Legal regulation of youth policy

Favorable and explicit legal regulation is a prerequisite for successful development of youth policy. After restoration of independence of Lithuania, youth organizations that have been operating in Lithuania before the war (Scouts, “Ateitininkai” – Catholic youth education organization, Young Lithuanians, the Gediminids, Riflemen) and subdivisions established by international organizations have renewed their activities, new youth organizations started to establish as well. In 1992, the Lithuanian Youth Council (hereinafter referred to as LiJOT) was established with the effort of some organizations with the main purpose to unite national youth organizations and regional youth organization unions. LiJOT started intensive communication with similar foreign organizations, got experience in the European youth policy structures, started representing the interests of the Lithuanian youth organizations.

The first legal act – “State Youth Policy Conception” (Official Gazette, 1996, No. 65-1537), submitted by LiJOT to the Seimas, defining the guidelines of modern youth policy in Lithuania, was adopted by the Seimas in 1996. The adopted conception defines the purposes and principles of youth policy, the structure that is responsible for implementation thereof – State Council of Youth Affairs, as well as the conception implementation financing source – State Youth Fund. The State Council of Youth Affairs, constituted from individual officeholders of ministries and representatives delegated by non-governmental youth organizations, was assigned an interdepartmental coordination of policy of individual ministries on youth matters (defined in the conception) and development of youth activities (non-formal youth education).

In 1998 the Government of the Republic of Lithuania approved the Program “Youth for Lithuania” for 2000-2001 to implement the State Youth Policy Conception. The program covered seven chapters: educating public spirit, participating in cultural and sports life, improving personality in learning process, preventing suicide, crime, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, prostitution, and AIDS, assisting people suffering from mental and physical violence, assisting people who have committed crime and other violation of legal acts, mandatory military service.

The State Youth Policy Conception has for a long time been the main legal act, governing the development of youth policy in Lithuania.

The Law on Youth Policy Framework, which was initiated in 2001, was approved in 2003 (Official Gazette, 2003, No. 119-5406; 2005, No. 144-5238). The Law on Youth Policy Framework for the first time established the terms of youth organizations as well as youth organization councils and acknowledged their importance as well as contribution to the education of personality of a young person; named responsible institutions at the national (State Council of Youth Affairs) and local level, established the role of municipal coordinators of youth affairs, councils of youth affairs, councils of youth organizations.

The Law on amendments and supplements to Articles 7 and 8 of the Law on Local Self-Government of the Republic of Lithuania No. IX – 1095, adopted by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania on 24 September 2002 (Official Gazette, 2002, No. 96-4171), establishing that the protection of rights of children and youth has become the function of the state (handed over to municipalities) had a great effect on the development of municipal youth policy. It practically meant that in 2003 all municipalities will have to establish the positions of coordinators of youth affairs, which will be provided from the state budget. Main functions were provided for the coordinators of youth affairs – to assist the municipal institutions to frame and implement the municipal youth policy.

The chapter on youth policy was for the first time incorporated as a separate part in the Program of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania for 2004-2008 (Official Gazette, 2005, No. 40-1290). Implementing the provisions and measures, provided in the program, legal base was improved and supplemented in the field of youth policy.

Implementing the provision of the program of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania to “Encourage the cohesion of youth organizations, helping to educate civil spirit as well as solve youth problems in the areas of performance of military duty, education and science, employment and provision with dwelling, leisure and culture, social and health service, sports, crime prevention, and such other areas. Encourage building and activities of associated youth structures; sustain their interface with local self-government and rural communities”:

  • The amendments to the Law on Youth Policy Framework were adopted in the end of 2005 (Official Gazette, 2005, No. 144-5238), providing for the reformation of the State Council of Youth Affairs to the Department of Youth Affairs under the Ministry of Social Security and Labor (hereinafter referred to the Department of Youth Affairs) and formation of the Council of Youth Affairs to perform the advisory function.
  • The Program for Development of Youth Policy in Municipalities for 2007–2009 with the purpose to enable the development of youth policy in municipalities was approved by the Resolution No. 898 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania of 14 August 2007 (Official Gazette, 2007, No. 95-3825).

The National Program for Education and Promotion of Youth Enterprise for 2008-2012 (Official Gazette, 2008-04-22 No. 46-1728) with the purpose to develop a consistent efficiently functioning system for responsible youth enterprise education was worked out and approved to implement the provision of the program of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania to “Sustain the education of youth enterprise. Endeavor that as many young people as possible were provided with the conditions to start up their own business”.

Implementing the Program for Development of Youth Policy in Municipalities for 2007–2009, the number of legal acts was approved in the field of youth policy:

  • Governing the activities of municipal coordinators of youth affairs, a standard job description for a municipal coordinator of youth affairs was approved by the Order No. A1-68 of the Minister of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania of 4 March 2008 on the standard job description for a municipal coordinator of youth affairs (Official Gazette, 2008, No. 29-1042), describing the purpose of a municipal coordinator of youth affairs, special requirements, main functions, as well as responsibility. 
  • Description of quality assessment methodology of youth policy in municipalities and quality assessment of youth policy in municipalities, approved by the Order No. A1-157 of the Minister of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania of 19 May 2008 (Official Gazette, 2008, No. 60-2273). This description regulates the purpose, tasks, principles, organization, performance, and reporting on quality assessment of youth policy in municipalities.
  • Typical regulations of municipal councils for youth affairs, approved by the Order No. A1-4 of the Minister of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania of 8 January 2009 on the approval of typical regulations of municipal councils of youth affairs (Official Gazette, 2009, No. 6-201).
  • Conception of open youth centers and spaces, approved by the Order No. 2V-38-(1.4) of the Director of Department of Youth Affairs of 7 April 2010.

Developing youth policy in municipalities on the expiration of the Program of development of youth policy in municipalities for 2007–2009, the Program of development of youth policy in municipalities for 2010-2012 was approved by the Order No. A1-234 of the Minister of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania of 11 June 2010 (Official Gazette, 2010, No. 70-3476). The purpose of this program is to develop youth policy in municipalities: encourage the establishment and activities of youth organizations, sustain the relation thereof with the municipal institutions, rural as well as urban communities, improve the activities of municipal coordinators of youth affairs, improve the activities relevant to framing and implementing youth policy of municipal institutions, improve the qualification of experts as well as volunteers working with youth, introduce and coordinate the system of monitoring youth situation and quality assessment of youth policy in municipalities.

Program of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania for 2008-2012 (Official Gazette, 2009, No. 33-1268) also provides for the chapter on youth policy. Implementing the provisions and measures, provided in the program, in December 2010 the Government of the Republic of Lithuania approved the National youth policy development program for 2011-2019 (Official Gazette, 2010, No. 142-7299), providing for the following purposes:

  • To ensure the development of social security, education, and health systems to meet various needs of youth;
  • To educate a conscious, public-spirited, patriotic, mature, cultured, and creative personality of a young person, capable of being an active part of diverse society;
  • To develop and coordinate the system of work with youth as well as ensure the development of youth employment infrastructure;
  • To establish favorable conditions for consistent and quality activities for youth and organizations working with youth with the view of more active involvement of youth in organized activities;
  • To ensure the cooperation between the departments and sectors in developing a cohesive youth policy based on facts and knowledge.