Enhancing youth participation, dialogue and mutual understanding

The High-level Meeting on Youth will be held in New York on 25-26 July

On 18 December 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the year commencing on 12 August 2010 as the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. With the same resolution also calling for a conference on youth to mark the year, the General Assembly will hold a High-level Meeting with the overarching theme “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”.

The Meeting will be comprised of an opening session and two consecutive informal interactive round tables on 25 July and plenary meetings on 26 July. The round tables will be chaired by Member States at the invitation of the President of the General Assembly and will include representatives of UN entities, civil society, youth-led organizations and the private sector.

The round tables will be held to promote interactive and substantive discussions on the following themes:

Round table 1: Strengthening international cooperation regarding youth and enhancing dialogue, mutual understanding and active youth participation as indispensable elements towards achieving social integration, full employment and the eradication of poverty;

Round table 2: Challenges to youth development and opportunities for poverty eradication, employment and sustainable development.

Speaking at the opening plenary will be the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and an eminent person actively engaged in youth issues and a youth representative of non-governmental organizations.

The event will result in the production of an Outcome Document, currently being negotiated by Member States, taking into account written input from over 89 youth-led organizations, which will be put forward for adoption at the General Assembly.

It is expected that between 500-700 young people and youth organizations will attend the event from all regions of the world. In addition to the events taking place on 25-26 July, three days of side events will be arranged in the lead up to and following the High-level Meeting, on 21-22 and 27 July.

The side events, organized by Member States, civil society and the UN, will encompass a variety of topics related to youth, ranging from employment, gender equality, environment, education and more.

Wednesday, 27 July will be devoted to a day-long side event on investment by the private sector and youth philanthropists as actors of development. The event is organized by DESA/Division for Social Policy and Development/Focal Point on Youth together with the NGOs Restless Development and Search for Common Ground.

More information: http://social.un.org/youthyear/high-level-meeting.html

Debating outcomes of international migration

Informal thematic debate of the 65th session of the General Assembly on international migration and development was held in New York on 19 May

The President of the General Assembly convened an informal thematic debate to take stock of the progress made by Governments in implementing policies that maximize the development benefits of international migration and that address its negative consequences since the 2006 High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development. The debate also launched the preparatory process leading to the second High-level Dialogue that the General Assembly will conduct in 2013.

The debate recognized that international migration had many positive consequences for the migrants themselves, their families, for host societies as well as for communities of origin. While acknowledging that the developmental impact of remittances could be improved, participants noted that remittances were private income and could not be a substitute for foreign direct investment or official development assistance. Countries of origin were strengthening their ties with nationals abroad by promoting their political participation, encouraging trade and investment linkages, and providing legal assistance. Innovative strategies to harness migrant entrepreneurship were also showcased. However, migrant entrepreneurs who had returned faced numerous practical obstacles. Some countries presented novel circular migration policies.

Examples of the adverse effects that international migration could have on families, especially on children who stayed behind in the countries of origin, were also provided. Concerns were raised about the international recruitment of skilled professionals, such as doctors, nurses and teachers, from developing countries facing serious skills shortages. Several speakers cautioned that international migration should not be considered an alternative pathway to development: Governments, not migrants, were responsible for achieving sustainable, human development. Participants underscored that migrants were first and foremost human beings with inalienable rights, which transcended their immigration status.

Cooperation at the global, regional and bilateral levels was considered an essential component of any strategy seeking to enhance the contributions of international migrants to development. Participants recognized the important role of regional consultative processes in promoting dialogue and cooperation among countries. They also acknowledged the importance of bilateral initiatives in acknowledging qualifications, facilitating the mobility of skilled migrants, supporting voluntary return, and ensuring portability of pensions and other social benefits. Greater international cooperation was required to address the root causes of international migration, including poverty, lack of employment opportunities, conflict, poor governance and environmental degradation.

International migration was increasingly being incorporated into national development plans and poverty reduction strategies. Since 2006, donor countries had allocated nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to multilateral activities on international migration and development. States had a shared responsibility in promoting safe and legal international migration, combating irregular migration and human trafficking, enhancing migrant integration, safeguarding migrants’ rights, and protecting the most vulnerable, including migrant women and children. Transnational crimes, including human trafficking and migrant smuggling, offered striking examples of policy concerns that could only be addressed effectively through collaboration at the bilateral or multilateral levels.

The State-led Global Forum on Migration and Development had much contributed to fostering cooperation, sharing good practices and promoting a constructive dialogue among Member States as well as with civil society. However, the future of the Forum was challenged by a lack of stable funding. Some Member States identified the UN– and in particular the General Assembly – as the most suitable venue to promote global cooperation and dialogue on international migration and development. Participants expressed appreciation for the increased interagency collaboration, in particular among the members of the Global Migration Group, which includes 15 entities of the UN system and the International Organization for Migration.

The debate successfully identified innovative policies, programmes and projects being developed and implemented to leverage the contributions of international migrants to development. By showcasing good practices and allowing the sharing of experience and information, the debate set a useful basis for the in-depth consideration of those issues in 2013.

For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ga/president/65/initiatives/migration.shtml

Getting it right as a new nation is born

The Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission convened an informal joint event on 13 June on “Promoting Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Sudan and South Sudan“

On 9 July, South Sudan becomes the world’s youngest state following one of Africa’s longest and deadliest civil wars. As such it faces many challenges – 90% of the population live below internationally defined income standards; 92% of women cannot read or write; one out of every seven children dies before their fifth birthday; and few children complete primary school.

As the South becomes independent, both the North and South will face a number of socio-economic challenges which require the early mobilization of the international community to ensure the development of two viable states and to consolidate the peace attained, despite recent military clashes along the border.

On 13 June, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission convened an informal joint event “Promoting Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Sudan and South Sudan“ to highlight the importance of development to peace; the need for effective international support to Sudan and South Sudan and the importance of regional cooperation.

Two panel sessions were held under the themes “Development and state-building priorities in South Sudan” and “Promoting durable peace and sustainable development in the Sudan and South Sudan: A regional perspective“.

The event featured statements by many high-level representatives including the President of ECOSOC, Lazarous Kapambwe; Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, Eugène-Richard Gasana; President of the General Assembly, Joseph Deiss, Deputy Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro; Permanent Representative of the Sudan to the United Nations, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman; and Vice-President of Southern Sudan Riek Machar.

Acknowledging that this meeting takes place at a critical time, many speakers conveyed the importance of capacity building in South Sudan and the need for efficient international cooperation and support. They also underscored the need for political stability and basic security for development, as well as the importance of national ownership and an inclusive and participatory approach to governance to restore confidence and create legitimacy of the new state.

“It is well recognized that economic and social development can only occur if basic security is provided. At the same time, a successful and rapid implementation of economic and social programmes could help to stabilize the fragile security situation. This is why this joint special event between our two bodies is so important,” said Lazarous Kapambwe, President of ECOSOC, in his opening statement.

Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly, also recognized that the UN and the international community face a historic moment, “in a few weeks, a new State will formally declare its independence and will become a Member of the United Nations. This is a remarkable achievement, and we must spare no effort to ensure that this process is a success. This is critical, not only for the history of Sudan and of its people, but for the entire region and the continent,” he said.

Shortly after 9 July, South Sudan is expected to become a member of the UN, making the total number of member states 193. At this time, the new state will also have a development plan ready to highlight its needs to the international community.

For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/ http://www.un.org/peace/peacebuilding/

Counting down to Rio+20

The one-year count-down to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, was successfully marked in New York on 15 June with the screening of the animated movie “Rio”

“Rio+20 is the occasion for reinvigorating the spirit of Rio and re-launching our world on the pathway to a sustainable future,” said Mr. Sha Zukang, DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and the Rio+20 Secretary-General. “We think this film, in its own particular way, captures many of the themes that we are looking to address in Rio.”

Up to one thousand New Yorkers, including children and their parents saw the movie. Hosted by DESA and the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the UN, in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox, the screening was also attended by the director of the movie, Mr. Carlos Saldanha.

In the beginning of June, Mr. Sha also led a small mission to participate in the ceremonies held in Rio de Janeiro. In his message at the national launch ceremony, hosted by President Dilma Roussef at the Palácio do Planalto on 7 June, he stressed that the “plus” in Rio+20 should also be a plus to political commitment, development partnership and action on the ground.

Rio+20 will take place in Rio de Janeiro on 4-6 June 2012 and will have two main themes: “Achieving a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” and “The institutional framework for sustainable development”.

For more information: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/

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