The region of Western Balkans is a specific type of polity where one big country (Yugoslavia) dominated for several decades. Yugoslavia has not dismantled peacefully. Nations that were for long time living in one country where “bratstvo i jedinstvo” [brotherhood and unity] was a mantra in the 1990s started to fight one against another. Today, wars ended but confrontation with the past and the implementation of liberal values in those societies still did not occur. Countries in the Western Balkans have great political, economic, and cultural potential that can be empowered by mutual cooperation. However, there is a lack of that cooperation.
Young people engaged in politics as well as future leaders still do not have enough experience in benefitting of networking and collaboration. Hence, their access to education of human rights, tolerance, and transitional justice is limited.
Youth in political parties do not cooperate regionally with other politically engaged youth, other than those from ‘sister’ parties. This cooperation is thus limited to ‘ideological networks’. Through these networks members get some contacts and training about political skills, but very little about human rights.
The Political Youth Network (PYN) is an international network of youth organisations operating as a part of, or as a subsidiary organisation of 31 political parties from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia that was established at the Founding Conference in Zagreb, held on 29th and 30th March, 2014.
By signing the Declaration of Commitment to the Political Youth Network, member organisations expressed their dedication towards PYN’s Statute, Secretariat, and other members, in achieving common goals, recognised and shared by its members.
The main objectives of PYN were defined and presented through individual meetings with political youth organisations, while by signing the Declaration of Commitment, members have agreed to pursue the following goals and values:
a) education of young politicians in the field of human rights and the importance of its advocacy;
b) encouraging cross-border exchange of knowledge and experiences;
c) training of practical political skills;
d) enhancing regional cooperation between politically engaged youth in the area of dealing with the past and transitional justice;
e) achieving greater participation of young people in policymaking processes;
f) increasing overall standards of political communication among the political rivals.
PYN activities are divided into three fields:
1) Human Rights
2) Regional Programmes
3) Capacity Building
Three working groups are established at the PYN Second Assembly in Sarajevo, on October 2015, with a mission to design activities in accordance with these topics. Working groups consist of both representatives of the Secretariat and member organizations.
All activities of the Network should demonstrate consent of all members over some key issues:
1) commitment to human rights protection;
2) support to the process of regional cooperation;
3) dedication to the active participation of youth in decision making processes;
4) improvement of the position of youth branches within political parties.
All the activities of PYN are planned and discussed among the PYN Secretariat and PYN members. Most of the planned activities will be implemented through campaigns, meetings, trainings and expert consultation on topics of human rights protection, cross-border cooperation and developing practical competences that might be useful and attractive for future political leaders.
In the scope of political activities, examples of laws related to human rights (law on free access to information, law on gender equality, law on reparation to victims of war crimes etc.) will be analyzed and discussed with an aim of sensitizing PYN members on issues of human rights violations.
Previous activities include joint Declaration on Human Rights Day, round tables on national level and consultations on questions of internal organization.
The Secretariat is an operational body of PYN in charge of all of its organizational activities such as trainings, meetings, reporting, newsletters and websites. The Secretariat also coordinates the activities of the network and ensures constant communication among the members of the network. The Secretariat is established at YIHR.
Political Youth Network activities are supported by National Endowment for Democracy.