What is a youth council and what does correspond to the institutions we in Germany know as youth-city-councils (Jugendgemeinderat)? The definitions what youth councils are differ from country to country.
Even in Germany there are several definitions that seem to be equally valid and good:
- „A youth council is a democrativly elected body compromised of people mostly aged between 13 and 20 years, that works on a regular, continuous basis and exerts influence on local policy“ (concept08 was a meeting of Finish and Baden-Württemberg youth councillors in Summer 2008)
- “youth councils are representing the interests of youth toward local politics. They are a model of participation and offer young people an entry into politics without getting bound to a party. Ideally these have the right to talk in the city council and the right to make formal proposals in the city council. Ideally they have their own budget for publicity, events and other projects” (Interessenvertretung der Jugend, von der Website des Dachverbands der Jugendgemeinderäte http://www.jugendgemeinderat.de/index.php?id=21, abgefragt am 15.2.2011)
- “through youth councils youth in their municipality are formally represented. (…) they offer the possibility to transport wishes, suggestions or proposals for improvement of youth towards the political system. Through this youth can participate in the community. (…) they offer all youth political means of participation and creating a political will. (…)
Youth councils are directly, democratically elected by youth and represent different ages and school types. Youth can participate at planning and projects, which concern their interests within a reasonable way. The elected youth gain deeper insight into local politics and learn on how to take responsibility and represent their position in the public (…)” ( Landtag von Baden-Wu?rttemberg Drucksache 14 / 6762 State Government of Baden-Württemberg
(in response towards questions of the green party group)
Internationally the definiton seems to be very variable. For example nuva ry the finnish umbrella organisation of youth councils defines them as follows: (Senni Raunio, Salo 2011, „Suomen Nuorisovaltuustojen Liitto – Nuva ry. The Union of Youth Councils in Finland“ Vortrag beim Treffen der Delegation des Dachverbands der Jugend- gemeinderäte Baden-Württemberg und des Finnischen Dachverbands der Jugendgemein- dera?te in Salo am 9.4.2011)
- „The age of the representatives in Youth Councils varies typically from 13 to 20 years
- The amount of the representatives varies from 7 to 60 members
- Members are usually selected via election, but also other methods are being used
- They are trying to make sure that decision-making in municipalities is fair to the young people
- Being a part of the municipal boards and other groups
- Taking part to the public discussion and start new discussions by highlighting the problems that young people are facing“
Whereas in Sweden, youth councils independent from the local government, some seemed to be connected to the local government and or depended on them, others seemed to be organised as local NGOs.
In Estonia, there seemed to be a legal framework for youth councils within the the national youth act and some movement to establish these in more and more municipalities.
Lithuania and Norway I‘ not sure of the bodies we got represented was really youth councils (Jugendgemeinderat) or more what in Germany is a Jugendring.
Some of the participants of the recent Tampere meeting or seminar on youth councils will try to collect information about this and set up an website with links and further information on that. So that we can provide more profound information and comparison on the subject.