the elected presidents of provincial school assemblies. The president of the provincial school assembly used to be elected by the representatives of the district of relevant province. At the bottom, so to speak, the president of the school assembly used to be elected by the votes of the students. The Provincial Directorate of National Education in the district used to determine the way the representatives of district are elected from among the presidents of the school assemblies in the district. After all, the abovementioned directive has been abrogated by a new directive issued by the Ministry of National Education on 17.04.2019. In consequence, the abovementioned project has been cancelled.
Apart from the abovementioned participation mechanisms, there are some organisations that nongovernmental organisations have formed within themselves or by forming collaborations.