Last month, from 13th May to 14th May, I joined my fellow European Youth Forum delegates virtually for my first ever Council of Members Meeting (COMEM). While I would have loved to join the rest of my colleagues in Brussels and attend in person, I was unable to do due to having tested positive for coronavirus. It was a delightful experience nonetheless. From participating in several policy debates surrounding Ukraine, peace and security and the new membership fee model, to leading several consultation workshops on statutory reform, I made sure to get stuck in and participate as much as possible.
In addition, I should note that despite being physically away from the conference, I am extremely thankful to the handful of delegates who kept me up to date with events on the ground and engaged in important dialogues. It was also nice to keep in regular contact with those participating online who were equally as supportive!
Now for a look at the big headline moments of the COMEM:
• Firstly, in a major victory for the National Youth Council of Ukraine, delegates overwhelmingly voted in favour of their Urgent Resolution calling for greater support for Ukrainian youth and for the implementation of the Peace, Youth and Security Agenda in Europe. In addition, I was also delighted to see the Youth Forum adopt my amendment calling on states, parliaments, the EU, the Council of Europe and other humanitarian stakeholders to formally recognise Russia’s actions in Ukraine as an act of genocide! With this becoming official policy, I look forward to working with the European Youth Forum to pressure the previously mentioned entities to recognise these crimes for what they are.
• In another show of support for Ukraine, the Youth Forum also backed the Lithuanian National Youth Council’s motion calling on EU states to sever economic ties with Russia due to its illegal invasion.
• Alongside this motion, delegates also overwhelmingly approved a motion put forth by the Belarussian National Youth Council calling on support to young Belarussians who despite being opposed to the repressive and pro-Putin leadership of President Alexander Lukashenko, and also to Belarus’s involvement in the war in Ukraine, face the tackles of being discriminated against. Having run on a platform championing human rights which specifically decried the actions of Lukashenko, I was particularly proud to vote for this motion!
• Delegates also voted overwhelmingly in favour of strengthening and updating the Youth Forum’s stance on tackling anti-Semitism in youth spaces and beyond. Given the rising levels of anti-Semitism all across Europe, it was great to see that the motion was approved without any opposition: a clear signal of our need to do more, as youth delegates, to tackle intolerance.
• Delegates also approved the new membership fee model which will now replace our current outdated system, which for the past two decades has left many of our Eastern partners facing significant financial pressures. This was a significant step in the name of financial equity and ensuring the system is fairer for members of all capacities.
• Lastly (but definitely not least!!), after the end of the COMEM, online and in-person delegates all turned to Eurovision where we all kept the spirit of European unity alive as we saw a wide array of amazing performances. It was also a pleasure to see the level of support and solidarity that was shown to Ukraine as it won the competition, and to also have Sam Ryder win us a stunning 2nd place!! In terms of European diplomacy, nothing quite beats the unity and show of support always shown in Eurovision, so all of the UK Young Ambassadors are extremely pleased with these results!
Altogether, not only did this COMEM see a range of important motions passed, but it truly brought alive the spirit of solidarity, cooperation and adherence to human rights upon which the European Youth Forum was originally founded.
Looking forward to the next one, this time in Tirana, Albania!