Read the story of the Campaign for the Children and Young People’s Assembly for Wales and a forward look at the Welsh Youth Parliament.
When I visited Wales last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet some of the people who were involved in the Campaign for the Children and Young People’s Assembly for Wales. I was impressed by the fact that in Wales there was broad and growing acceptance that children are not simply passive observers in the world, but that they are and must be active citizens and agents of change.
As one young person from Rhondda Cynon Taff explains in this report: “It only makes sense to have a youth assembly … It encourages younger generations to become more politically active – getting their voices heard, instead of being drowned out in the noise.” I could not agree more.
It is imperative that young people are empowered to build the arguments that will maintain and reform our democracies. I learned during my visit that the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales and her team were working together with the young campaigners and others, so I am delighted but not surprised to learn that, at the time of this report, the election process toward the first Welsh Youth Parliament is underway. The innovative online voter registration for 11–18 year olds is another remarkable achievement that I am thrilled to see happening.
I congratulate you on this report and on the success of the campaign. I look forward to the next chapter in the story of children’s human rights and democracy in Wales, and am proud that the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law has played a part in the story so far, and will continue to do so in the future. Onward!
Hillary Rodham Clinton
It is important that the incredible effort, the tireless campaigning and the meticulous preparatory work, all of which has been undertaken by so many people and organisations in establishing a Welsh Youth Parliament, are documented, acknowledged and celebrated. This publication is a wonderful contribution to recalling that story – a tale which has been dominated by, above all else, the tenacity and resolve of young people to have their voices heard.
Young people’s participation in Wales has evolved and developed, often in parallel with the devolution process. We now have a confident and mature national Parliament with a very real sense of purpose and with the powers to match. It is incumbent upon us, as a modern, innovative and progressive Parliament, to create a similarly robust democratic structure for the nation’s young people. The Welsh Youth Parliament will be intrinsically linked to our national Parliament and it will serve as an important forum where young people’s voices will have a material influence on the decisions made.”
As a nation committed to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, implementing such an ambitious project is a significant development for Wales and it is our privilege as a National Parliament to deliver this commitment.
In the context of our work as a legislature, establishing the Youth Parliament ensures that we are discharging out duties to the voters of today and tomorrow – to each and every citizen in Wales – all of whom have a stake in our democracy.
Elin Jones AM
Presiding Officer, National Assembly for Wales