Tuesday, October 30, 2007

STAR youth member attends Council of Europe Forum

Birmingham youth STAR member travels to Stockholm to represent STAR at the Council of Europe’s forum for the future of Democracy…

From Wednesday 13th to Friday15th June 2007, the Council of Europe, a political intergovernmental organisation which represents 47 European pluralist democracies, with 5 observers (Canada, the Holy See, Japan, Mexico and the United States of America) held its third forum for the future of Democracy in Europe.

I had the privilege to represent STAR as a delegate to this forum. I arrived at Arlanda Airport at around 12 o’clock and the sun was shining in the beautiful city of Stockholm. The other delegates and I were taken straight to the Ricksdag (the Swedish house of parliament) where the third forum for the future of Democracy in Europe was officially opened with a few speeches from officials. After the parallel panel session, we headed to Sigtuna, a little historic town situated 4 hours from Stockholm, by boat where a traditional Swedish Diner was served on board. We were welcomed to Sigtuna by the Mayor of the town and it was raining cats and dogs. We were taken to our respective hotels to end this fabulous first day in Sweden. On day two, we attended our different sessions. I chose the sub-theme 2: “Empowerment of the individual: non-discrimination” and the break out session 3: “Listening to the silent voices”. This really fits within STAR’s objectives. Emphasis was put on the empowerment of the individual and non-discrimination under any ground such as colour (black, white, etc) or status (asylum seeker, refugee, stateless, British, Latvian, etc) .This was a great day concluding with the cordial invitation of the Swedish Minister for Human Rights to a Dinner at Steninge Palace. It was all wine and champagne! The last day was all about our experience and the conclusion of the forum followed by the Spanish invitation for next year’s forum.

I learnt quite a lot about Human Rights and Democracy. The Council of Europe, being an intergovernmental organisation in Europe is the ideal organisation to address the issues of Human Rights and Democracy in a Europe that pretends to be democratic but where quite a few people, notably refugees and asylum seekers, are still marginalised and are not fully integrated into the Democratic machine. Meanwhile, the Heads of State and Governments of the Organisation’s member states decided to establish a Forum for the Future of Democracy to strengthen political freedoms and citizens’ participation. The invitation by the Spanish authorities to hold the 2008 session of the Forum in Madrid has been welcomed by the Forum and once again STAR has been invited! I did very much enjoy attending this event and was delighted to represent STAR at a European event.

By Brice Miakassissa

Posted by Russell Brooks on 30/10/2007 at 12:15 PM