The EST Campaign 2019-2020
To see Part 1 of the Common Articles written by our team of International Ambassadors, along with the introduction written by our International Officer, please click here.
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Youth Movements
The last few years have marked the rise to protests around the world, with Europe seeing more than its fair share. What makes, or breaks, the success of these protests depends on many different factors such as the government’s response and how other citizens in the country get involved. The tradition of protesting is something that is unfamiliar to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are sometimes perceived as strong-minded people. No matter how many different empires and kingdoms ruled over Bosnia and Herzegovina, our people have had different ways of getting almost everything we wanted from those in charge. However, what changed along the way, and why people are not utilizing the right to protest properly, remains unanswered. From 2013 onwards Bosnia and Herzegovina had several protests, all of which had different final results and responses from the government.
Most notably, was the first big protest that quickly spread through the country was an Anti-government protest which started in Tuzla, February 2013. Then the so-called ‘JMBG’ protests. That, in a way, united the whole country behind a wish to save the life of one baby but it later evolved into the protest with the greater cause – protecting all the newborn babies by giving them the ID Number needed for the identification documents and medical treatments abroad. These protests were also in the backdrop of protests from war veterans that have been ongoing for years, as the government did not meet their conditions among which the creation of the united registry of the war veterans. The protest Pravda za Davida and Pravda za Đenana are seeking the truth and justice for the families of the two murdered boys whose killers are yet to be identified.
All in all, in the majority of cases of government response, was a direct response to the behaviour of the protest participants. For example, as the Anti-government protests were getting violent so did the response of the government forces, unfortunately. Thankfully those protests finished before the violence could escalate. On the positive side, it is important to say that JMBG protests in just a few days thanks to the peaceful protests and demands of the huge amount of citizens the issues of the ID numbers distribution was solved by the government. The protests of war veterans finished recently with the government agreeing on publishing the joint registry of the war veterans that is now available online for everyone to see. On the other side, protests Pravada za Davida have seen a lot of the repression from the Republika Srpska government, even though the protests are peaceful they were in a number of occasions forbidden by the government or forcefully stopped. The case of the Davids murder, as well as Đenans, remains unsolved. Yet, the group of young people and other citizens are still not giving up on protesting and demanding justice for the families of the two young boys.
What is positive in this evaluation is that the majority of the protests were youth lead or organised by young people or civil sector organisations. The younger generation of B&H citizens sees protests as the opportunity to express their opinion and advocate for the cause they are passionate about in a lawful way. Indeed, protests had partial success, yet their results are not discouraging and hope that in future this means of expressing the opinion of the young generation will be used more often to keep the government and politicians in check. We live in democratic countries and we should use the power we have to make sure that our countries are on the way to become stable and prosperous.
Bosnia & Herzegovina EST Ambassador 2019: Enna Zone Đonlić
Germany, Freiburg: How does youth action / student protest make a change in your (home) country?
In a city where most people use bikes instead of cars, choose to shop organic and attempt to reduce, or even eliminate, their consumption of animal products, it’s no surprise that one of the main topics getting attention here is climate change. In all my travels, In all my travels, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place with such informed and environmentally conscious people, and it’s been eye-opening in the best way possible.
The Climate change movement ‘Fridays for Future’ has found a particularly strong particularly strong following here, with university students, kids and their parents alike all coming together each Friday to protest for a better future. ‘Fridays for future’, as you likely already know, was inspired by Greta Thunberg– a Swedish school girl who has been on strike for climate change every Friday since August 2018. In Freiburg, both the NABU and NAJU (Nature Conservation and Youth Union) Baden Württemberg stand behind the cause and support participation in these demonstrations– an example of this being on the 20th of September when 30,000 people showed up in support of the cause.
These demonstrations are meant to serve as a wake-up call to the older generations. With slogans like ‘Do your homework, and we’ll do ours’, students are trying to make the people in positions of power realize that their current measures to protect the environment just aren’t good enough, and we are not going to be able to make the changes that need to be done to protect our future alone– we need their help.
With thousands of people coming together in support of these demonstrations, I am hopeful that the seriousness of the cause will be recognised and that change will come, sooner rather than later.
Germany, Freiburg EST Ambassador 2019: Rebecca Botello
Italy, Messina: Youth Action, Student Movements for Rights, the Environment and their Effects on Society and Institutions
The social commitment of students is a very important element in the civic life of society. In past seasons and in the present, university and high school students have often mobilized for specific or general problems with education, the environment, as well as for purposes of work and rights. An example of this was the student movement in Italy during the 2008 economic crisis which resulted in the non-violent participation of students who got involved with public assemblies and student’s group in a variety of universities. By collaborating with professors, researchers and workers they created documents, studies, and programs to alleviate the financial issues in education at the time. They also proactively met with delegates from local and national institutions. At the same time, that youth action and civic movement worked to the information and the participation of people and society.
This type of youth action is the basis for the democratic, civic and citizen participation of various youth and general society related to life policy and institution activities. It can be of valid support for policy making and the issues of various and central topics. Similar experiences now with the big issues of environment. Global public opinion is broadly oriented about being active in this international and interdependent problem between macro-regions and states. They met to agree about environment interventions and programs of sustainable growth by national governments, international organizations and the European Union as guaranteed in the Declarations, the Agenda, Conferences and treaty. Now it’s time to act.
Italy, Messina EST Ambassador 2019: Giosè Venuto
The Netherlands: All the Youth Can Do
In the Netherlands youth action has been a part of society since the first Christian and social-democratic youth movements in the second half of the 19th century. Since then, youth action has grown to be a fundamental part of our society. During the 1960s the first anti-authoritarian youth movement became active in Amsterdam. This youth movement was called ‘Provo’, which was derived from the noun ‘provocation’. The Provo’s used playful actions to bring attention to their interests, which included openness about love, the environment and sustainability, emancipation, art, the breakdown of authority and democratization. With plans such as free bikes that everyone in the city could use, or factory chimneys without toxic emissions, the Provo’s established the basis for many youth movements in the following years.
The topics that youth movements in the Netherlands such as Provo brought awareness to in the 1960s and on, have a lot in common with the interests of the youth nowadays. The different forms of youth action have some similarities as well, such as the main objectives of confusing the authorities, and acting in a manner of civil disobedience. With the rise of climate activists these forms of protest have revived. Since April 2019 the climate movement Extinction Rebellion has become active in Europe and therefore in Amsterdam as well, blocking the roads and disrupting traffic for hours. As the Provo movement in the past first received a lot of resistance it later also generated a lot of sympathy. This sympathy for youth action in the Netherlands has definitely grown since then and can be seen now as well, with a newly announced plan for a parliament consisting of youth between 16 and 24 years old to be established in the upcoming year. This youth parliament will become an advising organ to the general parliament which shows the growing importance that is attached to the opinions of the youth.
The power of the youth in youth movements and political youth organizations comes from their liberty to speak and act in creative and innovative manners, which the general movements due to their formal interests don’t have. This gives the youth the opportunity to be more idealistic and focused on the future, which is exactly what the world needs when change is wanted.
Netherlands, Leiden EST Ambassador 2019: Julia Blanken
Sweden, Gothenburg: The Last Green Spring? A Brief Assessment of Fridays for Future in Sweden
The most prominent example of recent youth action and student activism in Sweden is undoubtedly Skolstrejk för Klimatet, the ´Fridays for Future movement´ initiated by teenage activist Greta Thunberg in 2018. This movement has since spread throughout the world, with over 8000 strikes registered in 3500 cities during the “Week for Future” at the end of September 2019. The call for change has inspired hundreds of thousands – occasionally millions – of young people to demonstrate in protest of insufficient measures to address climate change. But what impact has the movement had on the domestic level in Sweden? This is difficult – and probably too early – to tell: the movement has certainly raised the consciousness of the immanence of the climate crisis and facilitated youth-based activism, but Greta is a polarising figure and her rhetoric has also generated harsh criticism from Op-ed writers, business leaders, and segments of the general public alike. It is difficult to attribute changes in public attitudes and consumer patterns to a single cause. Several variables might affect these outcomes. A concrete behavioural change associated with demands raised by the climate movement is the dramatic decline of flights – especially domestic – in Sweden. Aside from campaigns by environmental movements – such as Fridays for Future – public shaming on social media, raised flights taxes and airport fees, and extreme weather conditions, other factors may also have had a significant impact on these changes. Economic changes such as a declining exchange rate for the Swedish krona, growing unemployment rates, and growing inflation rates – all indicating that the Swedish economy is entering the early phases of a recession – also deters consumers from spending on e.g expensive vacations abroad. Furthermore, despite climate change having been a focal subject ahead of the European Parliamentary elections in Sweden, the issue seems to have been drowned out in recent public discourse on the domestic level. This is at least the case among political parties, where it has seemingly been displaced by questions concerning immigration, refugees, public order and safety, cultural identity, social welfare, organised crime, and gun violence. Moreover, the Green Party Miljöpartiet (MP) has steadily lost support since entering the governing coalition with Socialdemokraterna (S) in 2014, and is barely eligible to parliament today, with merely 5% public support. Without clearly demonstrating how the issue of climate change ties into the more visceral and acute feelings of distress shared by many voters, I am afraid the prospects of successful persuasion might be lost among significant segments of the electorate.
Sweden, Gothenburg EST Ambassador 2019: Egil Sturk