Declan McLaughlin (18), a Foróige member from Donegal has been selected to represent Ireland and participate in the Model Organisation for Security and Co-operation. The OSCE is an organisation of 57 states from across the globe which addresses a wide range of security related concerns including arms control, confidence and security-building measures, human rights, democratization, poling strategies and economic and environmental activities. As part of this role, he will be travelling to Vienna, Belgrade and Basel over the next 12 months. We talked to Declan about this thrilling opportunity!
Do you feel that your involvement in Foróige and your youth participation/advocacy training will benefit you in this new opportunity?
Having been a member of Foróige from a young age, I got many opportunities to engage in various activities and projects. I was involved in Foróige’s Youth Participation and Youth Leadership programmes. These programmes developed my public speaking, communication and problem resolution skills. I will take these skills with me to this new opportunity with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
What drew you to this opportunity, what caught your attention?
I received an email from Foróige in Dublin. The title “Youth Ambassador” interested me. The fact that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is an International organisation caught my attention. It involves travelling to Vienna, Belgrade and Basel. Additionally, the prospect of meeting 56 other youth participants from each of the OSCE member states appealed to me.
How do you feel about being selected?
I feel very privileged to have been selected by the joint chairmanship of the OSCE, Switzerland and Serbia. This opportunity was open to everybody between the age of 18-30 in Ireland. I am extremely proud to represent my country as the Irish Youth Ambassador on an international level.
Why do you think model OSCE is important? Do you think it is a good thing that young people are having their voices heard on these matters?
I think Model OSCE is important because their three objectives are; fostering security and stability in Europe, improving people’s lives and strengthening the OSCE and increasing its capacity to take action. As part of these objectives, Switzerland wants to strengthen the voice of young people and enhance their involvement with OSCE structures. By enhancing young people’s involvement within the OSCE, this gives them the opportunity to get familiar with OSCE structures and have their issues and concerns listened to. The OSCE “Youth Action Plan” will serve as a guiding document for the OSCE and its participating states regarding activities and policies that concern young people within the OSCE area. I believe that it is very important that young people have their voices heard in such matters and especially at a European level.