What would it mean to participate in the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe?

Perhaps you already had the opportunity to see our Instagram post (@komsmladi) regarding the candidacy for the Advisory Council on Youth 2024-2025 of our Programme Coordinator, Anja Jokić. 

If I were to ask the members of the KOMS team to describe Anja, they would probably say what she says about herself: feminist, political scientist, vegetarian. At the age of 27, she has extensive experience in the civil sector, and she says that her values and interests coincided and that was the reason why she started (and stayed) working at KOMS. Almost 4 years ago, in 2019 to be exact, she started as an intern at KOMS, then she became an assistant, and today she is a programme coordinator. Her work at KOMS is focused on international and regional cooperation and youth rights. In addition to work, he also attends the master’s program of European Integration at the Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade. 

Since she is our candidate I used the opportunity to ask Anja all sorts of important things about this topic. 

To begin with, I asked her to tell me more about the entire candidacy process, to which she said: “The entire process has been very interesting, but if I am being honest, it was quite a challenge at first as it can be time-consuming. However, it quickly became enjoyable as I find it compelling getting to know other candidates and understand their priorities and motivation, as they stem from their unique experiences and knowledge acquired through engagement in the youth sector”. 

Naturally, the question arises as to why this candidacy is important – both for her and for KOMS. She answered this question: “For me, it is important to have the opportunity to work on priorities that align with my interests. I am content because these priorities are connected with KOMS priorities. It is crucial to me that everything I do on CCJ has a positive impact on young people, youth organizations, and the youth sector in Serbia, the Western Balkans, and Europe

I also perceive this candidacy to be an opportunity for young people and organizations that come from a country and region with limited opportunities, primarily due to the fact that we are not part of the European Union. This is an opportunity for young people to be involved in decision-making processes that directly concern democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, which I believe is crucial for the quality of life of young people in Serbia. 

Lastly, I strongly believe that young people are more than mere beneficiaries and voters. If given the opportunity, they can also be stakeholders and decision-makers. Therefore, my biggest motivation to be part of the AC is the space it provides for young people to be equal partners with government representatives in decision-making. This platform empowers young people to drive decisions that have a positive impact on young people from all parts of Europe.” 

Since we know that engagement in the work of an important body, such as the CCJ, would carry a lot of responsibility, I asked her what the responsibilities, and tasks she will perform if (and hopefully – when) she is selected as a member. 

The CCJ and its members play a crucial role in integrating youth policies and priorities into the program of activities of the Council of Europe. They achieve this by providing opinions and proposals to all bodies of the organization. Additionally, CCJ members ensure the active participation of young people in other activities of the Council of Europe. They also take on the responsibility of promoting the work of the CCJ and the organization externally. 

Also, if I am elected, as a member of the CCJ I would be in charge of some of the portfolios that are in line with the Council of Europe’s Youth Sector Strategy 2030. In my mandate, I would like to focus on closely related priorities that are in line with mine and the priorities of KOMS, and they would be the following: 

1) Cooperation with the YFJ and National Youth Councils from all CoE member states, 

2) Ensuring that the objectives of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda are embedded in the decisions and actions of the youth department, 

3) Granting young people access to their socio-economic rights in accordance with Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)7. 

And finally, I asked her to say immodestly – why does she think she would be the right choice for a member of the Council of Europe’s Youth Advisory Council?  

She said: “I believe that I am a strong candidate for the position for multiple reasons. Firstly, I possess solid knowledge in the field of project management, advocacy, and policy development and implementation at the national, regional, and international level. Additionally, I bring a unique perspective to the table regarding the challenges faced by young people in Serbia and the Western Balkans, which are currently underrepresented at the European level.  

Secondly, I would represent KOMS, an organization with well-developed capacities, and a sector that has established youth policy mechanisms that need to be implemented more effectively. Therefore, I believe that I can contribute significantly to the CCJ by highlighting the potential of youth policies and initiatives in Serbia and the Western Balkans.” 

In the end, we can only support Anja in her candidacy for the Advisory Council and wish her luck in the elections on April 21! 🤩 

Author: Danijela Nikolić