Democracy in Action: Youth Parliament Commences in Nauru

August 24, 2023
Nauru Youth Parliament

Youth Parliament participants in Nauru, amplifying youth voices across the country.

Photo: UNDP

Yaren, Nauru: For a democracy to thrive, a country’s civic space must engage with all members of its population.

Targeted youth programming in the parliamentary domain is one way to ensure that younger generations become active participants in political and decision-making spaces, with the Pacific nation of Nauru seeing the second iteration of its Youth Parliament meeting this week.

17 participants from across the island, including five women, have met at the country’s Parliament House to discuss issues that not only matter to them as young people, but ways in which they can become agents of change.

Nauru’s Youth Parliament is supported via the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji through the Nauru Accountable and Inclusive Governance (NAIG) Project.

The four-year project works to strengthen democratic institutions in Nauru by supporting the National Parliament and Nauru Electoral Commission in their roles ensuring effective, inclusive, and accountable political governance. The project also works with Nauru’s judiciary on strengthening the rule of law and access to justice across the country.

The event features a mock parliamentary session, with participants debating a bill on substance abuse, a key social issue currently impacting younger people in Nauru. In addition, topics such as teenage pregnancy, sexual and reproductive health, and school attendance rates will be presented by youth members as motions of public interest that will also be debated.

In preparation for the event, participants took part in two training sessions on house procedures and the application of Parliamentary Standing Orders.

The Youth Parliament's aim is two-fold: to enhance youth awareness of the parliamentary system and democracy, and to foster self-confidence, research skills, and active citizenship.

In Nauru, 19.3 percent of the population is aged between 15-24, therefore their engagement in civic education is vital to ensure that the country’s younger generation act as informed, open-minded, and responsible citizens who will shape Nauruan society moving forward.

Hon. Marcus Stephen, Speaker of Nauru’s Parliament, attended the opening session and addressed those in attendance:

“The Nauru Youth Parliament intends to create a forum where Nauruan young people can discuss and reflect on topics that concern them. I encourage you to make the most of the three days, participate and learn as much as you can. This is the House for all Nauruans, including youth like yourselves, you should be proud that you have been chosen for this programme.”

Nauru Youth Parliament

Jomima Jones, Youth Parliament Speaker, presiding over the floor of the house.

Photo: UNDP

Jomina Jones, who was elected Speaker of the Nauru Youth Parliament for 2023, said she was proud to represent her fellow Nauruan youth, and saw this an opportunity to have her voice heard on matters that are affecting young people across the country.

“I am here to represent the voices of hundreds of young people in Nauru. I am grateful to participate in the Nauru Youth Parliament, we never get the opportunity in Nauru where we can voice our ideas and opinions of issues that matter to us. I am looking forward to my role as Speaker of the session and leading discussions in the house,” Ms. Jones said.

Rustam Pulatov, Team Leader – UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Effective Governance and Inclusive Growth, said the Youth Parliament provided participants with new skills that can be applied beyond just the political and decision-making spaces.

“Nauru’s Youth Parliament offers practical experience in debating, discussing, and making decisions on various issues, simulating the actual parliamentary process. While engagement in this activity can cultivate a lasting interest in political and civic affairs, the skills learned at Youth Parliament are vital for any young person, whether they wish to pursue a career in politics or elsewhere,” he said.  

UNDP’s Nauru Accountable and Inclusive Governance Project is supported by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  

For further media enquiries please contact:

Nick Turner, Communications and Advocacy Specialist, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. (P) +679 971 6458 - (E)