The First Convention of the Global Youth Movement for the Alliance of Civilizations (GYMAOC) took place in Baku, Azerbaijan on April 9 and 10. More information about this event is available here.
During the Youth Event of the UNAOC Istanbul Forum hosted by the Government of Turkey in April of 2009, over 100 youth from 40 different countries worked together to develop a vision, priorities, and mechanisms aiming to mainstream the voice of youth into policies, programs and initiatives seeking to advance understanding among people from different cultures and religions. In addition, they discussed the idea of a global movement of young advocates for the UNAOC and its objectives. Objectives of this global movement would be to enhance the visibility of young people’s actions towards fostering cross-cultural understanding globally as well as facilitate networking with governments, foundations, as well as the academic world and private sector.
This concept of a global youth movement builds on the Youth for the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative developed by the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC). The Youth for the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative had been developed by ICYF-DC as a way to support the objectives and principles set forth in the High Level Group Report that gave birth to the Alliance in early 2007. Given the need to ensure that this movement has a global focus and membership, the idea of the Global Youth Movement for the Alliance of Civilizations (GYMAOC) was adopted at the Istanbul Forum as the next stage of this original idea.
What is the GYMAOC?
Work on the concept of the GYMAOC was conducted by members of the Youth Advisory Committee as well as young participants to Youth Event of the UNAOC Forum in Rio de Janeiro. Matters such as membership, governance, communications, promotion and funding were discussed and developed. Below is a summary of these discussions which attempts to highlight the areas of consensus.
1. Goal: The overall goal to the GYMAOC is to highlight and recognize the strong message of peace and understanding set forth by youth in times where tensions and conflicts often threaten positive intercultural co-existence as well as to advance and support the mainstreaming of their voices and participation in UNAOC initiatives and messages.
2. Objectives: The GYMAOC is an official youth platform of the UNAOC and acts a central element of its Youth Programming and has the following specific objectives:
• Mobilize and strengthen youth organizations in order to reinforce their commitment to the UNAOC objectives;
• Highlight results of youth actions and support networking for the advancement of cross-cultural understanding; and
• Support the mainstreaming of youth’s voice and participation in all sectors of the UNAOC.
3. Example of Activities: Below are examples of activities that would help support the 3 stated objectives:
• Mobilize and strengthen youth organizations; e.g. capacity-building activities such as training and peer-assist, coordination of attendance in appropriate regional or international conferences, sharing of resources available to youth organizations such as funding and training, best practice exchanges, etc.
• Highlight results of youth actions and support networking; e.g. endorsement of specific projects, promotion of project results, media relations, advocacy support, issuance of joint statements, preparation of an exhibition about the role of youth in advancing UNAOC’s objectives during the Forum and encourage members of the Group of Friends to borrow it after the Forum and use in their own region or country, etc.
• Support the mainstreaming of youth’s voice and participation in all sectors of the UNAOC; e.g. participation in development of messages and initiatives beyond the youth sector, data collection and integration in UNAOC messages, support for policy development at the national levels (National Plans), etc.
4. Membership: The members of the GYMAOC are mainly local, national, regional, and international youth organizations active in the field of intercultural dialogue and adhering to the goals and principles of the UNAOC.
5. Adhesion: The members are recruited following criteria which could include adhesion to the goal and objectives of the GYMAOC, as well as actions demonstrating the desire to be an active and responsible member. Applications for membership can come from Regional Youth Platforms and ICMYO. However, there is also an open process that can be publicised through mass media and by organizations already members of the GYMAOC. Membership would allow the use of a “Member of the GYMAOC” logo. The review and approval of applications for membership is an on-going process. At a later stage, the GYMAOC would welcome individual youth and eminent personalities or experts as observers who could draw attention to the need to mainstream the voices of youth in intercultural dialogue initiatives and policies.
6. Governance Structure: The GYMAOC has the following structure:
• The UNAOC as the secretariat and coordinator of the GYMAOC and the various elements making its governance structure;
• An Annual Convention gathering representatives from the members of the GYMAOC which acts as the ultimate decision-making body. Actions Plans will be developed during these Annual Conventions. This will also be the place to report on results as well as an overall annual evaluation; and
• A Coordinating Committee composed of the UNAOC Youth Advisory Committee and heads of Regional Youth Platforms which would ensure the good management of the GYMAOC between the Annual Global Conventions and implement its Action Plan as well as other decisions under the coordination of the UNAOC.
• Eventually, an Advisory Board could be created to support the advancement of the GYMAOC.
7. Regional Groupings or Chapters: In addition to the structure described above, it would be possible for members of the GYMAOC from one specific region to gather in regional groupings or chapters in order to work towards the goal and objectives stated above. These groupings would work through the established structures of the GYMAOC and support outreach efforts.
8. Staffing: The UNAOC will give staff time toward the coordination of the GYMAOC according to the structure mentioned above. All partners in this structure will also give their time for this joint initiative. In addition, the UNAOC will recruit JPOs or senior-level interns for whom the primary function will be to work for the GYMAOC. Clear Terms of Reference for each category of roles in the governing structure of the GYMAOC will be developed.
9. Funding: A clear and detailed annual budget with priority areas will need to be prepared and approved alongside the adoption of the first Annual Action Plan. The funding for the GYMAOC needs to come from several sources. The UNAOC will work to attract voluntary contributions from the members of its Group of Friends (countries and international organizations), foundations, private sector, etc. While the financial needs of the GYMAOC will not be exorbitant, there is a strong need to draw support sources other than the Group of Friends. Each member of the GYMAOC is expected to provide in-kind contribution (e.g. outreach, monitoring, advocacy, projects, etc). Cash contributions (untied) will be most welcome as well but not mandatory. Self-service solutions will be highly encouraged (e.g. one organization volunteers to translate a document in their national language, another organization volunteers to design a booklet, etc.).
10. Communications: The UNAOC Youth Website will be the main vehicle to convey information about the GYMAOC. However, all members should promote this initiative on their websites or in their publications. The main UNAOC website will also highlight the GYMAOC, especially with regards to members of the Group of Friends. A listserv and a private chat room for all members will be developed and all will be able to freely post messages. Twitter and Facebook accounts will be opened and jointly managed by the UNAOC and members of the Coordinating Committee.
11. Reporting and Evaluation: In order for this initiative to have a real impact, the results of its activities need to be made public. For example, all members should be encouraged to produce short reports of their activities related to GYMAOC as this could enrich data gathering, showcase good practices, inform policy, etc. In addition, as there is a need for the governing structure to learn and improve its management of the GYMAOC, there will be an evaluation by members. All member-level reports will be combined with a movement-wide report prepared by the governing structure and then disseminated widely to all members of the GYMAOC.
12. Promotion: This detailed report will then be transformed into a shorter and punchier advocacy-style report or brochure with quantitative and qualitative data which will be disseminated to all Ministries of Youth, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, relevant UN agencies, multilateral organizations, foundations, medias, etc.