This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) sets for the terms and understanding between the Constituent Executive Committee and the Stakeholder Institutions in order to found the policy-oriented youth solidarity network titled “Co-Opinion”. This MOU is not a commitment of funds for the Stakeholder Institution.

A. Background

For decades youth have often been framed as apathetic, apolitical, and disengaged from civic action, while their possible political mobilization has been impaired through repression and surveillance. No more. Disenchanted with current regimes, youth participation in social movements in different countries has transformed the socio-political milieu of countries. Although there are different dynamics for the different settings, we can observe a common thread across the world that youth became powerful agents for showing social resentment and encountering existing regimes. Especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), they distressingly suffer from flawed education systems, exacerbating economic conditions, and political corruption. Hence, they develop creative and sophisticated forms of contention to exert pressure over the governments. The social mobilization of young people heralds a new era for the world politics – the current political establishments cannot encroach upon the youth agency anymore. On the other hand, in this new era, fundamentalist movements gain momentum and begin to appeal to young people. As a result, we face the threat that youth become more and more radicalized and cannot settle their issues through prevailing institutional mechanisms. Therefore, young people need to cooperate and take action to resolve their own problems.

B. Purpose

Co-Opinion is a non-partisan policy-oriented network, which is based in Istanbul/Turkey. It mobilizes influential youth civil society organizations, academic institutes, and universities in Turkey and 5 countries in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA), namely Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt to advocate youth policies and empower young people in Turkey and the MENA region by capitalizing on Turkey’s geo-strategic role between Europe and the MENA, and ensuring cross-regional experience-sharing. This network advocates an integrated approach for youth policies in the region to improve the agency of youth and to enhance their economic and social prospects, by producing academic knowledge, engaging in the relevant policy-oriented projects, and by founding participatory institutional mechanisms for the youth.
 
The network aims to contribute to peace, welfare and democracy in the MENA in a bottom-up way by mobilizing the youth to the action and to play a liaison role between the youth and the media, academia, civil society in the MENA.
  

Co-Opinion shall not be organically linked with any political party or government in the MENA.

C. Activities

The above goals will be accomplished by undertaking the following activities:

  • C1. A legal platform shall be created in which the youth can discuss about their problems;
  • C2. Policy proposals shall be crafted by the Academic Team of the network to address the problems of the youth;
  • C3. The outcomes/findings of these policy proposals shall be advocated at various levels and conveyed to the policy-makers in the region;
  • C4. The Annual Youth Summit shall be organized, in which young people from all over the world will participate in. This summit might be organized in the countries on a rotating basis, where the stakeholder institutions operate officially;
  • C5. A Consultation Workshop shall be organized annually in which the representatives of Stakeholder Institutions meet and discuss about the annual agenda of the network;
  • C6. Thematic workshops can be organized with a focus on a specific topic relevant for the youth in the region. Following the events, the workshop reports shall be addressed to the policy-makers.
  • C7. Social responsibility projects might be implemented with the help of business sector and civil society to alleviate the problems of the youth.

D. Decision-Making Structure & Responsibilities

The decision-making structure of the network comprises of four bodies:

  • D1. The General Assembly consists of the representatives of the Stakeholder Institutions. These representatives shall annually meet in the Consultation Workshop.Each Stakeholder Institution is obliged to be represented in the General Assembly, who is eligible for taking decisions on behalf of the institution. Each Stakeholder Institution shall contribute to the network through the provision of technical expertise, the mobilization of young people in its country, the advocacy of the outcomes of policy proposals, and the facilitation of the social responsibility projects.The annual agenda of the network is determined by the General Assembly.In case that any Stakeholder Institution embraces violence and discrimination, acts clearly in a partisan fashion and harms the other social groups in their field of action, its membership might be suspended or permanently ended by the General Assembly upon the request of the Executive Committee.
  • D2. The Executive Committee is responsible for the organization of the Consultation Workshop, Annual Youth Summit, Thematic Workshops, and social responsibility projects and for finding funds/managing annual budget in order to guarantee the sustainability of the network.The Committee is also responsible for founding an Academic Team, which leads the production of policy proposals.Between June 2015 and June 2016, the Constituent Executive Committee shall be formed by the Turkish project managers and the Regional Representatives from at least 2 countries. From June 2016 onwards, the Constituent Executive Committee shall found a Permanent Secretariat in Turkey that serves legally as a focal point of the network.From June 2016 onwards, the Executive Committee shall be formed by the stakeholders from one country that is selected annually on rotating basis and Regional Representatives from at least 2 countries that are selected annually on rotating basis.The specific decision-making processes for the annual election of the Executive Committee shall be decided by the General Assembly. The Executive Committee shall report to the General Assembly.
  • D3. The International Steering Committee is annually elected body consisting of individuals from each country, where the Stakeholder Institutions operate.The main responsibilities of the International Steering Committee are to facilitate the activities of the Executive Committee in each country by seeking funds and providing expertise, and to ensure the active participation of Stakeholder Institutions in the activities of the network.Each country shall be represented by one individual in the International Steering Committee. The representative of a Stakeholder Institution in a given country might run for this position. All candidates from each country are voted and elected by the General Assembly on the basis of simple majority. The International Steering Committee shall report to the General Assembly.
  • D4. The Permanent Secretariat shall be legally founded in Turkey by the Constituent Executive Committee from June 2016 onwards.The Permanent Secretariat shall serve as a focal point of the network and actively organize events in the name of the network. The Permanent Secretariat shall be the legal embodiment of the Co-Opinion network and report to the General Assembly.

E. Duration

This MOU is at-will and may be modified by mutual consent of the signatories. This MOU shall become effective upon signature and will remain in effect until modified or terminated by any one of the partners. The signatories accept the principles of the network. In case that any Stakeholder Institution embraces violence and discrimination, acts clearly in a partisan fashion and harms the other social groups in their field of action, its membership through this MOU might be terminated unilaterally based on the procedures specified in the MOU. Signatories of the Stakeholder Institutions must be officially authorized to sign on behalf of the Stakeholder Institution.