A changing youth for a changing international relations’ discipline? Youth power in international policies

03 Nov 2021 - 13:00 / 14:45

205AB, Viale Romania

Speaker: Amandine Orsini , Université Libre de Bruxelles

Recent youth protests, especially on climate change issues, are reminding us that youth is a key actor of international politics. Yet, very few studies of international relations analyze youth. By explaining how current youth understandings in international relations, vehiculated by international institutions, have controlled and shaped youth roles in international negotiation processes, this contribution aims at presenting these different constructions of youth in international politics and confront them to youth perspectives.

More precisely, the contribution brings theoretical reflections, by explaining how youth has been constructed, both by the literature in international relations, and by international institutions, around several roles, that all, to some extent, instrumentalize youth by imposing expectations and needs on young people. In particular, youth has been constructed as: (i) victims and therefore recipients of policies, policies needed for their protection; (ii) potentials, and therefore investments for the future. While studying where these constructions of youth come from, the contribution also intends to go beyond and highlight how recent youth actors themselves perceive their role on the international scene, with regards to climate policies, showing how some of them recently embrace a third role, a role of (iii) actors in their own rights.

While providing a review of literature on youth and international relations, the contribution also has an empirical dimension, retracing youth participation in earth politics.