High-level representatives of youth organisations from all continents met with several UN agencies and other intergovernmental institutions in Cairo, for the 5th International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations which took place between the 15 and the 17 June 2008. One of the conclusions was that the UN must put youth back on the agenda and stick to its promises towards youth.
“During the mandate of the former Secretary General, Kofi Annan, youth had higher visibility within the UN system.” – Said Bettina Schwarzmayr, President of the European Youth Forum (YFJ).
She got backing from her colleague Rita Solis, president of the Latin-American Youth Forum
(FLAJ) – “One of the clear proofs of the priority was the establishment of the Youth Employment Network, a co-operation between the UN, the ILO and the World Bank. The network was established on the initiative of Kofi Annan. The Youth Employment Network is growing in terms of countries developing and implementing national youth employment strategies but where is the support from the UN today?” – Rita asked.
Upcoming UN Youth Resolution
In 2009 the UN General Assembly will adopt a new resolution on youth, and the Member States are already preparing. At the same time the UN Agencies are working together with youth organisations and other experts to develop goals and targets for the UN World Program of Action for Youth. But before making yet another ambitious resolution the UN should stick to some of its previous resolutions:
- Strengthening the UN Youth Programme
- Promoting the goals and targets presented to the UNGA in 2007 to the Member States
- Ensuring funding for Youth Delegates to the UN from developing countries through the UN Youth Fund
Lack of coordination
More and more UN agencies work with youth but there is an obvious lack of coordination. The body one could expect to coordinate the work, the UN Youth Programme, is weak both in terms of resources and coordination. Despite several UN General Assembly resolutions calling upon a strengthening of the Youth Programme there are few resources within this division to ensure sufficient consultations with young people, coordination of UN Agencies or outreach to development countries. Knowing that young people constitute the majority of the population in many development countries this should be a priority of the UN.
One UN Reform
With the implementation of the One UN Reform the UN must also ensure mechanisms for youth participation on the national level. The UNFPA is taking the lead on establishing joint Youth Advisory Boards for different country offices of the UN Agencies, and UNFPA was also one of the UN institutions present at the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations (ICMYO).
Involvement of Youth Organisations
One of the conclusions from the meeting is that UN Agencies must take the democratic principles of the UN into account when establishing mechanisms for youth participation.
It is important that the UN works with democratic and representative organisations and not individuals. This will both ensure sustainability of the processes and outreach to far more young people.
Letter to Ban ki-Moon
The organisations gathering in the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations (ICMYO) will raise several of these concerns in a letter to the UN Secretary General.