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Government urged to set up youth affairs body

The Federal Youth Commission wants the government to set up a co-ordinating body for all youth questions, and to examine all new draft legislation for its compatibility with a youth article in the new constitution.

The Federal Youth Commission wants the government to set up a co-ordinating body for all youth questions, and to examine all new draft legislation for its compatibility with a youth article in the new constitution.

The Commission's call is not new, but is now more urgent because of the binding prescriptions with regard to youth and children's rights contained in the new constitution, and in the UN convention on the Rights of the Child, which Switzerland ratified in 1997.

Youth affairs are handled by the cantons who have widely different policies. The Federal Youth Commission is urging the cantonal authorities to introduce laws that promote child and youth policies. The Commission would also like the federal government to specify its own goals.

There has been a trend to expanding the civic rights of the young. A parliamentary committee recently came out in favour of lowering the voting age to 16, while excluding teenagers of this age from taking office.

The Federal Youth Commission wants all such issues to be co-ordinated by a government- run office which would act as an interface between the federal administration, the government and Cantons, and between local authorities and NGOs.

The Commission says too little is known about youth problems, and suggests that questions pertaining to juveniles be more thoroughly looked into by the National Science and Research Foundation.

But the Commission's proposals, outlined in a position paper, have already been criticised by the Swiss Association of Youth Groups who object to youth and children's policies being unified. However, all interest groups say they are willing to work out their differences.

by Peter Haller

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