From 12 to 14 June, 26 young professionals from Western Europe had the opportunity to try their hand at diplomatic negotiations as they simulated the Helsinki Process by renegotiating the Helsinki Final Act as part of the 2023 Model OSCE event. The event, which takes place annually, was organized by the OSCE Office of the Secretary General, in close co-operation with the OSCE Chair of North Macedonia, and in partnership with the FES Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe.
The event brought together 16 women and 10 men from different backgrounds who all share a strong passion for multilateralism and security.
“Security personally affects everyone. Young people are the next generation, but we tend to forget they are also the generation of today. By empowering young people, we make them aware that they can already be agents of change”, said Viktória Granecová, a participant of the event.
During the three-day event, participants were able to learn about mediation and dialogue facilitation, negotiation skills and strategies, and the decision-making process at the OSCE. They also had the opportunity to apply their new knowledge and skills first-hand during a simulation exercise about the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act. Role-playing representatives of OSCE participating States, they researched their assigned country's position and then engaged in bilateral and multilateral negotiations to reach consensus of all delegates on the final document.
“It’s important to participate and to be included. Simulating international relations in events like Model OSCE is an excellent first step for young people to find out how difficult negotiations can be”, said Athina Papapavlou, another participant.
Participants also engaged in a discussion on the role of multilateralism and diplomacy with the OSCE Ambassadors and other representatives. Some of the key topics that were discussed include the role of the OSCE in promoting security and dialogue in the region, how security benefits from gender equality and what it means to be a diplomat.
“This Model OSCE initiative builds confidence among young people and supports them by enhancing their knowledge on OSCE principles, values and processes. We also provide an opportunity to practice skills that they can then apply not only in their professional endeavours but in many aspects of their lives”, said the Senior Advisor/Chief of Staff to the OSCE Secretary General, Allison Hart. “Such events also provide valuable opportunities for participants to share their perspectives on regional security and to foster mutual understanding across diverse communities”, she added.
“We work to integrate young voices in European security debates every chance we get”, said Christos Katsioulis, Director of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s Vienna-based FES Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe. “The Helsinki Act 50 years ago was a watershed moment for European security architecture. If we want to come up with similarly ground-breaking initiatives today, we need young minds with fresh ideas.”
The event paved the way for increased youth inclusion in the work of the OSCE. Interested participants can become part of a ‘pool of young experts’, meaning a roster of young professionals that was recently established to ensure more consistent engagement with youth. With this initiative, the Organization will be better able to include the voices and perspectives of young people in its work.
The OSCE Chairman-in-Office Special Representative on Youth Memet Zhaku highlighted the importance of youth engagement and participation on the agenda of the 2023 North Macedonia’s OSCE Chairpersonship. “We are not merely the leaders of tomorrow, we are the leaders of today. We, the youth, hold a unique position in shaping the world we want to live in, a world that embodies the values of peace, equality, and justice. Our voices matter and our contributions are crucial to finding innovative and sustainable solutions to the challenges we face”, he said.
This edition of Model OSCE was the first of a series that will be held at national, sub-regional and regional levels in the framework of the OSCE-wide project launched in March 2023 “Accelerating the implementation of the Youth and Security Agenda in the OSCE region”, which has thus far been supported by Italy, Liechtenstein and Spain.
Press release, OSCE, 14 June 2023: https://www.osce.org/secretariat/546118