May 11

"In the current corona crisis, plans for a second international youth conference this fall are more relevant than ever"

Responding to the overwhelming Corona crisis the entire world is about to shut down most social and economic activities. Many people and enterprises are free falling economically at a stunning rate, while at the same time societies are voluntarily or by force abandoning open spaces – be it subways, shopping malls, restaurants, or schools – to avoid the risks of deadly contamination. Closed borders and suspicious nationalism are challenging multilateral world trade and global economic operations.

Rule of law and parliamentarianism run the risk of being bypassed with parliaments eager to pass laws lending power to cabinets to exert public authority through decrees. In some cases in Europe and elsewhere in the world, obvious violations of the freedom of speech and sound knowledge occur when authorities, referring to public safety, ban critical media reporting and scientific inquiry. Such unbounded public authority, and ambiguous or absent procedures for holding politicians accountable, severely undermines open society.

Shutting down public spaces such as museums, concert halls, and theaters, or emptying open town squares and plazas, drain societies of both actual and symbolic expressions of the need for critical reflections on what it takes to be a human being. Even with genuinely compassionate decisions aimed at avoiding health risks, the world is running the risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

When the acute Corona crisis eventually has declined, it will leave a world irrevocably changed. Many foundations will need restoration: wealth-enhancing international business and trade pursuits; trust and activity in democratic life; and social cohesion that accommodates the vast economic, social, and cultural inequalities painfully evident in the spotlight of Corona. As the future will always belong to the young people, so also will they inherit a post-Corona society in much need of restoration.

In this light, the purpose of the think tank project to promote a dynamic democracy movement among 18–24-year-olds is more important than ever. This is the state of affairs in early May 2020 when I announce that we have settled the dates of 16-19 November for our second international youth conference onsite at Visual Arena Lindholmen in Gothenburg.

We are fully aware of the possibility of not being able to carry out this second conference this fall due to Corona, but also more dedicated than ever before to the think tank project. Be attentive to the launching of our open conference call, which we hope to share in late May.

Urban Strandberg
Co-initiator and Project Manager
IYTT: International Youth Think Tank