Youth delegates at the 61st GA session

Youth delegates at the 61st GA session

The youth delegates meet the Secretary-General
Youth Delegates meet the Secretary-General


Youth Delegate from Australia Elise Klein: At 23, Elise has accomplished what some people would have only dreamed about. She has attained an Environmental Science Degree, and has recently commenced her honours in this field. In 2005, she returned from Mali, West Africa, where she led a team of young people on a trip to visit a school she was instrumental in raising funds to build and sustain. Elise’s enthusiasm for social justice and the causes she believes in is unwavering. “I’m addicted to not only trying to make my life amazing, but improving the lives of others too.” Elise explains. Elise is the second eldest of four children. She grew up on the Mornington Peninsula and still lives with her close knit family in rural Victoria. Over the past 6 years, she has worked at the edgy Reach Foundation where she facilitates a full range of programs for young people from all walks of life including school workshops, camps, leadership days, as well as the program that originally sparked her interest, Heroes’ Days. Elise has also played a significant role in the development of two new and exciting Reach programs; a ‘girls only’ program called Birdcage, and a program focused on indigenous young women, called Flame. The Mali project also continues, with Elise now raising further funds to increase the school’s intake of orphaned and disadvantaged children and create a secondary school. Elise sends a special thanks to all her family and friends, the Reach Foundation, UNYA, DFAT and the 5000+ Australian young people who met with Elise over the last year to arm her with their thoughts, ideas and stories for the 61st UNGA.


Youth Delegate from Denmark Signe Bo: Age 25, from Århus in Denmark, student of information studies of the University of Aarhus. Hobbies are music, politics and friends. More about me: Four years ago, I moved to Aarhus, in Denmark to begin my studies in informations studies at the university of Aarhus. I have done a great deal of work for the Danish YMCA and YWCA, both nationally and in projects including partners in the Middle East. I have been a member of the study board at my institute. And takes a great deal of interest in student politics. Besides that I like to play music and does so in a small band. In the spring 2006 I was appointed a youth delegate, by the Danish youth Council. My main issue is to stress the importance of youth participation, and to make sure that young people can be active participants in democracies, both nationally and internationally.

Youth Delegate from Denmark Andreas Rudkjøbing: Age 25, from Copenhagen in Denmark. Appointed youth delegate by the Danish Youth Council (DUF). Medical student and Secretary General of the National Union of Students in Denmark. My experience with the United Nations includes being the Liaison Officer to UNECSCO for my background organisation – The International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). I served as President of the IFMSA in 2004-2005, where I have had the opportunity to work with several UN system organizations, such as the WHO, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNHCHR and now, the UN. I have been involved in the international youth movement for several years where I have served for ICMYO, the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations and in a working group on global affairs in the European Youth Forum. From the above, you may have guessed already, that I am an ardent advocate for youth participation at all levels!


Youth Delegate from Finland Lotta Backlund: Age: 25; Residence: Helsinki, Finland; Occupation: Radio host, stand up-comedian, student; Hobbies: Politics, organisations. More about me: I’m hosting a morning show on radio NRJ in Finland, so I’m looking forward to NOT having to go to sleep every night at 9 p.m. in New York. I’ve been involved in politics for the last 8 years or so. I’ve mainly focused on educational politics and international co-operation. I’m currently president of the Nordic Youth Council. I’m really looking forward to participating in the General Assembly in New York this October, as well as being able to share my experiences back home after the GA. 


Youth Delegate from Germany Christina Apel: Age: 24; Residence: Bamberg, Germany; Occupation: Student of Sociology; Hobbies: Organizing youth camps, travelling, dancing. More about me: I started supervising youth groups seven years ago and I have trained youth camp leaders for four years now. Creating an atmosphere young people enjoy to spent their time in and in which they learn to discover their skills has always been one of my main goals. After passing my A-level I went travelling in Australia, Malaysia and Thailand for have a year. During this journey I met many people from different cultures. I got to know different life situations, I saw hunger, poverty and environmental pollution of an extent I have never seen before. When I came back home I started studying sociology and participated in different international youth meetings concerning for example peace and conflict. In order to share the valuable experiences I made, I participated in a training to become an international supervisor. In 2005, I was chosen as German Youth Delegate to the UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris, France. As young people we have the opportunity to shape our own future, put forward our ideas and stand up for what is important to us. Let’s do this together!

Youth Delegate from Germany Jan Martin Munz: Age: 21; Residence: Tübingen, South West Germany; Occupation: Student of International Economics with a special focus on the Middle East and Arabic; Hobbies: Rugby, soccer, national and international politics. More about me: Together with my colleague Christina, I have been elected German Youth Delegate in February 2006. Since then, we have been doing a Tour de Germany on which we met youth from all over the country to inform them about the UN and to get to know their wishes and demands on topics of the WPAY. Currently, I am studying International Economics and Arabic at the University of Tübingen. Before, I served my civil service in a boarding school for orphans and socially underprivileged children in Lebanon, which was a really great experience. During high school, I was a member of the local youth city council in my home town Heilbronn for several years. I chaired the committee for one year.
Also, see archived video footage of statements made at the General Assembly:


Youth Delegate from Ghana Ransford McCarroll Kpakpo Addo: Age 25 years; a marketing graduate from the Institute of Management Studies (UK) currently pursuing an MBA in Human Resources Management; as president of his student council, he worked on issues related to the emancipation of students through dialoque and a philosophy of non-violence, first at his school, and then at the national level. A member of the Central Committe of the the National Union of Ghana Students, he was elected president of the Ghana Union of Professional Students (GUPS), the biggest student group in Ghana and the biggest bloc of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS). He has also worked with the National Youth Council as Project Officer assisting young people and youth groups in a accessing the National Youth Fund established by the Government of Ghana to help youth establish their own small scale businesses.


Traci-Ann C. Johns: Age: 19; Residence: Manchester, Jamaica; Occupation: Student and Jamaican Youth Ambassador-at-Large; Hobbies: swimming, tennis, and reading; More about me: I am a second year student pursuing a BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology at the University of Technology, Jamaica. I am a volunteer at Kingston Youth Information Centre which is serves approximately one thousand young people by providing free Internet access. The centre is one of a number operated by the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) across the island. My experience as a youth leader in Jamaica, commenced in 2003, when I was elected as Vice President for the student council at Bishop Gibson High School for Girls, giving me an opportunity to advocate for the rights of students. Three years later, in March 2006, I applied for and was short listed, from over eighty applicants for the position of Youth Ambassador. After a gruelling selection process, I was one of eleven other young persons who appointed to the Jamaica Youth Ambassador Programme. My portfolio is a Youth Ambassador-at-Large. It was an honour to have been chosen to represent Jamaica on behalf of the approximately 488,000 Jamaican youth for the 2006 United Nation’s General Assembly. I applaud the Government of Jamaica for believing in the capacity of youth to represent and advocate on our own behalf. And what about the future? I was also recently selected as the Youth Representative on the Government of Jamaica Delegation headed by Honourable Maxine Henry-Wilson, Minister of Education and Youth to the Commonwealth Education Minister’s Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa 8-14, December.


Youth Delegate from Malta Christine M. Cassar: Age: 20; Residence: Mosta, Malta; Occupation:International Relations student; Hobbies: music, politics, travelling and intercultural experiences. More about me: I am Chairperson of IAPSS, the International Association for Political Science Students, and have been involved in national and international youth projects in the past few years. I believe that young people can make a very valuable contribution to society on local, national, regional and international levels. I think that this has been shown time and time again, and that when we look at the development happening around us it is difficult to not be impressed by the role that young people are playing in it. And so goes the old cliché – young people aren’t just the leaders of tomorrow, we are also the leaders of today. My belief in this has allowed me to lobby the Government of Malta, and for the first time Malta will have a youth delegate at the United Nations General Assembly. But as I have said time and time again – being a youth delegate is not about a trip to New York or just about listening to important people. It’s about showing that we have our opinions and views, and that if we are integrated into the framework of progress in the world, this will surely be more sustainable. I commend the Maltese government, and hope that more countries – from both North and South – will recognize the benefits of having youth delegates in their national delegations. Email Address:


Youth Delegate from Mexico Felipe Valdivieso Vega: Age: 23; Residence: Bahías de Huatulco, Oaxaca, México; Occupation: Student of International Relations at Universidad del Mar. Hobbies: I like reading, participating and organizing Model United Nations, writing essays of different topics, teaching math and other subjects, giving speeches about people, politics. More about me: Right now I am studying International Relations at Universidad del Mar in Huatulco, Oaxaca. I’m the chief editor of an online student journal that deals with International Relations issues; Last year I was selected to be the Secretary General of the Model UN we organized in my university. For the past seven years, I have taught math, chemistry and physics to high school students during my free time. I like organizing public speaking competitions about national and international issues for children and young people. This is the second time Mexico has sent Youth delegates. The selection process was done through open competition; social organizations as well as schools and universities were invited. This year, the Secretariat of Foreign Relations, the National Institute for Indigenous Peoples, the Mexican Institute for Youth and the Comission for the Family arranged the selection process. First, they made a selection based on essays and afterwards they interviewed the finalists. This was the process how I became one of the three youth delegates from Mexico for the 61st session of the UN GA. Since the decision was made we have been in constant training with all the organizing institutions. This is a great opportunity for me to share my experiencies with other representatives of the world. I am very sure that this experience will be a significant one in my life. When I return to my country, I hope to share my experience with many young people in Mexico and my University (UMAR). Web:,,

Youth Delegate from Mexico Marco Negrete Jiménez: Born in a chaotic Mexico City in 1983. During his childhood he spent one year in the United States, and his adolescence was lived in Québec, Canada. He studied International Relations at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and spent a semester abroad as teacher’s assistant at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. For two years now, he has been active in Mexican NGOs devoted to the promotion of children’s rights. He is currently working for Thais, Social Development, SC ( In July 2006 he, along with Felipe Valdivieso and Miguel Ángel Carreón, was selected by various Mexican government agencies to be a youth delegate at the 61st Session of the General Assembly. This experience will serve him to further understand how the world can work together to foster the development of its peoples, and its peoples’ children and youth. Marco is a traveller by nature, both within his country and beyond its borders. He is an avid runner, reader and music lover. Carpe diem. Email:

Youth Delegate from Mexico Miguel Ángel Carreón Sánchez: Age: 24; Residence: Mexico City, Mexico; Occupation: Student of Economics at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México Hobbies: I really enjoy reading, writing and travelling. Also I like discussions and workshops about current social issues and sharing ideas about politics. More about me: At the moment, I am studying Economics at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. I have been involved in several political and social activities in Mexico for a long time, most of them regarding youth problems. I really enjoy analysing different subjects such as poverty, sustainable development, migration, pollution and other social problems based on an economical perspective and framework, for having a better understanding about their causes and seeking solutions. Also, I was selected to participate as a Mexican delegate at the 4th UNESCO Youth Forum at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. Then I went to Washington, D.C to participate in Espacio USA: Vanguardia Latina, where we discussed on how to achieve to have a hemispheric and common agenda all Latin American countries. In 2004 I was granted to be a house representative for three days in a Parliamentary Model at the Mexico City’s congress and other many more great experiences. Right now, I am a member of the Mexican Youth Institute Council that seeks to help and enhance the youth projects’ productivity among the country, contributing with feedback and new ideas. Along with Marco Negrete and Felipe Valdivieso I was selected by different government agencies to be at the GA 61st Session. Since that moment we have been in a training programme to learn and give the best of ourselves at the GA. I am sure that this will be a great experience to really learn closely the GA way of working and a huge chance of learning how to make foreign politics. Email:


Youth Delegate from the Netherlands Wilco Otte: Age 23; from Utrecht; Student Human Geography and Urban Planning; Co-worker at the foundation ‘Corporate Social Responsibility Netherlands’; Hobbies: Travelling, politics, soccer and playing the saxophone. For the last year I have been working as the Youth Representative of the Netherlands to the GA of the UN. Therefore I tried to reach as much youth as possible by organising a debate, a youth trip to India, a festival and I tried to create awareness about the UN among the Dutch youth. The latter came into action by visiting several schools and by giving lectures at various locations. I lobbied for more Youth Delegates, and with success, I warmly welcome the Youth Delegates of Romania and Malta here today! I am passionate about our world, and therefore I always try to remind myself that this world should be without injustice and based on more equality. I will try to use this fantastic opportunity to work for improved youth participation in political decision-making, both in the Netherlands and within the UN system. Therefore I will do my very best! 


Youth Delegate from Norway Lars-Henrik Michelsen: Age: 25; Residence: Oslo in Norway; Occupation: President of Young Liberals of Norway; Hobbies: Football, fishing, Uganda and politics. More about me: For the last three years I have been working with politics in Norway. My main political goal is to make trade fair, end the world’s addiction to fossil fuels and helping Norway become a member of EU. Besides being the president of Young Liberals of Norway I try fulfil my academic career (I study political science). May 2006 I was appointed by the Norwegian Youth Council as one of the two Youth delegates from Norway to the UN General Assembly. I will try to use this fantastic opportunity to work for improved youth participation in political decision-making, both in Norway and within the UN system. 

Youth Delegate from Norway Kathrine Sund: I am currently the president of SAIH, The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund. I have been involved in SAIH for many years, beginning as a volunteer at the local level in 2000. Some of the main topics I have been working on in SAIH, are: higher education in the South, indigenous issues, democracy and development, and youth participation. I have also been involved in several other organizations. I have got a BA in comparative politics and when I have finished my period in SAIH, I will continue on my MA in international relations. Earlier, I have been studying in the US (high school) and Bolivia (university). For a long time, I have been engaged in solidarity issues. The world needs a change, and every one of us can contribute. This is why I applied for the position as youth delegate. I want to learn more about the UN and how to work with political lobbying at the international level.


Youth Delegate from Romania Alexandru Balas: Age: 24; Residence: Focsani, Romania; Occupation: Student of Conflict Analysis and Resolution; Hobbies: Travelling, dancing, languages, reading, learning about new cultures, sports. More about me: I have been involved in youth activities in Romania, Turkey and United States for a long period of time, organizing various projects, mainly on youth and conflict resolution. As a young scholar on conflict resolution I want to use my skills and knowledge to address and solve some of the problems faced by young people across the world. I am doing this by creating research on the topic, but also mainly through developing and running projects involving young people. This summer I became one of the two youth representatives of Romania to the United Nations and together with my colleague we want to use our experience and actively engage the Romanian youth on issue of global importance.

Youth Delegate from Romania Corina Murafa: Age: 20 Residence: New York, USA (until May, 2007). Occupation: Program Manager ORICUM Youth Organization (; Hobbies: swimming, debating, flowers; More about me: After having completed an internship with the United Nations Information Centre in Romania, I am currently studying international relations at New York University, as a one-year exchange student and fellow of the Open Society Institute. At the same time, I am a volunteer of the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace. I was recently appointed as an intern of the Permanent Mission of Romania to the United Nations. Thus, in addition to being a youth delegate at the General Assembly my main focus will be to consolidate my experience in human rights and issues pertaining to the 3rd Commission. Back home, I have been working on youth and discrimination, running projects for my organization. We are a team of young professionals sharing the vision of offering our peers the chance to become better professionals and entrepreneurs, more responsible and active citizens. I intend to use my experience as a youth delegate to raise awareness on development and UN issues among young citizens of Romania and to implement a highly articulate and sustainable nation-wide program of selecting youth representatives to the UN. Email:


Youth Delegate from Sweden Laila Naraghi: The world is unfair. Many are starving. Others are rolling in luxury. Some may express their opinion. Some get imprisoned because they say what they think. In all societies are youth especially affected by injustices. UN is the tool to make sure that the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights is respected. Everywhere. For everyone. Also for young people. I believe that every person has the same equal value and therefore the same human rights. Since this is not respected throughout the world, I have engaged into politics to try to participate in the fight to make this world at least a little better place. As a delegate I am representing the National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations (LSU) which each year is commissioned by the Swedish Government to appoint one of the Swedish delegates to the UNGA. LSU has around 100 member organisations of different kind with different believes and activities: religious, ethnic, political and cultural. Together we organize 700 000 Swedish young people and together we believe in the importance of civil society, youth participation and human rights. I have my organisational background in the Social Democratic Youth of Sweden, SSU. I’ve been involved especially in the struggle against racism, for better pupil participation in schools, for gender equality and for international solidarity. I am a member of the national board of SSU where I am responsible for international affairs. And I am a vice president of ECOSY – Young European Socialist, which is the youth organisation of the European Socialist Party. Together with friends from social democratic youth organisations all over the world I’m working for human rights, democracy and peace. In Israel and Palestine, in Belarus, in Western Sahara and many other places. We do this through the world’s biggest political youth international, the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY).


Youth Delegate from Switzerland Maja Rüegg: Age: 24; Residence: Geneva, Switzerland; Occupation: Student of International Relations Hobbies: Travelling, dancing, languages, reading…; More about me: I have always been fascinated by getting to know different cultures and ways of living. Since I have been on an exchange year in Panama, I am working voluntarily for the student exchange organisation AFS promoting and facilitating intercultural exchange among young people. In order to understand how world politics work and how it is possible to influence the decision-making process, I am studying International Relations in Geneva. In March 2006 I was elected as one of three Swiss Youth delegates by the Swiss National Youth Council. It is amazing to be able to participate at high level decision-making and to get a direct insight into the UN system. Together with my two colleagues, we want to use this experience to activate young people in Switzerland both to get involved at the international level and to incorporate global considerations in their day-to-day life. Web: