- Global Youth Advisory Council (GYAC)
- Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC)
- UNHCR Child Protection and Youth Unit
Introduction to the project
2014 - 2019
Women’s Refugee Commission and UNHCR have worked collaboratively with young people and with local, national and international humanitarian actors to establish structured mechanisms to intentionally promote refugee youth participation through the Global Refugee Youth Consultations (GRYC) and the Global Youth Advisory Council (GYAC).
The initiatives focused on engaging youth and supporting them to identify and tackle the challenges that young people face in displacement settings, to take action personally and to advocate for positive change on behalf of themselves, their peers and their communities at the community, national and global levels.
VIDEO: Global Youth Advisory Council message for UNHCR Representatives (May 2018)
Main activities of the Good Practice
Global Refugee Youth Consultations (GRYC) took place During 2015-2016. UNHCR and Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), with funding from the Swiss Development Cooperation and the United States Bureau for Populations, Refugees and Migration (PRM) led the Global Refugee Youth Consultations (GRYC), which involved over 1450 youth from 34 countries. The GRYC were achieved through a collaborative, multi-stakeholder effort and used a carefully crafted participatory approach, which is explained in the Toolkit & Session Plans for Consulting with Youth. The GRYC was a participatory process that engaged young people to share their perspectives on the challenges that young refugees face and empowered them to propose and implement solutions. Participating youth crafted a policy framework for action, Core Actions for Refugee Youth and recommendations for different actors on how to implement that framework. The findings of the Global Refugee Youth Consultations are presented in We Believe in Youth: Global Refugee Youth Consultations Final Report. The GRYC prompted many participants to develop youth-led projects or initiatives and to engage and advocate with decision makers, such as community leaders, local authorities, UNCHR staff or partners at the at the local, national or global levels, about policy, programming and services that are important to them.
In 2017, the High Commissioner for Refugees appointed the inaugural Global Youth Advisory Council (GYAC) as a sustainable mechanism to facilitate this positive engagement of young people of concern at the global level in recognition of the valuable perspective that young refugee leaders bring through their engagement with UNHCR and partners at the global level. The specific aims of the UNHCR Global Youth Advisory Council are to:
- Work with UNHCR and partners to operationalise and institutionalise the Core Actions for Refugee Youth;
- Serve as a consultative group on issues relating to the protection and development of the young people that UNHCR works with globally, including those who are internally displaced and stateless;
- Represent the voices of the young people that UNHCR works with and for, ensuring that their perspectives are heard, considered and incorporated into the work of UNHCR at national, regional and global levels;
- Advise UNHCR on principled, practical and actionable solutions to youth-specific protection challenges linked to the Core Actions for Refugee Youth; and
- Participate in various fora and events to advance the aims of young people and the work of UNHCR in addressing youth issues.
The GYAC is committed to building capacity to operationalize the Core Actions for Refugee Youth and to supporting implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees at the local and national levels. Support for the GYAC has been provided through a partnership between UNHCR and the Women’s Refugee Commission with funding from the Swiss Development Cooperation and Global Affairs Canada. The GYAC Annual Report 2018 summarizes the work of the GYAC in its first year. The GYAC Annual Report 2019 shares the GYAC achievements.
- UNHCR Global Youth Advisory Council
- Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC)
- UNHCR Child Protection and Youth Unit (CPYU)
Challenges and how they were overcome
Insufficient investment in building and utilizing refugee youth capacities.
Results of the Good Practice
As a result of GRYC and the GYAC refugee, displaced and host youth are:
- Developing their leadership, advocacy, networking, and communication skills;
- Working together with other youth to develop youth-led action and solutions to the challenges that they and their peers face;
- Working with other young men and women to advance protection for their peers who are particularly vulnerable due to living with disabilities, identifying as LGBTIQ or another minority status.
- Advocating at the local, national, regional and global levels on issues of importance to young refugees;
- Promoting protection, education, livelihoods, environmental responsibility, psychosocial support and gender equality for young refugees and their communities;
- Providing input and feedback to UNHCR on key policy documents that are important to youth and their communities such as: the Education Strategy, the SGBV strategy and the Strategy on resettlement and alternative Pathways.
GRYC and GYAC resulted in enhanced advocacy by and for youth on key refugee issues.
The GYAC first two years of the GYAC coincided with the drafting of the Global Compact on Refugees and preparation for the GRF. The GYAC used this as an opportunity to advocate for refugee youth participation in all aspects of refugee responses. The GYAC organized consultations with their communities to inform Recommendations on drafting of the GCR and have participated in preparations for the GRF. The GYAC members have also provided feedback to UNHCR on key policy documents, including the education strategy and the strategy on resettlement and alternative pathways. Individually they have used their voices to raise awareness of the specific challenges that young refugees face and to advocate for refugee youth to be involved in designing and delivering solutions and to share good practice examples in the countries where they live and at international fora.
Efforts to engage and support young refugees through the GRYC and the GYAC have also resulted in youth-led action at the local or country level, which strengthens community resilience, including the following:
- In Uganda, a young refugee woman founded and leads “Girls Out of School” to teach cooking and catering skills to young mothers and other young refugee women who are out of school.
- Also in Uganda, a young refugee woman build a solar powered music studio; she recruits local talent and helps them to write songs with socially relevant messages, record albums and sell their creations.
- In Morocco, a young refugee man started and leads “Living Together”, which teaches the local population about refugees and promotes peaceful coexistence.
- In Australia, a young refugee works with his university to develop a scheme to provide scholarships for other young refugees.
- In Zimbabwe, a GYAC member has led refugee youth in child protection, sports and emergency response initiatives within the community at the Tongogara refugee camp. He has also been active in promoting refugee involvement in sports at the competitive level.
- In Kenya, a GYAC member started her own mentoring organization that connects young refugees with adults who have professional or vocational skills and then helps them to become mentors themselves.
- In Pakistan, GYAC member promotes peaceful coexistence between refugee and host community refugee youth, with a focus on girls’ education
- In Colombia, a displaced youth who is a member of the GYAC is working with displaced and refugee youth to articulate their stories and advance peaceful coexistence.
- In Austria, a young refugee is working with private-sector actors to promote young refugees’ access to education and jobs and is advocating for their human rights
- In Mexico, a young refugee is providing material support and capacity building for refugees and migrants.
- In Germany, young refugees are active in promoting psychosocial support and mental healthcare services for young refugees in their own languages
- In Germany GYAC members have been active in promoting mental health and psychosocial support services for refugees and have engaged with local and national authorities on key issues related to refugees’ integration and protection.
- In East Africa, GYAC members have represented youth and young women at the regional South Sudanese Peace process.
VIDEO: Global Youth Advisory Council message for International Youth Day (August 2019)