Another COMMIT Youth Forum is now part of history. Last week, youth representatives from six countries - Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - met at the Regional COMMIT Youth Forum 2016 in the capital of Lao PDR, Vientiane to discuss and share experience in preventing human trafficking and unsafe migration in their communities.
The abbreviation COMMIT stands for the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking - an inter-governmental agreement between the six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
The forum was organised in collaboration between Terre des Hommes, Save the Children, IOM X, UN-ACT and World Vision, from November 21st to 25th, under the theme ‘youth should be alert together against human trafficking’. It was also supported by the Lao People's Revolutionary Youth Union.
The forum aimed to allow youth to learn more about human trafficking in their region and how it is linked to migration, as well as to discuss ways of developing effective behaviour change communication messages to youth in relation to safe migration and trafficking prevention.
In addition to the forum itself, youth delegates had an opportunity to meet with representatives of their governments sitting on the regional COMMIT task force. The young people also presented their views and messages at the 11th Senior Officials Meeting.
"By participating in this forum, I was given an opportunity to learn more about human trafficking and unsafe migration issue and the lessons learned shared by other youth from the region," said Reaskmey, a 16-year-old youth representative from Cambodia.
She added that she also had a golden chance to interact with her country’s government official and learn more how her government cooperate with other six countries in order to fight against human trafficking.
Child and youth participation in the area of combating human trafficking is as important as child and youth participation in any other area of life - it enables children and youth to be consulted when decisions that affect them are being made and it makes prevention activities targeted at youth more effective if youth are involved in the design and implementation of these activities.
Youth participation has been formally endorsed by the COMMIT governments and is included in the COMMIT regional plan of action. The past two regional forums have been equally appreciated by both participants and government officials. A lot remains to be done, however, to ensure that young people’s voices from affected communities are represented and heard at national events and decision-making forums throughout the year - a challenge we all need to work actively to address.
by Stefan Stoyanov
Technical Expert Trafficking & Migration in Asia
Terre des Hommes Netherlands
Asia Regional Office