HELSINKI, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The need to enhance the participation of youth in political decision making worldwide was accentuated at a conference co-hosted by Finland and the United Nations, with support from Colombia and Qatar, on Tuesday and Wednesday in Helsinki.
The first ever international symposium on "youth participation in peace processes" gathered specialists, researchers and some 60 young people with hands-on experience of peace processes in conflict areas.
Maria Fernanda Espinosa, current president of the UN General Assembly, told the conference on Wednesday that most countries "do not involve young people in decision-making in meaningful way". She noted that less than six percent of lawmakers worldwide are under 35.
She also raised concern about the loss of potential innovation through youth unemployment. "The youth jobless rate worldwide is at 13 percent, which is three times higher than the adult rate." By 2030 half of the world population is expected to be under 30, she reminded.
Addressing the conference on Wednesday, Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini underlined the need for comprehensive policies of inclusion. "If we want to build stable and safe societies, we must listen to everyone: women, various ethnic and religious groups and young people." Soini also urged the inclusion of marginalized persons.
"Practices and spaces should be created to facilitate the participation of young people in political processes," Soini noted. "It is wrong to consider young people only as victims of conflicts or perpetrators of violence," he said earlier during the conference.
Finland was among the early promoters of a formal UN stand on young people. In 2011 Finnish youth organizations submitted an initiative to the UN on a resolution that would strengthen young people's role, the Finnish Foreign Ministry noted in a press release.
The second symposium will be arranged in Qatar next year.