CHOGM 2013 in Sri Lanka:
The Youth Parliamentary concept of Sri Lanka
Ms. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights of United
Nations has expressed that ‘the members of youth parliament of Sri Lanka
will guide a new era of tolerant coexistence when they graduate to the
main political stage. Ms. Pillay addressed the third session of the
second Sri Lanka Youth Parliament as chief guest at the National Youth
Services Council at Maharagama on 30th August 2013.
Jaffna library, a hallmark of youth development rebuilt after
the period of terror
Her participation at Sri Lankan Youth Parliament demonstrates the
high recognition of the concept of youth Parliament of Sri Lanka The Sri
Lanka Youth Parliament is a youth led, youth run initiative, which aims
to mobilize and create a network of young people to bring about positive
and sustainable change to issues that affect youth and their communities
in the country. It provides skills and opportunities for young men and
women to play a leadership role in identifying and addressing the needs
of their own communities as well as regions.
The younger generation of Sri Lanka is blessed with various youth
development programmes and the appreciation of the UN Human Rights
Commissioner thereof is evidence of its importance.
During her speech she appreciated the youth Parliamentary system with
the elected young parliamentarians and how they conducted their own
Therefore the Youth Parliamentary system of our country should be an
ideal concept to educate the visiting foreign delegates of the CHOGM as
to how in our country democracy is instilled into the minds of the
younger generation from the very grassroot levels. The youth
Parliamentary concept was adopted by the National Youth Services Council
However, the first session of the official Youth Parliament of Sri
Lanka was held in 2011/2012 by our young leaders, especially of the
rural areas. It was a very attractive and eye-catching program and the
credit for its success goes to the youth leaders concerned.
Before the birth of the concept of the Youth Parliament, the model
United Nations Assembly was popular amongst the younger generation
around the world. The Model UN assembly programmes organised by various
educational institutions including High Schools, Universities and other
educational societies were popular amongst the youth.
It was around the latter part of 1990 that the Youth Parliament
concept surfaced, which aroused interest amongst the younger generation.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings, with Youth forum and
Economic forum, are due to be held in Sri Lanka during the second and
third weeks of next November. Undoubtedly it will be an important land
mark in the economic and international relations development of our
Therefore, it is my considered view that this is an opportune moment
to showcase the steps taken by the government in the direction of
development of the youth in a democratic process.
The United Kingdom Youth Parliament
The UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) established in the year 2000 includes
members of youth organisations in the UK, aged between 11 and 18. The
parliament now consists of around 600 members, who are elected to
represent the views of young people in their areas to government and
Over 500,000 young people vote in the elections each year, which are
held in at least 90 percent of electorates. It is currently managed by
the British Youth Council Members meet regularly to hold debates and
plan campaigns, at venues including the British Museum, the House of
Lords and the House of Commons. Young people hold important positions
throughout the organisation’s management, and it has been endorsed by
the leaders of all three main political parties. The following main
objectives are actively drawn in UKYP.
* The UKYP ensures that the young people of the UK are given a voice
on any issue that affects them and as laid out in Article 12 of the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child
* The UKYP gives the young people of the UK an opportunity to be
involved in a democratic process at a national level
* The UKYP empowers young people to take positive action within their
local communities based upon their issues of concern. The UKYP
encourages community action for social change
The UKYP is a non-party political organisation, and as such, seeks to
represent no party political view. The UKYP is solely issue based
The European Youth Parliament
The European Youth Parliament organisation structure is not similar
to Sri Lankan Youth Parliament. EYP is a non-profit making organisation,
which encourages European youth to actively engage in citizenship and
cultural understanding. It involves around 40,000 youngsters from all
around Europe EYP was established in 1987 in Fontainebleau, France.
The first International session of Youth Parliament was also held in
1988 in France. EYP annual session will also be held in France in 2013.
The members of the following countries will participate at the European
Youth Parliament sessions: Azerbaijan, Albania, Luxembourg, Armenia,
Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria Croatia, Cyprus Czech Republic, Estonia,
Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy,
Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania Republic of Moldova, Netherlands, Norway,
Poland Portugal, Romania ,Russia, Serbia ,Slovakia Spain Sweden,
Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.
The YMCA New South Wales Youth Parliament
The YMCA New South Wales Youth Parliament is an apolitical YMCA Youth
Parliament program coordinated by the YMCA of NSW, and acts as a
platform for youth advocacy for 15-18 Year olds.
Participants spend time in committees developing bills and then
attend a week-long camp during which the legislation and other motions
are debated in the NSW Parliament. Successfully passed bills are handed
to the state Government and Opposition for consideration. The program
was launched in 2002, attracting 32 participants representing regional
teams. 2013 saw the introduction of the Legislative Council and the move
back to YMCA.
Indian Youth Parliament
The law-making bodies are required to discuss various local, national
and international issues and then make suitable laws on them. The
members of these bodies present all points of views and try to represent
all kinds of interests related to a problem.
Eventually there is accommodation of various interests and a
compromise decision taken. An effort is always made to take such a
decision as would please most and antagonise least. Such decisions are
frequently taken by Parliament.
The decisions of Parliament are important since they affect the whole
Each one of us is affected by the decisions of Parliament. The
decisions are the result of long drawn debates. For conducting debates
in Parliament a detailed procedure of rules is followed. The rules are
based on democratic principles.
By these rules it is ensured that everybody gets a chance to be heard
and a proper decorum is maintained in the course of discussion that goes
on in Parliament. India's Long Democratic Tradition Democracy is not a
new concept to India. India has a long tradition of tolerance of
different views and creeds, which is the hall-mark of any true
There is also considerable evidence of widespread existence of
democratic institutions in ancient India. In the Vedic period the
republics were called Gama Rajyas The composition, powers and functions
of the Indian parliament are generally included in the course of study
at the middle, secondary and higher secondary stages of schooling
Knowledge of its procedure helps in developing an insight into the
working of parliament and therefore the session of Youth parliament have
a special importance in developing such an insight in the young
The first Youth Parliament Competition was held in 1966-67. Since
then every year competitions are held and various prizes are awarded to
the schools of Delhi. In 1978, the ‘Youth Parliament’ scheme was
extended to Selected Kendriya Vidyalayas situated in and around Delhi.
However, in 1982-83 a separate scheme of Youth Parliament Competition
was introduced for the Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central Schools) and
competitions under the scheme have regularly been held every year among
the Kendriya Vidyalayas situated in Delhi and its adjoining states. To
commemorate 40 years of India's Independence and Pandit Jawahar Lal
Nehru's birth centenary the scheme was launched at the national level in
which Kendriya Vidyalayas from all parts of the country participated.
The Youth Parliament of Canada was a youth model parliament that met
bi-annually, and later annually, in the 1980s. The delegates to Youth
Parliament of Canada were drawn mostly from the eight provincial youth
parliaments then operating in Canada In 1977, representatives from seven
of the eight youth parliaments met to discuss the organisation of a
national youth parliament. This meeting resulted in the creation of the
National Youth Parliament Association (NYPA). The NYPA was a federally
incorporated non-profit making organisation. Two representatives from
each provincial youth parliament were appointed as directors of the
NYPA, who in turn appointed a six-member executive. While YPC had a
Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, cabinet, shadow cabinet, and
committee system similar to a real parliament, the members of YPC did
not represent any political parties. At all times, each member,
including cabinet ministers, was entitled to vote according to
conscience. The Youth Parliament of Canada usually had eight cabinet
ministers, one from each of the provincial youth parliaments. Each
minister would introduce “legislation” for debate. Unlike some of the
provincial youth parliaments, YPC legislation was never for the
establishment of any form of ongoing project. The bills would be limited
to the consideration of local, national and international issues of the
day. Debates occurred in both English and French, with simultaneous
translation available for all delegates.
Youth Parliament had been held every three to four years since 1994.
Youth Parliament was first held to mark the 20th anniversary of the
lowering of the voting age to 18 years. The inaugural Youth Parliament
was a short event that involved young people coming to Parliament for an
education day. Due to the success of the event, Cabinet invited the
Minister of Youth Affairs to hold a Youth Parliament every three years
from 1997. This was particularly relevant as it was the first year of a
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) government.
The 335 youth parliament members will be randomly divided as
Government members, 168 and Opposition members, 167. The Speaker and the
Deputy Speaker of the house will be elected by the two sides
unanimously. The Prime Minister and 12 Ministers will be selected.
(Altogether 13 Ministers) Of the rest, a Deputy Prime Minister will be
selected representing an ethnicity from that of the Prime Minister. The
house will select the Leader of the House and the Leader of the
Opposition. The organisers of the government and opposition sides will
be selected by both parties separately... A total of 547 youth contested
for the last Youth Parliament while 138 were elected uncontested. The
Youth Parliament also elected 44 female members. An umbrella
organisation within the Commonwealth Youth Parliaments can be formed
during the proceedings of the forthcoming CHOGM, where Sri Lankan youth
can take the initiative with the experience they have gained in
practices and procedures of a democratic government.